Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Captivation: Upcoming Writing Contests

Have I ever mentioned that I want to be a writer? I suppose if you've kept pace with me you've seen the telltale signs of my adoration of words strung together to create mosaics of story.

This afternoon I spent in the library pouring over writing magazines. I found many contests. So at the possibility of you beating me out and winning these contests, I'll share them!

Even this picture will take you to info on another writing contest. Deadline is in November!

Not Your Mother's Book
Consisting of real-life stories written by individuals 18 years and older, the series will not focus on death/dying, cry-your-eyes out sad selections, but only hip, fun, modern and very-much-today type stories that will entertain our readers.
word count: 500-2500

PNWA Literary Contest
12 Contest Categories
deadline: February 22, 2013
fee: $50 (nonmembers)
These can be book length and you get 2 critiques!

Crazyhorse writing contest
categories: fiction, nonfiction, poetry
deadline: January 31, 2013
fee: $20 (includes a year subscription)

The 9th Annual Geist Postcard Story contest
word count: max. 500
a postcard that somehow relates to your fictional or nonfictional story
deadline: February 1, 2013
fee: $20

Catharsis Journal contest
topic: How creativity changed my life
category: short memoirs between 2500-10,000 words
deadline: March 15, 2013
fee: $20

So my fellow writers, grab your pens and laptops and get scribbling. If you're prolific, you could have a story to each of these contests! I'm hoping maybe I'll submit a story a month. I think my creativity and my budget might be able to support that endeavor.

"The book you want to write is the book you've always wanted to read." - Dylan Brody

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Captivation: Rest

Rest. It's often forgotten or over-looked or pushed for later, saying "I can rest when I'm dead." I've heard others say that phrase and I've even repeated it to myself.

We beg for simplicity. We try to remind ourselves to simplify--to downsize--to minimize. Then, the note gathers dust and life whizzes by.

We dream of finding rest and contentment in idyllic places--tropical paradises.

We like to pretend that our lives spin out of our control--not by our bidding, but by the fates of the universe.

But what if we took hints from babies.

They have got their priorities straight. We need rest. Yes, we can rest when we die. But I want to live life to fullest and that requires quality rest. Living fully includes resting fully.

So it's time to make a new list and live in a new way. And make room for rest.

In light of this, what are you doing today to rest?

I'm here writing this blogpost. I'm attending a friend's junior recital tonight. I slept late this morning and went running at lunchtime. I built in this day of rest into my crazy busy schedule because I believe God knew something about us when he modeled resting on the 7th day.

Happy Rest!

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Captivation: Book Publishing

I ran into an acquaintance today who has been working at getting his book published. I do dream of writing my own book and getting it published, but there's a ton of work involved.

Currently, I'm in the lowest ranks of an editorial department. I do the brunt work and the busy work and the work that no one else wants to do. And I'm totally okay with that. It's nice to know that me working on that not-fun-work opens up the editors to doing the important stuff. So my work counts for something! And the priceless experience of knowing how a publishing house works.


Recently, I had the opportunity to read through the infamous "slush pile". This pile is the fear of every writer, but the true reality of the writer's life. A slush pile is the stack of unsolicited book proposals that an acquisitions editor receives. I read through 20 book proposals.


Two of the biggest reasons that these proposals were rejected:
- no platform (aka no place to self-market their book)
- wrong subject matter for our publishing house

What we can learn from this.
Please research the publishing houses that you desire to submit your work to, making sure that they publish your genre and be ready to self-promote! Personally, self-promotion puts a bad taste in my mouth, but it is necessary.

Helping a fellow writer out.
So you interested in reading about a new author with a new book that you can get on Amazon or Barnes and Noble's? Allow me to introduce you to The Eliot Papers. Want it on the Nook or Kindle?

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Captivation: Living the Daring Life

I'm gonna fess up. And now, I'm going to use good English--well, at least when it suits me.

I live a borrowed life.

