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 … Glasses!

When my husband and I got married, we had so much extended family that between our shower and wedding gifts, we lacked … well, nothing. Towers of gifts included bedding, artwork, photo albums, and lots of kitchen stuff. Pots and pans, small appliances, cutlery,Glasses A dishes, mugs, and glasses.

In my previous blog post, I mentioned using my paycheck at Murphy’s Mart, a local department store, to put things I thought we’d need on layaway and pay them off. One item I recall was a set of chocolate brown, plastic cups so we’d have something to offer water or iced tea to visitors. Our wedding gifts included several sets of glasses, including floral squat ones as shown in the photo.

But those glasses aren’t the glasses I thought of for this post.

At an early age, I developed a bad poison ivy rash over 90% of my body. This caused some vision disturbances which led to a prescription for glasses in elementary school. I Glasses Bwore them as you’d expect a shy girl in the 1960s to do – not much at all. Through the rest of school, I dealt with the visual issues, but not until I was married and trying to work two jobs at once did I begin having serious problems.

After a few years, I began wearing glasses full-time. The frames for these glasses went from plastic to metal and back to plastic. The photo shows many frames available in the ‘70s. Today, I rely on my glasses more and more to see things near and far.

But those glasses aren’t the glasses I thought of for this post.

This morning, with the current ban on gatherings involving people outside our families, I decided to start a new Bible study as my trade-off for church. I’d heard of a company offering a series of Bible studies with videos for free plus a slight charge for the ebook study guides. I figured that would fit my needs well.

Since my word-of-the-year for 2020 is FOCUSED, the Bible study 20/20, by Christine Caine 005814000(of Women of Faith), jumped out at me. I paid for the ebook, installed their app on my tablet, and logged in to watch the first video portion. Besides Christine’s delightful Australian accent, the topic and accompanying Bible story brought joy as I realized what a perfect study I’d been led to.

As the title 20/20 suggests, it involves sight. Christine spoke of focusing (remember my word-of-the-year?) on the people right in front of us. She brought up the questions of who we see and who sees us. She included a statistic on the popularity of taking selfies to the tune of one million per day! And her point? How can we see others when we’re looking at ourselves so much?

She also spoke of how we would see if we looked through our regular glasses, a pair with scratched lenses, a pair without lenses, and a pair with the wrong prescription. I must admit to losing track of what she said we’d see or wouldn’t see because a memory of long ago came to mind.

And that’s the glasses I thought of for this post!

While I was a senior in high school, we experienced an extra heavy snowfall. To go to church one day, our dad cleared some of the snow, but much was still around the car doors. My brother opened the back door to get in, and I opened the front door. I reached out and grabbed the door frame between the two doors for balance to cross the snow by my door … just as my brother slammed his car door.

Glasses CLet’s leave the rest of that part of the story for another time. Today’s memory came from what happened later (no church for us). After icing my hand, I went to my bedroom and grabbed a journal I’d started a couple days before. I’d never kept a diary, but being a writer, it was bound to happen that I’d fall in love with journaling sometime.

I remember being thankful the hand slammed in the door was my left hand, and I wrote right-handed. One of the first lines I wrote that day said something like this: “Once again, I don my ‘glasses.’” I’d started calling my journaling “glasses,” although I don’t recall why.

Years later, as I reread those journals, I saw the name for what it was – a young girl-turning-woman’s way of finding herself and discovering her God. I’d just become a Christian less than a year before, though I’d gone to church all my life. I’ve journaled for the past 40+ years, seeing myself grow and stagnate, become and change through the lens of those journaling “glasses.” I’ve also learned to see God and what I’ve been missing in His work for me.

Brandon Heath says it best in his song, “Give Me Your Eyes.” Listen to this link and find your “glasses” so you can see what you’ve been missing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P5AkNqLuVgY

 

Did you wear glasses as a child? Do you remember a special set of glasses your family used for water or iced tea? Did you have a set for family and a set for company? Share your story of whichever glasses you feel led to write about. Blessings!

Tell Me a Story about … a Paycheck!

“Would you kids like to stay up until your parents get here? As soon as we hear them pull in, it’s up to bed quick as you can. Okay?”

3-16-20 DWhat kids wouldn’t agree to such a proposal? Stay up late while the babysitter takes the rap if they get caught? But, this first-time babysitter had a problem. Oh, it wasn’t the kids, though they did have behavior problems. The trouble was the creaky old farmhouse they lived in, the one which could have been from the set of some horror movie.

BUT it was my first job. I would earn money of my own. I sat for five hours with four school-aged kids and one dog which was having breathing problems because of eating a chicken bone. I even did their dishes which filled the kitchen sink, the table, and every available counter. My first paycheck: $5.00.

Although I watched those kids several times, I didn’t start earning real money until my 3-16-20 Afirst big-girl job as a hostess at the local Elby’s Family Restaurant. I don’t recall my starting wage, but that job didn’t last. Maybe because of my dislike of coring two huge mounded flats of strawberries every shift … or maybe because of my embarrassment from hanging up on the “big boss.” I’d answered the phone right when I’d gotten a $600.00 overring on my register and forgot to hit “hold” before putting the receiver on the hook.

