Tribute in 2010- A Literary Look Back at the 1st Decade of the 21st Century

Photo credit: Bureau International
des Expositions Official Site
Hi friends!

Wow, 2011, huh? Remember Y2K? At the time I was in the ninth grade, fourteen years old, in the mountains of North Carolina skiing with my best friend and her family. People were stocking up and clearing out the grocery stores with a frantic anxiety that I could not understand. It seems silly now, but the thought of all our computers shutting down meant an end to our way of life. Imagine having to sit at home with a book and a glass of homemade wine (because stores couldn't operate without computer inventory and, therefore, nothing would be grown, stored, shipped, or purchased, dontcha know?). What terror! I could certainly go for a time without my cell phone buzzing or the nightly news sending me into a downward spiral of depression.

But enough about that! Today's post is, as you can very well see, a tribute to the big moments of the past decade...more importantly, it's a tribute to the people, the books, the classes, the happenings that led me to write and read. All writers have a story about why they write; usually it's because they stumbled upon some fabulous author, or because they were told bedtime stories, or because they were lawyers and decided they hated lawyering (is that a word?).

Mine is fairly typical. My dad read Bible stories to my brother and sister and me growing up (I used to get bored and pick at my fingernails while imagining a scene where Mary and I would chill at the feet of Jesus while Martha acted like a frenetic housewife). I wrote my own "books" and "published" them by creating a cover of posterboard and Crayola markers. Then, when I was 10 years old, I stumbled upon the haunting face of a young girl, trapped on the cover of a diary in my elementary school's library. Her name was Anne Frank and she pretty much changed my entire outlook on writing. I saw how it saved her from the horrors that existed all around her, even within her own family, and I was deeply moved that she had, indeed, become the famous author that she had always dreamed of becoming. I started a journal when I was 11, and I still write in it. It slowly became my conversations with God and, even now, I can go back and read how He changed my heart as I was writing. I see the Bible as powerful not just because it is the living word of the Lord, but because it's tangible...because we can see it and read it over and over. Because we can go back to it in the moments when we think we've forgotten what to do...and that's what writing is to me. That's what stories are to me. They are holy...they are good...they are pure.

When I was 14 I turned in a fantasy story to my English teacher as a part of an extra credit assignment. She didn't believe, at first, that I had written it. That same year, my mother introduced me to Harry Potter. It had not yet become the worldwide phenomenon that it is now, and I actually refused at first because I thought the whole premise of the book sounded silly. I don't even recognize that girl anymore! Ten years, seven books, seven movies (can't WAIT for July!), tons of games and posters and magazines and dolls later...well...it would be an understatement to say that J.K. Rowling's incredible talent had an effect on my literary aspirations. I traveled everywhere with her and would lose myself for hours in the pages of her books. Lunch and dinner would go by and I'd hardly notice. It was the first time I realized what great storytelling was all about, and how hard it would be to become a great writer.

I still read constantly in high school, but boys and friends and thoughts of college steered me away from writing. I've always wanted to be a singer, a dancer, an artist, a model, a writer, a designer...anything that would allow me to create and perform. Singing was at the top of the list but, despite my aspirations, I could never quite get over my stage fright. I performed hundreds of times with the women's choir in college, and even had a few solos, but I always felt that shaky panic in my gut when I knew I was about to be alone under the spotlight. It's why I earned myself the nickname "Key Change Girl" after I sang the national anthem my freshman year at GSU...I freaked out and dropped to a lower key in the final verse so my voice wouldn't crack. Yeah. You read that right. So can we please stop talking about it and move on? I had (have?) a decent voice...but without a troupe to perform with, I couldn't hack it. Now I'm learning the electric guitar because I'll never be able to let music go...maybe one day...

I changed my major from Interior Design to Journalism in late 2003...which I hated. Journalism was too objective (well...that's a matter of opinion...no pun intended). I was bored with reporting facts and, to be honest, I was no good at it. I hated AP style and felt it was too restricting, but I stuck with it and looked forward to my music classes (I had a music minor by this point) for comfort. Then, lo and behold, during the fall of 2005, during my junior year of college, I was taking a stroll through the English department, debating another change of major, when I discovered a flier hanging on one of the many bulletin boards. Georgia Southern had brought on the Writing and Linguistics degree. There were four choices to pick from for your preferred concentration and, wouldn't ya know it, creative writing was at the top of the list. I almost died right then in the middle of the hallway. I walked straight over the my advisor's office and filled out the paperwork that afternoon.

I would say that the rest is history, but I can't forget my incredible professors. Sonya Huber. Peter Christopher. Laura Milner. Eric Nelson. These exquisite writers showed me a world I had never seen before. Writing was the hardest thing I had ever done. I was torn apart and put back together by my peers and my teachers, and I loved every second of it. It was in their classes- Creative Non-Fiction, Fiction, Poetry, Rhetorical Writing- that I began to understand the process of making words become more than just characters on a page. If I had pages and pages to write, I could never describe what these people did for me.

I did some travel writing in Greece during the summer of 2006 for study abroad. I published a few articles and poems in the campus newspaper at GSU. I published two articles in Susie Magazine. I even submitted a poem to The New Yorker just to say that I had. It was rejected and I expected nothing more than that. I just wanted to say I had done it. And then I started writing a novel. I worked at a publishing company for nine months. And then I wrote another novel. And here I am.

Now wasn't that fun? =)

One quick thing and then I'll be on my way...

One of my resolutions for 2010 was to read 100 books. I only read fifty, but I wanted to share with you my top ten favorites before we jet off on our weekend adventures:

1. Stern Men by Elizabeth Gilbert
2. The Shack by William Young
3. The House at Riverton by Kate Morton
4. Between, Georgia by Joshilyn Jackson
5. The Girl Who Stopped Swimming by Joshilyn Jackson
6. Backseat Saints by Joshilyn Jackson (I'm a fan...)
7. Something Blue by Emily Giffin
8. True Colors by Kristin Hannah
9. Life of Pi by Yann Martel
10. The House on Tradd Street by Karen White

What were your favorites for 2010? I look forward to reaching my goal of 100 this new year!

Travel safe and be blessed!

XOXO,
Wendi

If a tree falls in the woods, but no one is around to hear it...


Jillian and I on my 25th birthday this year.

Hi friends!

Last night I had a belated Christmas celebration with my best friend, Jillian, and we went to see Black Swan (cheery, right?). Besides being an amazing film, it was probably the most sexually, emotionally, physically graphic movie I've seen in a long time; however, the intensity worked for the thrilling story and, as much as I hate to say it, some of the more squeamish parts were necessary to get the point across. And while it will put you on edge the entire time, I do recommend that you see it (on a side note: prepare yourself for some uncomfortable moments...such as the Mila Kunis/Natalie Portman oral love fest). But I am no Roger Ebert...so let's get to the topic of today's post!

I brought up my friend, Jillian, because she has always been enthusiastic about my writing. After we exchanged gifts and returned to my apartment in the city (late night McDonald's snack in tow), we sat on the couch and talked about my novel, among other things. Jillian has read most of my first novel (if you haven't visited me here at ABC before, I wrote about 100,000 words on one novel but have never finished it) and she loved it. It is centered very tightly around my own experiences in college, and my efforts to navigate relationships, a group of friends who became more like family, classes, and the newfound independence that comes with moving out of your parent's home. It is autobiographical, but I'd like to call it creative non-fiction...or even fiction for that matter. My creative writing professor, Peter Christopher (R.I.P.), always said once something is written down it becomes fiction. Either way, it's full of things that my friends would recognize as truth, and plenty of other material that was inspired by reality but completely made up. When I got to the subject of my newest novel, Jillian, after demanding to know why she hadn't had a chance to read it, asked me what it was actually about. When I responded, her eyes lit up from behind with a certain kind of glee (which made me want to puff out my chest a little bit, I'm not gonna lie) and said:

"Legs (her nickname for me...I'm very tall and she has a hard time keeping up), I want to READ this book!"

If you knew Jillian, you would know why this was so important. She does not bullsh*t. She does not play games. If she thinks something looks bad or isn't going to work, she says so...believe me. When my wedding dress didn't fit me right and I asked her if it looked bad she said, "Well, I can tell it's too big in the front. But you're getting married so who cares?"

So if Jillian didn't think the premise of my novel sounded like a story worth reading, I would have been able to see it on her face before she said a word.

Agents and publishers will tell you (via their blogs or their rejection letters...whatever the case may be) that you need a trained eye to read your work. Friends and family do not count, unless they happen to be editors. And while this is absolutely true, I also think it's important to let the people closest to you in on your work because it's people like them who will support and encourage your efforts...and it's people like them who will be standing in the aisle at Barnes and Noble reading the back cover and thinking "Do I want to buy this?" They are by no means the final say-so during the writing process, but I believe their encouragement can be a great tool to push you forward on a project you might have stopped believing in.

In my case, Jillian's words have made me eager this morning to boot up my laptop and hammer out the final edits.