Oh, wait. That's not what I wanted to share. I borrowed a book from the library. Okay, that's not so strange. But this book is called The Daring Female's Guide to Ecstatic Living.

check this.

Something about that title just spring out at me and starts my heart pumping. Who needs exercise anymore! Let's just skip to the heart-exciting and heart-rate-beating dreaming.

After reading a chapter, I accepted a skype phone call from a Spanish-speaking man. Did you freak? Yeah, me, too (Mom, we didn't exchange any information and we didn't chat with camera).

check this.

Speaking Spanish again, it was like sighing. Words came flipping back to me, but so did my Spanish struggles. And those reminders were not as welcome. But you have to accept the highs and lows, right?

So that was new. Speaking Spanish with a complete stranger.

A couple other new things flavoring life (my life specifically): dog-sitting (or trying not to sit on it, really), reading Harry Potter, vegetarian enchiladas, and dreams of boots with wedge heels.

check it.

So I'm a shoe-lover. Give me shoes. Please and thank you.

Oh, hey. How do you live a daring life?

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Captivation: Restless Roving and Wild Whimsy

Lost like a feather in the wind. Roaming like a kite without a string. Wishing on missing eyelashes and unlucky pennies. Desiring, yearning, crying out for more.

found here

And searching for this something more.

Looking in the mirror, and seeing Discontentment staring into or out of your own eyes.

Gosh, darn it. Glare at Mr. Discontentment riling up your life. Oh, he's good and nice creating a stirring for not settling for less. But sometimes...the adventure that he tells you is in another country or in another state is sitting beside you on the couch.

Did you just glance to your side looking for adventure? Well, that's most certainly a good start. Glance again. From my seat, a book splits open prompted so by the leaning of Reading Like A Writer and my Verizon LG cell phone. All of this captured in the purple sheen of my half full water bottle. And look! You can even see what I saw. Okay, the purple sheen isn't showing up as much as it ought, but I promise it's there.

But I haven't even mentioned the best part. When I walked into this cafe, every customer lifted their heads to blandly acknowledge my presence. Oh, under the eye of this uncaring audience, I wanted to dart right back out of the door.

But, I didn't.

Instead, my eyes skirted around the already occupied tables looking for a little nook to fill with myself. And I found this couch already occupied and I asked the silver haired luncher with black round framed glasses if I could share this little couch with her.

Oh, wait! Let me tell you of the book that lays open beside me. It is a ridiculous book. It goads giggles and chases harsh or worried looks away. And before I know it; I desperately want to leap from my comfy little couch and dance on the tables.

Want me to promise that I won't do it?

A day is coming when I shall dance on a table. In some packed establishment. Of course, this is not exactly my scene. Yet, there are times when life thirsts for wild whimsy. This looks to be more my thing.

found here

And if I'm hearing correctly. The world is parched!

Here are some ideas to help you along with filling this thirst in yourself and the world. Please don't forget to grin gargantuously (i suppose that isn't a word, but it's having the right influence upon my face).

Roll down your windows when driving in the rain.
Doodle on the bottoms of your shoes.
Pretend you're a secret agent when you leave the house.
Talk to strangers (sometimes that scares me--but it's never been a bad experience)
Wear wild patterns together that people will question.
Dance instead of walking
Prance instead of running

what makes you feel wild? or makes you want to laugh loudly? or puts sparkles in your eyes! Please do share with me!

