About Me

My photo


Change. I've learned to embrace it, ride it out til the end. Sometimes I'm kicking and screaming, other times weeping with my eyes clinched tight. Once in awhile I ride like a dog in a car, head out the window snorting what life has to offer. Mother to young adult children, a marriage of thirty years, and a desert to mountain to valley waltz with God have shaped me into someone I never imagined I'd be. Life is short and I want to live it. Tears, sighs, laughter and change. Every morsel granted to me. Scrambled, shaken or stirred.

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Serials and Scenarios - Kathryn Mackel - How'd She Come Up With This....

Happy Wednesday.

Minterview - Mini Interview with Kathryn Mackel (feel free to use my clever word melding)

Kathy writes suspense/thrillers/sci-fi/fantasy. Her newest is The Hidden.

She played along and finished a story starter - see below.

My instructions were to build on the red italicized line with a couple of lines of her own.

She suggested I might be crazy, limiting a novelist to a few lines. Told me I was lucky I didn't get 40,000 words. The bold blue are all hers.

Hmmm. She also mentioned recovering from surgery. I suggested that the pain relievers might be hallucinogenic. Thanks for playing Kathy.

Check out The Hidden which I haven't read - yet. http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/asin/1595540377

But my review for the first book in her Outriders series is here.
http://novelreviews.blogspot.com/2006/02/kathy-mackels-outridersreviewed.html


Lauren stared at the clock. Eleven forty-five, if only it read ten forty-five. Everyone should be allowed one do-over hour in life.

“Do you really believe that?”

“Huh?” Lauren’s attention jerked to the tinny voice snaking up from her feet.

“You heard me.” A tiny man in top hat and black tie stared up at her from the bottom of the wastebasket.

Lauren resisted the impulse to jam a phonebook into her trash, and thus obliterate what had to be the corniest hallucination in history. “Who’re you?”

“Wrong question.”

She couldn’t even get her own phantasms right. “What’s the right question?”

The tiny man buffed his fingernails with a file the size of a pin. Someone so miniscule had no right to play hard-to-get. He took off his top hat, bowing with a strange grace. “In regard to the do-over?”

Maybe Lauren should just go to the ladies room and try flushing the last hour away.

Instead she leaned closer, swallowing back the notion that she was about to pull an Alice and plunge down a rabbit hole. With her luck, it’d be filled with snakes, spiders, and sad-eyed clowns.

“What about it?” she said, not displeased by her snappish tone.

“The correct question is—were you able to have a do-over…” The tiny man grinned, showing oversized eyeteeth imbedded with diamonds.

Lauren reached for the phonebook. She killed houseflies for less.

The tiny man straightened his lapels with a loud sniff. “The correct question in regard to the do-over is: what would it cost me?”

Lauren leaned back in her chair, trying to mask the pounding of her heart by bouncing on her fanny. “If I were interested in a re-do…and I’m not saying I am…but if I were.” She tried to stop her question but her throat was too clenched to swallow it back.

“What would it cost me?” Lauren winced at her own pathetic eagerness.

Suddenly he was in her face, still tiny yet impossibly overwhelming. Poised for this heroic moment of decision and destiny, in which he whispered.,..

“Only that which you have no use for anyway.”

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Scribbles and Scrambles - Conclusion - Swing Batter Swing – Fish Story

It was a long walk back to the car. Especially since Grandma hooted and snickered in a ladylike manner. My rotten friend and Grandma had bonded nicely on the way out to retrieve me, and their happy conversation buzzed around me like an annoying cloud of ravenous mosquitoes.

I’ve blocked out the discussion I had with the doctor. No doubt he asked me how I had managed to crack my collarbone. I believe if I strain really hard I remember my mother laughing, and the doctor attempting to swallow his amusement.

I got to wear a contraption around my shoulder for awhile. The details of this have been buried deeply with another personality, also. Suffice it to say it scratched and annoyed and made the usual steamy June even more unpleasant.