XOXO,

Wendi

Does word count really count?

Hello friends!

In all my musings on writing and publishing, I feel the need to clarify a point: I do not think of myself as an expert. If I was an expert, I would have a published novel right now, yes? But I will admit that I am far more knowledable on the subject than your average person. So while I wouldn't go toot my own horn to someone like, oh I don't know, Kathyrn Stockett (stop reading this and go buy her book The Help right now...but come back to me when you're done, k?), I would say that this Bundle is a good source for those writers who are just starting out and need a bit of advice on how to navigate this world.

On that note, let's jump right in!

I've been reading through a dozen agent blogs over the past few weeks and I keep trying to find someone who is THE source for word count. There are hundreds of rules about hundreds of genres, so after I figured out exactly what my genre was (women's fiction...not chick lit...they are actually different things...think Kristin Hannah vs. Emily Giffin) I went searching for the "correct" word count.

Let me just save you the trouble of wondering. There isn't one.

All in all, most agents (as well as publishers, authors, etc.) agree that your average novel should be anywhere between 70,000-100,000 words. Once you start tipping over into the 110,000-120,000 arena, you've gone a bit overboard...that is unless you're extremely famous and have a huge fan base and can do whatever you want (i.e. J.K. Rowling)...or if you're writing some sort of historical epic. My first novel, the one I never finished, is hovering somewhere around 115,000, which is way too long for  the story I'm trying to tell, especially if I'm not even done with it yet. My newest novel, the one that is complete, is perched quite happily on its word count of 60,000. It's a little shorter than I'd like, which is strange for me because...well, I don't know if you noticed...I like to talk. I love details and I adore following pages into the history of a character. I rambled too much in my first novel. In this one, I was so excited about it that I rushed to the finish line (it was 50,000 words before I started editing...much too short) without allowing the reader to find out who these people were. I'm still working on it. In my readings I have found that most agents won't send you a rejection simply because the book is too short (or long...though they can and they have) because if it's a story they want to read, it's workable and during the editing process it can be lengthened/shortened; however, I do not want to take that risk because agents have tons of queries to read so they want to find any reason to say "no" and move on to the next person. Word count could be that reason...so I'm trying to make sure that it is not an issue with my novel.

Rules vary from genre to genre and person to person. I just want to give you a general idea of what to expect if you're trying to write a book. Young adult novels are typically shorter. I've seen anywhere from 35,000-70,000 word counts, but many of them tend to be longer. Nicholas Sparks' The Notebook (I like using him as an example because his website has so much detail about his early career) is not YA and it was only 52,000 words, which is extremely short. But his characters, his plot, and his story were all there. I think word count depends on the type of story you want to tell.

If you send out an amazing query letter, chances are someone will pick you up, no matter the word count. The most important thing is to know your audience and know your story.

Until next time!

XOXO,
Wendi

White Christmas (for the first time ever!)

Hello friends!

I hope you all had a very merry Christmas and happy holiday! It snowed here in my hometown in Georgia, for the first time that I can remember in my 25 years, on Christmas morning. What a blessing that was! I was happy to read that all my fellow Facebookers posted that this Christmas was their best ever. What a difference a little snow makes, huh? Sorry to those of you who live and/or had to travel up north where it got ugly. All the more reason for you to live below the Mason-Dixon line in Hotlanta (yes, I just said that...I'll understand if you want to smack me). But seriously, I went to New York for Christmas back in 2006 (Amazing place! I would, actually, leave Atlanta to live there...even if I had to bring my own jugs of sweet tea with me) and it was the coldest I think I've ever been. Not my idea of a holiday, let me assure you, despite the culture, the beauty, the fun, the...well...you get the picture.

But now that (most of) the holidays are past, I want to look towards the future. I'm very excited to be participating in the Chick Lit Plus Reading Challenge for 2011, and I'm working on my book as we speak (or I will be whenever I'm done typing this). My hours at work are early now (Praise the Lord! After 3 long years!) and so I will be getting home at a normal hour and, therefore, will have more time both when it's quiet at work and at night when I'm home to finish the edits. My prayer is that I will be able to brag about my progress come New Year's Day...but we'll see how that goes...

I went through the bookstore (surprised?) to try and find a good read to start off the Challenge. I'm thinking of Emily Giffin's The Heart of the Matter as my first read. I've read each of her other books (all hilarious, witty, authentic chick lit...none of that sappy stuff) and fell in love with her, so it's a no-brainer. I have a few other choices on the list, as well: Mercury in Retrograde by Paula Froelich and The Opposite of Me by Sarah Pekkanen. Thoughts? I read with lightening quick speed, so I'll probably have my twelve read in less than 6 months...BOOM! ROASTED! If you didn't understand that, it's okay...I forgive you.

One quick side note: Go see Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. I know most of us are more familiar with The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe but, believe me, they are all fantastic stories! C.S. Lewis was one-of-a-kind and I would like to see his work supported more than it has been (in the movies anyway). My favorite line from the film? Eustace, the obnoxious-cousin-turned-hero asks Aslan if he will ever see Him again. In response, Aslan says "I'm always with you, only, in your world, I'm known by another name." That's our King, our Savior, Who is with us no matter if we're at work, brooding, or in a magical land that we entered by falling into a picture frame =).

XOXO,
Wendi

What are your resolutions?

Hi friends!

Only two more days until Christmas and I'm finally done with my shopping! Hooray! Now I just have to wrap it all, clean my house, and get a good night's sleep before the festivities begin tomorrow (praise the Lord that my work is allowing us to have Christmas Eve off this year...not so in past years...). I've been listening to Christmas music all week and I am ready to worship at Buckhead Church and relax with my family and friends.

But after Christmas, after all the food and sweets and down-time, comes the resolutions for the new year. Have any of you started your list yet? In honor of this impending celebration (and subsequent struggle to follow-through with said resolutions) I have posted mine from last year. Let's have a look-see, shall we?

BTW...this was posted on Facebook Notes...otherwise I probably would have lost it by the end of January. So here we go...

New Year's Resolutions 2010


(I wrote out 25 because it's a good round number and, unfortunately, that's how old I turned this year.)

1. Finish my book- CHECK (I actually wrote two: one coffee-table book, and one novel. The first is published...the second is...well...on it's way in that direction)!

2. Get through my first grad school class and internship without hyperventilating or anything similarly ridiculous- CHECK (for the first part...I did have a panic attack after months of barely any sleep)

3. Read a one-year version of the Bible and finish it by December 31, 2010 - Got through to April...but I still have 8 days! =)

4. Go skydiving!- CHECK (twice)!

5. Let Jesus be my King and Pierce be my prince-Working on it...

6. Get my novel published, sell lots of copies, go on a book tour, reach #1 on the NY Times Bestseller list, and have it picked up for a movie...that's not too ambitious, right? Okay, I'll settle for being published- CHECK!

7. Visit my family in California- CHECK!

8. Read 100 books- Got exactly halfway there.

9. Make our new place a HOME- CHECK!

10. Write more letters- CHECK (my sister-in-law is my new pen-pal)!

11. Finish my Greece scrapbook- Psshh....

12. Save and maintain at least 3 months income in our savings account- HA (I did start our 401(k)!

13. Stop being a control-freak- I have nothing to say to this.

14. LOVE LOVE LOVE all day, every day, no matter who, what, when, or where- Working on it with every fiber in my being!

15. Be selfless- Like most of these, always a work in progress.

16. Get a tan-CHECK

17. Join a dance class with the hubby ;)- I did join a class but, alas, the hubby stayed behind...

18. LAUGH -CHECK!

19. Learn to cook one incredibly exquisite dish and serve it to family and friends with our fine china- That's a good one for 2011

20. Get Bella all her shots, a nice grooming, and a few little breath mints ;)- Does washing her in the bathtub and waking up to find her chewing on the toothpaste tube count?

21. Limit my procrastination (because stopping altogether is just an unattainable resolution)- Much better this year, I must say.

22. Drink a bottle of water every day- Maybe I should change "water" to "sweet tea"...

23. Live in the freedom that grace has given me- Loving this part of the journey!

24. Add another country to the ones I have already visited- I added it to a list of places I want to go...so...that's all I've got for now!

25. Spend more time outside- CHECK!

The final tally? 13 out of 25 (and, yes, I'm giving my self extra points for the things I did twice, such as skydiving and writing two books). Not too bad! 2010 was definitely the first year I have ever followed through with my resolutions. I imagine some of them will continue on for the rest of my life!

So what are your resolutions for 2011? Have you got any crazy/wonderful things you'd like to accomplish?

Merry Christmas!

XOXO,
Wendi

'Tis the season!

Hi friends!

First off, let me begin by simply stating that I love (love, love, love) Joy Williams' "Here With Us". It is, in three words, UH. MAY. ZING. You should go check it out!