Monday, July 9, 2012


Investment in anything is expensive. Investment needn't be money or time, but it can be both. Although money invested can change the way you budget, time requires much more heart investment.
Be wise where you place your investments--especially your life investments. But, don't take this warning as reason to not invest. Just because ice cream can make you fat doesn't mean you shouldn't eat it. To not eat ice cream occasionally is to lose the sweet flavor melting across your tongue. And that experience should be traded for none!
Investment enriches life. And the risky ones sharpen the flavor of success. So choose. And invest your life into something worthwhile.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

to jillian

I really should be sleeping. But I can't. My nerves are something. My eyes are dry. My stomach gets fluttery. And the house is full of sleepers. But I cannot sleep. I just feel plain weird.
A dear friend of mine marries tomorrow to a man who is God filled and laughter giving. Watching their friendship and dating relationship develop has been awe-inspiring. I am left with crashing memories and quiveringly silent giggles. The growth that I've seen in my friend's life leaves me joyous for her and opens the desire in me for the same thing.
This week, I have entered the wedding vortex. I am not my own. I walk and talk at the bride's bidding and happily so! I want to fit their vision.
As a bridesmaid, I desire to support this new couple to the best of my ability. I am part of the witness that they ask me to stand beside them "in sickness and in health" type of way. I know that's what the groom and bride vow to each other. However, as a community, we vow these things to them as well.
People need community. Support. Friendship. Affirmation. We can't do it alone. And I am a part of this group. And I'm honored to be so and I desire to continue in this relationship with intentionality and honesty.
Jillian, I vow to encourage you, make you giggle, and drink tea with you. I plan to write you, visit you, and facebook you. And throughout life, I desire to always be pointing to Jesus Christ on the happy days and the sad days. I support your marriage.
Now, I really ought to try to sleep. My eyes are feeling stingy. My adrenalin seems to have slowed. Tomorrow promises to be long.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Uncommitted Anonymous

I crossed my legs. And then, re-crossed them. Sitting on the couch with my new host family, I tried to engage in the conversation that the mom and dad were having. I tapped my foot. My eyes kept drifting towards the bathroom. They'll all look at me if i move.
Little T thumped across the wood floor with a high-pitched squeal bungee jumping from his lips. His older brother, Nah, stood inches away from the television fixated on his Lego Star Wars wii. No one paid me any mind. Just move, Barbara.
I spread my fingers out on my knee and carefully scrutinized my finger nails. A bit of yellow nail polish still clung to one nail. I picked at it. Then, I re-crossed my legs and squeezed them tightly together. Little T bumped into my leg and smiled his brilliant partially-toothed grin into my face. He toddled away. Taking a deep breath, I stood intent on following his two foot lead.
Shutting myself up in the bathroom, I perched on the toilet. I just didn’t want to commit to peeing. I leaned to my right so only half of me touched the toilet. And then, I realized. This is ridiculous. Commit already.
And I sat. fully committed. On the toilet. To pee. And I laughed.
Hi, my name’s Barbara and I have a commitment problem. I hate sitting on the toilet because that means I’ll have to get back up. I hate sitting down to write because I’m not actively involved in the world and must be wasting time. I hate choosing something to make for dinner because then I actually have to make it. And people wonder. And these are just the small daily commitments. I prefer to think of them as quirks.
What is it about commitment to anything that makes us fear? What is it about comfort zones that just seem so right? So secure and so good?
Struck by this wondering, I sat and purged myself of everything I feared in list form. Do it. Sit down and ask yourself what you fear. Once written down, those monumental fears are contained in tiny words that can be erased. Facing my fear in writing was freeing. Then, I could see it apart from myself. Yet, they were still scary, looming, and throat-squeezing.
And then, I wrote another list. In my second list, I wrote down the crazy things that I’ve done—those things that don’t belong in the comfortable. You should probably do this list, too. It makes me grin. It makes me feel wild. It makes me feel alive and unstoppable.
Oh? Did you want to see my lists?
Aw, yes. I wouldn’t mind showing them to you; however, I think you should make your own list. And honestly, if I know anything about the humankind, our lists will look extremely similar. And I know this doesn’t seem to have anything to do with commitment. Yet, I think it does. We needed to be committed to ourselves and delving into the things that make us uncomfortable and the things that scare us…like commitment. To do anything, we had to decide that we were going to do it.
Happy Thinking and Committing!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

and The Plan is...

