Friday, February 29, 2008
That said, I have committed my life to this, and I've even surprised myself. I've been on that damned treadmill every night, pushing myself harder than I EVER have. I even ran 1/2 of a mile last night. If you don't know me, then you don't know what a huge accomplishment this is! If you do know me...well, you are probably laughing right now, but deep down you know how proud you are!
Tuesday, February 26, 2008
Our family had been talking about the pending spring months and all the outdoor activities that would fill up the weekends. (Yes, with 100 inches of snow on the ground, we Wisconsinites are still hopeful that day will happen soon...but it's not looking too good yet!) Noah started talking about the two 2K races that he runs in May...one in Door County...the other in Stoughton. Jeff, a long-time runner, has always been the most obvious choice to assist Noah in his training. Two years ago, they began a rigorous schedule, and breathless Noah crossed the finish line two weeks in a row. Noah got a bright idea this week that this exercise should now become a family sport. I threw up my arms and shouted, "Count me out!" And then I looked deep in his eyes to see I wasn't going to win this battle. "Mom, aren't you going to run with me and dad this year?" And I froze! How do you say no to that? So, I said yes and then regretted my decision for the next three days.
Let's take a step back and recall that I am not a runner nor do I have a desire to be. I tried to run one day in high school. The scar on my hip is proof that was a bad idea! I do a lot of things, but running is not one of them. HOWEVER, as I can see my 40th birthday rounding the corner later this year, I'm starting to notice that my youthfulness is packin' up and leavin' town.. For that reason alone...and of course for my 9-year-old...I'm setting a goal like no other in my life and I'm ready to push way beyond my limits.
I'm on a weekly plan to train for a 5K should I want to go that far. Seriously, that would be stupid. I'm hanging back with the 9-year-olds and will only be competing in the 2K. Translated to American measurement...that's only 1.242 miles. For beginners, you say? That's exactly my point. At 39-years old, I'm a beginner and I'm completely freaked out about this, but I'm setting a goal with hopes of accomplishing it in 10 weeks. On May 10, the day before Mother's Day, I'm running in the Blossom Run in Egg Harbor (Door County). Come hell or high water, I will be there with my son, running by his side -- most likely panting a lot harder than him and sweating through my new sporty running clothes.
I cordially invite you to stand at the finish line and watch me crawl across before passing out on the damp grass.
Tuesday, February 5, 2008
A few highlights...
- I am part of a team of writers for a new book that will be released this summer. More on the details of that later...
- I will be hooking up with Casting Crowns when they are in Madison onMarch 7 and will be doing an interview with front man Mark Hall. That article will come out as a cover feature for Credo magazine in December.
- My interviews with Matthew West, RE:Zound, Natalie West, Delirious? and Ever Stays Red will be posted on CBN.com through March and April. Sanctus Real and Avalon are already there.
- I am working on a "Behind the Music" series with my local church to bring web/telecasts of some of my favorite music artists to the teens.
Oh, and all this writing on top of my daily eye stress led me to the doctor today. He sent me home with contacts! It's true what they say about turning 40...everything goes downhill. I'm trying to look at the bright side. With my new cute little glasses, I do look much more like an author!
Sunday, January 13, 2008
None of my assignments in more than 20 years of writing has been more important than the one I received this weekend. It doesn't matter how many books I write or ghostwrite or how many articles I prepare for national magazines, THIS is the most important writing assignment of my life.
My brother called last night to tell me that he had just said goodbye to his best friend of many years. Choking back tears, he told me that within the next hour Scot's family would allow the medical team to administer a morphine drip that would assist Scot in peacefully departing from this earth. For a few years, Scot had fought a deadly disease that was finally claiming his 36-year-old life. His long fight was coming to an end, and even though family and friends had prepared for this moment for a long time, no one had really prepared to say goodbye.
