May 27, 2008


The book is done! Done, turned in, and signed off. Now it goes to a lawyer for vetting. Then to the copy editor. And from then, I'm not sure.

Honestly I don't quite know how I made it. Besides the hard work and prayer and encouragement of friends, and a husband who's supported me the entire way.

My editor gave me some very daunting notes in mid-April. All great notes, but with only four weeks to go I didn't know how I was going to accomplish it all. Then my computer died, then I got sent to NYC for that lunch ... Which was great, but it took a few days out of me. I'd originally thought I'd have a few days to play in NYC, but things changed, and so I sat in my friend Mim's apartment and wrote for about 36 hours straight.

I turned in Draft Six on Monday May 19. I wanted to continue working on the therapy sessions, but my editor wanted to look over the draft. We were running out of time. I waited for my editor's notes, and in four days turned them around. I had time to clean up the therapy sessions. Turned it in and Bob's Your Uncle, it's done and everyone is thrilled.

My editor was a loving slave-driver. Her notes were brutal in the nicest way. She didn't let me get away with shallow moments or brevity when elaboration was required. Or vice versa. When you've been working with material for so long, you may think you've communicated, say, the emotional impact of an event, but you've only detailed the event itself. I had a way of doing that, detailing the events and then moving on to the next event ... Without conveying the emotional impact. A screen writing teacher called it "preparation, event, aftermath." I was good at events. I also edited out emotional impact because most of my emotional aftermaths consisted of WHINING.

So anyway, Anne had a brilliant way of finagling those things out of me, all the while finagling the profanity out of my manuscript. That sly girl!

Like, I had a line in which I called (a certain atheist) an an angry, arrogant mofo. She suggested I think of another word.

Really? Mofo was bad? Okay so I wrote, "angry arrogant turd." Isn't that a great word? TURD? Turd is in, but (the certain atheist's actual name is out because he could sue me for libel.

I also tried to use the word FUBAR three or four times. First I had the almighty saying it. But Anne thought that wasn't a good call. So then I gave it to myself when describing some church experiences. She wrote, "my instinct tells me you might want to use another word to describe a church."

In the end, FUBAR does appear, but not in describing the bride of Christ. (GOOD CALL, ANNE!)

Anyway, I am still pinching myself, marveling how I made it. But I know how. Lots of prayer, lots of encouragement, from wonderful friends. And of course, the best man in the world who's carried me through this whole escapade. LARRY. Oh, no I meant God. God first. Larry second.

Anyway I just wanted to THANK all of you who read my blog and who've cheered me on. The book is on its way!

If you'd be interested in getting me to come and speak at your church or a local coffee house, internet café or bus station, let me know. The book and solo show tour is coming. Maybe to your town!


May 23, 2008

Book Cover Art

My publisher put the cover art online at, so I think it's safe for me to put it on the blog. I'd originally envisioned the Creation of Adam from the Sistine chapel, except in Adam's place, a woman was giving God the "Talk to the Hand" gesture. Independently, Hachette's art department came up with the bride figurine and the terrific conversation bubbles. So they added my Sistine God, and voila! The background may lose the clouds, but this is how more or less how it's going to look. I think they did a fantastic job. (Allen, I swapped the artwork. They did add my middle initial, not to confuse me with the already famous author, Susan Isaacs.

May 21, 2008

New York Lunch with Carmindy, Kristin and Dr. Diana

Last week as I raced to finish my manuscript revisions, my publishers sent me to New York for a magazine editor's lunch. The publicity team sets up a swanky lunch for various magazine editors, while a few authors talk about their upcoming books. The goal is to generate interest in the books, get a magazine or TV interview, or a review, etc.

I was stressed out with my looming deadline--I had hoped to be done with the revision before the lunch, but my computer died only a week before, so I was behind schedule. But to be chosen for a lunch like this was a boon for the book. And, they flew me to New York! I was honored to be in the company of the other authors. Carmindy is best known as the makeup artist on the show What Not To Wear. Dr. Diana is a relationship guru and appears on lots of TV shows; her book is about techniques and disciplines to help you find finding love in 90 days. You know who you are. Kristin Armstrong is best known as cycling champ Lance Armstrong's ex-wife. She's authored a few devotionals about divorce recovery and is a beautiful woman, inside and out.