"So now that you're graduated, what are your plans?"
I join my fellow graduates in the starry-eyed, blank stare. We blink. We respond, "That's a great question." Quick. Check the attentivity (I am aware that this is not a "real" word) of our audience before rambling into our long monologue of options that have only a 10% chance of happenstance.
Courtesy of here
For the past 22 years of my existence, I've been riding the always ascending escalator of education. And now, I have been ceremoniously (remember that terribly long graduation ceremony with all its Pomp and Circumstance) dumped off the top of this escalator of education. I thought this education was going somewhere. Now, I'm left milling around in a vacant warehouse that leads to everywhere (ever hear the overly-optimistic admonition "the whole world is open to you"?). If the whole world is in fact open to me, where are all the employers beckoning me and travel agencies offering to fly me around the world? Oh, I see them...over there getting swarmed by other college graduate hopefuls. Hmm. Okay. Well, I could crawl through all the feet to get to Dream Employers and Travelers...or I could do something else...
Huh. What's this? I'm looking down at my feet to see bits of paper all over this echoing warehouse full of recent grads trying to find where the whole world is open. I pick one up.
"Meet Mr. Right, Get Married right out of school."
I pick up another.
"Graduate with a job offer to Random House."
And another.
"Become a teacher."
Bits of dreams scattered around this warehouse where all dreams are supposed to come true, but it only appears that these dreams have been discarded--left behind to be crushed under foot.
Welcome to Life. Dream Crusher. Reality Mover.
Depressing, right? So now that my dreams have been crushed and my plans disintegrated, where do I go from here? And I'm wandering around staggered from the sudden lack of upward climb that has been dragging me through life's existence for years--now, what.
All along. There's been no plan. My parents didn't have a plan. Ha. That's why my dad's maxim is "one day at a time." That totally makes sense.
So what's my plan? Hmmm. I'm going to get married tomorrow. To who? Eh. Whatever. One day at a time. Maybe I'll go back to school or nanny...or dance in the rain...or something. I'll do something. Nope, I'm not worried. Everyone's making it up as they go. I will, too.
So my plan. I have no plan.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012


"He doesn't have a job."
I wonder why that causes such a problem. Upon hearing this phrase, there is an instant loss of respect. People find their worth and the worth of others in their jobs.
"He doesn't have a job."
It sounds like you just accused this person of being a bum. You argue that this is not what you said. I know you didn't. But, you definitely implied it. What I'm hearing is that a jobless individual must be lazy, irresponsible, and not smart.
"He doesn't have a job."
I'm sure this happens--where a person gets turned down for a job because they are over-qualified. How frustrating it must be to not get a job because you are "too smart." And then, everyone judges your worth on the fact that you do not have a job thinking that you just do not have the smarts.
"She doesn't have a job."
Stay-at-home mothers get a lot of grief for their "jobless" position. It's like to say that you are a stay-at-home mom that you must be "pregnant, barefoot, and in the kitchen." Interestingly enough, it seems to me that stay-at-home moms are generally pretty decently educated and could be career women but chose to stay at home. It's not a jobless position.
Sooooo...these American values...
Yeah, so those American values where a man's brains and worth are measured in their ability to hold a job. I'm questioning it. American culture is based on materialism. Welcome to the land where what you have is worth more than you especially when you're jobless.
Found here

Friday, March 30, 2012

I wonder at myself

I wonder at myself. What has happened to me? I used to be such an avid blogger with at least ten blogs per week. What has happened?

And then, senior year happened with a vengeance.

I type this to you make-up-less, sleep-less, paper-less (meaning that I haven't written the paper that I was meant to write), but friend-full.

I'm not done with this year yet; but, it has been deliciously good.

And if you've spent a moment wondering at my disappearance, don't worry too long but just nod your head in understanding of the craziness of life.

May the end of your March be fanciful and the beginning of your April lived by faith.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Captivation: Ruth

Like every other little girl in my Sunday school class, I wanted to find a Bible story heroine to emulate. Esther was too fancy and dramatic for me. My sister already shared judge Deborah’s name so I couldn’t choose her. Sarah laughed at God—probably not a good example to follow. And then, I met Ruth.

