Saturday, November 29, 2008

Good from Bad

At a time of the year when we all want to be carried away with joy and peace, many people are struggling. Life isn't always easy. My sister Sara can attest to that. Her husband has been sick for eighteen months. Not just a little sick. The kind of sick that changes a person. And everyone who loves him.

Here is an article written by Sara for Today's Christian Woman. Perhaps you'll find her journey encouraging.

Friday, November 28, 2008

It's supposed to be raining, but....

Instead, it's snowing.

Hope you all had a great Thanksgiving!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Continuity 2010

On the heels of posting the cover for COLD CASE MURDER, I've been asked to write book four in the 2010 continuity. All the stories will deal with witness protection. So far, I know that my heroine is pregnant and in witness protection. I also know that her ex-husband is trying to find her and that just as he finds her so does the villian.

Sound intriguing?

It did to me. Plus, I really love writing stories about couples who reunite.

I can't wait to get started!

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Another Cover

This is for the 2009 LI Suspense continuity. It makes me wonder. I guess that is always a good thing when it comes to covers. If I wonder about the cover, I'll pick up the book and read the blurb.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

There is Snow on the Mountains

And it is COLD.

Okay, so it's not quite as cold as I'm told it's going to get. Currently, it's no colder than it was in Maryland in December. I'm not much for cold weather. However, I've decided I will learn to love it. I'm here in cold country, so I may as well get used to the idea.

Also, the snowy mountains are beautiful. Makes me want to write a historical just so that I can write about traveling through those mountains during the winter. Although, I don't suppose many settlers would have chanced it. I can't even imagine driving through some of those passes on a road in a car.

Christmas will be different this year. No family around. Not a huge network of friends. We'll be creating new traditions and new memories, but that doesn't mean we won't miss old traditions. And while I'm thinking of new traditions and family, I can't help wondering what DD #2 is doing. I know, it's been a while since I've mentioned the adoption, but that doesn't mean it's not still happening. Our daughter will have another year in China without us. We'll have another year here without her. I don't stress much about time passing. All of it is in God's hands.

Now...I'd better go write. I hope you all are writing too!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Probation and Weed

Oddly enough, I found a cell phone while walking through the woods near my son's art class. I planned to charge the phone, look for a home number and call the owner of the phone. Of course, being me, I immediately thought, "I wonder if this beat up phone belongs to a drug dealer." Then dismissed the thought as pure imagination.

My son, being much more technically savvy than I am, managed to figure out that the phone was still charged. He turned it on, and I scrolled through the contact list, hoping to find a home number. Guess what I found? An entry titled "Probation" and one titled "Weed".

As I was contemplating my next move, the phone rang and some loud music spewed from it. Immediately, I had visions of tracking devices and gang members, drug feuds and me and my kids caught in the middle.

I decided then and there that the owner of the phone could do without a call from me. I thought about mailing the phone to the police, but decided I'd feel too much like an idiot. I mean, maybe "weed" was someones last name. And maybe probation was....well, something other than what I thought.

Regardless, the phone was turned off and deposited in a lost and found.

Somehow I doubt it will ever be retrieved.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Dancing is Like a Party to Music

So said my seven-year-old daughter to a new girl in her jazz class. Knowing my daughter and her love of words, music and dance, this didn't surprise me. However, the mother of the girl E was talking to was struck by it enough that she told her sister-in-law who came to me and asked if I'd heard my daughter's words.

I relayed the conversation and E's words to my youngest sister who said, "Wow. That's passion."

And that got me thinking.

What is it that makes a dancer work so hard for so long for so little encouragement? What drives an artist or musician to face criticism and critique, rejection and failure? How does a gymnast or a football player face physical pain, fear and heartache over and over again without quitting? What is it that compells a writer to write when her words may never be read, her story never told?

Is it only passion? To me passion is something that waxes and wanes. It may be there one day and not the next. What lives inside the person who is successful despite astounding odds is something different. Drive, determination and, most importantly, resiliancy. The person who continues to pursue his or her passion is the one who can take a punch, shrug it off and keep going. She is the person who works not just for the accolades and trophies, but for the sheer joy of self expression. She is the person who listens and learns, who is not afraid to fail because she understands that only in failing can she succeed.

That is passion. That is heart. That is courage. That is success.

Saturday, October 25, 2008


Migraines stink.

I just wanted to get that out. After suffering through one for the past twelve hours, I'm completely disgusted by the fact that my head refuses to listen to my mind which is telling it to stop hurting!

To make myself happier, I've been contemplating things I love. I'm posting one of those things here.