When I graduated, I moved into full-time jobs, such as working at Murphy’s Mart, where most of my paychecks went to paying for things on layaway for my coming wedding. After that, I had a stint at the Great A & P Tea Company (because my dad worked there, and this was the only thing I could do that he did … another story someday). Again, didn’t last long … my husband yelled at the manager when I called to take off because I was sick.3-16-20 B

Finally, I landed a solid, full-time position as a bookkeeper and the die was set. For the next four years, I worked in accounts receivable, accounts payable, and accounts computerized (a.k.a. the first time a computer was used in the office).

Another job, one which I’d prepared over 50 years for, came with several paychecks of varying amounts, $0.00 being the prevalent one. Yes, I meant zero dollars. Writers are taught not to give up their day job.

But what about having to PAY to get a paycheck? That was a new one to me, but it’s exactly what happened on my first REAL sale of two articles a couple summers ago.

Preparing for a writers’ conference, I’d done my homework, studied the marketing needs of the publishers and editors coming to the conference, and wrote several articles and devotions to pitch to meet those needs. I met with an editor of online inspirational websites. She accepted one article, for which I knew there would be no monetary reward. Knowing ahead of time about the no-pay standard, the thrill came from her acceptance.

DSCF4784When it came to the second article, I met with the woman editor of an online magazine for writers. She enjoyed the humor in the article and offered to buy it for $10.00, the price mentioned on the website as their normal payment for articles of this type. Again, no surprise there. HOWEVER … in order to see said article when it got published, I had to purchase a subscription to the online-only magazine … a subscription costing $25.00.

So, those of you to whom math comes easy will see I paid $15.00 to receive a paycheck for $10.00!3-16-20 C

Fast forward to 2020 and the tides turned! I sold seven devotions to Guideposts for the All God’s Creatures 365-Day Devotional for 2021. I already received the payment for these devotions, an amount allowing me to attend a new writers’ conference. Now, that’s a paycheck I thank God for!

What about you? Tell us about your first paycheck. Where did you work? What did you do there? Was the pay worth the job? Leave your story in the replies’ box.

PS: If you aren’t yet subscribed to get automatic messages when a new story comes out, please consider doing so. If you are, thanks, and accept my apologies for the long hiatus I had from this blog. Too many reasons to spell out, but I’m back and ready to share our stories again and get to know one another! Blessings!

Tell Me a Story about … Magazines!

FOF 1 A (3)How recently have you meandered into a bookstore and checked out the magazine racks … and racks … and racks? Even with the number of magazine publishers closing, there remains a plethora of choices to fit any age, any interest. Women’s magazines full of recipes and homemaking tips. Men’s magazines filled with car engines and fishing lures. Kids’ magazines with puzzles and coloring pages. How can anyone decide on just one?

Being a writer and having an extra share of cFOF 1 C (2)reativity, when it came to teaching our daughters about writing, I chose not to focus on reports—the dreaded book reports of elementary school and those nasty 10-pagers of secondary levels. I figured the skills necessary to write those scholarly pieces could come through a more fun and no-less-educational foray into the world of magazine-making.

While studying animals, we created whole magazines with stories, poems, and more. Pictures cut out of glossy nature magazines and pasted on notebook paper allowed them to write short articles about the animals, which included a bit of research and teaching on journalism styles. Lists of horse breeds or FOF 2 B (2)habitats became word search puzzles. Pictures made from those old trace-and-color books became “Color Your Own Picture” pages.

Even comic strips drawn on blank sheets of copy paper offered lessons: art, dialogue, comedy writing. Add construction paper covers and staples to hold them all together and we had a magazine to treasure … and put in the portfolios for proof of our lessons in English, math, sciencFOF 2 A (3)e, art, and more.

With ten years between the first two daughters’ school years and their sister Faith’s, I had the joy of doing this exercise twice. I remember Faith called her magazine Kit’s Kreatures, after her favorite American Girl.

But Faith didn’t stop there. One day she came to me and said, “MaFOF 2 C (2)ma, I want to make my own magazine and sell subscriptions to it!” And so we did … and Focus on Fun was born.

Over the next four years, Faith developed, designed, and co-wrote her own 16-page magazine, with as many as 22 subscriptions one year. We kitchen-table published it, as professionally as we could, being lucky enough to own a copier (perks of a husband who works in the office products industry). Though often stressed to get the current issue out on time, we still enjoyed the brainstorming for each issue, choosing new “columns” and other articles to write.

This venture also gave Faith an incredible foundation in running her own business with credits and debits, overhead and invoices. The entire experience filled her homeschool FOF 1 B (2)days with more learning, academic and life-skills, than any 10-page research paper would have brought her. And it was a whole lot more fun!

The photos included with this post are from various issues of Focus on Fun. If anyone is interested in how we went about this, contact us at legaciesletloose@gmail.com!

*** Have you ever written a magazine article? Do you read any magazines regularly? Share your thoughts with us! 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!

*** If you leave a comment, check back for my reply to it. I always respond to comments!

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!