The night before the lunch, the FaithWords publicity team took Kristin and me out to dinner. I was so impressed my publicity team, they are funny, real, women of faith. And Kristin? Well she is prettier than Sheryl Crow (if that could happen). And after spending just an hour with her, I saw how beautiful she is on the inside too. She's got so much grace in her life, grace and forgiveness. Here's a devotional she wrote about divorce recovery. She's got another book coming out next year called, "Work In Progress: An Unfinished Woman's Guide To Grace." Hers is being released the day before mine. So buy them both.

I'm great in front of a theater crowd, I know how to perform and entertain. But this was a totally different venue. A chichi restaurant, thirty sophisticated magazine editors, three already-famous authors, and me. Then Carmindy walked in. She's bubbly and gorgeous and wears so little makeup. We all turned the other way and tried to mute our eyeliner. Carmindy’s upcoming book is called, "How To Get Positively Beautiful." She refused to do celebrity interviews for this book. “This is a book for real women.” You go, Carmindy.

The other women went first, pitching their books over the salad or the entrée. As they spoke, I started to panic. Wow. They are beautiful, famous, polished, experts, polished .. and I'm .. who am I? Nobody! But I got over it. I got laughs, always a good sign. They went home with the first four chapters of the book, and I know they're strong.

The publicity team gave away swag bags, and this is the item they put in for my book. It’s a Jesus compact mirror from BlueQ, the people who bring you miso pretty and other snarky, spiffy stuff. Their website is a riot.
Check out their "About Us" Page and find out why their products aren't available at the "Mega Crap Mart." They rock.

I had originally expected to be done with the manuscript and was going to meet friends. But had no time to visit! I just holed up in my friend Mim’s pad. However I did make a pit stop at Fairway, where I got into a long conversation with a really cool lady named Judy. We stood out on the street and chatted for a half hour. I love that about New York.

My brother Jim’s girlfriend happened to be in NYC at the same time. I wasn’t going to leave the apartment, but Annkatrin was on her way back to Switzerland. If Jim doesn’t marry her I’m going to kick his butt. I went back to my apartment, wrote all night, went to sleep at 5:30am, and woke up at 2pm, just in time to wake up and get the subway to JFK. The one good thing about being that stressed, was that it didn't allow me time to miss Larry, until I woke up and it was time to go home.

My editor got my new draft. She loves it. I still have several things to clean up. Then the manuscript goes off to the Legal Deparment to be vetted. I’ll probably have to lose the line about Jessica Simpson’s dad being a skeevy youth pastor. Ahh too bad.

May 16, 2008

Chocolate Bunny

We had the pleasure of this little man's company the last couple weeks. He's so gnawing yummy I want to call him Chocolate Bunny. But you can call him Abe.

Here he is, very interested in Honey. Lori told me Honey allowed Abe to pet her. Later he became interested in specific tufts of her hair, and she was just not into that.

You can read all about Ted and Lori's amazing adoption journey on their blog, Our Own Rooney.

I'm returning from a New York but he won't be at the house. And I'm sad. Lori, bring Abe back soon!

Awww yummy chocolate bunny I miss you already...

May 10, 2008

Why It Matters

I'm nearing the end of my rewrite, the last rewrite before the end. Sometimes I feel like I'm rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic ... or on a gorgeous cruise ship to Alaska. The chairs are all gonna sink or they'll all get there. So why rearrange? Larry told me to fight against ennui. Well he didn't say ennui or weltschmerz or blasé-faire. I think he said fatigue. Fight fatigue. I'm trying. I've got Red Bulls in the fridge.

