Done, Part One.

Writing-Advice.jpg

 

Setting: A college classroom. Various students are slouched in chairs, tired, and they are all wearing weirdly tapered Nike pants, which were so in style when I was a kid, but I still cannot fathom that young men are wearing these things today.

They kind of look like M.C. Hammer. But, you know.

I teach this class. The tapered pants are a distraction, but for the most part, we get through.

Last class we were discussing what a writer does for a living. And I was all:

“Hey, looket! I wrote a book. Like, for real. Here, let me show you!” And I showed them. But not, for real, because I have NO COPIES OF MY OWN BOOK for some reason. This is a weird glitch – but then, I figured. If you were Mark Hamill, would you have a bunch of copies of Star Wars at your house? That would be odd, right?

Actually, I so would. I would have a ton of Star Wars movies at my house.

And, too, I am not comparing Bottled to Star Wars. That’s just crazy.

Maybe Battlestar Galactica, though.

But I digress.

Then the whole class shouted, “NO WAY. Like, for REAL? Will you sign my notebook? Oh, wait, I forgot to bring paper. Or a pencil. So, here, sign my pants!”

That’s not how they responded. No. There were crickets. Crickets were chirping. I think one cricket felt sorry and said, “Nice job, dude,” but I am not sure because I don’t speak cricket.

Such is the glamorous life of a writer. You work on something for nine months and then you find yourself hoping that weirdly panted college kids will think you’re cool.

Ok, now, truth be told, I don’t really need the approval of these wee lads. But, at times, the writing life can be like this. You find yourself with all these pages of your life and you kind of carry it around, toting it from one reading to the next, and saying, “Please. Read me,”  hoping for a signing that has more then three people at it, one of which showed up because he was looking for the bathroom.

We writers. We are ego, coated in insecurity, propped up by a thesaurus.

So, a few weeks ago, I left my husband and babies (see below):

10382654_752706888119449_4937782030034308_n.jpg

These are not my actual present-day babies. I mean, they ARE my babies, but this is a much older picture. It was on my desktop. How could it not be? I mean, look at them. The adorable is strong with these two. Blond is all… Blondo Suave. And Red? Full on nutball.

Nothing much has changed really.

But, anyhow, I left ’em. And I drove here:

IMG_7013.jpg

IMG_7032.jpg

 

 

IMG_7040.jpg

 

To work on this:

 

IMG_7005.jpgAnd I was greeted by this guy:

IMG_7018.jpg

Look deeply into my eyes. I am here for you, dude. Write. WRITE LIKE THE WIND.

Yes. It’s a church. As I am a deeply spiritual person, and am always kinda Floaty with Jesus, it only made sense that my writing retreat would be at a church.

Ok, but seriously, my friend Sonya loaned me her house while they traveled. She has the added benefit of being a pastor’s wife.

But, I am deeply spiritual. Just not Floaty. One cannot be floaty with two small children.  That’s just asking for trouble.

So, I was working on the second book. The publisher that worked with me on Bottled actually decided to let me stick around, and so, Perfect* was born.

Actually. Not yet. It’s done… but it’s not DONE done. Because there is editing and fixing and moving and cutting and OH GREAT FLOATY FATHER there is still so much more work to do.

And I love it all.

Oh, and also, at the writing retreat? There was this:

IMG_7022.jpg

Cat, accessorized by a clip.

And:

IMG_7028.jpg

I’m in charge.

And:

IMG_7024.jpg

And IIIIIIIIIIIII EEEIIIIIIIII WILL ALWAYS LOVE YOUUUUUUUUEEEOOOUUUU.

IT WAS ALL CATS, ALL THE TIME.

Cats + writing + fifty thousand Blow Pops + too much coffee = and almost done book. It’s possible I’m dedicating it to those cats.

 

IMG_7036.jpg

 

*This is a working title. Other possibilities:

The Perfect Book

Second Books Are Hard

This is a Book and I Wroted It

Prefection

 

 

 

 

And so on.

Advertisements

If at first you don’t succeed… blah blah blah.

Linking up with my people today at Five Minute Friday.

But, I don’t want to.

My fingers are tired. So is my head. Yesterday I had a meltdown so epic with my kids that even the dog left my side for a whole ten minutes. Which would have been kinda nice because honestly being followed constantly by Mr. clicky toenails guy is a bit annoying, but not in this case. In this case, I felt major dog-mom guilt. And basic mom guilt. Just, guilt. Loads and loads.