Listening to my brother tell tales of the past years with Scot, together we laughed and we cried. Scot's generosity to others, his friendship and his sense of humor always rose to the top of the conversation. And after listening to my brother for more than 20 minutes, I realized that his words were his eulogy to his good friend. I encouraged him to ask the family for a few minutes to speak at the funeral. He quickly told me that was out of the question. He admitted he wasn't strong enough to pull it off. We talked about how his final words would bring healing to Scot's family and friends, but again my brother declined, saying that it would be just too hard. "So, ask someone else to read your words for you," I said. This time he didn't say no. Instead, he thoughtfully said: "I'm not the writer in the family. You are. How about I tell you all the stories and you whip up something good?" There it was. The toughest assignment ever. Not only did I need to help my brother capture his words in an eloquent fashion, but I needed to write them so that someone else...possibly the pastor...could convey my brother's heartfelt message to the congregation.
I'm sitting here tonight trying to finish a book for a deadline that comes later this week. After hours of writing, I finally have writer's block. I'll push through it though, knowing that once this book is printed later this summer, students all over the country will find value in the words I'm stringing together today. But in the bigger picture, my book about one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time is not really that important. It's a fun writing assignment, but it's long-time value pales in comparison to the writing assignment I was given only a few hours ago.
I'm putting my football book away for a while. I have to write to say goodbye.....
Wednesday, January 9, 2008
- I want to look 20 years younger. (OK, maybe that ship has sailed!!!)
- I want to lose 20 pounds. (A little more attainable with a lot of hard work!!)
- I want to send out 20 queries to publications each month. (Pretty ambitious!)
- I want to become published in 20 additional publications this year. (Probably more attainable than losing 20 pounds!)
- And I'm hoping to have book contracts for two long-awaited manuscripts. (20 is divisible by two, so this counts!!!!!)
I started the year by finishing off my two biography books about two of today's hottest R&B stars. Doing two books at once and getting a feel for the publisher's expections was difficult at times, but I made it through, and I'm thrilled to have turned in both manuscripts a few weeks before my deadline. That must have impressed the publisher because she asked me to write the next book (before the end of January) about a VERY legendary quarterback. My contract prevents me from releasing all the details, so check again to find out who it is -- when I can let the cat out of the bag! Let's just say I'm having a great time and can't wait to complete this manuscript. All three books will be out sometime around May or June.
On the interviewing side, my Kutless article was posted on CBN.com on Jan. 4. I just LOVED spending time with them when they were in town for a concert in Madison on November 8. This month, I will be interviewing members of the very popular group Christian groups Avalon and Sanctus Real. Those articles will be posted in February.
Very exciting as well...I have an assignment to interview NFL Indianapolis Colts Head Coach Tony Dungy. An interview time is being established, so stop back next month to see how it went!
As usual, there are lots of other things in the hopper...more on that in February!
I have always loved the printed word, and even more than that I love the way words look when they are packaged. I have a very neurotic set of unwritten rules. Hard cover books should have glossy dust covers that are fingerprint-free, and I probably won't read it if the dust cover has crinkles or rips. At the bookstore, I will always dig to the back to find the book that hasn't seen daylight...or fingers. Hard cover books should be as elegant as a fine piece of art.
I have the same rules for soft cover books, but this is where my insanity catapults to a new galaxy. Soft cover books should never have broken spines. They shouldn't even have creases! If you want to witness me in a panic attack, accompany me on a flight sometime. Sad broken-down books are everywhere!!! Travelers from coast to coast treat their books with no more respect than a napkin. I know! I watch them. And then I wince in pain.
During my last flight home from Orlando, I sat next to a seemingly normal middle-age woman. She lovingly tucked her small daughter into the seat next to her, giving her a blanket, sippie cup and a much loved stuffed dog. She kissed the top of her head and whispered something in her daughter's ear that brought an instant giggle. I decided I liked her. But then it happened! She pulled out the novel she'd probably started on an earlier flight, and all that love disappeared. She cranked that thing open, bending the covers back so far they touched on the other side. And then she proceeded to repeatedly press the palm of her hand over the inside spine to flatten the pages out a little more. I nearly reached for the air sickness bag! And if the oxygen mask would have been in reach, it would have come in handy, too. In my mind, that sweet woman went from loving to evil in 2.14 seconds. How could someone so caring be so destructive to such a precious thing?
