Tell Me a Story about … Adventure!

Adventure 6“Hey! Since you lost your job, you could go to the writers’ conference with me!”

My mother’s words did little to comfort me, considering I had just lost what I had assumed was my dream job. But … I HAD always wanted to go to the conference with her.

“But, Mama, the conference is less than two weeks away, and I have NOTHING prepared.”

Adventure 1

“That’s okay, just start a new idea now!”

Mama forgot I wasn’t a bottomless pit of story ideas like she was. But … I guess it couldn’t hurt to sit down at the computer. It had been quite a while since I had opened a Word document and just started writing.

The excitement grew over the next two weeks, and soon Mama and I were all packed and heading to one of her favorite places on earth. This was certainly going to be an ADVENTURE.

Huh … adventure. That word has always been a favorite of mine. Ever since I was young it meant good things! Adventure Adventure 4was a good book, an action-packed movie, or a surprise sister date. But really, adventure makes me think of one of my favorite series to dive into as a kid: the Choose-Your-Own-Adventure books. I loved flipping through the pages, making choices that adapted the storyline. (Somehow, I always ended up getting sucked into a black hole or releasing a squirrel inside the Statue of Liberty and having to start over.)

Yes, this spontaneous road trip was definitely an adventure. I didn’t know how closely it would resemble my favorite series at the time. Reaching the Montrose Christian Writers Conference, I was introduced to some of the most wonderful people I’ve ever met, and I felt right at home with the rest of the “odd ducks.”

Over that week, the idea I had typed so quickly in the weeks before became fleshed out into (surprise, surprise) my own form of a choose-your-own-adventure book. By week’s end, I had a ton of ideas, two whole pages written, and a few interested agents and editors.

Fast forward a year. Yes, a whole year.

“Hey! Since you lost your job, you could go to the writers’ conference with me!”

Déjà vu much? This time I gleefully accepted my mother’s idea and opened the forgotten document. Another ADVENTURE! By the end of THAT conference I had a whopping TEN pages written, still a ton of ideas, and more interested professionals.

Fast forward one more time to this past summer.Adventure 5

“Hey! Since I just lost my job, I could go to the writers’ conference with you!”

HA! Take that, Mama! I beat you to it!

I think God was trying to get my attention. This time, I was determined, and by conference time, I had a third of a manuscript and a few ideas left. That week however pivoted me into a very real choose-your-own-adventure. Around the fourth day of the five-day conference, I decided to meet with a publisher I hadn’t met yet (CHOICE #1), not having much to show her besides a few starting pages and a one-sheet proposal.

That conversation sparked this publisher’s interest, and she welcomed me to send her the full manuscript and proposal when it was completed, provided I had an agent. I happily accepted her words and went home with every intent of doing just that. About a month later, I received an email from said publisher asking for the synopsis and first few chapters. I considered politely declining, since it was far from ready, but I didn’t (CHOICE #2). Only a few days later, I received word from her offering me a contract! AND she wasn’t concerned that I didn’t have an agent! I would receive the actual legal document upon receipt of the full manuscript and proper proposal.

Adventure 2You would think I would have quickly finished the novel, wrote a bang-up proposal, and sent it on its way. Nope. I made the decision to not touch the manuscript for four months (CHOICE #3). See? Sucked into that black hole again!

However, around Christmastime, the book started nagging at me, and deciding to muster all the Christmas magic, I managed to write the remaining 40,000 words of the rough draft in just under three weeks (CHOICE #4)! I gave the finished novel to my mom for Christmas, and she helped me do the first edit and that bang-up proposal.

Sitting in a Panera Bread, with trembling hands, I hit send on the most important email I had ever sent (CHOICE #5). And WOW, was it a happy ending!

As I write this, I am planning the release of my debut create-your-own-adventure novel, Adventure 3Once Upon A Book. I think I made the right choices on this adventure, and I can’t wait to see where this choose-your-own-adventure life takes me next!

Once Upon A Book – coming fall 2020! Make the CHOICE not to miss it! Check out my Facebook page for more info and to join in the debut party fun!

https://www.facebook.com/FaithColleenWeaver/

From Cathy: How’s that for an adventure? Which of your adventures compare to this excitement? Share your stories with us! And don’t forget to join Faith’s Facebook page! Her book may be touted as young adult level, but as an adult, it’s a fine read, too. Plus, great for those young fiction lovers on your gift lists, just in time for Christmas!

Tell Me a Story about … a U.S. Savings Bond

Who remembers when buying U.S. savings bonds was the thing to do? A new baby? NoSavings Bond 6 diapers or bottles. Buy a savings bond! A wedding? No dishes or silver. Buy a savings bond!

Someday, that child will need a car and that savings bond will help; that couple will need a house and it will help. That may have been true when a $100 savings bond bought at $50 would mature to the $100 in a few years. But economy issues came along.

In the ‘80s and ‘90s, those same savings bonds often took two or three times as long to mature as they used to. Our daughters had some bought in those decades. When they went to redeem their bonds, they discovered they wouldn’t mature for another several years.

Savings Bond 1But the story I have to tell is about a U.S. savings bond bought in the 1960s for me as a child. I’d tucked it inside my cedar hope chest, along with my birth certificate, my SAT scores (in case I decided to go to college), and other important papers. I never looked at it or considered cashing it in, so I had no idea if it had matured or not.

In the spring of 1997, I attended my first writers’ critique group meeting. One of the members had a brochure for the Montrose Christian Writers Conference to be held that July. I’d never heard of this and was interested to see what it was all about, though I knew I couldn’t do it. For one, it would cost money … something we didn’t have.