Usually, I don't post photos of kids, but I figure they're all in a group, I've posted no names and no one knows where any of them's to my nieces and nephews (of which I have many). These are the nephews and nieces from my side of the family. Two are missing. My sister's kids (the ones playing games after hurricane Ike). My husband's side of the family is smaller, and I won't post pictures of them.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Where are All the Christian Fiction Writers?

This is the question that has been foremost in my mind for the past few weeks. I decided that when I moved to Spokane I would connect to people by finding writing groups. I've found the local chapter of the RWA (yay!), but still haven't found a Christian fiction writers group.

What's that about?

Surely I'm not the only Christian fiction writer in Spokane.

The one group I did find meets during the day. Not a good time for a homeschool mom.

On-line groups are great, but there's something much more intimate and fun about meeting people face to face. The exchange of ideas, of creative energy helps me renew as a writer.

On a completely different dog is in love with the cow next door. Or maybe the cow is in love with my dog. Today, I was out walking in the yard and the cow was watching intently as Rushmore raced after me. Seconds later, the cow let out a very deep bellow. To me, it sounded like unrequited love. Then again, I'm not so great at cow-speak. If I wrote LI, I'd think that would be a perfect way for heroine and hero to meet - over a lovesick cow and puppy.

What does the picture of a heart-shaped rock have to do with any of this? My son found the rock in our field. Without showing it to me, he went inside and wrote "I love you" on it. Then he brought it out and handed it to me. Which has nothing to do with anything except how very sweet my ten-year-old is!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008


I'm drowning in fruit. We've got an apple tree and a pear tree in our back yard that have been producing loads of fruit since we arrived. We've also got grapes which will be ripe any day now. Then there's our gruff neighbor Fred. He brought over several pounds of plums the other day. And by several I mean a LOT.

Considering how expensive groceries are and how many kids I've got to feed, I can't complain about the plethora of fruit. The problem is, I don't know what to do with it. Can it? Bake it into bread or cake? Freeze it? What does one do with ripe fruit other than snack on it?

I've looked up recipes and have so far made pear/plum jam, several loaves of pear bread, an apple pie, a pear pie, zucchini bread (zucchini compliments of our neighbor Leonora). At this point, I'm sick of peeling fruit and I'm tired of baking. Which is saying a lot seeing as how I love to bake.

So, if anybody knows a way to freeze fruit without it getting gross and brown and mushy, I'd love to hear it.

Monday, September 15, 2008

After the Storm

My sister already has electricty. She's fortunate. I know a lot of people in Houston are still without power. She sent me some pictures of the damage to the neighborhood and the cute picture above of her two sons playing in the dark (dad is holding a flashlight on the game). It makes me thankful to have lights and working bathrooms and so many other things that I take for granted.

We're really blessed in this country.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Hurricane yIKEs

Above is a picture of my sister's boarded up window as well as the sky above her Houston home yesterday evening before the hurricane hit. Last night, she, her husband and two kids rode out the storm. Since the eye of the hurricane never went over their town, they had hours of high wind with no reprieve. Sara said the house was literally shaking beneath the force of it. We're so thankful the house is still standing, but more thankful that Sara and her family are okay.

Let's all remember to pray for those that weren't so fortunate. There's a lot of devastation in Houston and the surrounding area and many people will need support in the weeks to come.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

New Inspiration

When I wrote my first published book, I had been inspired by Smith Mountain Lake. My mother-in-law had just had a house built, and the beauty and serenity of the place touched something deep in my soul. Every time I visit Kitty, I am reminded of Romans 1:20 - For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.

There is so much beauty in this world it is seemingly impossible to believe that it happened by chance. Creation cries out, demanding our attention, commanding us to acknowledge the truth.

Here in Spokane, I look at distant mountains and deep blue sky, I hear the whisper of wind through fields of long grass and I want to drink it all in, write it all down. I am not an artist who paints or draws. I am a word artist. My books are my canvas. My words my medium.

And this new place I've come to is ripe with inspiration.

What inspires you?

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

New Covers

Well, after several years of covers with no people, I've got two covers with people on them. I guess the hunky Sinclair brothers really did deserve to be put on the covers of their books. The above hunky hero is Grayson Sinclair. I've never been much for covers that have people on them. I think, though, that if I saw this in the store I'd pick it up. Good looking guy. Nice colors. What more can an author or reader ask? Besides a good story that is!

Friday, August 29, 2008

Long Trip

Well, we arrived in Spokane Valley last Friday after a long but wonderful trip across country. As we'd planned, we stopped at Mount Rushmore and Yellowstone National park. We also took a side trip to a place called 1880s Town. The kids had a blast seeing so much of our wonderful country. So did Rodney and I...until the last day. Those final three hundred miles seemed to take an eternity!