Having just released my first book, I proudly sat at my book-signing a few months ago with more than 700 people lined up for an autograph. After passing by my table and stepping aside to peruse the pages, I noticed most of the buyers were like the lady on the plane. They couldn’t wait to dig in and read, and in doing so, they nearly mutilated the perfect soft cover. And I nearly stood up, walked through the gymnasium and collected the books again.
You're getting this, right? You're seeing that I'm a little over the top? Well, it doesn't stop there because I haven't addressed my neurosis with magazines yet! Like books, magazine pages should never be dog-eared, never have fingerprints, nor should their covers be torn or even slightly ripped. Like books, I carefully select them off the store shelf, only purchasing copies that haven't yet been "loved" (or "unloved"). My dilemma happens when my subscriptions show up in the mailbox. I cringe every time I slide one of my new mags out of the aluminum postal box, knowing in the course of its delivery that it has already been: a) dropped, b) torn, c) read by the postman, d) run over by the mail truck, or e) snagged in the mail sorter at the post office, leaving ugly tracks across the cover. Very rarely have I received a perfect issue, yet I continue to put myself through the grueling task of renewing my subscriptions. Two years ago when my Martha Stewart Living magazine showed up in a heavy plastic wrapping, I was so pleased I wrote to the company to thank them for caring about my magazine. Two months later, they must have looked for cost-saving options because the protective cover disappeared and my April issue showed up – without a cover! I didn't even read it. There was no point.
So, you can see that I have a little problem. I care way too much about the presentation of the printed word. I don't enjoy movies because there's nothing to read. And don't even ask me if I want to borrow your set of John Grisham books on tape. Again...no words. Not interested. Thanks for thinking of me, though.
And while you're at it, don't ask to borrow any of my many books or magazines. It's not worth your stress. Or mine!!!
It’s sad, but it’s true.
God bless the printed word!
Friday, December 14, 2007
I'm excited this week to announce that I'm working on two new books that will be published in 2008 -- although I'm not sure of the exact date. While my agreement with the publisher won't allow me to provide a lot of details, I can say that I'm writing two books (for kids ages 9-12) ...each book will highlight a popular music star. One is a very popular hip-hop artist...the other a well-known rapper. My deadline is January 31, 2008, so I have a lot of work to do in a short time...but it's going to be a fun experience, I'm sure.
On the article front, well, I'm going to have to slow that pace down a bit while I focus on the book deals. For the past few months, I've been writing a lot of articles on a variety of subjects and sending them out for consideration in publications. For the most part, though, I've been digging into interviews with some really fantastic Christian music artists. Since July, I've hung out/talked with Leeland, Kutless, and Grey Holiday. (Their articles already appear on CBN.com, and will also appear as the cover story for several issues of Credo magazine next year.) In the next few weeks, I'll be adding Sanctus Real, Michael Gungor Band, and RE:ZOUND to that list. Just this week, I also had the great fortune of speaking with Dr. Gary Chapman about his Love Languages for Children book. I'll be taking his information and developing a few articles for publication.
Back to the book front...two books that I contributed to were released in October. One Year Life Verse features my daily devotional for a day (I can't remember which one!) in July. The other book, Along the Way for Teens, is a super book that's a collection of true stories that are sure to inspire our youth. My chapter "Three Moments of Glory" is the first chapter in the book!
And then there's all that other stuff that would fill up too much space in a blog...additional book chapters, greeting cards, a permanent spot with a quarterly magazine and the possibility of a column with a large teen magazine.
Gotta run...gotta write!
Monday, December 10, 2007
I'm not a big fan of winter. Call me silly, but where's the fun in this?
- Melted snow in my front hallway after all the neighborhood kids decided to "stop in" for a few minutes. (Not to mention that I stepped in one big puddle just two minutes after putting on a pair of socks!)
- Mismatched mittens in every corner of the hallway, car, closets, but not one pair to be found anywhere!
- Slushy snow lining every parking lot, making it nearly impossible to move to and fro' without splashing some on the back of your pant leg...or into your shoes!
