Tuesday, September 24, 2013

The Catalog Dump

Being sick has its advantages and disadvantages. Mostly disadvantages, but you do have the advantage of extra time on your hands. Other people are not enthusiastic about you coughing and blowing in their presence—so you get to stay home. The main thing to look forward to each day is the mailman’s arrival with the latest load of bills, junk mail, and catalogs—lots and lots of catalogs.

Recently twelve catalogs arrived in one load of mail. My name must be on every mailing list of purveyors of household goods and clothes in the country.  How did I get so fortunate?  I used to get a semi-annual catalog from JC Penney and Sears and that was about it. I really looked forward to the annual Wish Book. I guess that where it all started.  And the internet has only made it worse. Order anything online and everybody sees what a sucker you are for a catalog. 

 Actually I cut my teeth on catalog shopping. When I was growing up our family did not physically shop for anything other than food and drugstore items. Everything else came from the Montgomery Ward catalog.  That catalog was dog eared with all the items on my wish list. Times were much simpler and our finances much leaner so clothes, household goods, and an occasional treat were the only items we ordered.

I sorted through the recent pile of catalogs and found some amusing items that I will never order, but are available for the discerning man or woman who already has everything.

·         Road Mice-a computer mouse shaped like a Mercedes Benz.
      ·         A battery operated spinning spaghetti fork.
      ·         A “life jewel” bracelet that holds your dog’s DNA.
      ·         A remote controlled 6” tarantula.
      ·         The iPAD commode caddy (replaces your basket of bathroom magazines & holds the toilet
             paper roll in one convenient spot).

 What I really need to be able to order from a catalog is the following:

·         A battery operated computer nerd that will be there 24/7/365 to fix all my computer problems.
      ·         The answer man portable device that will teach me all about social media.
      ·         A robot chef to explore my pantry and freezer and tell me what to fix for supper.
      ·         A voice activated closet valet that will transition my closet from summer to winter.
      ·         A pop-up idea box that will generate new ideas for future blog posts.

While my body languishes, the mind is in over drive.  I need a distraction. Home Shopping Network here I come.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

The Right (Write) Stuff

Diana Nyad chased her dream until at age sixty-four she swam from the Cuban shore to Key West, Florida. After an amazing fifty-three hours in shark and jellyfish infested waters, she emerged from the water, fulfilling her motto for the year: “Find a Way.” She told a waiting world about the lessons she learned during her life long journey. “One is we should never, ever give up. Two is you’re never too old to chase your dreams. Three, it looks like a solitary sport, but it’s a team.” 
Her experience in the ocean reminds me of the lessons I learned at the Catch the Wave Writers Conference I attended last weekend. The purpose of the event is to enable writers to “Send out a Christian wave upon a secular sea.” The conference wasn’t near the water, but was hidden from the rush of Atlanta traffic at the picturesque Simpsonwood Conference Center in Norcross. I couldn’t wait to get off the busy interstate and walk through the three dimensional doors at the center. The hand carved relief of Jesus was a welcoming site, saying to me: “Come to me all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Matthew 11:28

Terry Burns, our keynote speaker, reminded me that the writer’s life is not about selling thousands of books, but about reaching that one person who needs to hear my words. That should be enough motivation to “…never, ever give up.” Rejections by agents and editors come all too often for me —like stinging jellyfish— but that is no reason to quit casting my message into the sea.
Publicist ReAnn Ring taught classes about using social media to promote my writing. She explained that Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, and Hootesuite are waiting for me to grasp and employ to reach a wider audience. I learned to type on a manual typewriter, but that doesn’t mean I am too old to learn new tricks. It may take me longer than some, but “I can do this.”

It took a team effort for our conference to be a success. Writing has its lonesome moments and sometimes I feel like I am floundering, but it's not a solitary sport. Whenever we gather at a conference, or at our regular Christian Authors Guild meetings, I learn from my fellow writers. It may be during a critique group or around refreshments as we talk about our latest writing exploits. 
If you want to break a world record, swim from Cuba to the US.  If I want to cast a wave upon a secular sea, I must follow the advice of Martin Luther, “… change the world, pick up my pen and write.”