So how is everyone doing? Fabulously, I hope. I'm a little behind on my Christmas shopping, but I suppose it's not that bad considering I won't get to see some of my friends until after Christmas Day, so I'm not as stressed for time. I can't wait to attend the Christmas Eve service at Buckhead Church on Friday. It was incredibly intense on Sunday...what great fellowship! What a blessing it is to serve a King together with other believers who desire Him. Plus, I got to hear "Oh Holy Night", which is my absolute favorite of all the Christmas melodies =).

Today I thought I would touch on a few of my recent thoughts on writing and blogging. I've been spending inordinate amounts of time reading agent and writer blogs online (most of which are, to say the least, hilarious) and it's been great not only for increasing my understanding of the publishing world, but also for encouraging me to write and edit. I'm thisclose to finishing my novel and sending out my queries, and reading these blogs are (despite the actual time spent reading them) really helping me along. I read what other aspiring authors have asked, and what the agents have to say in response, and it makes me feel that publishing my novel is just around the corner. Time cannot be wasted! It's like the winds in Sharon Creech's YA novel Walk Two Moons (another thing that is absolutely UH. MAY. ZING...I'm 25 and I still adore her books) that follow Sal around whispering "hurry, hurry, hurry...rush, rush, rush". I will not let the New Year pass without having completed my edits. This is not simply an arbitrary deadline I've given myself; it's more a notice to remind me that I can finish the book, and soon, if I devote myself to it the way I should.

My hope is that I'll work on the novel this evening (and spend some time asking for my husband to forgive me for being such an immature brat last night...tired Wendi + not-tired husband and long work hours = ARGUMENT...which was entirely my fault, I will admit) and then relax with some coffee and the Gospels. I need a bit of time to gather my thoughts away from how stressing this week has been so far. Thankfully, my hardest tasks have been taken care of and I can move on to, well, the work I actually WANT to do.

I hope that each of you is having a wonderful holiday season. My prayer is that you'll spend some time reflecting on how adored you are by our Servant King and reading about the incredible story of His birth. No matter what you believe, I hope that your holiday is a blessed one and that you have safe travels!

XOXO,
Wendi

A hot mess...

...yup, that's me! At the very least, I am this week. I'll get back to you later to let you know if much has changed.

Editing was going really well early on in the week. I had completed more than half of my novel, and was well on my way to being finished when BAM! Temperatures dropped and everything in the metro-Atlanta area iced over. Now if you are not from Georgia you might be well surprised to know that we, unlike our Yankee brethren, do NOT know how to drive in inclement weather, even when said weather is...well...just not that bad. Southerners, myself included, would probably have panic attacks if required to travel in, say, Chicago during this time of year.

Something that does always surprise me, however, is that we haven't gotten used to driving under such conditions. Why don't we have chains for our tires, or salt, or gravel to put down in the winter? It may not snow (or stick) very often but, every year like clockwork, it ICES. Temperatures dip below the thirties and it's too cold for snow (ha!), so the rain immediately turns the roads into ice skating rinks. EVERY. SINGLE. YEAR. What is our problem? My guess is that people have memories like peanuts and, somehow, forget...

What really happens is that in some areas, yes, the ice is very bad. Bridges, for example. And there are a TON of bridges in Atlanta. The city sends out trucks to take care of the ice, but they always wait until after the damage is done. Why? Don't they know anything about being prepared in advance?

I left work on Tuesday night around 9:30 p.m. We tried to get out early, but it's finals week, and I can't very well tell students to get out when they have work to do (I'd have liked to...I knew it was going to be hell trying to get home). After I left I got about 15 minutes down Interstate 20 and dropped off my co-worker at her apartment. I couldn't even go down her street; I just had to drop her off at the gate because the whole road was...you guessed it...icy. As I left, I passed over a bridge that had a few rough patches, but nothing major. The news crew was there, though, because somebody had hit a telephone pole.

Back on I-20, I passed 9 cars wrecked on the side of the road. Mind you, I still hadn't seen any ice on the actual interstate. But, suddenly, I did see brake lights....tons of them...for miles...I-20 had been shut down. So I got off on some random exit and used my phone GPS to get me to downtown from the back roads. I got off on MLK (success!) thinking I could make my way to Spring Street and get home from there. No such luck. I got turned around twice because the roads I needed were closed. At this point, mind you, I had been on the road for almost two hours (for what is typically a 25-minute commute). I finally ended up in the West End, which is NOT a good place for a young woman in a fairly decent carto be when the sun goes down, especially when there is a risk of wrecking said car and being stuck...but there I was anyway. After fighting with my husband, who was desperately trying to find another route for me and who was very sweetly worried about my present location, I found my way back to I-20. Success again! No traffic! Oh, but then it got interesting...

I was a only a mile away from the downtown connector, thinking I pretty much had it made by this point. Just a few more minutes and I'd be pulling into our garage. But then I got on to the connector (which just so happens to start off as a steep, curving BRIDGE) and immediately started to fishtail, along with the other five cars behind me. I panicked, to say the least. It was black ice and it was ugly. The whole damn thing was just a sheet or frozen rain. I finally got my car to stop and I prayed very hard, and cried a good bit, too. I've driven on ice before, but I've never been stuck on a bridge where my only hope was to slide down and hope that I'd be able to control my car enough to not slam into the concrete guardrail at the bottom. My favorite part was when I looked in my rearview mirror and saw a semi-truck COMPLETELY sideways, slowly slipping along the top of the bridge, approaching me at a speed that made me want to jump OFF the bridge and into the on-coming traffic below. But then it stopped. It was still a good thirty yards behind me, and I would have been buffered (or smashed) by the other five cars between us. I watched as some people tried to putt-putt their way to the shoulder and sit with their flashers going...while about ten others, over the course of an hour, put on a brave/stupid face and risked the downhill slope. Mercifully, every one of them made it safely to the bottom.

I called 911 to see if they could get a truck out there. The woman I talked to was wonderful but, alas, no one ever showed up...at least not while I was there. My mother called me and, as mothers are want to do, panicked that her daughter was stuck on an icy bridge after midnight. My husband called and tried to help me figure out what to do. I had to pee really badly (sorry...but it is relevant to the story) and so I was getting very desperate. I was sleepy. I was scared. And my bladder was about to explode. Not a good combination. But then...

...my father-in-law called me. He is a great man, and I am very lucky to have married into such a family. He is older and wiser than most, and he has worked on cars for years (sometimes he forgets that he is 73 and tries to challenge the younger generation at redlights), so his knowledge about cars and how to operate them goes way beyond my nine years of experience. I was finally at the point of saying "Eff this", and, inch by agonizing inch, he talked me through how to get to the bottom without crashing. Literally, inch by inch. It was release the brake, press the brake, release the break, press the brake, over and over for more than fifty yards until I finally rounded the curve (and even though I got used to what I was doing, it was still a little precarious there towards the bottom when the bridge was at its steepest and, every time I pressed the brake, my back end would slip a bit). FREE AT LAST!

Oh, I'm sorry. You thought it was over?

I merged onto I-75, now only minutes from home, and who should I see when I try exit? A Georgia State Patrol. Blocking my way. "The whole bridge is frozen," he says to me.

Are you surprised?

So I got off on the next exit, made it home safely, and RAN inside to the bathroom while my husband parked the car for me.

And then I called in sick yesterday and spent the whole day nursing an upset tummy. I listened to classical music and wrote and drank coffee by the pretty Christmas tree. Oh! And I finally got to see "A Charlie Brown Christmas" for the first time in years. Hooray for me!

The End.

Chick Lit Plus Reading Challenge for 2011 (because who doesn't love to read girly novels?)

Hello friends!

I hope you got a chance to read Jordan's interview with me, here on ABC; if not, please go check it out! It's a fun little Q&A, if I do say so myself...







Today's topic is the Chick Lit Reading Challenge, hosted by none other than the creator of one of my favorite blogs, Chick Lit Plus. Samantha is her name, and reading finely-written chick lit is her game. I signed up yesterday (it involves books...need I say more?), and you should too! But first, a quick glance at the rules:

1. The goal is 12 chick lit books throughout the course of 2011 (that's not too hard!).
2. Two of the twelve must have been written by new authors whose novels debuted during the year of the challenge.
3. Keep checking back in with Samantha at Chick Lit Plus in order to find the latest and greatest information on new releases and potential books for your challenge!

Prizes will be given away monthly, and Samantha is available to answer any questions you might have. Make this challenge a part of your New Year's resolution to read more in 2011 (unless you never keep your resolutions, in which case please make it a part of something you know you'll follow through with...like your bi-weekly manicure...go ahead, read your chick lit! Unless you speak Korean, you probably won't know what those salon ladies are saying to each other anyway...).

Head on over to Chick Lit Plus now and sign up for the challenge!

Love, Wendi

Author Jordan Christy shares her thoughts with A Bundle of Contradictions!



