Announcing "Fundamentally Free"

Last year a variety of events, both personal and political, prompted me to reevaluate my religious affiliation. The label "Evangelical Christian" no longer feels like a good fit. I decided to take a hard look at the faith of my childhood, and to seek the Truth, whether it could be found in the church or outside it. It's been a strange journey so far, which has taken me everywhere from Lutheran Bible studies, to a virtual community with members who identify as "heretics," "ex-vangelicals," or "nones." 

I am grateful that there are other people on this journey with me. To that end, I'm thrilled to announce that I will be collaborating on a new blog, "Fundamentally Free," "a blog about Evangelical culture for those who've left it." I will be a monthly contributor writing on a variety of topics including social justice issues and my own faith. I hope you will come along with me on this journey, no matter what label you choose or don't choose for yourself.

Happy New Year! May 2018 be filled with Truth and Love for all of us.

Announcing "The Good Schools Project"

I'm very excited to share my newest project with you! It's something close to my heart that I'm calling "The Good Schools Project." It all started last January when I began thinking about which elementary school to enroll my son in. We were house hunting and suddenly it seemed like everyone from realtors, to friends, to other parents on social media were talking to us about finding a "good" school.

But what is a "good" school? How can busy parents evaluate whether our kids' school is working or not? What are realistic expectations of our schools? And what is it about that phrase "good school" that nags at me? Is "good school" code for something else?

Stay tuned because next Wednesday, September 13, the conversation begins!

Let the Rejection Begin!

Rejection letters are a large part of the publishing process. I've heard it advised that authors query anywhere between 40-60 agents before giving up. I've not yet begun the querying process for Manly Man of God, but I have entered both the Launch Pad Manuscript Competition and #pitchwars, and been rejected by both. That's 5 rejections to kick off this final push through editing and beginning my querying process.

Rejection sucks. I think most authors alternate between thinking that their manuscript is either a masterpiece that will change the world or a flaming pile of garbage. After this latest rejection, I'm leaning toward flaming pile of garbage, but I think the ideas are good. The characters are good. I've even been told that sections of it are funny or powerful. 

So, back to the drawing board. Re-work both the query and the first chapter. Just maybe rewrite the whole thing in first person?! It's probably crazy to do that before querying actual agents, but when I get an idea it's hard to stop myself.

Charles Mudede Knows Who I Am!

Charles Mudede is a treasure. His observational wit, intelligence, and lefter-than-left political leanings warmed the cockles of my heart during many sunless Seattle days. When he started following me on Twitter a few months ago, I *might* have squealed. 

A few weeks ago I decided to start challenging myself to pitch more story ideas. Pitching sucks, but I'm hoping to get better with practice. So I pitched The Stranger on a story idea about a huge dust-up on Beacon Hill Facebook pages regarding racism in "America's Most Diverse Zip Code." I tried to sound funny in my pitch and wrote that Charles Mudede following me on Twitter was one of the highlights of my career. I didn't hear anything, but I patted myself on the back for practicing.

Then Mudede emailed me. (Gulp.) He wanted to talk on the phone! We set an appointment for noon. I was so nervous all morning. When he called I could barely breathe. I spoke so fast that I'm amazed he was able to understand one word in ten. But he was so nice! And he liked my idea! He asked me for 700 words ASAP!

I was excited for Mudede to edit my writing, and I'm very proud of the article "A Black Man Knocks on the Door of a House in Beacon Hill, and..."  It feels very surreal and exciting. Off to more practice pitching!

Summer Reading List

It's already July and I'm taking advantage of some down time to get some summer reading in. Here's my shortlist:

-The Girl on the Train Maybe everyone else read this book three years ago, but, hey, I've got two little kids! Well-written, fast-paced, found the ending slightly unsatisfying.

-Eligible so. much. fun. A worthy update to the Austen catalog.

-The Diverse Schools Dilemma. Very well-researched look into school segregation and desegregation issues. Research for an upcoming series on segregation in Seattle's Public Schools, stay tuned!

-American Housewife. Twisty, hilarious shorts from Helen Ellis. Great book.

-Five Miles Away A World Apart, another book on segregation, this time focusing on a case in Virginia.

-The Handmaid's Tale. Just started this one. Amazing world-building, though it's already given me a nightmare! 

-The Essential Guide to Getting Your Book Published. Haven't started this yet, hopefully it's helpful!

What are you reading this summer?