Home is a nice split foyer in a beautiful setting. There are mountain views from the back deck, a cow in the pasture next door, friendly neighbors. We got a dog that we named Rushmore. He and the kids love to roam the pasture behind our house. Rushmore is a goldendoodle and is the only dog my eldest son has absolutely no allergies to. As if he senses that Jude has had to stay far away from dogs, Rushmore has taken quite a shine to my thirteen-year-old. If all four kids are out playing, Jude is the one Rushmore wants to hang out with.

It took almost a week to get Comcast in to hook up our internet. Happily, that happened yesterday. So....I'm back! Yay!

After we arrived in Spokane, I realized just how tired I've been. Between the adoption, writing deadlines, homeschooling the kids, the car accident and the move, I was drained. Our trip across country has renewed me. For a week, I did no writing at all. I'm happy to say that I missed it. There's something cathartic about writing. It frees the mind and eases the burdens of the soul. I think that is God's gift to those of us who write...that in using what He's given us, we gain a sense of peace.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Where in the World is Shirlee McCoy?

It's been a while. So long, in fact, that I forgot my password for this blog and had to create a new one. Yikes!

I do have an excuse. Actually, I have several. The biggest is that I'm moving. I'm not talking a little move. I'm talking a 2400 mile across country move. It's happening in two days, and I still can't believe it's real. One minute, my husband was saying, "my company has a position in Spokane, Washington...." and the next we were selling our house and getting ready to move.

Speaking of selling houses, with the housing market what it is in our area, we were sure it would take three months or more to sell. Instead, the first person that walked into our house bought it. I'd like to think that is because of my impeccable decorating sense, but seeing as how I don't decorate at all, I have to admit God was moving in a big way.

That was miracle number one in the McCoy moving odyssey. The second miracle was that our China dossier for the adoption was logged into China right around the time the words Spokane and Washington started being tossed around in our house. So, while we will have several adoption things to do once we arrive in our new home, we are officially paper pregnant! Yes, friends, I'm two months along!

The third writing projects are caught up and done. The timing worked out perfectly so that I could make the long drive (yes, we're driving) without having the pressure of books or proposals on my mind. I turned in the last book in the Sinclair series, completed line edits on my continuity and am currently working on a proposal for a new project. No stress. No fuss. I can leave Maryland and start fresh in Spokane. Yay!

God's timing is always perfect. My husband and I have wanted to move from our very hectic and crowded home to a place a little less hectic and a little less crowded for the entire fourteen years of our marriage. We've looked in different areas, made attempts to buy land or purchase houses. In the end, doors were closed, and we refused to force them back open. With this move, the door flew open before we even knocked and it has remained open, beckoning us to whatever God has planned for us.

This past Sunday was our last time with our wonderful church family. Our pastor pulled me aside and said, "Shirlee, I want to tell you that I think this move is going to be the best thing for your family. I've seen you and Rodney trying to move many times over the years, but it was never right. This time, God has opened the doors. Your house sale, finding a new home so quickly, God is working everything out for you this time. And I really believe this is God's will for your lives."

My point? Waiting on God is never easy. We want to hear 'yes', not 'no' or 'not now'. But in waiting, we allow God to work in His way and in His time. When we do that, we find that His plans for us are much bigger and better than the plans we had for ourselves.

Monday, June 16, 2008

First Impressions

How important is that first impression?

I was thinking about that question recently, remembering when I interviewed for my first teaching job. I'd been studying at the University of Maryland, had graduated with honors and received the outstanding student teacher award for my class. I'd passed the National Teacher's Exam with flying colors and had done the same on the graduate studies exam. I had the credentials and the know-how, but what got me the job was my outgoing nature. Or so I was told after the fact. What's funny is that I tend to be an introvert, but on that particular day, I'd decided that if I wanted to get the job, I had better walk in with a smile and a look of confidence. The principal had plenty of teachers in and out of his school. Many of them were young and inexperienced and left as soon as they could. I guess that's what prompted him to ask me why I thought I could handle the kind of kids that attended his school. My answer? "Well, how much trouble are they?"

He was honest. The kids came from rough situations, there were fights in the classrooms and in the halls. The principal needed a teacher who wasn't going to be cowed by such things. I wasn't so sure that was me, but I also wasn't sure it wasn't. I'd been praying about getting a teaching job. Who was I to say this wasn't God's answer? I told the principal that I'd been working with kids since I was in middle school and that I thought I could handle anything my students dished out.

I got the job based on my answer and on the Principal's perception of me - that I was young, energetic, outgoing and eager to face whatever challenge came my way.