However, one look inside the brochure set my heart pounding with “What ifs”! One of the instructors slated to teach was Elizabeth Sherrill, someone whose writings I’d long admired and would have loved to meet in person. But one look at the amount required turned my heart to stone. No way on earth could I ever find that kind of money. Still, I slipped the brochure into my notebook and sent a silent prayer heavenward.

At home, life went on. Homeschooling to finish, portfolios to make, evaluations to Savings Bond 2schedule. Now and then, I’d think about that brochure and sigh. Towards the end of May, I prepared for my annual writer’s club picnic. I’d led writers’ clubs in my home for eight years. Homeschool parents brought their K-12 students to the meetings every other week, where we learned writing techniques in fun ways. The picnic was a highlight of the year with nearly 40 kids. I had never charged for this club, nor any of my teaching or tutoring. I enjoyed it and wanted to serve my fellow homeschoolers.

Savings Bond 5At the end of the picnic, one of the mothers approached me and handed me a card. I figured it was just a simple thank-you card and stuck it in my box of supplies to take home. When I opened it, though, I discovered not only a card signed by all the kids and their parents, but money! A lot of money! I was shocked. A still, small voice whispered in my ears: “Writers’ conference ….”

Was it possible? I hurried to get the brochure and looked at the cost again. The money they’d given me would cover part of it, but where would I get the rest?

Then, God brought to my mind a slip of official paper in a yellowed envelope inside my hope chest—my savings bond. I’d heard that often older savings bonds kept accruing interest even after the maturity date, sometimes doubling the base amount. I wondered ….

As soon as I could, I took that savings bond to the bank to cash in. I waited, hoping it at least doubled. It was only for $25. Doubled would be a nice amount to add to the money from the writers’ club. Still not enough to go, but closer.

When the teller came back with a stack of bills, she began counting aloud as she laid the bills on the counter, “20, 40, 60, 80 ….” At some point, my mouth dropped open and I just stared at her.

Would you like to guess how much was there? To the exact dollar … enough that whenSavings Bond 4 added to the money in the card from my students would cover the cost of the Montrose Christian Writers Conference!

Does God delight in surprising us or what? Believe me, He gets all the glory for that year and the next 22 years at my second favorite place on earth.

 

And that brings me to letting you know to come back next week and read our daughter Faith Weaver’s guest post in which she tells about how she went to Montrose her first time by surprise. Also, check out her blog site (https://faithcolleenweaver.wixsite.com/faithcolleenweaver) for my guest post there this coming Saturday, May 16, 2020. All three posts go together!

 

And what about you? Did you ever have or purchase a U.S. savings bond? Did you redeem yours? Any interesting stories about them? Do share! We love to read your stories!

Tell Me a Story about … Peanut Butter!

Faith

Photo by Ian Wallace

I’m proud to give you the first guest post by our daughter Faith Weaver. Faith is a dancer, writer, and an incredible young woman-of-God. Watch for the link for her coming blog for her first novel! (She is also the amazing photographer of many of the photos I use on this blog, including the one below of her writing desk!)

It sticks to the roof of your mouth. It adds just the right amount of savory to chocolate. It makes everything sticky. And it helps writer’s block. Yes, that’s right. Peanut butter is a magical property that can seep into your brain cells and unlock the deepest blocks when it comes to writing. So, when I think of peanut butter, I don’t taste peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for lunch and Reese’s on my smores. I don’t think of sticking my finger in a brand-new jar of Jif (family tradition that grosses my husband out). I think of writing.

When I was young, my mom taught me the love of writing, just as she did my sister. I would sit beside them as they wrote, listening to them tap the keyboards as they poured out their thoughts, and then suddenly, silence. The quiet consumed the room as they 7-23-18 Bthought of what wonderful words they should type next. Then came the well-known sound of the backspace bar as sentences were written … re-written … deleted … changed … written the same way as the first time … and then deleted again. Finally, one of them would grab a jar of peanut butter which was never too far away, and they’d scoop out a spoonful to eat as they thought. Somehow, the magic never failed and soon they would be back to typing away.

Eventually, I became curious and asked what was so special about the jar of peanut butter, to which they replied that the peanut butter was “Writing Peanut Butter,” and it helped with writer’s block. It was like joining a secret club! My excitement over sharing something so special with my mom and sister, whom I idolized as a kid, made me feel like I was walking on clouds. And the biggest surprise: it worked! The peanut butter was actually magic! As I grew, I always had a jar of peanut butter beside the computer, and when I moved out, it was the first thing I bought for my home office. (NOTE: Generic brands aren’t magic, they’re just messy!)

7-23-18 ANow, as the Montrose Christian Writers Conference draws closer, I am spending more and more time in front of my computer trying to write furiously. But with extra writing comes extra writer’s block, and I will be forever grateful that my mom and sister instilled me with the great peanut butter secret. Dipping a spoon into a jar of creamy goodness (crunchy peanut butter is an abomination) always starts my creative juices flowing again. I like to think the stickiness is pulling the block away, leaving a fresh path of thought in its wake. As I’ve said before and I’ll say again: “Writing Peanut Butter to the rescue!”

*** What does opening a new jar of peanut butter mean to you? Please, share your story! Click on the words beside the date of this post. Scroll down to the box with the heading, “Leave a reply.” Thank you for sharing!

*** The week after the writers’ conference always means anticipation! It’s also the end of my Christmas-in-July events. Check the post next week to see what I’ll be doing to anticipate the actual December 25th celebration of Christ’s birth!