The theme for today, you ask?

 

More-FMF-Square-Images-4.jpg

Good one FMF. I see what you’re doing there.

Ok, so pretty much every single free minute of my existence has been spent writing The Big Fat Second Book.

Here are some facts:

  1. That which won’t kill you will make you stronger. Maybe.
  2. It’s always darkest before the dawn. Or all day. Take your pick.
  3. If at first you don’t succeed, oh just put a sock in it.

Brace yourself. Whining is coming.

WRITING ABOUT HARD THINGS IS HARD. The past three chapters have been about hard things (good news! it’s still funny! don’t forget to pre-order!!! it will still be funny!). The hard things are there because Newsflash: LIFE IS HARD.

That’s kinda the premise of the whole book, actually. Dana finally figures out how HARD life is and she writes about it. I know, right? Should be a bestseller. I can just see the droves of people at the Barnes and Nobles:

“I can’t WAIT to read this book! It’s all about how life sucks the life out of you and is so very hard!”
“My gosh, that’s totally new information to me! I must read about it! It sounds wonderful!”

Perhaps I’m being a bit hard on myself here, but words are all stuck up in my craw and it’s making me… what’s that word for when you are upset and want to hit things?

Anyhow. The other day I broke our coffee grinder because I dropped it. It was a really nice coffee grinder and I hate hate HATE it when I break things. I also hate it when people say, “Oh well. I’ll just go buy another one,” because that just seems wasteful and the poor kids in India who made the coffee grinder probably could use a break. But, I really do LIKE ground coffee. It makes my heart sing a little. So – I was all smart and good for the environment and I bought a cheap little hand grind grinder thingie on the Amazons. Boom! I can work out my arms and save money AND electricity! I AM SAVING THE EARTH AND ALL THE THINGS!

Guys. To grind about one cup’s worth of beans takes forty five minutes.

Well, maybe not quite that many but it feels like it. I ground and ground and ground and… ground and ground… and ground… and checked and ground and ground…

I WANT MY ELECTRIC GRINDER BACK.

All of this is to say: keep trying. Don’t give up. Don’t give up on yourself as a momma, and also as a really bad hand-crank coffee bean grinder person. Because, you know, I am KEEPING that #@@%$ grinder and I’m gonna crank the ##$$ out of it. JUST KEEP GRINDING THE BEANS.

And, you, my sweet children, I will keep trying. I will come up to you and say “I’m sorry. Please forgive me?” and you will reach your little arms around my neck and we will all keep trying. We have to. We’re stuck with each other.

And YOU, book. Yea, I’m talking about you. I will keep trying. I will. I will write about the hard things and the funny things and dance around the parts that I think sound like the world’s worst writing since the history of writing, and I will not give up.

Or, as my son put it: “I forgotted yesterday anyhow, Momma.”

Press on.

CS-Lewis-Quote-from-Letters-to-Malcom-on-Prayer-Rely-on-God.jpg

 

Darling Patrons: An Open Letter To the People Who Read My Stuff. Otherwise known as a blog post.

yoda-write-or-write-not.jpg

 

I have lovely news, but I keep getting interrupted by other stuff.

Other stuff:

  1. Children. Small children. They NEED things. Even when they don’t they really like to carry on conversations with you. Case in point: This morning Red was coming out of the bathroom, sauntered past me, and asked, “Mom, do you like sausages?” I had no idea how to respond, really. It was the whole juxtaposition of the bathroom*, the nonchalance, and my inability to talk without coffee. I was flummoxed. But, yes, actually, I DO like sausages. Italian and summer are my favorite.
  2. *Just don’t dwell on it too much and it won’t get icky.

3. A furry white cat that was on death’s door a week ago. But more on that later.

4. Laundry. See #1.

I know the other stuff is normal (except for Steve, the cat but more on that later) but the older I get the harder it is to multi-task. It’s like my synapses just freak out and say, “Hey! Everybody! She’s trying to do that multi-tasking thing again! Take COVER!”” And there’s general running about and firing of synapses all over the place and waving of synapsey arms and mayhem.

I was trying to get (shove) my two boys out the door this morning for VBS, hoping for an hour to work on the lovely news, when I noticed that Red’s bed looked like he had piled every single one of his stuffed animals on it. It looked like this because, as I asked him for verification, “Mom, I piled every one of my stuffed animals on it! I have a kaJILLION!”

