The Summer Files: There’s a Light at the End

The last week of July, I attended the annual Realm Makers conference–a writers conference for Christian authors of speculative fiction (although all are welcome). As advertised, it isn’t your grandmother’s writers conference–meaning we aren’t afraid to walk into Zacchaeus’ house (despite the judgements of those standing outside) to bring him a meaningful story.

Ted Dekker gave the keynote speech, and the word he used that stood out to me was perception. Your perception determines your experience in this life.
Does it?
My family picked me up afterwards, and we headed for Yellowstone. My son, who has struggled with health problems his whole life, charged along the trails like a monkey on speed. “Best vacation ever!” he kept saying. In the heat, the endless steps in Mammoth Hot Springs, with the odor of sulphur permeating the air. He only saw awesomeness. It’s amazing how a captivatingly beautiful land can reside within such stench.

To pick on Noah for practically dragging me along, I messed with his Batman hat until he told me, “Mommy. Don’t touch the darkness.” He illustrated this concept by hopping around the shadows, stepping only where the sun touched the ground. He’s had enough darkness, trust me, but he has this in-born joy that keeps him from falling into it. He’s my superhero.
My daughter, poor thing, is a worrier. She dreaded being separated from me for the few days I spent in Reno, and let that cloud any excitement over our trip…until she got there. When J handed her the camera, and gave her the job as family photographer, she saw the world through a whole new lens.
The light even gave her a kiss.


There’s a jagged edge between light and dark. The secret is not in the proximity, but where you direct your eyes.

What if We Were Duct Tape?

Last year, when I wasn’t as close to 40, I bought a satchel for my writing travels. Gray as a morning dove, it offered pockets for my laptop, manuscript and cell phone. It was young, beautiful and perfect.

The first strap broke in the Philly airport after enduring 6 hours of being overstuffed with books and that extra outfit for “just in case.” My blue travel purse was also inside–the one that didn’t have to be big enough to fit wipes, snacks and a good sized collection of Minion bandaids.

Thankfully, I had packed duct tape in case my Leeloo Dallas suspenders had an accident (because a writers conference for speculative fiction writers must have cosplay).satchel

By the time the strap on my blue purse broke, I was running on a lot of adrenaline and little sleep, so I don’t remember if it was during Tosca Lee’s or Thomas Locke’s class but I didn’t stress it too much–the purse was about a decade old.

It was when a second strap on my newer satchel broke that I began to look around me…was it during the paranormal panel?

What does this mean?

I laid the irreparable blue purse to rest back in the Villanova dorm room, then grabbed the bright orange duct tape and reinforced all four straps of my satchel. I figured I should be thankful for the duct tape than pout over the out-of-place patches of my dove-gray beauty.

Now that I’m home (a few breaths from 40) and shopping for a heavy duty yet attractive bag, I’m staring at Oksana Chusovitina on the TV screen. I see her solid form, her poise and most of all–the lack of fear in her eyes. She’s a 41-year-old Olympic Gymnast.

Wow. I smile and realize, of course–She’s duct tape.

She’s the sturdy bridge between the young and old, standing in front of the world and reminding us to quit underestimating ourselves. We may feel out of place, but like those of us who immerse ourselves in speculative thought, she simply asked, “What if?”

The Summer Files: Day 75

This week I got to be a full fledged grown up.

I went on a business trip.

Of course, it was one of those fun ones. I made the trip across the country to Philly, meeting a few friends at the airport where we stepped outside and slowly trudged through blankets of humidity (I think my mascara is still running).


Before we got down to business, we immersed ourselves in the middle of the city–Hillary and Bernie people swarmed the streets, dark alleys beckoned us into their creepy yet crowd-free walls, and we discovered that Philly bus drivers will go to any length to be kings of the road.

We visited a haunted prison.easternpen

At Villanova University, we attended classes and met many incredible people. Have you ever been in a room full of specular fiction writers? It’s not boring, not for a half-second.

There are changes going on in the publishing world…exciting, risky. Christian specular fiction writers have a very unique place in the world right now–we are forging our place onto bookshelves that don’t know where to categorize us, walking through darker alley’s than many of our writing peers, getting shunned by others, but that’s okay. We’re not ones to follow a crowd.


God is a lion. He lives inside the hearts of His family, roaring when needed. Here you see His might in my friend, Louise (Furiosa, on the right).


She came to this conference, lacking hair, full of cancer. For costume night, she showed her inner strength by donning the garb of Furioso. This is a true warrior, full of fight,  Lion roaring.

She goes back home to agonizing treatment, but full of hope. Look into her eyes, her heart. This is the Lion showing the world that we can walk through those dark alleys and survive. We can forge our way into uncomfortable places to where God calls us whether we feel at the top of our game or not.

So keep your head up and tell Monday to beware The Lion.