When I wrote my first book and was ready to submit it, I understood that first impressions could open doors for me or cause them to be slammed shut. Editors receive many queries each week. Mine had to stand out. Not in a gaudy flashy way. In a way that captured positive attention and made the editor want to see more of my work. To prepare for that all important first impression, I studied books on queries, studied samples of good query letters, read examples of good synopses and generally learned everything I could about what editors wanted and didn't want in queries.

It paid off. I received positive responses to each of my queries and that first book was read by all the editors I'd queried. They didn't buy it (I cringe when I think of how horrible it was!), but, without exception, the editors wanted to see more of my writing. If you've just completed your first novel, remember that first impressions are very important. Research your market, know who is publishing what you write, know how many books they publish per year, prepare a query that is professional and a proposal that will leave the editor wanting more. You can always improve as a writer, but you can't change that first impression. Make it a good one!

Monday, May 05, 2008

Maryland, My Maryland?

I've lived in Maryland all of my life (minus the years I spent in Thailand). In all my years attending Maryland public schools, I was never informed of one very interesting tidbit about my home state. Its state song. I learned the national anthem, the pledge of allegiance, the state bird, flower and nickname. I learned about the historical significance of Annapolis and Baltimore and too many other towns to name. But not once in all those years did I ever hear the state song mentioned let alone sung.

As I helped my fourth grader do research for his state project, I was surprised to learn that most states do have state songs. We, of course, looked up Maryland's. It was written in 1861 by a Marylander who was living in Louisiana. If you want to be slightly amused and a little appalled, read the alarmingly long song (which is sun to the tune of Oh Christmas Tree and which I have cut down to a third of its length). Please notice the sections which I gleefully boldface typed.

Of course, you also must keep in mind the historical significance of the time, the cessation of the south, the battle waging between opposing factions. As a poem, the piece is a fantastic testimonial to how torn citizens must have been. As a song....well, see for yourself.

Maryland My Maryland
Written by James Ryder Randall

The despot's heel is on thy shore,
Maryland, My Maryland!
His torch is at thy temple door,
Maryland, My Maryland!
Avenge the patriotic gore
That flecked the streets of Baltimore
And be the battle queen of yore,
Maryland! My Maryland!

Hark to an exiled son's appeal,
Maryland, My Maryland!
My Mother State! to thee I kneel,
Maryland, My Maryland!
For life and death, for woe and weal,
Thy peerless chivalry reveal,
And gird they beauteous limbs with steel,
Maryland! My Maryland!

Thou wilt not yield the vandal toll,
Maryland, My Maryland!
Thou wilt not crook to his control,
Maryland, My Maryland!
Better the fire upon thee roll,
Better the blade, the shot, the bowl,
Than crucifixion of the soul,
Maryland! My Maryland!

I hear the distant thunder-hum,
Maryland, My Maryland!
The Old Line's bugle, fife, and drum,
Maryland, My Maryland!
She is not dead, nor deaf, nor dumb-
Huzza! she spurns the Northern scum!Maryland My Maryland
She breathes, she burns, she'll come, she'll come. Maryland, my maryland.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Writing Advice

I got an email from a reader who wanted to know what advice I'd give to aspiring writers. I emailed her a response and decided maybe there were others who were wondering what it takes to be successful. Here are my suggestions:

Be committed -Finish what you start. I've mentored a lot of people who write a chapter or two of a manuscript, decide the story isn't working and move on to something else. A book never works out the first time we write it. Write it anyway. Then fix it.

Be persistent. One rejection (or two or three or four or five....)doesn't make you a failure, and it certainly doesn't mean that God doesn't want you to write. All it means is that you're not where you want to be at the moment. Which doesn't mean you're not going to eventually get there!

Be a good student. Your writing will be judged and critiqued, its value weighed by every editor and agent who looks at it. Think of them as your professors and your writing as a final thesis. You pass or fail based on their opinion of your work. Make it great.

Be ready for success. Set goals and meet them, so that when the time comes and you get THE CALL, you'll be ready to meet deadlines and produce manuscripts over and over again.

Be faithful. God does not call us to give up when the going gets tough. Be faithful to the call He's given you whether that call is to write books or edit your church newsletter.

