Shawna Atteberry

Writer, Editor, Researcher

How can it be September?

Hello Company Girls and RevGals! Although I don’t know where the summer went fall is my favorite time of the year, and I’m very happy it’s on our doorstep. At RevGals for the Friday Five kathrynzj asked: What are 5 things that the beginning of September mean to you?

  1. HALLOWEEN IS IN 32 DAYS!
  2. I get to dress up!
  3. Brilliant fall leaves
  4. The wild feel the wind gets in the fall.
  5. CREATIVITY: this is my most creative time of the year.

Not much has happened this week. I spent some down time after all the traveling we did in August. Maid service came in and gave the place a good scrubbing, and I am so happy everything is clean, and I feel like I can keep up now. The hot and muggy weather is back, so The Hubby and I decided to stay in this weekend. Plus we have plenty of projects to work on. I did buy hot dogs and we are ready to go on grilled dogs and burgers.

Happy Labor Day to those in the U. S., and I hope everyone has a good weekend.

Company Girl Coffee: Vegas Picture Edition

We had a great time in Vegas and saw some incredible magicians. There are no pictures of the performances because cameras and video weren’t allowed. We saw Joshua Jay’s show Unreal. He’s a wonderful storyteller, and has quite the story himself. Two years ago he was in a water skiing accident, broke his left arm in two places and seven bones in his wrist. He was told he’s never get full use of his hand back, which is a career ender for a magician. But he’s using his left hand, and his magic was flawless (My Magician Hubby may disagree with that: he knows what to look for. This laywoman doesn’t know better and doesn’t want to know better). If you get a chance to see him, go. He’s very talented, and he has some good takes on classic illusions.

The final night we saw Carnival of Wonders with Kalin and Jinger. So, so, so incredible. Made ever more incredible because they hadn’t done the show for over a year and pulled it all together in TWO MONTHS! How they did it, only Godde knows, but it was fun and magical and memorable. I loved it.

I also spent a lot of quality time at the pool. I finally had a mojito, and they are wonderful. It’s a nice light drink with refreshing mint–an almost perfect poolside pool drink. But my favorite poolside drink is the pina colada: it’s hard to beat coconut goodness on a hot sunny day. I got some work done Monday: wrote three pages on the novel then I went on vacation after that. I slept in, ate big breakfasts at one of the hotel restaurants (my favorite being the Courtyard Cafe, and their courtyard French Toast: a cinnamon sticky bun French Toast layered with strawberries, blueberries, and syrup.) Went to the pool where I swam, napped, watched people. Got all dressed up to go to shows at night. Didn’t have to cook or clean. It was wonderful.

I read an incredible novel on vacation: Lady Lazarus. It’s an urban fantasy (magic set in this world, normally in a city). The protagonist, Magdalena Lazarus is a Jewish witch, descended from the witch of Endor, living in Budapest in 1939, right before Hitler invades Poland and starts WW2. Magdalena’s sister has a vision foretelling Hitler’s atrocities, and Magdalena moves into action to find an ancient family volume that could stop Hitler. The oldest daughter of the Lazarus family also has a special talent: she can come back from the dead. I loved this book. It was a great story with very real and human characters. It combined my two great loves: the Bible and magic successfully, and I thought did justice to both of them. It turned out to be the perfect read for a theologian attending a magic conference.

And now the pictures:

The Hubby and I all dressed up for the opening festivities

 

The Magic Shop where magicians bought their wares

 

Our friend Gabe selling magical products. Gabe also writes books about magic.

 

Magic Magazine puts on Magic LIVE every other year

 

Magicians trading Magic Magazine cover cards like baseball cards

 

The Pool at the Orleans

 

The Spa/Whirlpool/Hot Tub

 

Me, poolside

 

We had a view of The Strip from our room

 

Room view at night

 

The couple on the right are magician legends, Nani & Mark Wilson. They were the first to bring magic into your living room with their show, Magic Land of Allakazam. I also got their autograph. They were so gracious and patient with all of us!

