How I got home alive from that conference, I'll never know.
Yes, I do, God carried me on clouds of joy!!
Speaking of that conference...
Here I am sitting next to Sarah Sundin, and Vicki McCollum. And there's my agent, Mary Keeley, sorta lopped off to the left, talking to Michelle Ule.
SARAH SUNDIN?? Yeah, umm, the famed WW2 historical fiction writer??
I was TAH-RY-ING to take in the fact that THEE Sarah Sundin is speaking to me.
It worked. Sorta. The poor glamour-girl had no clue I was utterly beyond it. Or maybe she did and thought, "Mmm hmm, she's one of us. Time to help her take it all in."
I sent the left-over cheesecake home with Sarah Thomas, and was happy to hear that her hubby enjoyed dealing with the problem of too much dessert.
So, I floated home, Indy to Toronto, Toronto to Fredericton and my plan was to take a cab home. I think I did. Well, any way...I got home!
I know, right? Amazing attention to detail!
It took a few days to come down, and get the jet lag/time change sorted. That's what we'll call it, yeah....
A few days after I got home, my husband treated the family to a steak and seafood dinner, which was rather impromptu, to celebrate. That man can grill my steak JUST the way I like it!
The weeks following the conference were a heady mix of adding umm, a hundred or so new writer peeps to my Facebook friends, and marvelling in the fact that I could actually, legally and stuff, add the Books and Such logo, and the "represented by Mary Keeley..." sentence to my blog wall.
I think I cried through that!
When I got the actual agency contracts in the mail, I was terrified to open them. But it was a good terrified, kind of like seeing that diamond ring from the man you love, or getting on the airplane to fly to a place you'd dreamt of for decades, or the moment you hear God whisper "this is from Me, I'm right here, you're ready..."
I remember walking home from the mailbox and holding the envelope in my hand. It had my name on it, so...this was for real. It wasn't just a dream. And yes, later that month, we'd have the cell phone bill to prove it!!
But as I stared at that envelope, I wondered just what God had in store for me, because I knew the story was good enough for Books and Such, but was I?
Yes, that fear was real. As was the worry that somebody would find out I was an imposter. It's taken almost an entire year to shake that!!
Another God-thing transpired that floored me into maybe believing this was more than just "I wrote a story"...the chance to accept a standing invitation to New Mexico and do some more research.
So, off I went to Denver, and thanks to Jeanne Takenaka, I got to Colorado Springs. And from there, Amy Drown took me on an EPIC AND AWESOME road trip to Santa Fe and Albuquerque, and Belen. Dinner with Andrew and Barbara, then the next day, I said goodbye to Amy (Oh yeah, not hard at ALL) and Ted and evie Charles took up the tour guide duties. After a few hours of driving and chatting, we made it to Bosque Redondo/Fort Sumner and just about fainted.
The museum was closed.
I'd flown and driven for days, and it was CLOSED???
Now, this is where you think I'm crushed, right?
God is SO good!
I wanted and needed to get beyond the museum grounds , down to the river, to where the people lived and died. And so the fact that the museum was closed? Meant we could, umm, explore.
On the grounds, where the people would have eeked out an existance.
Ted Charles, the grandson of a seven year old prisoner named Tsi'tnaginnie.
Yeah, it was QUITE a day...utterly exhausting and truly breath-taking, at the same time. It fueled me in ways I cannot begin to express.
Oy, I'm still dealing with the emotions from that trip and that place. And a place called Canyon de Chelly. Look behind Evie Charles, see those trees? Those are trees, 1000 feet down on the floor of the canyon. Ohhh, what a place! Such beauty and misery. That's where hundreds and thousands of Navajo people lived, and were forced to surrender to the army in the early 1860's.
That trip shaped the second book, and when I got home, I went into a bit of a frenzy, getting as much feeling down as I could. I wanted to put the suffering on paper, and weave the hope into the words.
And writers know this, but it is impossoble to improve without the feedback from non-writer friends!! Friends like Monique and Francois Levert, Merry-Lynne Inman, Yvonne Nye, Siva Stephens, Ted Charles, and Rel Mollet, just to name a few.
These are not in order and I KNOW I've left out a LOT of people.
Annnnnnnnnnnd I forgot to mention my husband! John Major! Sigh, what a guy!
One thing I had not expected, as a writer, was the overwhelming support of fellow writers, whether published yet or not. Women like sarah Thomas, Lori Benton, Laura Frantz, Tamara Leigh, Kiersti Plog, Amber Perry, Cathy West, Amy Drown, Beth Vogt, Bonnie Grove, Jill Buteyn, Jeanne Takenaka, Gwen Gage, Ronie Kendig, and a certain group of women who shall remain nameless.
And as of Monday? Scott Smith, a monuments ranger with New Mexico State Parks.
HOLY FLAMING HISTORY BUFF!!!
So...where are we now? I HAD TO put my work on the altar set before God. This was not my story, it was His. I am merely the keeper.
Over the winter I dealt with waaaay more snow that normal, busy kids and their schedules, and then a fall on some ice that gave me a concussion and wrecked my shoulders, neck, jaw and voice. I struggled with losing my singing voice and wondered if God had not taken a string of pearls away so that His gift of turquoise and silver had room to shine.
The Navajo are renowned for their beautiful turquoise and silver jewelry.
But, I kept on writing, editing, working, editing, and then doing it all again. On more than one occasion, Mary has sweetly reminded me that this is my very first book. As in, I've never done this before. So I need to chill and stop putting deadlines on myself, as well as lofty expectations.
The biggest, hardest lesson in the last year?
Patience with myself, because I am a complete newb. Patience with my agent, because she represents who knows how many people, and actually has a family and a life beyond her job. Patience with the process, with learning what I need to learn to take me from 'meh' to amazing. And patience with building my 'platform' and all the other things expected of a writer that didn't used to be issues.
Brock and Bodie Theone never had to worry about Twitter, just sayin.
And patience with God's plan. Because I don't know it all yet. And frankly, this last 12 months has been a roller coaster because life gets in the way of our best laid plans.
God's will for us is never what is good enough, what will do for now.
His will is perfect.
I need to work on patiently waiting for that.