Be grateful. For your gift. For your calling. For the creativity that God has given you. And because you are grateful for the gift, use it. Don't sit around talking about writing. Write. Trusting always that God is in control of your words, your story and your career. Write like it matters. Like you will succeed. Like what God has already done is enough. Because it is. And then write some more because, rejection or not, you must.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Writing, Writing and More Writing

My favorite thing about being a writer (aside from the actual writing) is the fact that I've been able to build a career that allows me to be home with my kids. Of course, the most difficult part of being a writer (aside from the actual writing :0))is that I work from home. There is nothing quite as frustrating as getting into a scene and suddenly being interrupted. There are times when I long for an office separate from my house. And, if you're wondering, that won't be happening any time soon. Currently, my office is in the kitchen. I've got a desk, a laptop and kids doing homeschool work set up very cozily along side the refrigerator, oven, dishwasher, sink and dining room table!

If you're building your writing career, just beginning your writing journey or wondering if writing is the career for you, you'll need to establish work parameters. When will you write? How much time each day will you spend writing? At what point will writing take precedence over family? Will it ever? Should it ever? You'll also need to keep in mind that being an author isn't limited to creating stories and writing them. The job includes working with editors to fine-tune your product and create winning manuscripts. Editing through the production process must be done in a timely manner and that time is not determined by the author. Writing a book is never done alone. Once the story is complete, a team of experts begins working through the manuscript, and the author must buckle up and be ready for the ride. Whether s/he's got a vacation planned or a birthday party to host, if a book is in production, staying on target and getting those edits in on time is paramount.

This, of course, is every writing mom's (or dad's) challenge. How do you fit your God-given talent for writing into a life that is already overflowing? The answer boils down to this - if you're truly pursuing God's will for your life, then you'll have the time you need. It won't always be easy. Sometimes it will be downright difficult. It will always, however, be worth it.

Happy writing!

Saturday, March 08, 2008



After four months waiting, we received INS approval of our I600A - Advanced Processing of an Orphan.

If you've read my posts about our adoption, you'll know that this had to be obtained before our dossier could be sent to China. I'm not sure why, but our adoption coordinator didn't ask us to apply for the I600A until our homestudy was almost complete. The end result of this was that we've had a complete homestudy for four months and have not been able to move forward with the adoption because we didn't have our I600A.

What a mess.

On the upside, God is in control. His timing determines everything that happens, and I really can't sweat the wait. Yes, it was aggravating (we were told it would take four weeks), but I've always felt that the hold-ups we've experienced (and there have been many) were all part of God's plan to place a child that He's predetermined as ours into our family.

The last thing we have to do is get all our documentation authenticated. This will mean trips to the court houses of two different counties. Lord willing, this will not be nearly as challenging and scary as I'm making it out to be in my mind. The problem is, I've got the worst sense of direction. I get lost going EVERYWHERE. A twenty minute trip to the courthouse in Annapolis could take me three or four or five hours. And the courthouse over the bay bridge? Please. That's a disaster waiting to happen. My kids and I could be stranded on the Eastern shore for months.

The good news is that things on the writing front are going well. PROTECTOR'S PROMISE will be mailed out Monday, and then I'll get back to work on COLD CASE MURDER. I've also got a proposal for book 3 in the Sinclair Brother's trilogy to work up, but I've got that story in my mind, so it shouldn't be too difficult.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Emotional Duress?

I feel bad saying this, but I've always thought that people who sue for emotional duress are full of baloney. How can emotional duress be quantified? And how can it be proven?

I still feel that way, but I have to say that after my accident the other night, I do suddenly understand the term. I've had trouble sleeping since Wednesday, and I find myself awake in the wee hours of the morning trying to figure out how the accident played out (it's eight, and I've been up since three). I sit down to write and the stupid accident plays over in my head again and again. Like a bad movie that can't be turned off. I think because I only saw the police car a second before it hit me, I can't wrap my mind around what happened. Where was the police car while I was pulling up to the intersection? Not in a normal lane of traffic, because those were occupied by cars stopped at the red light. Did he stop at the red light? Did he slow a little or a lot? Did he try to swerve, or did he not have time? What influenced his decision to run the red? Was he in pursuit of someone? Rushing to a crime in progress? Or was he simply going to the scene of a fender bender?

It will be easier to put it all behind me once the on-duty officers from that night are back and I can speak to one of them. I'm praying they are forthcoming with the information. While I refuse to accept blame for what happened, I'm not angry or bitter or wanting to get the guy who hit me in trouble. I just want answers. Of course, if one of my kids had been seriously hurt or killed, I would want more than answers.

A dear friend of mine said, "Shirlee, it was an accident. Accidents happen."

