The Ouch Chronicles


Is it about the destination or the journey? You have to decide.

Ouch, ouch, ouch…there are lots of popped-out nails and splintered planks on the path to publication.

Although I’ve written 3 books for adults, now I’m trying to find an agent or editor for my first middle grade novel, Whistling for Elephants.

I’ve gotta admit, I was downright blessed with those other books. The first one, Gardening with Heirloom Seeds, happened because an editor from a small publishing house saw an article I’d written for an in-flight magazine (Delta Air Lines Sky). She contacted me and asked for a proposal. I sent it, but ultimately, it was turned down.

Well, I figured, I’d written an outline, market analysis, sample chapters, and so forth, and I didn’t want to waste the work, so I sent my proposal elsewhere. My second try, at UNC Press, was accepted, and the book came out about 18 months later. (In case you don’t know, yes, it really can take years to get a book to print).

Then I wrote an essay about my spiritual journey, also for Delta Sky, and it happened again. An editor saw the essay and contacted me. (See a pattern here? Getting published in an in-flight magazine is amazing exposure. Literally millions of people read them each month.) I wound writing Mustard Seeds for B&H Books, and even got a contract for a follow-up, Little Mercies.

I’d always loved kids’ books, so next I tried writing one. But lots of life-stuff started happening, so I kept shoving the manuscript to the back burner, until this month, when I finally finished it and began circulating it.

I’m discovering that few publishers take unsolicited, or so-called “over the transom” manuscripts anymore. They’re so inundated with submissions, they’ve stopped reading new work unless it’s represented by an agent.

Unfortunately, it can be as hard to get an agent as it is to find a publisher. It seems almost everybody wants to write, but few stories see the light of (published) day, unless the writer really works hard to learn and practice her craft.

So here what I’ve decided: I’m going to share my path toward publishing a children’s book here, and on Twitter and Facebook and LinkedIn.

And here’s why: I’ve told friends that I’ve already gotten a couple of rejection letters (which is not a sign of failure, I’m learning; award-winning children’s author Kate DiCamillo got an overwhelming 470-some rejections before she sold her first book, which went on to become a best-seller and a TV movie. Read her interview with PBS here).

As I share my own turn-downs, I’m reminded about what really matters. Writing feels like a calling, and doing what you love matters more than what you may or may not get in the end (a contract and money).

I often debate how much to share. I mean, if I let down the public mask that most of us wear, do I look like a loser? Well, sometimes I am, but that’s okay. That’s what it means to be human, right? I am what I am, and what I am is — a work in progress.

So please check back with me to see what’s happening on my journey toward publication. I’ll share what I’m learning, in hopes it’ll help other aspiring writers. And if nothing else, those of us who feel called to write won’t feel alone.



Unfold Your Wings – Write


“If you stand still long enough, you’ll grow wings.” from Bella Grace Magazine, D. Smith Kaich Jones

It sounds like an oxymoron, but I think it’s true. When you stand still for too long, you don’t necessarily grow roots. Sometimes you get wings.

It hit me when I read that line. I’d been in one place for so long, my pin feathers (the soft, baby kind that appear before the real flying feathers) were starting to sprout.

I was at a job with wonderful people, in a lovely office park, doing work that had been creative, fulfilling and fun. For a long time, anyway. Then things changed, as things are wont to do, and the job wasn’t as fulfilling anymore. I had come to a standstill. I had stopped writing – at least, doing any creative, fiction writing.

That’s when I felt the itch and burr and scratch of unexpected feathers, and I knew it was time to fly.

I stretched my wings and have made, to date, a rather bumpy landing. But that doesn’t mean I’m grounded. This can be a place to rest and think and figure out how to get to where I want to go next, where I really want to be.

So here goes. Unfolding my wings again.



Dallas and the Spitfire – a book review and a “new model for men’s ministry”


Image courtesy of Bethany House

Friends, I promised to tell you more about seed catalogs for your spring garden, but I just read a really good book, and I can’t resist sharing a review with you. Here goes:

Dallas and the Spitfire: An Old Car, An Ex-Con, and An Unlikely Friendship, by Ted Kluck and Dallas Jahncke. Bethany House. On-sale in April 2012.

(You can find this review, and other reviews I’ve written, online at

Men–at least the ones I know–don’t share their feelings easily. That’s why freelance writer and author Ted Kluck says he didn’t know where to start, when his pastor asked him to hang out with a new believer, a young, “tattooed, goateed kid” at church.

The kid, Dallas Jahncke, had a troubled past as an ex-con who’d used and sold drugs. He had no parents, and while their initial meetings were awkward and uncomfortable, Kluck admits, “I guess I felt like he needed us (Kluck and his family).” Besides, Kluck adds, he needed help with a broken down convertible, and Dallas proved to have many talents, including the ability to rebuilt carburetors and dismantle gearshifts.

Klout’s real hope, of course, was that he’d be able to share his faith in God and help Dallas stay clean. This book is the story of the journey they made together, to grow toward a real friendship and into an enduring love for Jesus.

In his introduction, Klout says he wanted to craft a Christian book that guys wouldn’t be embarrassed to read. I’m not a guy, but I think I can say that he’s exceeded his goal. This is an honest, deeply-felt book that has just enough grease and gunk around the edges to make even the biggest macho-man consider coming alongside a fellow believer in need–and realize how that brother could fill his own life with grace and friendship.

This book is tagged, “a new model for men’s ministry,” and I highly recommend it.

