Five Minute Friday: Glue

Hello, Friends. Welcome back for another Friday spent with Lisa-Jo and the Five-minute crowd. Today, we’re taking five minutes to write on the prompt Glue. Do you have five minutes to write, read, or both? Why don’t you join us?


1. Write for 5 minutes flat – no editing, no over thinking, no backtracking.
2. Link back here and invite others to join in.
3. And then absolutely, no ifs, ands or buts about it, you need to visit the person who linked up before you & encourage them in their comments. Seriously. That is, like, the rule. And the fun. And the heart of this community…

Today’s Prompt: Glue

“He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.”~ Colossians 1:17

lines via kimberlyanncoyle.com

My son once came home with a sheet of homework in which he answered this question: Name and describe one or more important people in your life. He wrote, “One important person in my life is my dad. He is like the glue in our family.He works hard every day to keep us going. I want to be like him.”

I snapped a quick photo and texted it to my husband in the split second before my magnanimous attitude dissolved into self-pity with a twinge of anger. My kid made no mention of me, the mother who labored for hours on an April morning in the upstairs bedroom of the house with the blue door. The mother who continues to labor day in and day out for this child, working tired hands and tired emotions all the livelong day. I know, I am small. I am envious.

I am human.

When I look at this paper on a good day, when I remember my worth, I see a son who wants to be like his father, who wants to hold all things together, and keep us going, and stick our broken bits together like glue. My husband is showing our boy what it means to know a father’s love. He is a human example of God, our Father. The Father who holds together this spinning earth with His words, the ones that spoke it all into being, and with The Word–Jesus.

We are small. We are envious and bitter and hurt and broken. We are Adam. We are human. Today, I remember the glue that binds all of these shattered bits together, the one who lovingly puts us back into one patched-together piece because His body broke for us, stretching across time and space and a cross-shaped tree.

It is Good Friday. Let all of God’s patch-worked people rejoice.

………………………….

Thanks for stopping by today, friends. And now for the business end of things: I recently started a page on FB to support my writing here, so if you’re feeling rather magnanimous today, would you consider clicking like on my page? I’d be ever so grateful! If you want to keep up with me on Twitter, find me here. Not sick of me yet? I pin all manner of beautiful things on Pinterest, just click here.

In the comments, would you tell me where I can find you?

Wishing you all a joyful Easter!!!!

Share

Spiritual Misfit: A book giveaway

IMG_3179

I grew up in the church, the daughter of pastor parents who believed, more than anything, in living like they were the hands and feet of Jesus. I rubbed shoulders with the doubters and the deep believers, the sick and the healed. I knew what a life looked like when Jesus called it redeemed. I saw bondage and I saw set free. I saw my parents sit right in the thick of it all with an unshakeable faith, a faith I caught early and caught hard.

A few weeks ago, my friend Michelle sent me a copy of her memoir Spiritual Misfit: A Memoir of Uneasy Faith, and I knew it would be funny because she’s funny. I knew it would be beautifully crafted and vulnerable and written like a letter from one friend to another. I didn’t know that I would find myself in the pages of her book too. Our spiritual journeys are different in every way. They resemble spiritual bookends, and we meet where God’s story unfolds, right smack in the middle.

Michelle began exploring her faith by asking the question “Why not?” Why not believe God exists? Why not believe the Bible is God’s word and Jesus is His son? Really, why not? I explored my faith by asking the same question, only viewing it through the lens of a lifelong believer.  Regardless of the way we approached it, we came to the same conclusion.

Before I read Michelle’s book, I wouldn’t have labeled myself a spiritual misfit. I know all the right words, the catch phrases, and the appropriate ways to behave. I know the pat answers, the trite prayers, and the ways we try to earn our way into heaven. I know what it means to” Be the Church”, which is a highly unpopular thing to admit to these days. Holding fast to what I believe in, in a world that doesn’t believe with me, helps me better understand Michelle’s story. Wherever we are in our faith journey, we may find it hard to fit in. We’re misfits in the world we enter or the world we leave behind, with God’s story unfolding right smack in the middle.