I know this is true, but I will maintain forever that an emergency vehicle has a responsibility to make sure the intersection is clear before going through it, that stopping for ten seconds wastes a lot less time than is saved by going through. At the kind of intersection I was going through, there a many variables. A reasonable motorist would understand that views of oncoming cars are limited, that running a red light even if the intersection appeared clear could be dangerous. If a reasonable motorist understood this. That reasonable motorist would then slow enough to be able to stop quickly if necessary. The assumption that every motorist will hear and see emergency lights is a poor answer to this. My view of the intersection was completely blocked, and modern cars are so well insulated from noise, that is often impossible to hear sirens until the emergency vehicle is very close.

Yeah, it was an accident. Yeah, I understand how it happened.

Do I think it could have been a prevented? Yes.

Do I think I could have prevented it? No.

So, that is where I stand on responsibility for what happened. And that is the last I'm going to say about my horrible Wednesday night!

On the upside, my husband, kids and I are going car shopping today. Since poor Old Faithful is dead, I need a new ride. Or, at least, one that doesn't have the bumper completely torn from it!

Stay safe!

And if you think about it, pray for the officer who hit me. I'm sure this is as trying a time for him as it is for me.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

And On It Goes

Just as an aside, because I can't stop thinking about the stupid accident. I realized after I thought back over what happened, that I was probably at a standstill when I was hit. There were two police cars entering the intersection. I saw the one that was further away (and therefore not in the blindspot created by the car next to me). I slammed on my brakes to avoid him and then saw the police car that hit me. I'm 100% sure this is what happened because the damage to my car is really odd. The front bumper is peeled away from the car, as if the police car were moving by me and just caught my bumper as he flew past.

An interesting aside - none of the police officers who were on the scene last night are working for the next THREE days. Three days? How can that be?

My husband was trying to get information about the case and none of the officers were around.

By the Grace of God

This morning, I'm watching the sun rise above the hill across from my house. The sky is lilac and pale blue, the ground dusted with snow. It's quite beautiful. I can see my husband's truck sitting in the driveway, see the fire hydrant that is across the street from our house. What I can't see is my mini van. My poor, faithful old car. The car I have had for eleven years. The one I was driving home from church last night when I was hit by a police car.

Yes, you read that correctly. Last night, I was hit by a police car.

How it happened is still a mystery to me. I'm the most careful and cautious driver in the world. In the years I've been driving, I've never been pulled over for speeding. I never race through yellow lights or speed to make it through a green. I'm conscientious about pulling over and out of the way when I see emergency vehicles, and have lectured my kids on the importance of doing so over and over again. I'm the annoying driver you get behind when you're in a hurry. The one that is driving the speed limit and slowing when she sees yellow lights.

Yet, somehow I was hit by a police car.

If you're interested in the story, here is how it goes - I was sitting at a red light at a huge intersection less than five miles from my house. Picture two three-lane roads bisected by two lanes of traffic. I was on the two lane road heading west. There was a truck or SUV next to me in the right lane. As per usual, when the light turned, I looked to my left which is the direction cross-traffic would be coming from as I crossed. Everyone had stopped, so I proceeded across the first three lane road, under the light and toward the next three lane road I had to go across. The cross-traffic on this road would be coming from the right, but (of course) was stopped because of the red light. The car to my right was slightly ahead of me (probably due to the fact that I'm a slow driver) and actually sort of above me because we were going up a hill. I pulled up beside him (I only realize now that he was slowing down because he saw a police car speeding toward the intersection), passed him at about ten miles an hour, started into the intersection and saw a police car with flashing lights coming toward me.

The rest, as they say, is history.

By the grace of God my four kids were unscathed. Not a nick, cut or bruise among them. We'll talk about psychological ramifications later.

Anyhow, I swerved and put on my brakes as soon as I saw the police lights. That was when I FINALLY (too little too late) heard sirens. The police car hit the front passenger bumper of my car and carried it (yes, I mean that literally) as it skidded and (according to my son) spun one or two times. I never saw that. My car came rather gently to a stop in the south bound lane of the road I'd been crossing. I asked my kids if they were okay, and then I pulled over to the side and spent about ten minutes looking for my hazard lights.

It seemed like forever that I sat there wondering what to do and thinking, "Oh my goodness! I just got hit by a police car. My kids could have been killed!"

Suddenly, a police officer was at my window. He asked if we were alright and I said, "Yes. It was a green light, wasn't it? I did have a green light?"

I think I must have been in shock. So he says, "Yes, but I'm more concerned about whether or not everyone is okay. ARE YOU OKAY?"

Which in retrospect seems kind of weird. I've been in another accident years ago, and I remember being asked what happened once it was determined that we were fine. Not this time. The next thing I new, police cars were everywhere. Someone was taking pictures of my car, and I was just sitting there wondering what I was supposed to do. I called my husband, but he was in school and didn't get my message. The same officer who'd first approached me handed me a paper that said (in part), "You have the right to remain silent. You have a right not to incriminate yourself."

