My Editor, a Business Card, and a Crazy Dream


Do you have a crazy, never-gonna-happen dream that you keep toying with in your mind?  Like it’s so crazy you barely mutter it under your breath to God, but once in awhile you glance sideways at your dream and say, “Hi, God – THAT THING.”

This is my editor Sandy.  Right now she’s going through my book baby and probably making it better.  I picture her with a ginormous red pen, going “Cluck cluck, oh honey, you can’t write that,” and I hope she draws a big “A” on the top of my manuscript with a circle around it, because the nerd in me still longs for the affirmation of school days.

Sandy is beautiful and poised and about fifty times smarter than me, so when I’m around her I start to sound like this: “To write is good.  I read good.  Me likey the books.  Books good, writing good.  Makey me happy.  The words are nice.”

I have this goosebumpy story to tell you about her.  I describe my life as a God-ride, because He keeps doing unexpected things, and I don’t really believe in coincidence.

My trip to Zondervan a few weeks ago was actually not the first time I’d met Sandy.  The first time I met her was at the Allume conference a year and a half ago.

When a friend invited me to go to Allume in 2012 to hear Ann Voskamp speak, I didn’t even know what Allume was.  I just heard “Ann Voskamp” and was all, “Dang, yes, absolutely.  If that woman is leaving the farm and hiking across the border to see us, then I am there.  Wherever.”

Then I found out it was a conference for bloggers.  Well, I had a blog.  Kinda.  The spot I’d been using for the last three years to tell about our adoption and orphan care adventures was going bye-bye, and I was starting at a fresh place on the world wide web. Steer into the Surprise.  Since God continues to surprise me, it’s fitting.

When I walked through the doors of Allume, I had 45 followers on Facebook.  Pretty much just my In Real Life friends who love me enough to click “like” when I ask them to.  I entered a ballroom filled with real bloggers, the ones with sponsors, businesswomen, ones who have plans and know what they’re writing about all the time.  Hey, did you read the one I wrote about a piece of poo in a Starbucks cup?  Life-changing.

I had no idea what I was doing there, but I wanted to know.  I soaked it all up and took notes in the little free journal they gave us, because I didn’t even have an iPad or bring my laptop like everyone else clickety-clacking around me.  I didn’t even bring a pen.

I ran into Ann Voskamp waiting for the elevators and thanked her for the post she wrote that made me brave enough to come, and she’s the same in real life as she is on her blog, just oozing Jesus and grace.  She’s probably never put a turd in a Starbucks cup, but I bet she’d pray for me.  (Or maybe she has, in which case, solidarity, sister.)

On a whim, I attended a breakout about publishing, and on a panel of publishers and agents, I saw Sandy.  She encouraged us to work on our writing, that the most important thing was good writing.  I scrawled down everything she said.

At dinner later that day, I ended up sitting at her table (Not a stalker.  To-tal co-in-ci-dence.  Or God-thing, cuz He knew I’d want to tell this cool story.) and watched as she walked around and introduced herself to each of us.  I was impressed that she took the time to get to know us individually.  She looked me in the eyes, asked me what I blogged about, and listened.  I stumbled out some words about orphan care and adoption and motherhood and steering into the unexpected, and I think I left out the part about poo.  I took her card and ran my finger over the Zondervan logo.

After the conference, when I got home and emptied out my suitcase filled with books and business cards, I found her card and set it on the desk in my closet.  Every day, when I sat down to work on my writing, like Sandy said, usually in the middle of the night or during the couple of hours when Evie had preschool, my eyes would scan that card and I’d think someday.  A crazy dream, so far removed from my real life, completely unrealistic.

At dinner the other night as I signed my first book deal, I got to tell her that story, of propping her card on my desk and looking at her name every day.

Dreams really can come true.  Mine is writing, just so much writing, and getting to write books that hopefully people will want to read, to write down words that break barriers and bring people closer to each other and closer to God.  And also spontaneous musical theatre in the park.

What’s your dream?  What’s the thing sitting on your desk or hanging on your fridge or wiggling in your heart?  Today I’m praying that we’ll be brave together, that we’ll be dream-chasers and big pray-ers to our God of surprises.


featured image from Jared Tarbell 

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  • Off The Cuff Cooking

    I sort of have the same dream of finishing that book I mentioned last time, and actually doing something with it. But it’s on my laptop which currently doesn’t work, so until I can retrieve the file to my other computer, I can’t actually keep writing on it. :( My hubby is supposed to fix it but we have so many other things that also need attending this summer. It will just have to wait a bit.

    • Melanie Dale

      :( Can you write on other chunks of it that you may or may not use? Brainstorm ideas, make lists, find quotes you want to incorporate, work on another section of your outline? And waiting a bit is okay, too. :)

      • Off The Cuff Cooking

        In theory I could, but I can barely remember where I left off, because it’s been so long! Well… someday it’ll happen!

  • Jaime James

    I don’t have big dreams like that, (my dreams are more along the lines of having free time to read books and crochet) but a few years ago my husband was putting together an advent devotional for our family to use, because he couldn’t find one he liked anywhere else. He did have dreams of it being bigger than just us, and I thought he was a little crazy. And next year it will be sold in stores by Lifeway. It’s just crazy how God does these things for us sometimes.

    • Melanie Dale

      Okay first, time to read and craft is awesome, and incredibly important. Free time is such a rare and precious gift. Second, the advent calendar is amazing! I’ll look for it next year. Please send me a link to it when it’s ready. That’s so cool. I’m always looking for ways to incorporate advent into our daily lives at Christmas, and I can totally see this one on our kitchen table. A big woo-hoo to you and your hubby!

      • Jaime James

        So my husband came home last night asking if I had any people I would like to put on his list of advanced copies the publisher can mail it to. I immediately thought of you. Can we put you on that list?

        • Melanie Dale

          Sure! I’d be honored! Email me at melanie (at) unexpected (dot) com. Thanks, Jaime. :)

  • Rebekah Sanderson

    I have a desire to write a book to encourage single women. Kind of like a mixture of “I Kissed Dating Goodbye” and “Passion and Purity” and “Kisses from Katie”. It’s a bunch of God stories of how He took my dreams of being a housewife and a mom to just a few kids, to an almost-homeowner and a mom to a couple hundred student-babies who goes on dates with weird guys and gets to fall in love with Jesus even more because of it. It’s a love project for my Bible Study girls from college (I’m sure you can relate with your senior girls!) and also a monument of stones – like from the Old Testament – to The Lord and just how much He’s done for me in the last six years. One day. One day.

    • Melanie Dale

      Oooh, that sounds really interesting!





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