My friend Traci applied for a job she really, really wants. We talked about it yesterday: the enormous desire that threatens to dash our hopes if we don't get it ... 'hope deferred makes the heart sick.' There's an urge to go buddhist and kill off our desire. But I thought of what Henri Nouwen said: "Desire is the atomic energy of the soul." Desire for change motivates the political landscape. Desire to help the poor sends us to the inner cities and Africa and even Myanmar -- where other desires try to stop the help from reaching those who need it. Yes, desire creates unhappiness and evil. But it also motivates the best in us.

Traci sent me this quote of Frederick Buechner: "We must be careful with our lives, for Christ's sake, because it would seem that they are the only lives we are going to have in this puzzling and perilous world, and so they are very precious and what we do with them matters enormously."

So maybe I'm not rearranging deck chairs as much as I'm actually steering the ship. Or leading the charge. Okay then. Once more into the breach...

May 8, 2008

Sad Mac, Dead Mac

First let me say, my book deadline is 11 days away. So, four days after my Apple Care expired in February, my computer started having problems burning DVDs. Yes, four days after Apple Care expired. I've been giving my computer a lot of hard work with this book. But .. in the last month I started getting the "kernel panic" sign. Of course they don't tell you that's what it is, they just say, in four languates, YOU NEED TO RESTART YOUR COMPUTER. If they added the ACHTUNG, BABY, then it would really make my kernel panic.

When we were in Philly a week ago, I left my computer bag on the train platform and got on the train. I went into my own kernel panic, but GOD BE PRAISED, the train conductor called the next coming train, told the conductor to look for my backpack. During that epoch 30 minute wait, I had the chance to think: Okay, my editor has my latest draft. I sent a copy to a friend to look at just a day ago. I backed up all my files onto an external hard drive a month ago. I backed up the most recent files just days ago, onto my iPod, which is also in the backpack.Worst comes to worst, I'll buy a new computer. The next train arrived and they had the bag! NOTHING MISSING. But it got me thinking.

Three days later, back at home, Larry's computer went black. He took it into Apple store in Glendale. The guy at the Genius Bar may have been a genius at tech support but he was a Ree-Tard in his social skills. "Don't hear nothing. 50/50 chance you'll get your data back. Ten days, two weeks repair wait." And off he went with Larry's computer. His eight month old computer. Which IS under warranty. I tried to calm Larry. It was probably the mother board, not the hard drive. They can replace that and the hard drive may be OK.

"Unless there was a power surge and it fried the hard drive," our friend Matt said. He's in our small group. His PC is totally DONE and it's only like a year and a half old. "What I REALLY want is a macbook PRO," Matt drooled. When we closed our small group in prayer, our small group friend Traci prayed for Larry, Matt and Mandy, that their computer issues would be resolved. "Don't say that too loud," I said to Tracy. "Ask not for whom the PC bell tolls, it tolls for thee."

Monday night I got the achtung baby sign, and restarted my computer. I backed up my Book folder. I was working until 4:30 am, and sent my latest draft to my friend Mark in NYC.

12:30 Tuesday the bell tolled for ME. my hard drive shuffled off this mortal coil. I walked into the Apple store in Pasadena and walked out with what Matt has been drooling over. A macbook pro. And a dent in my wallet.

I used the Migration Assistant to transfer old files from my legacy ibook that originaly came with like OS 8, or "Calico."
Problem was, it also brought some old software codes so thing were wonky. I spent two hours reinstalling the system software. Matt sent me back my most recent copy of the book. I got all my files copied back onto my computer. It's now about 1:30 am and I'm starting to lose it. My cat is meowing and trying to sit in my lap and get me to feed her whipped cream and I about lose it.

NO, I will not let the Enemy grind me down. I just won't. You aren't going to win, Satan. You can go F yourself. In the Lord.

I got all the software reinstalled. Wednesday morning, iTunes wouldn't play. Went to the Apple store. The guy at the Genius bar said I didn't do a clean install. I need to totally wipe out the computer. Again. Long story short, by 3pm on Wednesday i am back. And I'm not going to let this stop me.

And Dianna, please PLEASE don't tell Joe. You just can't. It's not right.