The high point of my convalescence came with an invitation to go camping with my said friend and her mother -- in a motor home. What a treat that was going to be. Of course, I wouldn’t be able to swim in the lake we were visiting, but that was okay.

We rumbled down the road in the RV and found a breezy tree-lined spot. This was going to be great. “Friend” did a lot of swimming. I passed the time with her mom or dangled my toes in the cool water, working on my positive attitude skills.

Finally, friend developed a great idea involving Styrofoam surfboards -- I don’t know the usual purpose of a Styrofoam surfboard, and why they would sell them in the Midwest – but the plan was to use one and just keep my torso out of the water. It was a great idea in theory. Did I mention that I lack coordination skills?

I paddled out with my good arm, and paddled, and paddled and rested. It was a little exhausting to keep one shoulder lifted away from splashes and yet manage to get where I wanted to go. A group of kids my friend had amassed came over to meet me. They’d heard all about me, obvious from the smirks on their faces.

One very kind young man even brought me a welcoming gift. A dead fish he’d found floating near the shore. The fish and I got very intimate as I tried to hang onto the surfboard with my good hand while removing the fish without getting my shoulder wet. A fun day was had by all.

Ah yes, the joys of growing up.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Scribbles and Scrambles - Swing, Batter, Swing! Part 3

I believe Common Sense missed a beat in the on-going battle. She must have gotten distracted, because she really should have suggested something along the lines of, “hey stupid, if you’re going to do this, at least slide halfway down so you’re less likely to break your neck.”

But she didn’t. So at the very top of the slide I grasped the sides, fueled by the “fun” I was going to have, and the burst of adrenaline that surged through my veins. I curled into the somersault, my right shoulder landing safe and sound on the sun warmed slide, my left shoulder and legs catching air.

The next few seconds blur together. There was a sensation of flying and falling – I suppose because I was. A fairly solid landing and a whole lot of pain followed.

A shocked friend face bent over and peered into mine. I was sitting at the time.

I suppose I executed a triple or something equally impressive. Or maybe I just landed on the most solid part of my anatomy.

My whole body hurt, especially my neck and shoulders. I managed to groan, “Go get my grandma.”

“I don’t know her very well!”

I did not embellish the above statement, nor was it a hallucination.

I used the rest of my stamina to argue, plead and beg.

Two kids sauntered past, stopped and stared. One asked, “What happened to her?”

“Oh, she fell off the slide.” The kids moved on. The breeze carried silence except for the distant sound of little league. As the innocent passers-by reached a respectful distance loud guffaws reached my ears. I can’t blame them, I laugh now.

My friend finally scurried off and returned a long time later with my grandma, who was laughing.

Is it any wonder I’m twisted? No hope for normalcy. None. Nada.

To be continued – one more time in - Swing Batter Swing – Fish Story.

This Monday I’m planning to skip – so see you on Tuesday. Have a great long weekend!

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Scribbles and Scrambles - Swing, Batter, Swing! Part 2

So there I stood faced with a dilemma. Kind of like the angel/devil shoulder depictions we’ve all seen. I had a very persuasive friend on one side of me and simple common sense on the other.

The friend’s volume intensified with each chant of, “Come on. Do it. It’s fun!”

Common Sense whispered. “Remember dear, you just finished gymnastics in Physical Education class, and you haven’t mastered any of the skills. Your somersaults are crooked. Don’t even think about doing this crazy stunt.” Her voice sounded a lot like a mix between my mom, grandma, and all my female Sunday school teachers past and present. Had I looked over at the bleachers all the women would have sensed my dilemma and stood in a pre-popular wave like formation and gravely moved their heads from side to side. But I didn’t look.

Nor did I listen.

The slide had grown while I debated my fate. It was at least two stories high now. I began to climb. Clang. Clang. For whom does the death bell toll? It tolls for me…. Clang. Clang. I paused at the top. From there my cousin and grandparents were tiny, colorful ants. I sat, and the sun heated metal melded to my body.

My “friend” shielded her eyes and squinted up at me. “Go on. It’s really cool.”

I shook my head. “I do crooked somersaults. I’m going to kill myself.”