Spiritual Misfit launches today, so head on over to the virtual book store of your choice and order yourself a copy. Get one for a friend, too. You know someone who needs to hear it’s ok to ask “Why not?” They might find themselves with an answer as they read about Michelle’s journey. It’s poignant and it’s funny, and the Cheez-It story alone makes this book worth buying.

I’m giving away two copies of Spiritual Misfit to a reader who leaves a comment. Tell me where you most feel like a spiritual misfit, where you are in your spiritual journey, or if that’s a bit heavy for a Tuesday, tell me how you feel about Cheez-its. I will use the highly scientific method of allowing my kids to choose two numbers at random from a hat. Also, (disclaimer) your book won’t come as cutely packaged as the photo above. That was my copy, and Michelle apparently possesses packaging skills that I do not. The giveaway is open until Good Friday, April 18th.

Share

Eternal spring

On Monday, I wrapped up my short-ish series on writing. There are infinite topics we could talk about, but they’re already discussed around the web by people with far more authority than me. I thought it best to stick to what I know, which is my own personal experience. Thanks for joining me, and feel free to pop in the comments at any point with your own stories or questions.

DSC_2343

This week found me six hours from home, in the land of cherry blossoms and sunshine. I tasted Spring and it tasted like pink petals and new life. It hit me anew how little time I have left for exploring the world with my children by my side. My daughter will have a life completely and entirely apart from me in a few years time. I felt fear rising when I realized how little I know, how little I have to pass on to her about how to live fully alive, how to love God with all your heart, soul, and mind, how to separate laundry or bake a chicken. I’m still learning and growing right alongside her.

Maybe this is the best gift–to show her that learning and growth continue past the degree seeking years or the child-bearing years or the tired thirties. Hope remains that I may one day learn how to cook a steak or read a map. Maybe I’ll figure out how to be a good friend or tell an irresistible story. Perhaps my black thumb may turn green. New life is around the corner, ready to burst from the blossoms and wrap us up in a sea of pink.

DSC_2342

Chicken and laundry aside, I will teach her this: Keep seeking. Keep asking. Keep knocking. Regardless of her age, these three promise to give life, to usher in an eternal spring.

Share

Proposals and pitching

writing via kimberlyanncoyle.com

This post is the fourth in a series on writing, written for those beginning their journey towards publication. For the first three, click here, here, and here.

………………………………

Nearly two years ago, on a hot, southern July afternoon I found myself sitting face to face with a woman who quite obviously did not find my sense of humor funny. She never cracked a smile, and my insides did this weird twisty thing while my hands sweat through the book proposal I held in my hands. The paper went limp, and so did my spirit when she pulled a book out of her bag and slid it across the table to me. She whispered, “You might want to take a look at this.” And then she suggested I try Toastmasters to help me with my increasingly awkward, stuttering book pitch. When I left the conference room, all cold sweat and jitters, I glanced at the advanced copy of the book  she slid to me. The topic was eerily similar to the one I had just pitched. I shoved it in my bag, and released a rough and jagged sigh when I realized I had two more appointments to go, and not an original leg to stand on.

This book pitching craziness all started with Emily Freeman. A year prior to my attending the 2012 She Speaks Conference, I read Emily’s series on writing and how she attended this conference with the same twisted insides and a growing hope for the book proposal she carried with her. She wrote of her journey to publication with such openness and vulnerability, that it made me think for the first time ever, that writing a real book might be possible for me too. That it wouldn’t have to remain a dream scribbled on a piece of paper, but that it might become a living, breathing thing. Emily made me believe in the impossible.

For months a sliver of an idea had taken root and begun to grow in my heart, and after reading Emily’s series, I came away with some concrete steps for pursuing publication. I discovered that non-fiction writers typically write a few chapters of their book, and then write an accompanying book proposal. This proposal has multiple parts including a detailed description, a market analysis, a marketing plan (aka Platform), and a complete outline of the book’s chapters. I purchased Michael Hyatt’s “Writing a Winning Non-Fiction Book Proposal” ebook as well as Mary DeMuth’s tutorial, and I combined the best of the two to write a proposal of my own. I found both of these to be excellent resources that helped me produce a professional proposal. I spent the better part of three months perfecting my proposal, and in July 2012 I flew to the same conference that Emily attended to pitch it.