- Frozen car seats and steering wheels.
- A fading summer tan.
- Mean holiday shoppers pushing their way through the aisles, not even sparing the smallest of children.
- 20 degrees below zero...and a wind chill factor of -58!
"So move!" you say. "Quit whining and move South." Yes, you're not the first one to offer up that bit of advice. And while I seriously consider that option between the frigid months of November and March, I'm reminded of these things:
- Family. Everyone lives within an hour of my home, so I can avoid interstate traffic and FAA regulations when I want to spend time with loved ones during the holidays.
- Snowmen, snow angels and shovels. Nothing tops watching a five-year-old playing in the snow!
- Crackling fireplaces.
- Imagery. There's just something about a light snowfall that makes the season complete. It's a little hard to get that in a warm climate.
- Deer tracks in the snow across my front lawn.
- Big sweaters that conceal the extra holiday pounds!
So, whine I will...at least until the first signs of spring. I've been in denial, thinking that maybe this is the one year that winter will forget to rear its ugly head. I've been hoping that 80 degree weather, leaves and green grass will magically appear some day before the crack of dawn. It's not looking too good, though. It's almost winter...and I'm going to have to live with it!
Tuesday, November 20, 2007
9. A supportive (and fun) boss.
8. Finding the perfect Christmas gift for that someone special.
7. Book sales!
6. Celebrating my birthday. (Getting older isn't really all that bad.)
5. Listening to Noah read Harry Potter.
4. Coloring with Payton.
3. Magazine contracts and more writing assignments.
2. A husband with great math and accounting skills. (Someone has to take care of the paperwork that goes with my writing, and God knows that can't be me!)
1. My family and our health.
4. Cold weather. Ever year about this time I wonder why I have remained a Wisconsin resident all my life!
3. Christmas preparations. Is it just me or doesn't it feel like we just finished shopping for last year's gifts? I'm SO not in the mood yet. Maybe after the first real snowfall...
2. A stupid ending to one of my favorite shows, The Bachelor. What a waste of my Monday nights for the past few weeks.
1. Corporate America. External consultants providing multi-million dollar recommendations on how to run your business can make life miserable. Don't ask me why...just trust me on this one.
Monday, November 5, 2007
Yes, it's a little hard to get back to the real world again. Making my own meals. Doing my own dishes. Cleaning my own house. Oh yeah...that reminds me. What do you want to bet my bed didn't get made after I left the house this morning and my bath towel is still hanging off the shower? And who's going to magically replace the bottle of shampoo that I used up this morning? And who's going to turn down my sheets, make towel animals, and leave chocolates on my pillow?
Getting back to the real world really stinks!!!
Wednesday, October 10, 2007
Sounds like a great news story, right? Wouldn't this be a nice ending to the nightly television news that only covered the war, two traffic deaths, a campus drug bust and a missing plane full of skydivers? One would think so. And what about local newspaper coverage? Maybe that's the easier one. Just how busy does a local newspaper with a pretty average circulation need to be to miss covering this event? Let me tell you.
It was a busy day in Monroe...I understand that...but it's sad that an annual chili cook-off was the big news. What's even sadder is the photo that made the front page of the newspaper from this chili cook-off. It wasn't a photo of a pot of chili....heck, it wasn't even of the chili-maker himself. It was a photo of a little girl throwing darts at a life-size photo of Michael Vick. I guess there are other smaller fund raisers at this "chili party", and the Humane Society thought it would be fun to raise some money by using Michael Vick's recent run-in with dogs and the law as the basis for claiming a little cash. First, it was in poor taste...but that's another day's worth of ramblings. Second, and more importantly, it was the feature photo on the front page. A kid...throwing darts...at a photo of a person. And where were the kids who had actually done something successful? They were stuffed in a 90-degree gymnasium waiting for a photographer to show up to give them a little publicity.
Oh, she did show up...and she did take the photos....but that was it. And the kids...well, one of them...got a photo in the paper....on the back page. No write-up. No interviews. Nothing.