Well, maybe I had listened to Common Sense.

Another squint from the devil down below and, “just hold on to the sides. It’s going to be really fun.”

The grass looked pretty soft, actually. And if I held on, I’d be fine. I took a deep breath and prepared to have a blast.

To Be Continued …. Again…..If you are really concerned take peace in the fact that I am telling the story so I obviously survived…….

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Scribbles and Scrambles - Swing, Batter, Swing! Part 1

Baseball season – ahhh, the memories that flood over me at the sound of the crack of a home run and the cheering crowds.

Yep. One is the memory of being chosen pretty much last for PE forced ballgames. And the church mixed gender softball league, when as an adult they asked me to play once….

I’m sure there are great benefits from being able to hit little white balls and beat the pounding enemy feet to the base – unless they’d reached up and scooped the beautiful hit right out of the air, so we could switch sides and I could attempt to catch the ball. Yeah, no claims of sport prowess here at all.

My most memorable ballgame was during the spring season of my eleventh year. I didn’t play, but a friend and I rode along with my grandparents to watch my cousin’s little league team.

I believe I mentioned I’m not a big fan of baseball/softball, right?

Boredom set in quickly. Across the adjoining football field stood a playground. Late afternoon sun glinted off the peeling equipment. I think I may have heard the song of the sirens luring me…. With insistent cajoling and begging, we got permission to go to the playground.

At first it was great. Okay the equipment didn’t shine quite so beautifully, but hey, we were cynical kids and we pretty much expected that. My friend, I hesitate to give her real name, was a bit of a girl jock. Somehow, as she slid down the huge slide, her jacket hooked something and she executed a perfect somersault and gracefully finished her descent.

She jumped up, arms in the air with the universal sign for victory. “That was really fun. You should do it.”

All moisture left my mouth, traveled south and gathered in my bladder where I suddenly felt the need for a run to the bathroom. “No way!”

“Come on. It’s really fun.”

Did I mention that I have no athletic prowess or instinct? Did I or didn’t I? To be continued…..

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Scribbles and Scrambles - Monday Defined

Monday snuck up and slapped me upside the head again. I’m going to have to prepare Monday’s post on Thursday or Friday so this doesn’t happen anymore. I always have great intentions scrawled on my mental to-do list and then reality greets me at the door.

To begin this process of wrestling Monday into submission, I think I need to get a good handle on exactly what Monday is. There are the obvious things. First day of the work or school week. Yuck. It follows activity filled weekends. Which is probably why I need to suck down several cups o’joe before I begin to feel human.

If you recall from a previous post – I took many years of French language training, and when given the opportunity to use it, managed to squeak out a “Merci!” But I do remember Monday being Lundi and a discussion of the meaning of the word having to do something with the moon.

http://www.answers.com/topic/monday#after_ad2 gives all the information you might ever want on the origin of Monday's name, and many useless facts, too. I am thrilled to announce that this write-up includes the French word for Monday and I remembered and spelled it correctly. (excuse me while I clap for myself).

Happy day after Monday to you all.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Serials and Scenarios - Change-Ups - Mary DeMuth

I thought today was an appropriate day to share Mary's thoughts. Thanks, Mary.


If you could change something in any novel, what would you change about it and why?

I would change the horrific dialogue in the DaVinci Code. Here’s something I wrote about it:

Living in France, where the DaVinci Code is THE thing, I needed to know what all the hubbub was about.


So, I read it.

Here’s my take.

The first part of the book was suspenseful and had a unique premise, but halfway through I got very bogged down. My big beef (besides the fact that Brown needed my editor-who would have hung me out to dry for some of his lapses) was his terrible use of dialogue, particularly when the main characters are chatting in the library. He uses something called Author Convenience: telling readers information through narrative or dialogue that sounds preachy or didactic.

Here’s my take on the way he uses Authorial Convenience. (This is not from his book, just my tongue and cheek rendition):

“Hmm, tell me, what Jesus really Mary Magdalene’s husband?”