Photo credit: Sarah Barlow
Hi friends! Today we have a very special guest on ABC (drumroll, please!): Jordan Christy, author of How to Be a Hepburn in a Hilton World. If you're anything like me, you've probably wondered why so many young women feel the need to act out in order to get attention (Miley's video bong hit, anyone?), while the fabulous girls who keep their clothes on, say "please" and "thank you", and work hard seem to have become the minority. How to Be a Hepburn in a Hilton World is a young woman's guide to living with grace and style in the 21st century and, judging by its success, it would seem that classy girls like Jordan are actually the majority.

And so, without further ado, ABC presents: Jordan Christy

1. How did it feel, after the success of Hepburn, to know that so many women identified with your work? Very humbling! While writing it, I truly thought, "Well, at least I know my family will buy four copies." So, it's been very exciting and gratifying to connect with so many others who feel the same way. 

2. Can you tell me anything about your new book? I will say this: it's a different genre :) I can't even tell you how much fun I've had writing this book, I'm going to be sad when it's finished!

3. What is your go-to Starbucks order? Oooo good question. Depending on the season, either a hot or iced decaf caramel macchiato. 

4. Describe your writing process. Do you write every day? I wish! I'm usually lucky if I get one good writing day a week. But that one day is a big one: usually 8-10 hours straight. I know a lot of writers require a very specific space or environment to write, but my requirements are very minimal; as long as I'm surrounded by a bit of clutter and have a hot beverage, I can write almost anywhere. 

5. What one piece of Hepburn advice would you like to pass on to your childrenAmong others, respect. It seems that respect for elders, authority figures, etc. is becoming a rarity, and I want my children to truly value and respect everyone from their teachers to their grandparents. 

6. Do you have a reality show guilty pleasure? We actually don't currently have TV at our house, just movies and DVD's. So, I'm extremely out of the loop with reality shows. But, my husband recently bought me The King of Queens on DVD so we've been having fun reliving the late 90's with Kevin James.

7. Who is your favorite author/what is your favorite book? Gah! That's like asking me to choose my favorite ice cream. Hands-down my favorite books are humorous, semi-autobiographical works about everyday life ala Jean Shepherd, Nora Ephron, etc. But I always love a good YA novel, too: Ann Brashares, Meg Cabot...Oooo but then there's children's books, too. I love Flat Stanley, Matilda, The Baby-Sitters Club...To sum up, I've tried really hard to be a super-serious scholastic aficionado, but it turns out I just have the literary inclinations of an 11-year old. 

8. What is one suggestion you would offer new authors trying to get published? Write about what you know. It's always much more impassioned and authentic.

9. We both live in the South, a region famous for its hospitality and manners. Do you find that women here make it a higher priority to act like a Hepburn, rather than a Hilton? I do believe there is a bigger emphasis on civility and propriety in the South. However, I've come to find countless classy girls in every region, from the West Coast to Australia!

 10. If you could spend the day with one celebrity, who would it be and why? I really want to be friends with Gwyneth Paltrow. I think we'd have a good time together. GP, if you're reading this, call me. 

A BIG thanks to Jordan for stopping by and sharing her thoughts with ABC! To find about more about Jordan, please visit her website or follow her on Twitter.

XOXO,

Wendi

To query, or not to query? That is the question.

Happy Friday friends!

Today's topic is the query letter. The more I am involved in the writing process, research for how to create the best novel I possibly can, and publishing said novel, I find that the answer to the question above is this: QUERY. AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE.

What is a query letter, you ask? Good question.

A query letter is, in its most basic form, a document that details who you are, what you've written, and why it is the most fabulous piece of artistry that will ever be created. Queries are important because a successful one could ultimately be the bridge between your novel gathering dust on your shelf and becoming a must-have at Barnes and Noble.

After you've finished your novel (I'll get to non-fiction in a second), and only AFTER you've finished (I'm including edits, final edits and, yes, more editing), you'll want to put together your letter. The most important pieces of information to include are your writing background (any published work, degrees, what-have-you), a short summary about the book (title, word count, basic plot), and why this book is relevant and/or will be a success. Think about why you want to read a book. What would YOU expect readers to want from YOUR story? Sell yourself! Because that's exactly what you will have become at this point: a salesman (woman, person, whatever...). And if you don't believe in your story, who the heck will?

Nicholas Sparks, bestselling author of, well, just about every tear-jerking love story in the last fifteen years, actually posted his original query letter for The Notebook (his first novel) on his website. It is a treasure, people! Pay attention because this is the query letter that led to signing with the talented agent he has been with for his entire career, as well as a million dollar rights deal with Warner Brothers (and, let's not forget, one of my favorite movies with one of my favorite wish-they-would-get-back-together-couples: Rachel McAdams and Ryan Gosling).

You can view Sparks query here.

Once you are ready to send out your letter, do your research. There are plenty of excellent guides out there for top literary agents, and most of them include a little bio, what they agent, as well as contact information. An agent is going to be the person who reads the letter and, if interested, contacts you to see your book. This is why you have to be finished with your novel first; you'll want to get it sent out as soon as humanely possible, which means you won't have time to finish editing. You'll probably get rejected. Many times. This is okay. It's never happened to me because I'm still editing but, honestly, I'm looking forward to it. Why? Because I can't wait to know that all my hard work is paying off and, at the very least, I am receiving feedback. If you've been following me for a bit, you know I am planning on framing my first rejection letter (and, of course, my first letter of interest!). I'm most excited about knowing that other people are reading my work and that it has become a tangible thing. But enough about me...back to queries and agents...

Once you've been accepted (it WILL happen!), it is up to YOU whether you want to work with that agent. You might have a few who want to represent you, which is a great place to be. Figure out who really understands your characters and believes in your potential to not only make money (let's face it: agents only make money by selling your book, so money is essential here), but to continue to create stories that people love. When you've found the right one...CELEBRATE! Do a victory dance. Drink some wine, go out with friends. Call me! I'll be excited to hear about your success.

Now it's up to the agent to sell your book to a publisher. Lots of people send their manuscripts directly to a publisher, but this is not a good idea. Publishers don't want to sift through unsolicitd manuscripts to find something worth reading. Agents do that leg work, and publishers (for the most part) respect agents because they have already made sure the novel is up to standard before they see it.

Non-fiction (how-tos, memoirs, cook books, etc.) work a little differently. In this case, you don't have to have the book written, or even started. But you do have to have a good idea about what you want to write and why. You'll put together a proposal to send to agents, which will be a detailed synopsis of the book, chapter by chapter, in addition to a letter that looks much like a query. A proposal usually runs about twenty pages. This is not a simple thing to do and it requires a good deal of time and effort. The final process is mostly the same (send proposal to agents, get rejected, then signed) but then you'll have to write the book. The good news here is that you'll have your agent before you write, so you'll have a great support system in place to do the work.

Leave comments or questions, if you have any, and I'll be glad to get back to you!

Wendi

What can I say? When I make a promise, I keep a promise =).

Hello friends!

I promised you all in recent posts that I would have some cool things to offer here and, boy, am I very thankful to announce that, very soon, A Bundle of Contradictions (ABC) will be hosting one of my favorite authors: Jordan Christy, author of How to Be a Hepburn in a Hilton World! Words can't even begin to express my excitement!

The whole process came about when I, after seeing so many bloggers do the same, wondered "Now why in the world couldn't I interview someone?" So I fiddled around on a few author sites and found that, voila!, many of them have contact information listed, either directly to the author or to a publicist. I have been following Jordan's blog since I first read her book last year and, every week, I receive her "Happy Hepburn Friday" updates in my email inbox (You should subscribe too! What girl doesn't want to learn how to mix up a batch of stuffing muffins on a whim or put together beautiful photo collections as gifts? These are the things that all ladies should be well-versed at doing, my friends! You never know when you'll be hosting a party!) I sent a quick email to her publicist who, in turn, emailed Jordan who, in turn, emailed me. Sometimes all it takes is just putting yourself out there. Jordan is a classy girl and she has written about the lost art of living with grace and style, so it's a great pleasure to have her stop by for a visit on ABC.

Be on the lookout for her interview and, in the meantime, check out her book! It's a fun read!

Wendi

A Bundle of "One Day I Will..." Favs

Hi friends!

Today is a quiet, not-very-productive day for me and my editing, so I thought that I would procrastinate further by listing a few (or more) "One Day I Will..." favs, just for your entertainment ;). These are not in order of importance; they just kind of fell out of my head. So here we go:

1. One day I will...travel all over Europe with my dear friend, Lauren.

2. One day I will...take a picture of myself "holding up" the Leaning Tower of Pisa (I know it's cheesy and touristy, but who cares?).

3. One day I will...author books as a career and use my downtime to be a housewife.

4. One day I will...read the entire Bible, from start to finish (a task I began this year in my One-Year Women's Bible and only got through to April...).