And that’s when I started in on Mom Lecture #3445, Clean Up Your Stuff Or It Will Go Away And You Will Have to Play with Sticks. 

Me: Red, you KNOW you are to MAKE YOUR BED every morning, and this is a MESS and-

Red: But, Mom-

Me: Hold on dear, I’m not to the sub points of the lecture. And FIRST OF ALL-

Red: But, MOM-

Me: One minute. FIRST OF ALL, it’s important to be RESPONSIBLE-

Red: MOM. MOMMY.

Me: AND ANOTHER THING-

Red: MOM THEY ASKED US TO BUILD THE WALL OF JERICHO IN VBS. IT WAS OUR HOMEWORK. AND I DID. WITH MY STUFFED ANIMALS. STRAIGHT UP BIBLE ACTIVITY ALL UP IN THERE.

Me: Oh. That’s adorable. And, they gave you homework? This VBS is hardcore.

Jesus and Red = 1 Mom = 0

 

Anyhow. I am now writing my little fingers off to tell you about THIS:IMG_6550.png

I’m working on another book. The publishing company actually wanted me to write another book. ANOTHER ONE.

Which, as you  know, means I am really a big deal.

Also, it’s possible I have had the worst case of writer’s block known to all writers in the universe (no hyperbole here) because FOLLOW UP IS SO NOT MY THING.

I’ll keep you posted. But, in fact, I won’t keep you posted as much as I would like because every stray minute that dangles in front of me is utilized in eeking out another painful sentence on this second-book thing. I am serious. Last night I wrote a sentence. Then stared off into space. Then deleted the sentence. More staring. Wept a little. Repeat. This must be what snails feel like all the time.

Poor snails.

I tell you this, so you will feel sorry for me. Just a teensy weensy bit? I always did like sympathy. I’m so not like those people who are all, “I don’t want your sympathy!”

I DO. I REALLY DO WANT IT.

a4c7da34bc57d0f9794b716eb27140ab.jpg

See?! This writing thing? It’s really hard! (To be honest, I think George might want to consider counseling.)

But, if not sympathy, then your prayers. My family and me need to survive together until the manuscript is done, and this morning I asked Blonde to provide me with a synonym for “glass” and he answered “Um, donkey?” and I just nodded and carried on.

Never ask an eight year old with bad hearing for synonyms.

I’m gonna try and stick with the donkey-half-full ideology that a second book is wonderful and exciting and such a blessing. And, it is happening because of YOU guys. So, I thank you from the bottom of my synapse-misfiring little heart.
I do love you so.

I lift my donkey of grape juice to you.

This book is gonna be so good, can’t you tell?

66002499.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I Went Away and Came Back Again. Episode #34

I think I’ve written about this before. But you guys. It is SO exciting! I went away!

And! Double bonus! I came back!

Last weekend I went away to write.

Does that not make me sound like Zelda Fitzgerald? I mean, without all the booze and angst about her husband and all. But still. It sounds so… writerly, doesn’t it?

Ok, so I packed my stuff:

IMG_5684.jpg

Important! Always include incredibly soft Netflix shirt (jammies) in blog post as Shameless Plug.

Also, I didn’t read Big Magic at all. I meant to. It is a great book and I will… but really, all I did all weekend was write or watch You’ve Got Mail. And Jaws 3. Which is in 3D, may I remind you, and has some really awesome acting in it. Basically, people shouting “Get out of the water!” and staring at horror as a gigantic fake shark slowly 3D’s its way towards them. I had forgotten how good that movie is. The shark was a little stiff but perhaps he just needed to work on his motivation.

Anyhow. I also wrote. I went to a hipster coffee shop, plunked my stuff down, and wrote my hands off.

I wrote. I wrote like the wind.

IMG_5697

 

The poor focus on this picture is not because I am a bad photographer. It’s symbolic. It’s showing you, dear reader, the very writerly PROCESS I struggled THROUGH to try and make this book something with some SORT OF FLIPPING POINT BECAUSE MY GOD PEOPLE I AM SO STUCK. I HAVE WRITER’S BLOCK. IT’S NO LONGER A BLOCK IT IS MORE LIKE A BOULDER. HELLLLP.