“Well, yes,” the kindly professor pulled a book off the shelf. “It’s been my life’s work. You see, I’m an EXPERT, so you must listen to me.” He leafed through some pages of the rather large book. “It says it right here on page 459 of Why Everyone Knows Mary and Jesus Were an Item. George Longwind, distinguished professor of Heresy at Norbridge asserts that Jesus and the Divine Feminine had to be one. And that for God to truly redeem mankind, Jesus had to have offspring.”

“No kidding? It says that in the book?”

“Yes, and if you turn to page 985, you’ll be assured this view is widely held by Leprechauns.”

“I don’t believe in Leprechauns.”

“Well, you should, because according to my research, Leprechauns invaded Ireland and invented the potato. It’s right here on page 25 of Why We Can Thank the Leprechauns that Ireland is Green.”

“I don’t believe in Ireland.”

“That’s illogical. You need to study Anselm’s ontological argument, and then you’d understand everything. Just like me.”

“Um, well, do you have a bologna sandwich?”

“I do. But first let me tell you about the origin in bologna.”

OK, so I’m a bit weird, but you get the idea. Dialogue should not be used to parrot information back and forth. The only time you would write dialogue that way is if your character were off-the-charts prideful and wanted to boast of everything he knew. Find other ways to get large pieces of information to your reader.

Bio:

Mary E. DeMuth has been crafting prose since 1992, first as a newsletter editor, then as a freelance writer, followed by a fiction and nonfiction author. Mary’s articles have appeared in Marriage Partnership, In Touch, HomeLife, Discipleship Journal, Pray!, Bon Appetit, Kindred Spirit, P31 Woman, and Hearts at Home. For two years she penned a lifestyle column for Star Community Newspapers in Dallas (circulation 100,000). Mary’s books include Ordinary Mom, Extraordinary God (Harvest House, 2005), Sister Freaks (Time Warner, 2005, one of four contributing authors, Editor Rebecca St. James), Building the Christian Family You Never Had (WaterBrook, 2006), Watching the Tree Limbs, and Wishing on Dandelions (NavPress, both novels releasing in 2006). In 2003, she won the Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference’s Pacesetter Award. Mary loves to speak about the art and craft of writing as well as the redemptive hand of God in impossible situations. She’s spoken in Munich, Vienna, Amsterdam, Portland, Dallas, Seattle, Florence, Monaco and San Jose. A thirty-nine-year-old mother of three, Mary lives with her husband Patrick in the South of France. Together with two other families, they are planting a church.

Mary E. DeMuth
Christ Follower. Novelist. Freelance Writer.
Author: Building the Christian Family You Never Had
and Watching the Tree Limbs: A Novel
Blog. Website.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Serials and Scenarios - Change-Ups - Gina Holmes

I’ve been reading a lot of fiction lately. Some of it has been stellar, other titles okay to good.

My worst reading experience was years ago. I don’t remember the author or the title of the novel, but it was a best-seller and about a divorced couple who wound their way back toward each other. I invested hours into that book and the lives of the characters. It ended hideously with one of main characters sudden death. I hated that I invested my heart in the book, with not only an unsatisfying ending, but a depressing ending.

Read on….I asked others their thoughts on what they might change about a novel.

If you could change something in any novel, what would you change about it and why?

We're getting on dangerous territory. I better pick someone I don't know. Let's see. I loved Dean Koontz's, Door to December. It was a fantastic book but I remember being disappointed with the ending. It felt like he slapped one on in a hurry to get it turned in. I would have liked for a little more thought to that otherwise great book.

Gina Holmes runs the popular fiction writer's blog, Novel Journey and assists with sister site, Novel Reviews. She has interviewed many of today's greatest authors from Ted Dekker to Karen Kingsbury to Walter Wangerin Jr. She is wife, mother, writer, blogger and Registered Nurse. She is currently working on her third suspense novel. www.noveljourney.blogspot.com www.novelreviews.blogspot.com

Tomorrow Mary DeMuth will share her timely comments.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Scribbles and Scrambles - Parallel Parking Pat

I don’t parallel park.