5. One day I will...handroll my own sushi.

6. One day I will...live close to my best friend, Jillian, again.

7. One day I will...have another wedding (to the same man, of course...I'm speaking here in terms of anniversary vows).

8. One day I will...have a daughter named Lucy and a son named Lucas.

9. One day I will...wear every item of clothing in my closet without repeating outfits.

10. One day I will...drink a bottle of water every day.

11. One day I will...walk where Jesus walked.

12. One day I will...see Anne Frank's diary in person.

13. One day I will...live outside of Georgia, preferably by the beach.

14. One day I will...sit in rocking chairs with my hubby of 50 years.

15. One day I will...purchase in-season Louboutins, a Chanel bag, and a DVF dress.

16. One day I will...pay of all my student loans and credit card debt (!!!).

17. One day I will...buy my Dad the '68 Mustang fastback ("midnight blue, restored from the ground up", he always says) he's talked about since I was a kid.

18. One day I will...be a good mom.

19. One day I will...see my older brother play drums for a really awesome band at a really sold-out concert.

20. One day I will...give $1,000,000 to Georgia Southern's Alumni Association.

21. One day I will...crowd surf.

22. One day I will...meet Butch Walker.

23. One day I will...get over my stage fright (singing, not speaking).

24. One day I will...see my name on the credits of a (good) movie and they will read something like this: "Based on the bestselling novel by Wendi Nunnery".

And the last "One day I will" (in honor of my age, don'tcha know?) is...

25. One day I will...learn how to cook like my grandmother =).

Love, Wendi

Writing the book was easier than this...

If you've just started reading, you might be interested to know that I wrote two books this year. If you've been around for a while (I still see my one loyal follower here, but maybe there are others who have not subscribed), you are fully aware of this already. Either way, one of the books I authored was The Mayfield Family Story, a 100th anniversary legacy title from The Storyline Group, a publishing company here in Atlanta that I worked for from January to September. I was an editorial intern and was assigned, because of my desire to become an author and my experience as a writer, to be in charge of writing the story for Mayfield Dairy Farms (c'mon...I know it's mostly a Southern company, but everyone should recognize the big, yellow jugs of milk at the grocery store...), which was, I have to say, a huge honor for which I am extremely grateful (here's to you, Phil). The Mayfield Family Story is currently at the printers and should be available this month. And, boy oh boy, I can not WAIT to get my hands on a copy, to actually hold, in my hands, the result of nine months of hard work (I'm guessing this is what motherhood would feel like?). The second book I wrote is my own novel, a fiction work I'd like to believe fits somewhere in the genres of chick lit and Southern gothic, but not quite as sappy nor as dark. And this, my friends, is my struggle...

Editing. Sounds harmless enough, right? Do not be deceived! Editing one's work is like stripping it of its soul, only to have to find all the pieces (literally...sometimes I've written notes on scrap paper and I have no idea where they are anymore) and put them back together in a way that is not only plausible, but better than before. It's a tough game, to be sure, and I find myself longing for the days of just putting pen to paper (well...fingers to keys) and letting it flow. Editing means having to look back and say "Ugh, what was I thinking? How in the world did that sentence ever make sense?" It's pretty much my least favorite process in the world. And yet...

The more I go back and fix what I didn't think was broken, the better the book becomes, which would seem obvious, but I find that I am always surprised by this fact. Hopefully, it won't be too long before I'm done and I can send it off to a few agents (and by few I mean, oh say, twenty). I'm working on my query letter right now (which, so far says something like "Please like my book and ask to see it, or else I shall perish!"), but it's a little counter-intuitive to write what the book is about before I actually finish it. I'm just working through intro, the "Who is Wendi" section, what she has published (again, thank you Phil!), and why she is a great writer. Like a cover letter, only more intimidating.

With job changes, moving (again), and the holidays all around the bend, I feel like some good, steady editing could be the ticket to my sanity, if I let it.

Wendi

Examining an Examiner

I know I promised cool things this week and, yes, I fully intend to keep those promises; however, they might have to be put on hold for just a bit longer. For those of you who are reading my little Bundle, I apologize! But keep coming back and you efforts will be rewarded ;).

Now, while the specific things I'd hoped to manifest here on this blog (i.e. the "cool" things) have not yet yielded results, I do have a few other fabulous topics to discuss:

First: I am DONE with my final project for my Global Human Rights class...DONE DONE DONE! Now, I just have to wait for our group grade and my individual grade (as of right now it's an A and I have a 4.0...let's hope it sticks!).

Second: I am editing my book...FINALLY. It's a slow process, but I have a new goal for myself: New Years Day. Which leaves me with just under a month to write, edit, print, package and send a beautiful query letter (while I simultaneously edit the actual book because, this I promise, there will be an agent contacting me...I just know it!). Keep your fingers crossed that I will be successful in this endeavour...it will reveal a good deal about my work ethic and whether the fact that I finished my book just before my deadline was true to character...or just an anomaly.

Third: I have a new writing gig: I am officially an Examiner! Examiner.com is a site hosting thousands of writers who post articles pertaining to their particular topic of expertise for their particular area of the country. I am the Christian Perspectives Examiner for Atlanta. My first article, titled "Have yourself a Merry Little Christmas", went live last night! Please go "like" it, comment, and generate traffic! The more you read the more I get paid! Please and thank you ;).

Whew...I'm busy. But it's wonderful to be busy. God is good and so is life, my friends.

I'll be back soon, hopefully with presents!

Wendi

I Blame the Turkey

I'm going to make this short because, well, it's late, I'm tired, and it's been a long holiday!

First, I hope you all enjoyed tons of yummy food and indulged appropriately, without so much as a glance at the scale in the bathroom...

Second, I had a fabulous time decorating two Christmas trees, laughing with family and friends, praising Jesus with my church in Buckhead (and cracking up to Andy Stanley's wonderfully relevant message in this season), and catching up on some much-needed time away from work. The one thing I missed out on, however, was sleep...so I fully intend on passing out once I've logged off my computer.

Third, be on the lookout for some great posts this week. I've got a few ideas cooked up that I hope you'll enjoy.

And finally, I will soon start working with The Examiner writing on my own page called Christian Perspectives. Be on the lookout!

Good night, sleep tight..and all that...

Wendi

My wish to write gothic (and, no, I don't mean while wearing black fingernail polish)

It's surprising to me how many people, when I mention some of my favorite authors (i.e. Joshilyn Jackson, Kate Morton, etc.) and their work, either have no idea who they are or, when in response to the inevitable "What do they write?" I say "Gothic stuff", say "Oh, I don't like horror". REALLY? What are high schools teaching these days? I mean, it's only been seven years since I attended, but we learned a bit about genres and gothic was certainly one of them (thanks Mrs. Sleek!) Granted, I was probably one of three actually paying attention in English class because I adored reading, but still...gothic literature does not mean wearing all black, trudging around with a scowl on your face and a chip on your shoulder. Gothic is long-buried secrets waiting to be discovered, family drama, ghosts (literal and metaphorical) and so much more. In recent years, it has become my absolute favorite and, with my long love for books, that is saying something.

Joshilyn Jackson is a Southern writer and her works include gods in Alabama, The Girl Who Stopped Swimming and Between, Georgia. Love love LOVE her! As a native Georgian, I have to admit that I have a bit of a greater fascination for Mrs. Jackson since she resides in Atlanta (me too!) and I met her at a signing at the Margaret Mitchell House in April. She is spirited, and sassy...a true Georgia peach. On top of all of that, her writing is humorous and dark and beautiful. I connect with it so much because of its references to kudzu, and "y'all", and sweet tea but, more importantly, because I see so much of myself in what she writes. She is the kind of writer who is deeply eloquent in a way that the average reader can find something in her words and hold on to it, no matter the subject, and I hope to do that as well.

Kate Morton is also a gothic writer, but she is from Australia and, all of her work stems from her knowledge of the Land Down Under and her time in England. All three of her novels, The House at Riverton (or The Shifting Fog for U.K. and Australia, I believe), The Forgotten Garden, and, her newest, The Distant Hours, involve an English estate with forbidden secrets, the love and trials between sisters, memories, letters and books...I could go on and on. She has mastered the art of history and intrigue with deep emotional connections to each character and their journeys. I am currently engrossed in The Distant Hours and I have a hard time moving slowly through the story because I want so badly to find out what happens in the end...I have to remember that it's all the stuff in the middle that makes the finish that much more enjoyable!

I hope everyone has a wonderful, happy Thanksgiving!

Love, Wendi

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Christmas

Even though I always complain about the commercial aspects of Christmas and the inevitable pattern that stores follow of placing decorations out next to the leftover Halloween candy in November, I secretly LOVE that my favorite holiday is just around the corner. I hardly need an excuse to start listening to "O Holy Night" or slipping "Elf" in the DVD player, but it's nice to have one all the same (there's one of those contradictions I mentioned).

My only real issue regarding Christmas is the slow, almost deliberate, removal of Christ and his birth. I love the snow, the lights, the songs, the cookies, and the evergreen candles (oh, is that just me? I like my house to smell like a forest) just as much, if not more, than anybody. But the very name is a result of a son being born in a manger to a faithful virgin named Mary, a night that moved us beyond all recognition, a night that fortified our very existence by making us pure and whole in the eyes of God. We were given grace because of that night, because of that child who grew to be our Savior, and we are free from all restrictions because of such grace. What beauty there is in this life because of Jesus, the son of the King. Why would we want to remove His presence? I love the joy of the season, but what joy can there be without the Prince of Peace?

