Divine Appointments

Have you ever had a coincidence & thought afterwards, well that was just too weird? It may have been a divine appointment. My birthday is causing me to ponder how many times God has led me to some pretty awesome things (yes, today I’m 32, and I know, I don’t look it at all;)

An-y-ways, I had one of those happy coincidences yesterday at Barnes & Noble. I was at my writers meeting & usually go for coffee afterwards with some of the posse. Long story short, I didn’t go, went to book store instead & for 1st time EVER didn’t find anything I had to have. Disappointed, I stopped in the lady’s room before leaving & discovered the real reason I was there. A 15-yr-old was talking to her friend about how cool it’d be if she got published. I wanted to say something, wearing my “Wannabe YA Author” hair ribbon myself, but didn’t want to look like a creepy stalker. We went to our stalls and while I was peeing I just couldn’t shake the feeling I needed to talk to that girl. So I finished my business & rushed out to wash my hands & she was standing there, waiting for her friend, who was thankfully taking a long time (hmmm, another divine apt?). Well, wouldn’t ya know, this young girl believes in divine appointments too:) She kept saying throughout our conversation, ‘You just don’t know how perfect this is meeting you! It’s totally a God thing!’ I gave her my business card (I know, how professional am I that I had one on me, oh and only 1) and hopefully we’ll keep in touch b/c teenagers are cool. That’s why I’m a wannabe YA author-duh!

Then I started thinking about all the other chance meetings in my life that were God led. The biggie is meeting my hubby the first day of high school during 4th period Word Processing & getting to sit next to him. It took him 3 1/2 yrs to ask me out, but I knew that first day I’d marry him.

Me & My Prince Charming

Or when I got my first Sunday off from waiting tables at Perkins Restaurant a week before I left for college & decided to go to church. And discovered who Jesus is that day. Then prayed to him that I’d have at least one Christian roomie to help keep me on the straight and narrow & arrived to find not just one, but all 4 were Christians! Yanno, what are the odds of that at a secular college these days (okay it was 1997, ancient times, but still!!!).

Me & two of my lovely roomies. *That's not really her armpit hair. It's hair that was clogging up our shower drain & she decided to tape it under her arm, if that's any less gross.

And then the next year after I married Dan & transferred to UCF, where they royally screwed up my schedule & gave me a Monday night class that I’d soon be out of but HAD to attend that first one, so Dan, all alone & bored, wandered around campus & discovered this free BBQ, put on by XA (Chi Alpha Christian Fellowship). They roped him in (fresh blood & he could charm snakes-J/K!) & that one ‘coincidence’ tremendously shaped our college experience.

XA Girls-I'm the only one holding a baby. Nope, wasn't in MY plan to have a kid at 20, but I believe Kaylee was born 'for such a time as this.' Read Esther for a really cool tale on divine appointments.


Or when I went to my first big Christian conference, Aquire the Fire, & learned about mission trips & told God I wanted to go on one but didn’t think I could raise enough $ and then, the next day, someone from my home church hundreds of miles away who had no idea I was at the conference, called & said the church would like to sponsor me for a missions trip that summer to an orphanage in Jamaica. 

Where I stayed in Jamaica, where I discovered I wanted to be a teacher

For my next missions trip the following summer, I decided I could raise the $ myself. But then it wasn’t happening & crushed, I called out to God during prayer, ‘Why wouldn’t you want me to go on a missions trip?’ He answered, ‘What about that letter to your uncle?’ I’d been a Christian for about 2 yrs at that time and still hadn’t forgiven my uncle for abusing me when I was a kid. God had been laying it on my heart to write a letter that whole year but I was stubborn. I wrote it that day, a Friday (do u hear Rebecca Black’s song in your head every time you hear the word ‘Friday’ now or is it just me?). By Tuesday I needed $1,600 for my missions trip. I hadn’t received a single cent. Guess how much came in the mail on Tuesday when I checked my mailbox? If you guessed EXACTLY $1,600 then ding, ding, ding, you’re a winner *give yourself a pat on the back for playing!

Street Performing in Ireland. I'm the one in the cowboy hat ya'll

I could go on forever with more stories. But whatdya think? Coincidence or divine appointment? Any ‘coincidences’ of your own? Please share (it is my bday and I found a few gray hairs this month, it’s the least you can do to encourage me).

Hooking Readers

Just because I’m a teacher doesn’t mean I get summers off. These past 6 weeks were my busiest time as a writer. I participated in a  month-long blogfest in July and submitted my query and first 200 words for critique. As part of my research I watched Michael Hauge’s DVD on screenwriting (easily applied to writing novels). I thought I’d share some tidbits of wisdom I gleamed from his seminar on grabbing the reader in the first 10 pages. Here are the top 5 openings to employ according to Hauge.

1) The Big Action: used when your hero is a cop or spy . . .or whatever job where action is part of their everyday life. This opening is powerful because emotion grows out of conflict.

2) Outside Action: some big occurrence of action, could take up to 5 pages. Hero is out of the action and then story cuts to hero, showing them in their everyday life with no idea of what’s about to happen. Now you have superior position, anticipation, and curiosity. Think ET & Star Wars

3) The Prologue: takes place years or centuries before present day. Think Splash & Lord of the Rings. *Note: make sure the agent you’re querying accepts the dreaded prologue!

4) The Flashback: starts in present day but flashes back to tell the story & then flashes back to present. Think Titanic & Out of Africa.

5) Everyday Hero Intro: hero living everyday life before they’re plunged into their major conflict. Keep in mind that the first character introduced should be your hero so your reader will know who they’re rooting for. First 5-10 pages should present your hero with some new desire to get the story moving.

What opening did you employ? I used #5 but I’m still struggling with how to do this best. Most articles I’ve read in the past two years since I started writing say not to throw the reader into action or start your first sentence with dialogue. Agents/editors claim it’s a cheat & shows you’re not a great writer. Yet, through the contest I participated in, it seems those stories were the ones favored time and time again. And according to Hauge, the big action seems fine. His DVD dated back to 2005 but most of his advice still seemed relevant to me. N-E-ways, if you have any other tidbits of wisdom for this struggling writer, please share before I drown my sorrows in chocolate and gain another 10 pounds:):)