That’s not entirely true. I will parallel park if there are two spots available so I can nose in and
straighten out.

I have issues.

You’ve heard of Pavlov’s Dogs. The guy – Pavlov, of course – trained the dogs to salivate by ringing a bell every time he fed them. Soon they salivated at the sound of a bell. After having a huge, slobbering creature dog (pun intended) my heels every time I set foot in my kitchen for seven years, I’m not so impressed. I think training dogs to salivate is kind of crazy, why not train children to do chores at the ding of a bell?

So this Pavlov thing factors into my parallel parking anxiety. When I see a lone parking spot that would require proper technique I break out in a sweat.

My father, Pat, taught me to parallel park.

He wasn’t the first to attempt. Let’s just say I was remedial.

I was chosen to take the actual physical driving test for the state because my Driver’s Education driving grades left a lot to be desired. If my instructor had been a little less spastic with the multiple usages of the passenger safety brakes I’d have done better.

Pat was irritated that I hadn’t mastered parallel parking. My brothers were in the car which always intensified Pat’s frustration level, not to mention mine.

Pat has this endearing quirk – he expects people to understand what he means with the minimum of explanation. When he gets a “duh” response he repeats the identical instructions with a bit more passion.

My brothers wrestled in the back seat as I jockeyed into parallel parking position. Poised, ready to go, I waited.

Pat said, “Turn the wheel.”

It occurred to me as cars whizzed past and a sweat beaded on my upper lip that there are two ways to turn the wheel. “Uh, which way?”

Pat sucked in a deep breath and forced a smile and explained with enough detail that I got step one nailed. Then said, “Turn.”

I looked at him, no doubt, like I assumed the strange word that popped out of his mouth was Swahili. He shot me a concentrated glare and increased volume. “Turn.”

It was a long afternoon.

I can announce proudly that I did learn to perfectly parallel park, once. And I left the Driver’s License Bureau with a card with a horrific picture of someone who was supposed to be me.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Snippets and Sound Bites - Dying

Sometimes the melancholy moments of life make me pause and consider.

Today is one such day. If you’re looking for a laugh – you probably won’t find it here unless you’re one sick puppy.

A friend of a friend lies dying. One of those long drawn-out, pain-infused deaths. Adding to the angst is the huge hole she’ll leave behind in the lives that will continue beyond her passing, two children who’ve barely reached adulthood, a grandchild, a husband and countless friends and family members.

Why am I haunted by the fact that hospice is delivering a bigger bed so that her husband can sleep with her? Tears scald my eyes when my friend describes the tender actions of the seventeen-year-old son who realizes that he will graduate, and marry, and raise his children – without his mom. Her bravery in calling friends and relatives inviting them to come and say good-bye leaves me with a lump in my throat that no amount of swallowing minimizes.

Wars, tragedies, disease – this is so not what life is supposed to be.

We’ve been praying for this family even though that seems so cheap and easy. After all, I’m not holding her head while she vomits or watching the rise and fall of her chest, waiting for it to cease. This dying woman who is reaching out to loved ones has asked my friend to come. My friend wants to make sure that this dear woman who faces eternity within hours, knows where she’s going to spend it, and that she’s not only leaving a place where she is loved, but could choose to go to a place where she is loved.

Last month, a delightful friend of my family died. She was talented and beautiful, exotic and intelligent. She, too, fought cancer and lost. Death claims us all, doesn’t it?

I shared my testimony of faith with her, as did my parents, and aunts and uncle. My family is unable to spend much time together without talking about what God has done in our lives. Of course, we also get a little goofy -- we’re great that way – zooming from profound depth to the depths of poor taste -- but I digress. Several family members get together and pray regularly, and tears fall as our hearts and concerns are taken to the throne of the Creator of the Universe. This woman spent many months in our prayers.

She said she could not believe in a God as close minded as ours.

I wonder if my pain and my sorrow are just a hint of what God must feel when someone enters eternity without entering into Jesus.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Scribbles and Scrambles - Pat and the Thanksgiving ABC's - Part 2

Did I mention Mom has a touch of Irish?