 

 

 

So, then I administered about six cups of very strong coffee:

IMG_5695.png

And after a lot of flipping back and forth between my writing timeshare with the Facebooks, I then spread my crap out even MORE (All the while muttering: “I don’t CARE if it was annoying fellow coffee shop hipsters, this is IMPORTANT. I am a WRITER, people. THIS IS MY CRAFT.” Which really worked because people kept moving away.)

AND VOILA!!!!

IMG_5706.png

It’s my book, see! SEE! In post-its!

And also, then:IMG_5709.JPGI celebrated with carbs.

I now notice that Porters, next door, was offering nachos and a pitcher AND hiring… which I could always pursue, you know, if I can’t make it as a writer.

IMG_5724.jpgAs I had not had carbs in over a week, it’s possible this was a mistake. But I only at ONE. I promise. (Lower right, lemon cream. Oh my goodness. Heaven.) The rest of the box I faithfully shlepped home to mah babies.

Yes. I did come back to them.

And now the book is well underway, the blockage is over, and I am just spewing writing all over the place. Lovely analogy, isn’t it? Really has great imagery, doesn’t it. That, my peoples, is what we writers do.

We constantly attach too much meaning to everything and end up with poop metaphors.

It’s our thing.

So, The Second Book is on its way. I now I am thinking of some possible titles. What do you think?

All about MEEEEEE!  Part 2.

I Know I Have a Lot to Say, Don’t Leave

or maybe?

Being Me is Very Difficult Let Me Tell You Why

or my favorite:

Bottled in THREE D. THE SAGA CONTINUES.

orbitz-jaws-edition_o_2320075.jpg

 

 

 

I Went Away and Came Back Again.

Yep. I did. A few weeks ago I went away to Jacksonville, Florida.

And then? I came back. But… just for about twenty minutes or so, on the fabulous deck overlooking the pool with my coffee and bible? I had a teensy little bad thought (I know – one is not supposed to have bad thought when the bible is around, because bible = goodness, but, well, it’s me).

Here was the thought:

HOLY CRACKAMOLE I AM NEVER LEAVING THIS BALCONY.

IMG_5465.jpg

Ok, so let’s just kill the suspense right here. I did, in fact, leave the balcony.

I left it to put on some really strappy, high heeled shoes that are ridiculous, and then tromped down to my presentation here:

IMG_0609.JPG

I don’t really know what I’m doing in that photograph. But, as already mentioned, I don’t always sit well on video, so whatever.

Here’s another one. I like to call this:

Contemplative Momsie. Or Scared. Not Really Sure.

IMG_0610.jpg

This was my weekend at the Intervention Project for Nurses and it was amazing. Such an honor. Such an awesome event. Such a great balcony. The only unpleasant thing about the entire trip was those shoes.

Honestly, why do we do heels? Remind me again? I understand they make us look lean and lithe and thus, you know, ready to leap tall buildings and all that but really? I so would rather do so in flip flops.

Anyhow! I just wanted to tell you that I DID come back. And I am now firmly wedged in full-on summer with two boys that are playing baseball four nights out of the week. We have dinners that have sunflower seeds as the main dish. Sometimes, if they’re lucky, I throw a cheese stick at them as we head to the car. I add the goldfish that are colored with vegetable dyes because healthy.

Oh, and also this happened:

Screenshot 2016-06-16 12.13.57.png

Kansas Notable Books press release

Life is amazing and wonderful. Even when it’s not it is still pretty special. I am so grateful. I am SO grateful!!!!!!

IMG_5545.jpg

Post-game. Waiting for ice cream, because it helps battle the over 100 degree heat. I am even more grateful for Mr. Grimy, don’t you know.

Yes, you know. All moms know. We might have cool stuff handed to us, but really? If it came down to it, we’d take the sweaty kid with the dripping ice cream cone over all of it. Every day.

Every. Day.

 

 

 

THIS IS WHY I LOVE FLYING.