On a more superficial topic, I am thankful this season for my job and for my husband, for friends and family, and for being a published author come December. The Mayfield Family Story will be available to the public next month (hopefully in time for Christmas) and I intend on giving a few copies to those close to me, in hopes that it might find its way to their coffee tables and serve as a conversation piece when guests arrive and ask "What is this here, this lovely leather bound piece of art?" (oh, to dream). Either way, it wil surely find itself wrapped and laden with bows beneath quite a few trees this year, thanks to my self-promoting efforts. With any luck, my novel will be on the shelves of your local Borders this time next year and then I can ask you all to go buy a copy (The Mayfield Family Story is not for retail, except in Mayfield gift shops and, possibly, Amazon or eBay).

I hope you're all having a wonderful Thanksgiving week. Be sure to stuff yourselves with turkey and dressing, no thoughts of saturated fat or caloric value allowed...promise?

With love,
Wendi

Falling leaves and happiness...

Hi all!

Fall is here and, boy, is it beautiful! The weather has done a complete 360 in the last two weeks. It was 90 outside everyday and now I need sweaters! I love it! I am not looking forward to winter, though. Being nice and cool is great...freezing to death and having my fingers turn purple from the cold is not...

So Pierce and I are really loving our church. It's incredible! I love how Andy Stanley focuses on biblical principles rooted in the love of God and bringing honor to Him. It's not about rules and regulations; it's Christ-centered focus with wit and humor about the trials of life. It's hope and grace. It's everything that Jesus wants us to have in our walk with Him and the Holy Spirit within us. I feel like the more I am in fellowship with people who value these things, the more my life changes. What used to be upsetting or disheartening becomes a chance to acknowledge the work of the Spirit and obey Him. I visited with a friend last week and, for the first time in my life, I felt equipped to witness to her (or anyone for that matter, though I try to be a witness in how I live my life). We've spent years confiding in one another about life, school, marriage, and other things...and all of it seemed to have been leading up to that moment. I was prepared because Pierce and I have been studying the Word and participating in an AWESOME small group and, because of all those things, my heart was open to the Spirit's leading. I like to believe that I've paid attention before, but this was the first time I could see a seed planted in someone, the potential for a relationship with Jesus to develop because I listened to God's urging. How incredible! I got in my car afterwards and just kind of sat and prayed for a moment, asking for wisdom, praying for my friend and for humility, that I wouldn't get caught up in "being a good Christian", but, rather, allowing the Lord to be seen in me.

Pray for this, friends, if you will, whoever you are! It would mean a lot to me.

I've been able to take a breather for a few weeks...California...no internship to work...but now I'm done with the internship for good and back to my late hours with Strayer. School starts in a few weeks and I feel really thankful that God is giving me this chance to really let go of some issues that were stressing me out and pushing me to make Him less of a priority.

I can't WAIT to go to the 'Boro this weekend for my first GSU game of the season! Oh, how I miss my home...screaming at Paulson is just what I need to get into the spirit of Halloween and corn mazes and pumpkin spice lattes...=).

I'm about to start editing my book and then get it sent out to agents. I cannot WAIT to get my first rejection letter! I'm going to frame it, ya know. Yes, I meant to write rejection...that will mean that someone besides me and my friends are actually reading my work. Imagine how STOKED I will be when someone wants to be my agent, and then again when they want to publish it! Life is grand...

Please keep my grandmother, grandfather, dad, and aunt in your prayers. They're still really struggling with the death of my uncle. It's so hard losing someone you love that is dear...I miss him very much.

All in all, things are going pretty well, even in the midst of change and hardship. I am learning to trust and thrive in the comfort of my Lord. I hope you all are, as well.

Be blessed!

Wendi

Oh, happy day!

Hey y'all,

Can I just say that the Android platform phones were the best inventions ever? No, make that Google apps...I can't make up my mind. I am completely and totally baffled by our technology and the things that we have available to us via a simple (HA!) phone. I can read my Bible and choose daily reading plans...I can download and listen to a specialized radio station...I can find Chuck Norris facts at the touch of a button (this, BY FAR, is the best part of having an Andriod phone). I am fascinated by it all! I can use my phone as a flashlight, a barcode scanner...does it go to the bathroom for me?

It does make me get a little existentialist and wonder why we need everything at our fingertips? Why is everything so easy? Is it just that we've simply made so many advances we have to keep going above and beyond or risk losing it all? Or is it that we've gotten so far away from true effort, from true ability, from true REWARD? I'm as guilty as the next person of enjoying the perks of our futuristic (or present) technology...as can be seen in the paragraph above. Do I believe there is sin in this? No. I think we are crazy smart (I say "we" as though I somehow came up with the idea of a calorie counter app) and our ideas are meant to be seen through and enjoyed. But we have (myself included) become totally RELIANT on what we have created when, in reality, we can never rely on ourselves. After all, what man has made, man can destroy (The R.M.S. Titanic, anyone?). What God has made, NO ONE can destroy. I see my phone as convenient, something that can provide music, readings, Bible study, and, let's not forget, actual conversations (it took me awhile, no lie, to figure out how to use it as a PHONE...haha...go me). I don't want to see it as a necessity. I don't want to spend so much time on it that it attaches itself to my hand. You might laugh, but I think there is a certain bit of danger in material possessions and we have to guard ourselves against making them our idols. I know I do. My books are something my idols. My movies. My clothes. I have to tread lightly when I get excited about something and stop and thank the One who provided it for me in the first place. In all my thoughts about this new phone, I believe it just takes perspective and thankfulness. Pray with me as I learn to appreciate what God has given to us.

So now I'm going to listen to some praise and worship (on my phone, yes) and drink my iced coffee. I hope you, my friend, are having a fabulous morning!

Wendi

Yesterday is a wrinkle on your forehead...

Hello there! I don't seem to be getting better at this blog-writing thing...but I was on a nine-day vaca with the hubby to California and just got back Sunday, so getting ready for (and THOROUGHLY enjoying) that experience is my excuse ;). If you'd like to know more about my trip (it was too long to go into detail here) but I have TONS of pics on my Facebook.

Now that I'm back I am feeling extremely...hmm...how should I say this? UNmotivated. I finished both books and did so many things before I left that by the time we arrived home, I literally could not have cared less about either of my jobs or how my house looks or listening to the problems of my friends. I have to admit that I'm over most of that now (I just needed a few days to get back into the groove...jet lag, ya know), but I'm still working through some of it.

I'm listening to Switchfoot's Beautiful Letdown album, which was my obsession (one of them) my junior year of college. That was the BEST year I ever had, hands down, for a multitude of reasons, and music draws me back to it with memories that feel tangible (Butch Walker, Ashlee Simpson, The Academy Is..., Jack's Mannequin, etc.). So I keep thinking about it and what made it so wonderful and I miss GSU, my friends (as we were then...a family), El Som, games, classes....life was, indeed, incredible.

But it is now, too. And when people come to me with their problems, I always find myself struggling not to be too proud or judgmental because I do NOT want to be (or feel) that way. I want to be humble, I want to have patience, I want to have to wisdom. But my spirit gets hurt that some of my friends keep going back to the same terrible men who treat them as though they are no better than trash, and my flesh just wants to roll its eyes and say "I'm done listening to this...you KNOW he's bad for you, so live with your decisions". How can she not know how much the Lord pursues her? How much he ADORES her? It's so hard because I don't want her to put her value in a fallible man because he has, does, and will let her down. But Jesus will never and He falls in love with her more each day. She is precious to Him and to me, and I wish she could see how much more she's worth than a guy who spreads rumors and spats names and brings tears.

This is just one particular situation and I brought my feelings up to my husband last night. I told him that I am so proud of our life, and that I don't want to be so eaten up with pride that I put myself above others. But I also don't want to allow Satan to discourage me from feeling good about my marriage and who Pierce and I are as a couple. I am no different, no better, than anyone else in the world. But I think what has set us apart is that we set boundaries for ourselves from the very beginning of our relationship and we stuck to them. I want the same kind of happiness for my friends, my family, and the whole world. I want people to see that God cherishes their tiny details and guards them, but we have to LET Him do that. We have to allow Him to work, not push Him away. When we do that, we get caught in traps and have our hearts broken over and over. Pierce, through God's spirit within his heart, showed me something different.