May 6, 2008

Porno Ralphs Supermarket

With little time left on my book, I made my rare trip out of my bubble to go to the market and buy more paper for my printer. BTW, A Fresh and Easy opened up within walking distance of our house. Sure enough, as soon as F&E opened, we got flyers in our mailbox with the F&E logo, but they were actually exposés about F&E's parent company, Tesco -- claiming Tesco sold expired food, hiring cheap labor, etc. Some of the infractions went back ten years. I looked at the fine print and the authors of these flyer/exposés, were a Ralphs, Kroger, Vons, etc. I don't have to go back five years to remember two strikes by grocery workers demanding health care. A little of the pot calling the kettle black. But I needed paper from Staples on this day, so I stopped at the Ralphs next to it.

While standing in the checkout line I noticed some of the magazines. There on the lower shelves at a four-year-old's eye level was the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit edition. They've always been sexy but these days they look more like the cover of Hustler. The model's breasts were huge, and her 'top' consists of necklaces covering her nipples. I realize that men's magazines have gotten racier, but if you go to the SI swimsuit page, it looks more like you're being invited to enter the call girl website that took down Elliot Spitzer down.

The woman checking out in front of me was taking a while, so I had some time to sit there and stew. Why was that magazine placed in the check out line? Didn't they have a magazine section? And what was it doing at Toddler eye level? I also know our culture has been accused of being too puritanical. Maybe I'm too 'square,' but I don't think that throwing sex into everything actually demystifies it. I think it just makes it totally worthless. Every cover of US or PEople talks about "Jen and John's sexy weekend," "Brand and Angie's sexy new floor coverings," "Lindsay Lohan's sexy blackout weekend." enough enough. Can't we leave some mystery in life? I know some people think that if we demystify sex it won't hold power over us. But I've yet to hear of a man who felt looking at porn took away the itch to see more, or that looking through Playboy gave him the desire to meet a real woman with real breasts.

I paid for my groceries and went to speak to the manager. I told him about the cover. "I'm all for free speech," I said, "but a naked Hustler type magazine isn't appropriate for the average check-out aisle, and definitely not at child's eye level. I'd like the children in my family to stay children for a while."

Teh manager said he'd received many complaints about the magazine. However, "Corporate makes those decisions for us, and they have to stay there." "Corporate." The disembodied faceless word that gets the blame for everything.
"But the space they're sitting in doesn't even say Sports Illustrated.
"It says Time Specialties. It's a specialty slot." (Which also means it can sit there indefinitely, like People magazine's "The world's most beautiful/interesting/fascinating/nauseating people of 200x"
"Ma'am, it's not my decision. It's a corporate decision, if you want to pursue it with them..." he looked away.
"Yes, I'd like that."
The manager handed me a business card for "corporate." It listed a phone number for a customer comment line. Sure I got it. A taped message that gets erased at the end of the day.

I got online and sent an email instead, figuring it might be a little more productive than leaving a message on some phone machine. I stated my concerns above. I also added: "I'm all for freedom of speech. You've got an extensive magazine section. You DON'T NEED to have a big breasted topless Hustler model sitting at a child's eye level where she has no choice but to look at it. If we cannot govern ourselves and make sensible decisions about our freedoms, eventually someone will come and make our decisions for us. ... and by the way, this Ralphs was also selling EXPIRED milk. So next time you accuse Fresh and Easy of getting caught with their pants down, remember you just did too. And you've got your top off as well. I'd rather shop at Fresh and easy than Girls Gone Wild Ralphs."

I finally got an email back from Corporate. "Ralphs has decided to use the "blinders" over the magazine's cover so that the magazine masthead is visible, but not the pictures."

I'm going to check and see that they actually follow through. It's stil pretty tacky that you can't walk through a check out line and have to see one of those porn covers. But then again, Ashlee Simpson was sitting there in a microbikini on the cover of Cosmo.

That was last week. This morning I ran to Fresh and Easy for something. No magazines in the check out. When i got back I found a Victoria's Secret catalog in my mailbox. Courtesy of Ralphs maybe?