Thursday, April 30, 2009

A Basket Full of Eggs

An interesting phenomenon has taken place on my door wreath: a nest of eggs. Originally, they were white eggs (dove eggs to be exact), but a severe windstorm blew the eggs out of the basket.

Then along came the robbins and took over the abandoned nest and splattered mud on the door to rebuild it. I don’t know if they “spit” on it or if they carried mud on their wings, but it was (and still is) a mess. Every time I open the door, the birds fly out. A lot of activity has been going on in that nest.

Yesterday, my neighbor asked me how the “white” eggs were doing and I said, “I have no idea; they come and they go!”

She reached inside the nest and said, “There are four eggs.”

I rushed for my camera and tried to take a picture, but I wasn’t tall enough to reach the nest. Kim said, “I’ll do it.” She stood on her tip-toes and flashed a picture.”

Four blue eggs.

Was there an Easter egg coloring contest going on?


The doves left and the robbins took over.

Writing and publishing are the same way. I marvel at the process (sometimes!), but I never give up. Three of my stories were finalists with one publisher and were deemed “worthy of publication.” So I submitted them to another publisher and all three were published.

What if I just “sat” on my “eggs”? I know for sure they would still be in my “writing to be published” file and not in a book.

Don’t sit on your “eggs” and don’t put all your eggs in one basket!

Living Life Passionately,

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Stamps and the Present Moment

I hurried into the post office with a stack of bills, letters, and postcards to mail.

The clerk asked me how many books of stamps I would like. I glanced at my bundle and said, “Two, please.” And then she proceeded to show me the various varieties, including: sunflowers and Liberty Bells. I pointed to the sunflowers and said, “I’ll take two books of the sunflowers.”

The clerk immediately shook her head and said, “No, you don’t want these!”

“Yes, I do,” I said.

“No, you don’t,” she demanded.

I wanted to say, “Then why did you offer them to me?”

The clerk explained that the rates were going up and unless I used two books of stamps right away the rates would soon change. "The Liberty Bell stamps are 'forever,'" she said.

I thought for a second and said, “No thanks. I’ll take the sunflowers.”

She shook her head again and rang up my purchase.

The clerk almost had the last word, “You know…no one looks at the stamp on the envelope anyway!”

I smiled broadly and said, “But I do!”

I’m sure most of you probably would have chosen the more practical choice—Liberty Bells. But I’ve learned one thing in life: I only have this “present” moment, and today it was sunflowers. I don’t know what tomorrow will bring, but today I will enjoy putting sunflowers on bills, thank-you notes, postcards, and a wedding card to my niece who is getting married on Saturday, May 2, 2009!

Living Life Passionately,

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Survivors' Day!

I just returned from a survivors’ day celebration in Scottsbluff, Nebraska with over 600 survivors and caregivers that met for a day of fun and relaxation.

The theme was “Baskets Full of Care” and they certainly didn’t lack baskets!

More amazing than the event, was the journey to get there. I flew into Denver and then took a puddle jumper to Scottsbluff.

The pilots didn’t look more than 12 years of age, and when I can see right into the cockpit from my seat, I start to get a little antsy (panicky is a better word!). But as it turns out, we never made it off the ground—due to technical difficulties—so we were taken off the plane and waited three hours for a mechanic to check things out.

Do you think I wanted to get back on that “mosquito” with wings? I almost called the meeting planner and said, “Thanks, but no thanks; I’m going back home!” But then I remembered our motto from the National Speakers Association, “A true professional speaks even when then don’t feel like it!” I then imagined all the cancer survivors and caregivers who looked forward to this event and put my emotions in their place and boarded the plane again!

Good news; we took off and landed safely.

I’m always amazed—shocked really—at the beauty of America. The last time I was in Nebraska was 20 years ago when we made the trek by car on our move to Pennsylvania. But somehow I missed one of the most spectacular sites: “The Monument.” God’s beauty is everywhere and sometimes in the most unlikely of places.

Thank you Regional West Medical Center for an amazing day and welcoming me into your great city.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Dream Your Dream!

If you haven't seen this, then you are in for a surprise.

Susan Boyle is making the world stand up and "sing." The first time I watched her on YouTube, I immediately burst into tears and then got goosebumps throughout her performance.

Thank you, Susan, for allowing us all to dream, to believe, to hope, and "yes" forget for just a moment that we ever doubted ourselves.

Live your passion, Susan. You are simply amazing! You've won our hearts and for sure you will win the competition. No doubt about it. God bless you.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Hope Arrives!

Love is a Verb by Gary Chapman arrived on my doorstep this morning via Fed Ex (sorry, honey it wasn’t UPS). My hubby is a manger at UPS so he doesn’t like me to mention the competition by name, but there you have it!

I’ve kept this book under wraps because in publishing you just never know. For those who aren’t familiar with the process, let me tell you how it works (sort of!): You send in a story via an open call for stories or if you’re fortunate, the editor comes to you personally and asks you to write for a certain volume.

Then comes the wait. If you’re a savvy writer, you will keep a hard copy of the story and file it away with the date and note it on your Excel spreadsheet of projects (date submitted).

More waiting.

Pay attention to periodic e-mails, but do NOT bug the editor. There is one exception: If you double submitted something and you heard from the other publisher first. That is an entirely different post, which I won’t get into right now (but let’s just say that it can get you into some “hot” water and you better have your ducks lined up when you perform that daring feat). I for one, will never double submit (ever!).