I used to be extremely judgmental. Let's just get that out in the open. But I fell in love with God and it changed me. I still judge and make snap deicisions based on first impressions but, honestly, I try to fight against it. I fight against my very flesh every day. If I gave in to my earthly whims, I would be a terrible person: a liar, a thief, a murderer, an adulterer...wouldn't we all? What makes us good is not anything inherent in us other than God's presence in our lives, whether we choose to accept and believe it or not. And I am so thankful for Him for saving me from that kind of life sometimes it's hard to breathe. And I am thankful that I had parents and friends to show me the way to a life with Christ because I don't know how I would have found it on my own. So when I start to get snotty or up on my soapbox, I feel God tugging at me saying "Ah, ah, now, who are you to be that way? Judgment is mine." But how do I find a balance? Love has brought me to a place where I can talk to people where they are and feel empathy and compassion even if I don't agree with them. I'm in such a better place than I was 4,5,6 years ago. But how can I reach them? How can I show them Christ and still be proud of my own life? Being humble doesn't mean pretending like you aren't happy with your own life or proud of what you've accomplished...it just means admitting that what you've done was IMPOSSIBLE without Christ. And that's what I have to remember when I start to get angry or upset with others because, in truth, most days I feel pretty messed up myself.

Wendi

It's Official!

Hello everyone!

Well, I'm DONE! I finished my novel with just under four hours to spare before my deadline. Thank you, thank you. I know: I'm awesome. =)

In all seriousness, I am super pumped about finishing my goal. It feels incredible. I'm not quite up to my word count goal but, with some editing, I should be able to get to it with little problem. I'm heading out to California for a vacation with the hubby here soon, so I've printed out the manuscript and I'll be doing edits on the plane, just like a real little author ;). Then when we return, I'm going to write an amazing query letter and get a dozen agents scrambling to represent me! Jump to next summer, and you can find my novel on the NY Times Bestseller list...just sayin'...=)

I can't write too much right now, but I just wanted to say that God is incredible and I am loving this season right now, growing in my faith with Him, even within the moments recently where I've cried and been tired and (uh-oh) had my first-ever panic attack. Pierce and I just joined a small group at church and we're loving the Buckhead Church. Andy Stanley is a great shepherd for his congregation and he leads us consistently towards a growing relationship with Christ, Who I need more than I ever thought possible.

Pray for us, if you will, and I'll be praying for you all!

Love, Wendi

Down to the Wire!

My friends: today is a good day.

I have a Chick-Fil-A sweet tea in front of me (my last for a while, I have to say...it's not helping my "eat healthy" mentality, no matter how strong my Southern mentality might be...) and my laptop as well. The book countdown continues and I am one chapter away from completing the Mayfield 100th anniversary legacy book (to be sent to the printers in September, back in time for Christmas...guys, you all know what you're getting from me this year...). I am, more importantly, only 12,000 words away from a finished novel and, whew, am I excited. I feel elated with every passing moment, with every sentence and page that finds itself free from my mind and fingertips.

Yes, friends, the time for editing is almost here. This also signifies the time for my 25th birthday which I am trying very hard to look forward to. I LOVE birthdays, but this one is the first time I've ever started to feel like the only thing I have left in common with "young" people is that first digit...the 2 in 20s...because I'm not in college anymore, I've been able to drink for quite some time, and I'm almost into my third year of marriage. I only slightly resemble those twenty-year olds at the Wooden Nikel, but I guess this is no real loss because I never actually resembled them very much anyway ;).

Next Friday, August 20th, is my birthday and every year from now on I will turn 25.

Here's the tally:

38,000 words
12,000 words to go
11 days left until deadline

Much love friends!

Wendi

Roundin' that last curve...

Hi all!

I've started a countdown to the moment when I can say: "I have written a novel". My goal is to finish by my birthday, August 20, and then to spend a month or two editing and writing a kick-ass query letter to send to literary agents, no later than my two-year wedding anniversary (November 1). I have to say that I'm pretty proud of myself this time around. Last year I worked exceptionally hard on a novel for about four months, got to around 100,000 words, then slowed to a stop by the time fall came around. I haven't picked it up since because whenever I look at it, I hate it. It's true. Not because it's necessarily bad, but because I rambled on for about 20,000 words more than I should have, and it seems like too big a project to try and fix. I'll get back to it at some point...

But with this novel, for which I have a title but am not about to post it for all the world to see (and steal ;), is coming along great. I've been writing for almost four months and, this time, it will be done in just a few weeks. I want nothing more than to wake up on my 25th birthday and know that I finished my novel. I can't wait for that gift to myself. It's tough, though, to write every day. I work two jobs, 13 hours a day, and then get home at 11 p.m. at night. Thankfully, my full-time position allows for a pretty generous amount of downtime. My laptop keeps me company on most days.

As of this moment, I am at 33,600 words and 150 pages. My ultimate goal is to reach 50,000 words (could care less how many pages). I have 14 days to do this, which means I am aiming for no less than 1,200 words per day. I've been keeping up with that number fairly well for the last few weeks...I think I can stick with it for just two more. If you're reading this, send some prayers my way...this is no time for procrastination.

Countdown to Goal:

August 20- 14 days away
50,000 words- 16,400 remaining

XOXOXO, Wendi

A Day of Fasting

Per a sweet message from an old classmate, I am inspired to write a blog today. All three of you who read this should go thank her ;).

For the last two months there has been some issues at home (not at home with Pierce; rather, in my hometown with family) and I've been praying over them, hoping for some guidance. I was in the kind of place where I wanted change, but only God could bring it. I was doubting, you see. Not doubting in God's abilities, but doubting whether or not He would choose to open hearts. We are given free will. He will not force what He wants upon us. We have to be willing to receive it or we will spend our entire lives looking for fufillment in other things: food, sex, drugs, travel, books, music, fame...etc...I've been praying for open hearts and praying for real, live-giving, God-honoring change. I had no idea if it would be given...I still don't. But I do know that there are choices to be made. God can offer all the help in the universe (and He does) but if we are blind to Him we won't see it. I pray that eyes will be open to truth and to the reality of a life without the Lord. That's what this day was all about: fasting and praying for change for a bunch of different things. I have a family member that I love dearly but, most often, do not trust. I want to...I've always wanted to, but I've only been given the chance to trust this person a few times. I pray that this time of struggle and of uncertainty will be what my family member needs to, as it was written to me, "cling to God always and not just when things are hard." That was a beautiful thing to see.

I was aked by this family member to fast today. Some wonderful things have happened, more than what, as I see now, I believed would. I can't go into detail here, but the issue at hand is practically resolved, pending a few other things tomorrow. So we will cease fasting at 5:00 p.m., but continue to pray through the evening and into the morning. I am thankful that this person thought of me and that we've been able to stand by one another today. It's a link for us that is strong, this mutual prayer, and I am relishing every second.

I'm proud of what we've done together and I feel that God is really spending some time with both of us this afternoon...and I am grateful.

Love, Wendi

Trying to Listen

Wow, I'm really starting to suck at this.

I've noticed that I get really excited about something very quickly and, then, in a few weeks, months, or whatever, I lose interest. Not totally, you see, but that earnest devotion fades to complacency punctuated by a series of sudden reminders that, hey, I once felt really passionate about that...didn't I?

That is my spirituality, my time with the Lord, my attitude about work, cleaning, and writing...and all of those are things that deserve my full attention. I think the only things I give the necessary time to are friendships and my husband. But the Lord is my all...so why does He consistently come in second, third, or fourth? Why does my writing get put on the back burner because I can't seem to pick my up my computer for an hour or two everyday? Isn't writing what I want to do with my life? Don't I want to see my name, my novel, on the NY Times Bestseller List? My book isn't going to write itself...

I am trying to listen to the Lord, and His Spirit within me. I've been putting my clothes away and wiping down the counters. I've been writing every single day for the last two weeks and both my novel and the Mayfield book are in the home stretch. I watched a LiveStream of Grace Midtown's evening worship service last night and read my two daily Bible readings. This morning I set my alarm, got up with my coffee, and read the two for today. I'm following through and I feel so proud of myself. My goal for today is to show a humble attitude to others, even if they get on my nerves or ask silly questions. I'm at this job because the Lord saw fit to bless me with it...shouldn't I treat it as such?

On top of all of this listening, I feel the need to pray about some family stuff right now. I pray that this situation will end up being a blessing, and that it will open this person's heart to all that has been given to her. I pray that it will make next weekend more fun, rather than a time to be clouded over with anger or frustration. I pray, Lord, that you will give us all wisdom. I ask that you protect us and lead us in the right way...I pray all of these things with the knowledge that you are working behind the scenes and I must trust that you have our best interests at heart.

So, I'm going to drink my sweet tea and get to writing.

I promise not to wait another month before I write again.

Love, Wendi

Water, Water, Everywhere

It's been less than a week since my last post and, even though I'm majorly slacking from how I began, it's an improvement from the last few weeks. Nothing too exciting, except I am (finally) done with all the weddings and showers and graduations and what not...they've been beautiful and fun and lovely, but hell on my pocketbook and calendar, to say the least. Congrats to everyone who achieved something these past few months and know that I was blessed to be a part of your day(s).

Father's Day was fun, for both of my fathers, and it was such a blessing to have the luxury of paying for both of their dinners. I would love to give so much more but, alas, until my novel is finished and on the top of the NY Times bestseller list, I must hold off...