Since I am a fan of Top Ten lists (see my book, they’re in there) I thought I might give you the Top Ten Reasons Why Flying is Fun today. I have twenty minutes before I board, so here goes:

 

Top Ten Reasons Why Flying is Fun

  1. I basically sat on the lap of the dude next to me. So, it was a chance to really bond. Albeit, this man seemed a bit surly and not very talkative. Lotta tattoos. Not that’s there’s anything wrong with that. But, you know. It adds an ambiance.
  2. The guy in front me needed to have that extra INCH AND A HALF of space, so he seat backed me. He SEAT BACKED me. Who does that anymore? I know who. He does. And that inch and half? I WANTED IT BACK. IT WAS IMPORTANT TO ME. True, I was basically cuddling with Surly Tattoo guy, but I needed to get out of his lap at some point.
  3. I bought a 3.00 water and skipped the drinking part. Just watched the TSA lady take it out, wave it under my nose, and drop it, unopened, into the trash. She didn’t even recycle the thing. #wastefu
  4. Charging stations. We’re all huddled around the one charging station available in the Dallas/Fort Worth airport like those poor, plugged in Keanu in the The Matrix.
  5. The tram lady voice who kept telling me where my exit was? She spoke in a language I cannot quite understand. Like, I almost could understand, but not quite? Sorta? I think so? But I swear, she told me to get off at the “next stop where you will find Gate C and Dark Brown Gravy.”
  6. Now I just want some pot roast and mashed potatoes.Alas, this airport does not offer such fixins.
  7. However! This airport DOES a LOT of alcohol! At every corner! Big, huge, bars with backlit, glowing bottles all lined up! Day drinking! All up in my business!
  8. It’s ok. I’m not gonna snap.
  9. The man next to me on his cell phone loudly discussing something called Solid Waste Management. All the ins and outs. Lotta details. I know more about this subject than I ever thought possible. I will need to tell the boys. They will be fascinated. Evidently, he’s going to Florida for a conference about solid waste. I can’t help but wonder what kind of goodie bag you get at this kind of thing.
  10. The Intervention Project for Nurses. That’s why I’m going to Florida. I am the keynote speaker and I am so excited and honored. Life is really, really good.

 

11 They just started playing “MMM-Bop” on the sound system. My flying experience is complete.

keep-calm-and-mmmbop--9.png

Happy, Joyous, Free.

51KrIRVVYOL._SX300_.jpg

Sometimes life walks right up to you and hands you a glass of lemonade. You don’t have to deal with the lemons at all, just straight up lemonade. Lotsa ice. Maybe even a sprig of mint.

In less than a month I will be flying off to Florida to speak at the Intervention Project for Nurses. There, I get to talk about my story, and be funny, and make people laugh, and share some tears, all stuff that is totally up my alley. My Floridian alley. Which also includes a beach.

Also, in the fall I am doing a reading at The Writers’ Place:

11kacsffsann01.JPG

website_mansion_right.jpg

 

I used to walk by this amazing house when I was in my twenties, wistfully thinking, “Maybe one day I’ll go to a reading there. Maybe.” Now, I’m read-ING there.

And then there is this big HUGE sprig of mint:

 

Screenshot 2016-04-26 13.47.43.png

2016 Higher Goals Awards

Presented during EPA’s 2016 convention, the 2016 Higher Goals awards honor the best work done in specific categories during the 2015 calendar year.

Devotional:

First Place: The Covenant Companion, “Broken” — Dana Bowman

First Person Article:

Fourth Place: The Covenant Companion, “Jesus, Take This Cup From Me” — Dana Bowman

Humorous:

Second Place: The Covenant Companion, “Confessions of a Not So Cheerful Giver” — Dana Bowman

Personality Article:

Fourth Place: The Covenant Companion Online, “Breaking Through the Sound of Silence” — Dana Bowman

To read more about the awards and articles, click here.

All of this is a huge honor. Just huge. Awards are always an opportunity to take a breath and allow yourself to feel right in place. The Evangelical Press Association had perused all Christian publications, from Christianity Today to In Touch magazine, and more. I think this all just makes me smile at how my relationship with Covenant Companion Magazine came to be: it was a short blurb in their magazine honoring my pastor, Jeff Waugh, and his wife Julie for their care taking and help when I battled post-partum depression. That two paragraph entry showed up in their magazine over six years ago.

Sometimes, life is all about lemons. Bitterness. Soured dreams. Sadness.

And other times?  Life reminds you that when you travel with God’s travel plan clutched tightly in your fist, sometimes everything is so very, very sweet.

 

“We are going to know a new freedom and a new happiness.
We will not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it. We will comprehend the word
serenity and we will know peace…
Are these extravagant promises? We think not. They are being fulfilled among us
-sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly. They will always materialize if we work for them.”
     Reprinted from the book Alcoholics Anonymous (The Big Book) with permission of A.A. World Services, Inc
First-Promise-1.jpg