So, I start thinking, "Am I in trouble? Did I do something wrong? I was coming across at a green light. I never saw or heard the police car. How can this be my fault?"

I called my husband again. Frantic this time because I didn't know if I should fill out and sign the form I'd been given. Then, when I still couldn't reach him, I called my parents, hoping they could give me some insight into what to do (they live about three miles from where the accident happened.). Our phone call was cut short when the officer approached again. He wanted the form, but I told him I wasn't sure what it was for. He said it was a form they always give out after an accident. Which isn't true. Maybe they give them out after an accident involving a police car. It felt to me like he was being snippy about it, but maybe that was my perception because (as I stated before) I was in SHOCK.

Long story short, the police officer in the car that hit me is fine. I'm fine. My kids are fine. My car is totaled. I'm anxious and upset and feel guilty even though I didn't do anything wrong. As I think always happens after something like this, I keep thinking about all the ways I could have prevented it from happening. After tossing and turning for hours, I realized there was absolutely nothing I could have done to keep the accident from happening. I guess, this is as close to a real accident as anything can be.

I've been told the police officer slowed as he approached the intersection. I don't know what he did. I'm sure he didn't mean to plow into my van, but I keep thinking - "how could he not have gone more carefully through that intersection? How could he not have stopped completely before going through such a big intersection?" By the time I saw him, he was going at a pretty good clip, so if he slowed....

Well, I just don't know.

What I do know is that my poor old car is dead, but we are fine. Purely by the grace of God.

And despite everything else, I have that to be truly grateful for.

Saturday, February 16, 2008


To Sabrina's blog. I'm not sure why I can never get this to work.

Uniquely You

I was catching up on some blog reading (read that as avoiding writing, laundry, dishes), and visited my friend Sabrina's blog. Mixed in among book reviews was a post from December where she described her son's experience at basketball practice. Let me try to post a link to her blog -

Her description of her son made me smile. I have a quirky kid, too. Of my four, he's the one most likely to come up with interesting ideas, understand deep things of God, explore the world with wonder and enthusiasm. Less mature than my other kids, he lacks some of the gifts that come so easily to them. While my other three thrive at musical endeavors, my second son struggles to feel beat and rhythm. While my other kids are gregarious and active, my second born is quieter, more introspective and given to deep thinking. While the other three run, jump and leap, my dear second child trips, falls and limps.

Is he to be pitied because he marches to his own beat, lives in his own world, enjoys things in a different way than 90% of kids his age?

Do we look back and pity Einstein or Edison? Do we feel sorry for Ansel Adams?

Of course we don't.

Those men (and so many men and women just like them) struggled in school, struggled at home, struggled with life, but their experiments, their drive, their unique way of looking at the world led to advancement in thinking, design and concept.

I remember when #2 was four. I brought him to get his eyes checked and learned that his vision was 20/425. According to the eye doctor, #2 had never seen the world clearly. A few months later, I brought all the kids back so that my oldest and youngest sons could get their eyes checked. When we came out of the doctor's office, my youngest son said:

"Do I need glasses?"

I said, "No, your eyes are 20/20."

He said, "What does that mean?"

I said, "It means your eyes are just the way God intended them to be."

To which my quirky second son replied, "So are mine, Mom. Just because I need glasses doesn't mean my eyes aren't the way God intended them to be. I'm exactly how He wants me to be."

He was FOUR.

I'm pretty sure my quirky guy saw (and still sees) the world much more clearly than the rest of us.

My point?

Whatever your strengths and weakness, whatever your dreams and aspirations, they are uniquely yours. God-given, they are the foundation of who you are, where you'll go, and what you will become. The Bible says we are knit together in our mother's wombs. In my mind, I see the Master creator, crafting the very fiber of who we are. Not by accident, not without reason, but because He wants us uniquely suited for His purpose.

As a quirky day dreamer who has become a teacher and author, I can honestly say that the things that set me apart from others are the things that make me able to do what I do. Determination, stubbornness, an unfortunate laid-back attitude toward housework, a huge imagination, the ability to create stories in my head and then transfer those images and thoughts into words, those are what help me walk the tightrope that is my life. Balanced precariously between my role as wife and mother and my role as author, I use the unique qualities God gave me to live the life He always intended I would have.

Don't be afraid to be uniquely you. Whatever your strengths and weakness, they are exactly what God intended!

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Good Intentions

It seems I always start the week with big plans regarding things like how much cleaning will get done, how much writing I'll do, how much more organized I'll be. Inevitably, I wake up on Thursday morning and think - where in the world is the week going and why haven't I accomplished more during it?!