Tomorrow I am going to try a new, small change and get up 30 minutes earlier (since my phone goes off at all hours because people call me at 4 a.m....don't know why...and our apartment complex likes to have practice fire drills at the butt-crack of dawn...seriously, are we in college? They don't really make us practice, but they've been going off before the sun is up quite frequently and it's PISSING ME OFF! I'm done...)...where was I? Oh yeah. Small change. Get up a little earlier to make coffee and start my day with a Bible study. Also, I am cutting out unnecessary sugar (because, seriously, it's too much of a pain to try and get rid of it ALL), like Coke, sweet tea (kill me now!), and candy...I'm sticking to water, milk, and a little bit of juice. I had a salad today with a Jamaica-Me-Crazy Tuna bagel for lunch...banana for breakfast (yes, I know I did that backwards) and some granola bars...eating right is super-duper hard. My body craves Chick-Fil-A like there's no tomorrow. I really need discipline in this if I want to shed the ten extra pounds I've been lugging around for two years. I know, I know...shut up.

This week I get off work at 6 p.m. (What? People actually get home before eleven???)so I plan on going to visit my fantastic cousin, Brittany, and her hubby now that they're back in Atlanta, and get some grillin' done at her new place. Then I'll be working out every night, eating a good (homemade) dinner, and spending lots of, ahem, quality time with my hubby. Too much information, I know but, seriously, no one is reading this. I just looked at my profile views since last week and the number went up by 1, and that was only because I had to look at it to see the tally!

The night is almost over and, as you might be able to tell, I am done for the evening...hence all the side notes and parenthesis for every other sentence.

Night!

I Could Really Use a Wish Right Now

I know, I know. I have failed you, whoever you are. My profile has only had thirteen views, including mine, so it might be safe to say I AM the only one reading it. But, hey, writing is good for the soul, especially mine.

Things have been a little nutty around here for the last few weeks. Baby showers, weddings, graduations galore...love them all, but I will be so glad to go to my last wedding of the year this weekend. Spring fever is closing up and it's time for summer. My brother-in-law's sister (sort of my sister-in-law once removed) Audria is getting married on Saturday. I cannot wait to see her all dressed up in white. That girl is the epitome of all things pure. I waited until I was married to have sex, but she has never even been kissed! She is 22 and her first kiss will be to her husband in front of all her family and friends. It's very sweet and I admire her strength. It's a beautiful thing to be so untouched and be able to say "My husband is the only man who will ever know this part of me". Plus, I just love weddings and love and all that love stuff...

I am still waiting patiently for my internship to go full-time. I'm fairly exhausted to say the least. Working these thirteen hour days is finally taking its toll (it's been 6 months) and I need a break. I need forty hours a week to work, and then be able to go home to Pierce, cook dinner, clean my house, work out, watch TV, read and write, etc...it just doesn't fit right now. My cousin, Brittany, told me she had no idea how I was still managing to have a life, and she's right...I pretty much squeeze it into free time at work and the weekends. But it's not healthy. And I need my health...it's all I have for this life to take advantage of all that God has given me. I just need to lean on Him for strength and rest, even in the middle of my crazy schedule.

Speaking of which...I need to get back to work.

Wendi

I don't have a title for this one

After a terrible week last week, which probably aged me a few years because of self-inflicted worry and stress, I'm almost back to normal today. I am still walking around with a little hurt in my heart, and I don't know when it will go away, but I do know that there are a million other things I could be doing with my time, and a million other people who care, and a million other blessings that this pain cannot diminish. Truthfully, it still sucks.

I read a quote from C.S. Lewis on my friend Jill's facebook status and it talked about God not necessarily wanting to make us happier, but wanting to make us holier. Of course, He doesn't like it when we hurt, but He takes those times to teach us and it's a test of faith. Right now I am learning what it means to be fufilled in my Jesus BEFORE I am fufilled (or not) in my friends and their actions (or lack thereof). I know that this will pass, just as the bad always does, and the good will come again. This is a test of truth, love, and hard work and I am trying to be satisfied in His unwavering character, and not on the unsettled and disregarded feeling I've been carting around inside for the last eight days.

Last night I watched Dear John...love love love that movie! I get so emotionally invested in movies and books so it's nice to get away from the world for a few hours. I try to imagine that if someone else has written it, someone else has felt it, and I am not alone in it.

I am going to go through my closet and clean it out this weekend. I am inspired because I want to get a better handle on my own style and really live it! I love clothes and makeup and girly things...I also love all things vintage. I would totally fit in in NYC, but I would also love to live in sundresses and cutoffs at the beach. I have too many interests! I am (tiny) part small town girl, lover of all things nautical, and crazy about big cities. I want to live in all of those places at least once...I was raised in a small town, living in downtown Atlanta now, so all that's left is the beach! I think once I get there I'll never leave...

Trying to focus at work, but, as you can see, I am not doing so well.

Have a great night!

Wendi

I've Come Undone

I'm having a very difficult time today, and I have been for almost the entire week. I've come to a few realizations, both about myself and others, that are painful and kind of heartbreaking. I'm not really sure how to respond to this sudden onset of realization, except just to say that I am trying my best. Even though situations are not good, God always is. And He is much bigger than my problems. I'm not even sure they are problems or that anyone else even recognizes them, but they're causing me a lot pain, no doubt, and I need Him if I'm going to step back, take a look around, and work through them. If I try to do it alone, or based on my own emotions, I will certainly end up trying to control the situation and, ultimately, fail miserably. I need loads of prayer, if you have it in you to offer some. I would definitely appreciate it.

On a good note: it's Friday, I have nothing to do but relax this weekend, and my dear God-brother, Elijah (who was always my number two choice behind Pierce...lol) is graduating tonight. I am super proud of the man he has become!

Until later,

Wendi

I am not interesting...

I have no idea if anyone reads my blog but, suffice it to say, it does make me feel a little better about my day when I sit down to write. I feel productive whereas, usually, I just feel procrastin-ative...I don't care if that's not a word.

I've been writing alot in the last few weeks (considering, well, I am writing a book for my internship). I get to meet Scottie Mayfield tomorrow afternoon...that's right...you read that correctly. THE Scottie Mayfield, bowtie and all. I went out and bought some Mayfield Brown Cows just for his sake (no, I won't be bringing them with me. I just bought them to sit in my freezer, and eat of course, in honor of his visit...plus, I figured if I'm writing a book about their company history, I should probably become a patron!). My own novel is coming along fabulously. I feel really great about it, and it hasn't been something I have to drag out. I go into Borders or Barnes and Noble and feel jealous of all the authors whose books are displayed, pretty covers and shiny names and whatnot...I will finish my book by the end of the summer. I WILL. Remind me, just in case, mmk?

I'm going to get back to work and write some more. Only two and a half more hours before I get to go home...

Wendi

I Am A Dreamer

My favorite thing to do is create blog titles from song titles. I am fully aware that I am ripping off One Tree Hill, but since it is one of my all-time favorite shows, I feel that I can safely use the excuse that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Right now I am listening to THE Bethany Dillon and her song "Dreamer". LOVE her. She is an incredible singer-songwriter who loves the Lord AND...drumroll please...she ripped off MY baby name idea! Okay, okay. I only met her once for about five minutes at a show and she wasn't even pregnant then, but I know that she is naming her due-very-soon baby girl Lucy James. Lucy has been my long-time chosen girl name, probably since I was seven and started watching I Love Lucy with religious fervor. Lucille Ball is, and will always remain, the singular most interesting woman who's ever lived. But where I was going with that, as I said before, is that Lucy is MY name and, get this...Jane is going to be her middle name (when, if ever, we actually get around to having children, ya know). That's eerily close to Lucy James, isn't it? And I claim rights to it because I am three years older than Bethany Dillon. So there.

Anyway, Pierce got very sick last night with some stuffy-headed-sinusy-grossness and I stayed home from my internship this morning to take care of him. The fact that Pierce actually got up to go to work, went for about an hour, and then came back home showed me just how sick he really is. That boy would work if he was dead. I made him some chicken noodle soup and a grilled cheese (wifey points for me!)and put a cold washcloth on his head. I hate that he is sick, and pitiful as anything, but I do so love to take care of him. Is that just a female thing? Do we just loved to take care of our men? All of my friends are very maternal in that aspect and, I think, despite whatever labels might be placed on me for saying this, that women really are just born with an innate motherly sense of how to care. Kiss my ass if you don't like it. It's a wonderful characteristic to have, whether you have zero children or eighteen (I am hoping for somewhere in the middle...say...two). I hope Pierce feels better soon.

So...today has been great. Feeling much better now that my stomach is not all jittery and nauseated. I have a sweet tea, I brought my lunch today (whoo hoo!), and I have completed two pages on the Mayfield book, along with two pages on my own novel. I'm the picture of productivity and it feels AWESOME!

Until tomorrow, my friends,

Wendi