A Devotional Booklet for Your Bible Study, Retreat, or Quiet Time

A big, big thanks to Kay Marks and the ladies of Trinity Presbyterian Church in Arvada, Colorado, who created a lovely devotional booklet I can share with you! Here’s the cover:



Kay contacted me awhile ago, to ask if it was okay to reprint some of my gardening tips and devotional thoughts from a calendar we created to go with my first book, Gardening with Heirloom Seeds. I was happy to say yes! I love these kinds of booklets, and Kay is kindly allowing me to share the finished product with anyone who would like to use it for personal use (that is, group or individual use is okay, but it must be not-for-profit).

You can’t really appreciate the colors and artwork in the booklet from this picture, because my scanner let the colors bleed through (boo, crummy old scanner). But if you’d like a copy, please leave me a comment or email me lynn(at) Then you can reproduce as many copies as you’d like. I’d recommend using a slightly heavier paper than ordinary office stuff, so the colors don’t show through. (Or use a good scanner/copier, LOL.)

The complete booklet is about 12 pages. We’re happy to share this with you, especially at Thanskgiving!

Lynn and Miss Paws


Finding an old road

Author Julia Cameron has a quote in her best-selling book, The Artist’s Date Book, that I like very much:  “Through morning pages, we see what obstacles impede us, what roads are open to us.”

The “morning pages” she refers to are three handwritten pages that she says you should write every morning, before you do anything else. It doesn’t matter what you write, according to Julia, who teaches creativity classes for all kinds of artists. The only thing that matters is to write.  The idea is to get past that critical internal editor that most of us have, the ones that whispers, you can’t do this. You’re no good. No one will ever care about what you write, draw, paint, think, do or say……

That voice is powerful. But there is another Voice you can learn to hear, too, one that says, I am for you. You are enough, and you are loved.

“Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls.” ~ Jer. 6:16, NIV

(with thanks to Lucy Mercer,, for a lovely walk in her woods, which are pictured in this image)

Come Messy

Recently I’ve been working on our back deck. The deck is about 15 years old now, weather-battered and sun-worn, and I’ve gotten tired of looking at the bleached boards and popped-up nails. So I’ve been hammering, and I’ve put out lots of flowers that I hope will attract butterflies–and distract human visitors from seeing how bad the old deck really is.

I spent hours sanding the old paint and rust off a set of outdoor furniture we have, too, so I could re-paint the table and chairs, to give us a nice place to sit in the evenings. I bought fabric to make new seat cushions. It’s weather-resistant, and it’s really pretty, with a chocolate brown background, and  lemon yellow and cream-colored flowers.

The table has a glass top, which I scrubbed and cleaned, and I thought, when everything’s finished, I’ll put a nice candle or lantern on the tabletop.


And then —this happened:

Yep. I dropped the paint.  All over the already awful-looking deck. This is just one spot. Amazing, how far a half-empty bucket of paint can go!

It’s going to take a lot of—well, I don’t know what it takes to get oil-based paint off of wood. Whatever it is, I’m sure it won’t be easy.

Don’t you hate it when you’re trying hard, and things seem to be going okay, but everything winds up in a mess?

At least this reminded me that no matter how hard we try, we’re never going to be perfect. God loves us anyway.

So I’m thinking, it’s okay. The paint will come off. Or it won’t come off. Jesus says, Don’t worry about things. Rest in Me. Come to Me, even if you come messy.

“I will sing aloud of your steadfast love…” Psalm 88:13










Endless Ocean…Endless Love

Gulf Shores tide

The ocean has such a timeless feel, doesn’t it? It’s one of those places that makes me aware of how fleeting our lives are. We’re here a short time, but the tides wash over the sand in a kind of endless dance orchestrated by the moon.

And who hangs the moon that pulls the tides?

Talk about timeless….talk about eternal.

“…there is none like You, O Lord…great is Your love toward me….You have delivered me.” Psalm 86: 8-13, NIV

Even Miracles

miracles sign

I almost bought this little wooden sign at a gift shop the other day–and then I thought, wait–I don’t need to spend $15 to be reminded of this!

I do believe in the kind of miracles that can happen in the wink of an eye, but I also believe those are rare indeed nowadays. That doesn’t mean they don’t happen. It just means that God usually works through ordinary ways, and ordinary people, to accomplish what we need and ask for.

While we might like to have our heart’s desires in a –well, in a heartbeat–there’s much to be said for learning patience and practicing grace. Hmmm…maybe that’s part of the miracle…

Romans 5:4, NIV: “…endurance produces character, and character produces hope.”

Mother’s Day

Happy Mother’s Day!

Sign of the times

I’ve got to admit:  when I first thought about posting this sign on my blog, I wondered what kind of reaction it would get.

Would come across as ironic? I mean, the world’s a mess these days.

Even on a small scale, most of us deal with all kinds of problems, like broken washing machines, surly teenagers, sickness, more debts than our paychecks can cover–you name it.

I thought people might see this and say, “Oh, sure. It’s a day in paradise somewhere. But not here ”

But then I remembered the royal wedding, and how happy Kate and William looked. They celebrated their marriage in lavish style, expecting most people to share in their joy. And you know what? I think most of us really did, even those of us whose homes don’t cost as much as that fabulous ring.

In the end, I don’t think paradise is about “stuff” at all, or even Jimmy Buffet-type beaches and ocean views and sailboats.

Look around. There are butterflies floating around, even over the weeds. If you get up early in the morning, you can hear a free concert, performed by your local songbirds.  The sun is warm, and right this minute, it’s coaxing little seeds to burst through the soil and grow into ripe tomatoes and hot peppers and crunchy lettuce. All for you. All for me.

Miracles. Everywhere.

Yeah. I’m okay with that sign. Are you?