What I'm beginning to realize is that I am only one person (yes, I know it seems obvious, but I so want to be everything to everyone). I have limited time. I can't be two (or three or four) places at once. Therefore, no matter how much I want to do everything for everyone, I simply can't.

Of course, realizing this doesn't make me any less anxious to accomplish what I feel I should.

Interestingly enough, when I was in college I wrote a paper focused on the idea that the more modern advances women have, the more time (rather than less time) they spend devoted to cleaning, cooking, etc. I think that idea is more true than any of us realize. All I have to do is watch television and I'm bombarded with commercials for equipment that I can use to (pick your poison) have whiter whites, brighter brights, shinier floors, more sanitary toilets, smaller onion slices, air tight frozen foods, even MORE airtight frozen foods, tighter abs, stronger thighs, clearer skin, more luxurious hair. The ideal woman, then, must have a spotless house, a perfect figure and timeless beauty.

Of course, by the time that perfect woman is done using every new product on the market to make her house sparkle and her laundry immaculate, and by the time she's done running and lunging and lifting and stretching, exfoliated and scrubbing, washing and rubbing, that poor perfect woman is a tired old hag who can barely lift her head to give her kids a kiss goodnight!

So, dear friends, I have not reached Thursday with my to-do list done. However, I am happy to report that I have plenty of energy to dole out hugs and kisses!

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Writing Challenges

One of the things aspiring authors don't often think about are the challenges that arise after the first contract is attained. While it may seem that getting published is the ultimate goal when it comes to being an author, I'd argue that the true test of a person's dedication to his or her craft lies in the ability to continue after the first book is sold. Case in point - during the months preceding my first sale, I congratulated three other new authors on the sales of their first manuscripts. As far as I've been able to tell, none of them ever sold another book.


Simply put, achieving publication is a wonderful, exciting and fantastic time in a writer's life. When we get THE call, we dance and scream and rejoice (as we should). Finally, after (sometimes) years of effort and countless rejection, we've been validated. We really are AUTHORS. However, writing isn't just an art. It's a job. It's not just a craft. It's a career. Being successful at it means pushing ourselves to continue past that first sale to the second and third and fourth. It means facing rejection again. It means working with people who have different ideas about our stories and writing styles. It means opening ourselves up to criticism and disappointment.

Perhaps even more than that, it means sacrifice- Sleep, free time, relaxation. We may have full-time careers apart from writing. We may be busy moms and wives; husbands and fathers. We may be homeschooling our kids or hosting Bible studies at our houses. Whatever the case, we all have lives outside of our writing careers. At least we should. Maintaining those things that are important in our lives while pursuing our God-given passion and talent for writing can be a draining (though fulfilling)endeavor. When the reality of the work sets in (revisions, copy edits, line edits, hours in front of a computer trying to make another story work), some authors decide the returns aren't worth the effort.

To be successful at what we do, we must accept early in our careers that it takes time to make money writing, that not everyone is going to love (or even like) our work and that sometimes the people closest to us won't understand the drive to complete the next story, sell the next book, continue the journey. Perhaps those closest to us don't understand that crafting a story is work. Perhaps they see our writing as a hobby - one that pulls us away from more important things (them!).

Whatever the case, to be successful as authors we must anticipate, acknowledge and accept the challenges that come our way. As with any journey God puts us on, we are not promised an easy path. We are only promised comfort and companionship along the way.

I guess my point is - being an author is one of the most fantastic jobs a person can have, but it requires a great deal of self motivation, self confidence and faith. Is it worth it? Of course! Is it easy? No. However, if it is your passion and your gift, what choice do you have but to push forward and strive to achieve all your goals and dreams?

Keep writing!

Friday, February 08, 2008


Do you ever wonder what life would be like if....

you'd taken that job opportunity that you were afraid to pursue?

you'd moved rather than stayed?

you'd had a child then rather than waiting until the money was there?

you'd stepped out in faith a little sooner?

you'd shared a little more of who you were or what you have?

you'd said you were sorry one more time?

Lately I've been thinking a lot about 'if only' and how those two little words can keep us frozen in place, afraid to move forward, afraid to look back. In my April release, Lakeview Protector, the heroine often wonders....what if...what if...what if. That question haunts her as she tries to move forward and live life in the wake of a horrible tragedy.

As I wrote the book, I found myself caught up in her struggle and wondering how a person could live with a descion that seemed to have completely altered her life. How do you go on when you feel one choice, one moment might have created a different outcome? A better one?

Of course, life is about moving forward and accepting that the past is just that - past. Still, do you ever wonder?