 

The crowd for the first show for Carnival of Wonders

I have coffee Company Girls, but need to go shopping, so not much else. Hope all of you have a wonderful weekend!

Because Company Girls and RevGals Should Do Coffee Together on Occassion

Good morning Company Girls and RevGals! The Hubby and I are getting ready to leave for Las Vegas tomorrow for the Magic LIVE conference. There are classes and lots of performances. I plan on going to the performance, but I don’t want to be at anything where I might learn secrets. I don’t want to know how it’s done because I want what I see to be magic. We’re staying at the Orleans, which has a beautiful pool. When I’m not attending magic performances, you will find me poolside with a book and the notebook I’m writing my novel in, and an alcoholic beverage might be beside me as well. I’ve been saying for the last few months I plan on being poolside with a book and a mojito. But I’ve never had a mojito. Mojito is just fun to say: Mo-heeee-toe. So next week, I am going to see if I actually like mojitos, and if that would be my poolside, book reading beverage of choice.

This has been a great week. I’ve gotten a lot done. For three weeks in a row I posted to my blog, so I’m back to regular posting! Whoo-hoo! This week’s post is on Jesus and Syrio-Phoenician woman. For churches that follow the lectionary, this is the Gospel Reading, and I thought one of my takes and a friend’s take on the passage might help some pastors who want to preach the Gospel reading. I also wrote seven pages on the novel! And started translating Colossians for the upcoming editorial meeting I have with The Christian Godde Project. Plus there was all the shopping and glamming up to go to Vegas: I got a haircut and my brows done. Tonight I need to paint my fingernails. The toes still look great from the pedicure I got while we were in Nebraska.

Today I need to make a Target run to get the last few things we need and clean the house, so the cat sitter doesn’t have to walk into a mess (and I don’t have to come home to a mess). I want to write a few more pages on the novel today too, since I didn’t work on it yesterday.

Here is the reason why I thought today would be a good day for the Company Girls and the RevGals to get together. Terri made gratitude the RevGal Friday Five this week. She shared this powerful May Oliver poem then issued a challenge:

The Place I Want To Get Back To

is where
in the pinewoods
in the moments between
the darkness

and first light
two deer
came walking down the hill
and when they saw me

they said to each other, okay,
this one is okay,
let’s see who she is
and why she is sitting

on the ground, like that,
so quiet, as if
asleep, or in a dream,
but, anyway, harmless;

and so they came
on their slender legs
and gazed upon me
not unlike the way

I go out to the dunes and look
and look and look
into the faces of flowers;
and then one of them leaned forward

and nuzzled my hand, and what can my life
bring to me that could exceed
that brief moment?
For twenty years

I have gone every day to the same woods,
not waiting, exactly, just lingering.
Such gifts bestowed,
can’t be repeated.

If you want to talk about this
come to visit. I live in the house
near the corner, which I have named
Gratitude.

(Mary Oliver, “Thirst”, Beacon Press, 2006)

For this Friday Five I invite you to offer five gratitudes you recognize in your life.

Here are my five:

  1. We get to take a vacation this year! (It’s been 2 years.)
  2. The migraines are under control.
  3. I’m back to writing and I have some great creative mojo flowing through me.
  4. My husband: I waited a long time to get married, and he was worth every second of the wait. I am his ezer cenegdo: the power equal to him.
  5. The gorgeous weather we’ve been having Chicago and getting out and enjoying it.

I have a favor to ask: if you have sometime this weekend, could you read my post on Martha: The New Testament Church: Built by homemakers like Martha? I’d love to get some feedback on it. Thank you.

What are you grateful for?

I hope everyone has a great weekend!

Company Girl Coffee: Wow Where Did the Summer Go Edition?

It’s been awhile since I actually did a post specifically for Company Girl Coffee. I’ve combined it with the RevGal Friday Five a couple of times, but it’s been a long time since I just did coffee. So I’m doing coffee today.