She shared my grandmother’s name. She was loyal, persistent, faithful, trusting, and lovely. In times of difficulty rather than choose the security of her father’s home and possible remarriage, she bound herself to Naomi. Why would she do that? Naomi freed her, but Ruth persisted. Why would Ruth choose to go to Bethlehem and possibly never return to her people? Why would Ruth choose to be the distrusted foreigner and the willing servant of Naomi? Why would Ruth choose Yahweh?

I didn’t know. I wanted to know. And so every year, I come back to the story of Ruth. And each time, I love her more. To me, Ruth lives out the definition of a Proverbs 31 woman although for the majority of her story we only know her as a widow. Life has been hard for her; yet, she still chooses to trust in Naomi and ultimately Yahweh.

My sophomore year at Bethel sitting under a mosquito net in Jarabocoa, Dominican Republic, I threw myself into the Bible. Rather than being a part of the Bethel experience like all of my friends, I lived with a Dominican family, struggled with a new language, and taught preschoolers in this new language. It was hard. I thought I would love every second of it. I didn’t. Paul’s letters comforted me even from 2000 years away. And Ruth, she gave me perspective.

I saw her working the fields of Boaz missing her family and the land where she was accepted. I saw Ruth’s tears that surely sprinkled the ground of the fields in her weaker moments as she realized that she would never return to Moab. When people called her cruel names, I recognized her resolute tensing of jaw and her eyes trained forward. I felt joy bloom in my own heart as Boaz showed her favor.

And I knew that in less than three months, I would return to my family, my country, my comfort zone—but forever leave Ruth in her foreign land. No longer would I deal with culturally confusing and bemusing things, but Ruth was destined to continue her struggle. Yet, Ruth had new hopes and dreams founded in this land where she would still always be stamped a foreigner simply because of her physical appearance. Ruth was different. So was I—in the D. R. She comforted me with her steadfastness. She set an example of cheerful obedience. She caused me to ask the question, “Would I voluntarily leave my family and culture forever to follow God?”

I don’t know. I do know that I desire to surrender the entirety of my life to Yahweh. If that means truly fulfilling the meaning of the name Barbara, so be it. As 2 Corinthians 3:18 says, “And we, with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory which comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.” I want to live a life unveiled before man and God so that all may see my transformation into His image.

Ruth lived out quiet surrender of her own desires. For most of my life, I have hated the word “surrender”. To me, it was weakness. To me, it meant allowing others to call you mean names. No, I wanted to be a strong, independent woman. Imagine my surprise when I looked over my life and realized that every good thing in my life came after I surrendered.

Ruth surrendered her old life. She resigned whatever reputation she had in her own land. Ruth submitted her hopes of marriage to a Moab man when she left. She yielded to her mother-in-
law’s dreams of home. Voluntarily, Ruth relinquished the security of her culture.

God noted all of this. He raised her up. He gave her Boaz. He blessed their marriage
with children. And then, God permitted her to be a part of the bloodline for Jesus.

When I see Ruth’s life and her voluntary surrender, I recognize a woman that I want to emulate. As a side note, Ruth’s name means “friendship” stemming from Hebrew. I wonder if her name was always Ruth or if she was renamed.

courtesy of Loaves&Fishes

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Leaping Lemurs, it's Leap Day!

There's been a lot of leaping around here recently.

1. It's Leap Day
2. Gases prices have leaped up.
3. The crazy wind made my skirt leap and gallivant around my legs Marilyn Monroe style.
4. My sister's cell took a leap into the toilet. Bye, Bye, phone.
5. There's probably been a leap in C-sections today.
6. I wonder if any ladies took the movie Leap Year's advice of proposing to their fiance today.