I met with two editors and the aforementioned Toastmaster espousing lady. Overall, the feedback was positive, but later, when I received their rejections via email it came down to my lack of platform. Books similar to mine hadn’t done as well in the market as the publishers hoped, and they didn’t think a no-name blogger living in Switzerland could compete with other, more well-known writers. It was a blow, but not entirely unexpected. After those rejections, I sent my proposal to every agent representing non-fiction that I could find in the Christian Writer’s Market Guide. My book was roundly rejected. A friend kindly sent my proposal to her own agent, and I received one of my loveliest rejection letters yet.

After a year of rejections, I put that proposal aside. In hindsight, I don’t think the idea is unique enough to grab a publishers attention without a big platform to support it. Maybe I wasn’t ready and neither was my book idea. And here’s what you need to know, your first idea out of the gate may not be the one that hits. It might take multiple proposals and many painful rejections before you whittle your idea down to the core, the true essence of what it is you want to say. I’ve spent the last two years going deeper, peeling back the layers to discover the heart of my message. My first book proposal examined the first few layers, the second proposal (another story for another day) burrowed a bit deeper. The one I plan to begin writing in the next few weeks (an even longer, crazier story with very loose ends), finally reaches down to the heart. It’s taken me two years, two full proposals, six pitches, face to face rejections, emails, phone calls, countless tears, tirades, rages and giving up only to start all over again in the morning, to discover what it is I truly want to say.

My lack of platform may kill it in the end, but this third time around, I feel more certain that my craft and my passion and my ideas are growing. If you take anything away from this post at all, dear writer, let it be this:

According to a well-respected agent, kind enough to share his hard-won wisdom with me, you need two of these three elements:

1. Excellent Writing–craft, craft, craft.

2. A unique and universally appealing idea.

3. Platform–followers, readers, likes, etc.

Did you feel the impossibly heavy door swing open a crack? I know I did.

………………………………

What questions do you have about the proposal or pitching process? I’d love to answer them from the perspective of someone who’s still working through the kinks.

 

Share

Five Minute Friday: Writer

Hello, Friends. Welcome back for another Friday spent with Lisa-Jo and the Five-minute crowd. Today, we’re taking five minutes to write on the prompt Writer. Do you have five minutes to write, read, or both? Why don’t you join us?


1. Write for 5 minutes flat – no editing, no over thinking, no backtracking.
2. Link back here and invite others to join in.
3. And then absolutely, no ifs, ands or buts about it, you need to visit the person who linked up before you & encourage them in their comments. Seriously. That is, like, the rule. And the fun. And the heart of this community…

Today’s Prompt: Writer

It just so happens that I am in the middle of series on writing. For the first two posts, click here and here.

writing desk via kimberlyanncoyle.com

The words squeak out, and I always look away when I say them. “I’m a writer. I write.” And then I look up to catch the surprise passing across the face of my conversational companion. They see a mother. They see a wife. They see a woman who quit working years ago to stay home and “keep house”, the stupidest explanation ever for what I do on a daily basis. I keep a family. But, I also write. And not always within the margins of my day, but for concentrated periods of time, where I punch an invisible time clock and settle in for my shift.

My thoughts come out in black and white. In vowels and consonants. So do my stories, the ones I can’t speak with my mouth, yet somehow they flow from my fingers. I’m a writer. I write. It’s preposterous, really. I feel dumb every time I say it because the list of writers I admire could be tattooed the length of my arms. I wear them like invisible sleeves, and to imagine my name among those pricked into my skin over 30+ years of reading is silly.

Madeleine L’Engle says stories help us to become more whole , more Named. And I know this too be true. I am more whole when I read, when I find myself in a novel. I am Named when I write. I discover more of myself in every word I lay down, and my hope is that you discover yourself there too.

…………………………….

What have you read or written recently that makes you feel more whole and Named?

Share