I’m trying to figure out where the summer went. I spent most of the summer dealing with migraines and sinus problems. Needless to say I haven’t gotten a lot done in any one particular area of my life: finding an agent, finishing the novel, updating this blog, and my poor house. (Really need to get back to the Small Things.) Between a new prescription for my glasses and finding the right sinus medicine to aspirin ratio, I’m doing better and have the headaches under control.

Once they were under control, I was all prepared to throw myself full tilt into all of my projects, and this whole week I spent…procrastinating. Yesterday I went back to my old faithfuls of getting my  rump out of the procrastination rut: Jen Lounden’s The Satisfaction Finder and Havi Brooks’ Dissolve Procrastination. I find that if I use them together, I get things done. Havi’s Dissolve Procrastination helps me deal with the soft stuff: why I procrastinate, negotiating with the fears and monsters that want to keep me safe but are doing it all wrong. Jen’s Satisfaction Finder helps me put goals down on the paper that are measuarable and do-able on a normal day–not the perfect day–but a normal day. Combining these two things wonderful programs usually gets me out of the procrastination rut.

But it all hasn’t been procrastination. Last week I decided to attend DePaul University’s Summer Writing Conference, which was incredible. It was three days of wonderful classes on all kinds of writing. I loaded up on the non-fiction and fiction classes, particularly the fiction classes. I’ve discovered after a two year hiatus from fiction writing, that my fiction skills are just a wee bit rusty. I feel like I received help and advice that will help me get the novel done. I also met some wonderful people. I’m glad I did it, it was worth every penny I paid to attend.

Company Girls, I have coffee and lots of fresh fruit (strawberries, peaches, plums), so have a seat, pour yourself a cup, and tell me about your week.

Company Girl Coffee: it's busy but in a good way edition

It’s been busy here, which is why I haven’t had a chance for coffee the last few weeks. My biggest news is that I’m now the Chicago Protestant Examiner for Examiner.com. So I’m getting the hang of reporting and actually covering things that are happening now and talking to living people instead of researching things that happened over 2,000 years ago and interviewing people in my head. It’s a change. 🙂

I am feeling really good. Joining the gym has really helped. Swimming and practicing yoga just sets me right. I love how both are a melding of meditation and movement. My time with my personal trainer is good as well, but I don’t get the spiritual practice on the machines the way I do in the water and yoga poses.

My biggest thing right now is time management: figuring out when and how long to work on various writing projects: The Book, Examiner, other freelance work, and being an editor on The Christian Godde Project (really need to get back to translating Luke), not to mention all the research that goes with each. Plus all the daily life stuff: running errands, cleaning, laundry, showering, eating, sleeping, etc. etc. Not to mention The Hubby appreciates it when I talk to him on occasion. 😉

My in-laws and a nephew are coming to see us in June, so that means we have a lot of cleaning out, organizing and cleaning up to do in the next few weeks. They’ll be here during the Printer’s Row Book Fair (every bookaholic’s best dream and worst nightmare), and I will be preaching at church that Sunday. My father-in-law wants to hear me preach. I’m a little psyched about it, but I’m sure it will all be fine. The Old Testament passage for that Sunday is Jezebel. And I love Jezebel. Wondering how much fun I can have with her even in a liberal Episcopal Church. We’ll see.

This weekend is pretty quiet. Tomorrow is cleaning and writing. I also need to make a trip to the grocery store for odds and ends. Then Sunday is Pentecost. I’m looking forward to that. Ooh, that reminds me: I need to start reading Acts 2:1-21 in the Greek, since I will be doing that Sunday morning. We will have the Acts passage read in several different languages in the service: English, Spanish, German, French, and Greek, and who knows what else. Last year each person started reading a few verses full voice, then read quietly while they walked through the sanctuary, then the next person picked up and read then walked. By the end of the reading, they were people reading the passage in different languages all over the congregation. It was so powerful. I’m not sure that’s they way we’ll do it this year, but I’m sure it will still be powerful.