Then one day—when you’re least expecting it—there will arrive an e-mail from the editor that your story has been selected as a semi-finalist. You shout, “Yippee.” But it’s a small “yippee” because that’s no guarantee of anything (for certain).

More months pass by and you get another e-mail, stating you’re a FINALIST! You do the happy dance, sign the contract (read it first!), and then fax or mail it to the editor (or publisher). Following the directions carefully.

Signing the contract still does not guarantee that you’re in the book. It just means it passed by the editor, the managing editor, and now goes to the publisher.

But don’t get too excited yet. Now you really have to wait. This is the last communication you will receive. Yes, there’s a very good chance you will be in the book, but it’s now up to the publisher (they have the final say-so); and in this case it was Bethany House.

Wait. Wait. Wait.

If you’re a “smart” writer, you have made notations on your Excel spreadsheet of dates along the way and you’ve kept writing and submitting.

Sometimes the publisher has posted a “Search In” option to the book on, so you can start searching for your name before the due date (in this case it was May 1, 2009). But not all publishers use this method.

You wait patiently and keep writing.

And then one day, the doorbell rings, it’s the Fed Ex truck. He speeds away as you look down at the steps and see a brown box. What’s this? I didn’t order anything from Fed Ex? And then you see the publisher’s name and let out a “yelp.”

I carried the box inside (heavy because they are hardbound books), and tried to rip it open with my bare hands (ignoring the tab that would have easily released the contents). No, I had to break two fingernails, get a paper cut, and jabbed myself with scissors before the books tumbled out.

Two hardbound author copies with a beautifully designed dustcover.

Two copies.

I only expected one (after all I only had one story). How nice…one to keep and one to give away.

At that point, you are "hopeful" that you're in the book. Certain is a good word, but not for sure until you scour the table of contents for your name.

You’re feeling a little better…you actually see your name!

You turn to page 210 and then it’s for certain. You read your story and Dr. Chapman’s commentary on what you wrote. You check the bio and see your name again.

Afterwards you get out the file and write the date you received the book and file it away under “finished projects”).

You do the happy dance one more time.

Oh yeah, the check. That comes out later, sometimes 4-6 weeks later depending on the publisher. You do the happy dance with that one too (it’s a double celebration). Actually, it’s many dance steps along the way, some are slow dances, some are jigs, and sometimes it's a waltz. It all depends on the project.

But today I did the happy jig twice. My check arrived in the mail (the same day that the books arrived). That has never happened before—ever!

Jon came back home to give me the stub to pick up his tux for a wedding he's, so I autographed the book to him as an early graduation gift.


Do I always make the list?


One year, I was always a bridesmaid and never a bride. I made it to the semi-finalist list and never made it to the finalist. Never get discouraged. I turned around and submitted them to another publisher and they accepted all THREE!

Why do I write about the writer’s life on a Monday morning? Because for some reason, I always receive my author copies on a Monday. Today I started humming the song, “Monday morning…” and said a prayer, “Thank you, Lord, for another opportunity to share with others your message through my writing.”

That is the true gift…sharing with others what gems and pearls I’ve gleaned along this journey called life.

It gives me hope for tomorrow!

Living Life Passionately,

P.S. Leave a comment and Love is a Verb can be yours!

Friday, April 10, 2009

Buona Pasqua

I’m off to my favorite Italian bakery in town, “La Dolce Vita.” They carry all my must-have items to make Easter dinner festive, including: the “Colombo” (baked bread in the shape of a dove); biscotti di mandorle (almond paste cookies with pine nuts), and chocolate eggs filled with a “sorpreza” (surprise)—a small toy.

Having just returned from the country, so aptly named “La Dolce Vita,” the images are still fresh in my mind. And with the recent earthquakes in the town of Aquila, my heart aches for the people and the country that is so full of pain right now.

Having lived through my share of earthquakes in Sicily, I can still picture the beds moving across the speckled marble floor, the "palazzo" swaying back and forth, and the screaming and shouting as many jumped from their balconies and windows to escape being crushed from the collapse of buildings. We endured one of Italy’s worst earthquakes in 1981, but we were spared harm.

All these years later, I look back and realize there was a purpose for us surviving…we have two beautiful sons with which to share the blessing of Easter. This Easter we will pray for the country we hold so dear and unite around the table to give thanks to God for giving us this one life to live for Him!

Buona Pasqua Tutti!

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

I'm Back!

I woke up this morning at 5:30 a.m. (a rare thing!), and peeked up at the ceiling and watched as the fan whirled its white blades?

Where am I? I thought.

I had no clue where I was or what bed I was lying in. And then it came to me…

I’m back!

At home, that is. And I must say it has been a glorious ten days where I spent some time in “heaven” away from e-mail, phones, and “yes” the Internet (for the most part). I was totally disconnected (almost), and it was glorious.

The trip was a gift and the particulars are being kept “secret” for now, but each day I will post a picture of my travels. You may leave comments on where you think the picture was taken. Whoever is the closest in its proximity (I don’t mean country…I mean city), will receive a copy of The Ultimate Mom by Chicken Soup.

So go ahead and give it your best try.

Each day this week, I will post a different picture. Sorry, no hints!

Living Life Passionately,