The reporter tells me they ran out of room and that it was the editor's decision to bury the 175 kids who were doing something worthwhile on the back page. Shame on you, Mr. Editor. You didn't get this one right. In a time where schools are struggling to make reading and writing an important part of our children's curriculum, you thought that dart-throwing was the bigger news story. SHAME ON YOU!
Wednesday, October 3, 2007
The email came yesterday morning. Channel 3’s Morning Producer wrote to see if I’d be interested in bragging up my book on live television. Of course, I replied “Yes!”, but before I hit the send button, I scrolled back up the page to find the key word that I had missed at first glance. Morning producer! He was the morning producer! Obviously that meant he wasn’t in charge of the nightly news. Darn it!
Well, I never pass up an opportunity to plug a book in front of an audience of thousands, so I happily left the “Yes!” in my reply. Send.
Joyously I reclined in my chair, relishing the thought of the publicity. And then it hit me! I had to get up before the birds! I had to set an alarm that would go off before the sun had even peeked its crown over the eastern horizon. I had to go to bed early. I had to find something to wear. Oh yeah…did I mention that I had to get up early!
I called my husband, Jeff, to tell him the good news – that I would have a live segment on Channel 3’s Morning Show. I anticipated some sort of congratulations, but all I heard on the other end was laughter. “Yeah right, like you’re going to get out of bed that early. You have to be there before 6 o’clock?” And again – laughter!
At 4:30 a.m., I rolled (literally) out of bed. Groggily I made it through the hair and makeup routine – over and over again. First the hair is this way – then the hair is that way. First a shade of Estee Lauder’s beige #112 – then a change of heart and it’s an application of Lancome’s tea rose something or other. A little blush. Then a little more. And then the hair again. Jeff, still trying to get some rest, was getting worn out watching my routine and practically kicked me out of the bathroom so I’d make my early appointment.
As I entered the studio, I found News Anchor Charlotte Deleste sitting behind the news desk. Her makeup and hair were perfectly in place as they are every morning when I watch her – from my bed!!!! Her smile seemed genuine, and if she was tired, it didn’t show. I wondered how she did this every day. Was she as tired as I was? Did she detest the thought of an alarm clock that goes off in the dark? Did she feel as good as she looked?
And then I remembered what the cameraman told me when I asked him how the morning crew managed to get up so early every day. “I tell people that we really haven’t gotten used to getting up early, but we have gotten used to feeling like crap every day.”
Thanks for those words, Mr. Channel 3 cameraman.
That’s why I’m a WRITER!
Monday, October 1, 2007
And as I take a break for just a minute to collect my thoughts and look around, I see Payton (5) walking in the room with a stack of books. "Let's read, Mom!" And at that very second, I was taken back to when I was five -- carrying around stacks of Dr. Seuss books with a smile on my face. Without a second thought, I pushed the computer aside and snuggled up next to him, listening to each word that he read. He was reading!!!...reading every word! And then it hit me again that that's how it all began for me. My love of books is what even got me to this state of panic tonight. That love of books is what has inspired me to write.
So write, I will...all 1,200 words of an amazing interview with one of Christian music's hottest new bands, Leeland. And I'll get it all done before "The Bachelor". Thanks, Payton, for reminding me how I ended up here tonight!
Wednesday, September 26, 2007
I always wondered what I'd feel like the day I took delivery of my first book, and strangely it was the most insignificant piece of the publishing process that made me smile the most. Thirty-one boxes piled on a wooden skid, wrapped in shrinkwrap, and I thought I'd be scrambling to tear open the box to make sure that the books were inside. Instead, I stood back and giggled to myself as the forklift operator moved the skid around because I was admiring the side of the box that clearly had my book's name printed on the side of each one. Like a big box of Doritos or Charmin toilet paper, it was clear what the contents were. I surprised myself that such a goofy thing could hold my attention for so long. Even when my mom called a couple hours later to congratulate me and ask me how I felt about my "big day", my first comments were about the printed boxes. I think it's easy to see how easily amused I am -- and how I can find appreciation in the little things. I think it's also easy to see that I was the kid who got the big bike for Christmas, but I played with the wrapping and the box while the gift remained under the tree!