I hope everyone has a good weekend and a blessed Pentecost!

Company Girl Coffee: It's My Birthday Edition!

Yes, Company Girls, you heard right! Today is my birthday!  As of 10:06 a.m., I’m 40. My Mom called and made my day. My Hubby woke me up with kisses and wishing me a Happy Birthday. The Cat just wanted to be fed. I’ve had a nice lazy morning, and I have decided I will do what I want today. What is the point of being self-employed if you can’t enjoy your birthday? Which means, instead of working on all the non-fiction stuff I’ve been working on lately–I’m going to work on fiction today! Because it’s been forever since I wrote any fiction, and I want to!

Tonight The Hubby and I are getting together with Lainie at Juicy Wine Company and celebrating with wine and all sorts of wonderful cheeses, cured meats, sauteed mushrooms, and incredible applewood smoked bacon.

My review of N. T. Wright’s After You Believe: Why Christian Character Matters is up for The Ooze Viral Bloggers (thanks for the free book!). Yay!

It is a beautiful sunny day here in Chicago, and I am loving all of the sunshine pouring through my windows. The maid service came earlier this week: I have a clean house, so no housework today! (That is a birthday gift in and of itself.)

The Matisse exhibit is open at The Art Institute. I am thinking of going and looking at all the wonderful Matisse paintings and write poems or stories about them!

I hope everyone has a great weekend!

Company Girl Coffee: Columbia College Story Week Edition

I know it’s been at least a month since I got in on Company Girl Coffee. I was determined to play today, which means I had to do a little copy and pasting. Havi has a Friday ritual too called The Friday Chicken where we all chime in on our weeks: what was hard and what was good. So here is my week in review, The Hard and The Good:

The Hard

I have not slept most of this week due to the evil, demonic entity known as insomnia. The rest of the hard stems from that. I’m way behind reading a book I’m reviewing, I’m way behind on the sermon I will be preaching Sunday, I’m way behind on writing projects and finding paying writing gigs. I’m way behind.

The Good

Hiring the personal trainer was a really good thing. I need the accountability to take care of myself through physical exercise. Plus I was feeling like crap yesterday when I went in (see evil, demonic insomnia above), and by the time we were done, I felt great. And I felt good the rest of the day. Getting up and moving does help me feel better. Now I need to find the same sort of accountability for my writing.

Columbia College’s Story Week Festival of Writers was just tremendous. I went around and heard authors read their work and talk about the craft, and it was marvelous. David Morrell (his books include First Blood, The Brotherhood of the Rose, and The Shimmer) totally rocks, and it you ever get a chance to hear him speak go. Change whatever you have to, reschedule whatever you have to, sell the dog if you have to, if you’re a writer and get the chance: GO! His love and dedication to writing is phenomenal. He is very blunt about how hard it is, but it’s also very obvious how much he loves what he does. And he has lots of good practical advice. I’ve just ordered his book The Successful Novelist. (Sorry for no links for the books, I don’t have the time right now. I’ll try to get them in later.)

I was sent a free book to do an advance review of by one of my favorite theologians! (N. T. Wright in case anyone was wondering.) And it is a very good book, and one that the Western Protestant Christian Church needs to hear. I’m not sure how much I can say before the reviews start going up, but I’ll let you know when I post the review.

I have set the number of pages I need to write a day on The Book Proposal. Like David Morrell said yesterday, I will write them everyday, no matter how long it takes. He made the point that writing is a perishable skill, and if you don’t use it everyday, you will lose it. That my friends, is one of my problems: I write a couple of times a week and am constantly reteaching myself the basics. To move on, I am going to have to write everyday. I had never thought about it before, but he’s absolutely right. Just like playing scales on an instrument, if I’m going to be a virtuoso at what I do, I am going to have to practice everyday.

Now I have to get ready to head to yoga then on to Trader Joes. I hope everyone has a great weekend! Wait! Before I go here is the literal, photogenic view from my window:

We are having a beautiful day in Chicago, and I am going to enjoy it. It’s supposed to snow this weekend. You gotta love Midwest weather.