Since it's Leap Day, I suggest you do a surprise leap all of a sudden just because! Do it soon. Leap Day is almost over!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Loving Lana

(courtesy of printable coupons)

Sitting at a table for two at Eat ’N Park, Lana checked her fingernails. She could still see the flash of hurt shining in Jena’s eyes even though Jena probably sat in her cubicle busily calling clients and organizing data. It’s not like I meant to hurt her. It was a joke.

After all, everyone knew Jena and Alex would never sleep together. I’d sleep with him.

“Miss, here’s your Grilled Chicken Salad. Can I get you anything else?”

Shaking her head, Lana waved the blue-mascaraed waitress away. How about a tall blonde male with kind blue eyes and a hankering for some Southern loving? Yeah, I thought that was a high order, too.

Pulling lightly on her earlobe, Lana bowed her head and whispered to her salad. “I just want to be loved and to love. Is that so hard?”

Stabbing the salad with her fork, she took a bite tasting the vinegar. Ever since Jena started, she gets all the attention. Victoria praises her by piles of work. Okay, I’m not jealous of that.

And Alex, the love of her life, dates Jena. A taste more bitter than vinegar crept into Lana’s mouth.

“Is everything all right, Miss?”

Lana nodded glancing up at Blue Mascara to realize that she had been practically growling at her salad. The waitress placed a takeout box on the table with the check.

“Actually, may I have a to-go box as well? The takeout is for a friend.”

I just called Jena a friend.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Choking: A Reflection on Living

Life is a curious thing, but I find myself continually thankful to have a mini part of life. It is good to breathe and feel my lungs expand with cool air even as it burns past the place where water caught and choked me. Water gives life, but it can take life as well. These things make you think and wonder. Suddenly, even crappy days are worth being thankful for since there is always hope that the next day might be good or at least better.

You see, these thoughts stem from a happenstance that gained significance as the quiet wildness of the absolute need for breath to live seized my entire consciousness. Standing in the hallway outside of a meeting choking on laughter and unable to breathe because of water trapped in my throat, I raised my hands in desperation of appeal to no one in particular – perhaps to God or even in the desire that the prisoned water might trickle away from the knot that it had tied so completely around my throat.

In this moment, realization sent warning through my head. I stood alone in the hallway. If I could not gather air to my lungs, I might collapse. With no one to realize the danger until the sound of my body slamming against the floor alerted them to trouble and without the happy reassurance of the sound of my voice calling that all was well to allay the sudden fear of silence, they would scurry to my inert, un-breathing self. This could not happen.

Everything within screamed “Breathe! Stop laughing and try to breathe!” Try, I did. The knot of water would not loosen. I tried to gasp in air. Nothing. My chest painfully heaved. Air could not pass the wall of water in my throat. Tears clogged my eyes, and my body violently heaved in a last ditch effort to gain the air that suddenly made the difference between breathing and never breathing again.

The convulsion began at my abdomen and pounded through the rest of my body like a tsunami. From my mouth spewed the result of this bodily wave, and the cool necessity of my body’s longing filled my nose and my lungs. And I hoarsely laughed again, this time thankful to be able to laugh but embarrassed to have dumped the contents of my dinner on the hallway floor.

Through laughter and tear, I cleaned up the mess. And my friend said to me, “After this, we’ll either be tight or never be able to look at each other in the eye again.” Although the cause of this almost deathly laughter, she had also been the first to check when I had not returned to the room. She had come asking, “Are you okay?” to see me standing over a splash of puke with arms spread and body shaking as my first breath revitalized me after my recognition of possible death.

For now, I remember to be thankful for each breath because it hurts to breath as the air rasps across my throat – the place where the water knot sat. I want to live. I have every reason to live, to breathe, to laugh, and to spread this thankfulness to Jesus that my time on earth is not over.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Life is not what it seems

In a couple of months, the life that I know ends.
I know people have survived.
I mean there are so many post-graduates, right? They made it.
Didn't they?
Or do we only hear the success stories?
Different Social Circles.
Life is not what it seems.
It's no where as secure as I thought.

Welcome to the New Year.