Company Girl Friday: The book proposal doesn't suck so much edition

Yes, that’s right Company Girls. I made progress on Career Women of the Bible, and it doesn’t suck as much! It’s not good, but there’s not the gnashing of teeth and pulling  out hair that was normal for oh-so-long. Oh yeah, it’s a good think I have enough hair for 8 people to begin with, so I’m not bald. I spent two good afternoons working at the library this week, and it is really starting to take shape. I’m happy.

On the not so good side, I made a bad financial decision. It’s not an all bad decision, but the timing with our finances are not good, and I should’ve waited. I’m looking for freelance writing, editing, and proofing jobs for additional income. Looking for freelance work means I need to update the resume. Ugh. Hate it. All sorts of stuck and fear on this one. But yesterday I did find a resume that wasn’t to icky but did a very good job of telling what the person could do for you. Using that as a model. I also need to update my About Page on my site because it sucks. More stuck. More fear. More ugh. But I will get there. I am hoping to have both the resume updated and a new About Me page done this weekend and all bright, shiny, and new to roll out next week.

OK back to the good side:  I joined a Toastmasters Group to get better at public speaking, and expand the speaking part of My Thing. The group seems really cool, has fun, and provides good feedback. Think I’m going to like it.

My best friend, Lainie’s, birthday is today, and I’m feeding her tonight! Beef bourginon and risotto with leeks and fennel. Lainie loves cheese and honey for dessert, so dessert will be fresh baked bread, goat cheese, brie, honey, chocolate, and almonds. (Because you can’t have a celebration with chocolate.)

I was voted onto the Vestry at church, so I’ll get to see what happens behind the scenes and help make very big decisions. I’m also preaching on March 21 and leading an Adult Faith Discussion April 11 on the Women at the Resurrection.

Today’s agenda is to go to yoga class, hit Trader Joes’, and do a little cleaning.

I hope everyone has a good weekend, and make sure you go visit other Company Girls!

Company Girl Coffee: I joined a gym edition

Hey Company Girls! Sorry I’ve missed the last couple of Fridays, but things are have been crazy busy. First I am making headway on The Career Women of the Bible Book Proposal! Which is really, really sweet. The sample chapters are coming along nicely, and I have a good feel for how many pages each chapter needs to be to do what I want to do. I’m very, very happy. I am also back to regularly posting blogs. My poor blog will no longer be neglected. A minimum of three posts will be published each week. I am happy to be making some headway on the writing front. Who knew doing what you love to do the most for a living could be so hard?

As the title say, I joined a gym this week. I decided that if I was ever going to slim my very ample backside down, I would need some motivation, and paying a gym membership is very motivating. (I hate wasting money.) And it’s so easy to get to: I go out the back door of our building across the alley, into the back door of the building behind us, and gym. So I can’t use getting there as an excuse not to go. They have a pool, and I love to swim. Plus they do not use chlorine! They use some sort of sea water filtration system to keep all the germy things at bay, so no toxic smells and red eyes. The jacuzzi is beautiful: it’s on different levels and has waterfalls. A beautiful place to relax after swimming a few laps. They also have yoga classes, and I am happy to report they are actual yoga classes and exercise classes disguised as yoga. After I finishing up blogging, I will be heading over to get my swim in.

I also got together with a friend and brainstormed some ways I could start making money and networking more to get my name out there. So that was good. Now I just need to work on my inferiority complex by taking really, small baby steps as I step out in the whole networking, getting my name out there. I will definitely be working with my stuff on this one. And I’m sure there will be a sorts of stuckification, but I will work with both and on both and make sure my first steps are really, really tiny, so I don’t freak myself out too much.

It’s been a good week, and for that I am grateful. Last week was really hard, and I am glad for a week to catch my breath and get on firm ground again. Now I need to wrap this up so I can go swimming! Don’t forget to see what the other Company Girls are up to!