Cleaning the pantry cupboard was not okay with her. Pat proceeded to unload the cupboard contents onto the kitchen table that was being used for Thanksgiving preparation.

Did I mention Pat has a penchant for danger?

Most of the interaction between the two that morning has blurred into fuzzy, amusing memories, though I do remember seeing several lightning bolts shoot from Mom’s eyes.

Thanksgiving set-up took twice as long. We either had to wait until a can laden Pat scurried out of closet toward the table, or we went the back way around. I stopped asking “what?” when I realized Mom’s mutterings were probably best left as mutters.

The pantry cupboard sure started looking nice. Pat’s running commentary was unnecessary, though, except for his personal danger/adrenaline factor. He felt the need to point out odd or out-dated things, often with a laugh or wisecrack. To this day, I am impressed that Pat doesn’t walk with a permanent limp.

As was usual, the project got a little more involved. Apparently, Pat was inspired by the pristine shelves. He disappeared. Mom and I took advantage of the lull in cross traffic and rushed to the china cabinet to retrieve the serving dishes. Pat returned with an El Marko.

“What are you doing now?” Her knuckles clenched white around the turkey baster.

“Organizing.”

Mom’s mutterings increased in quantity and volume. I hummed happy songs and looked nervously between the two of them.

Pat grinned, turned around and got to work.

He finished about the same time the little temperature button popped on the turkey. And brandishing his victorious El Marko, he disappeared into the bathroom.

Mom’s pantry cupboard is alphabetized and organized. A shrine to her husband’s near loss of limb or life.

The woman deserves a great Mother’s Day.

Happy Mother's Day to all...

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Scribbles and Scrambles - Pat and the Thanksgiving ABC's

In honor of Mother’s Day, I’d like to share another Pat story.

This one is about a special holiday. Not the one we are celebrating this weekend, but the warm and wonderful family Thanksgiving.

Procrastination, in Pat’s hands, is an art form. The closer the deadline, the more exciting the prize. Like some who keep scrapbooks of amazing accomplishments, Pat has a mental scrapbook of white-knuckled near misses.

All of my memories of events include stealth Pat as he runs up the stairs to the shower as the first guest arrives. Pat is fashionably late to all the parties at his house, because he begins party hygiene as he hears the crunch of gravel signifying the impending visitors arrivals.

Kind of like an elusive woodland creature, Pat skulks around cleaning, repairing, painting – whatever needs to be done – while the rest of the party planners lay out the final touches. I liken him to a woodland creature because his hair worried and teased by his frantic deadline angst, looks a bit like a black and silver poofy skunk pompadour.

“Where’s Pat?” is a common first question after the friends and family members arrive.

The answer, “in the shower.” Sometimes the project du jour warrants further explanation, followed by shaking heads, laughter and comments by all.

Thanksgiving is at Mom and Dad’s. The dining room and kitchen adjoin and we use both rooms to seat twenty plus people. In between the dining room and kitchen is a small pantry closet. With the door open, it blocks the passageway between rooms. Thanksgiving for twenty plus requires all the china, which lives in the dining room, and requires two fully set tables, and serving dishes for each table.

One Thanksgiving morning while Mom basted and stuffed and I chopped and washed, Dad decided to clean out the pantry cupboard. This is where Dad’s penchant for danger becomes crystal clear. Did I mention my mom has a touch of Irish?

Mom stood with hands on hips. “You’re cleaning what?”

Dad ran a hand through his bristly, perky hair. “It won’t take long.”

to be continued.........

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Serials and Scenarios - Comma(on) Rituals -Day 3 - Deb Raney & Susan Meissner

Though Susan is admittedly aided by caffeine -- I doubt that either of these women put teacups on their heads.

Some out there in writing land have strange rituals. Share yours.
Oh, definitely rituals... Before I can start writing for the day, the bed has to be made, dishes have to be done and house has to be at least straightened up, if not spotless. (Just don’t look in my closets!) Then, I select music for the CD player based on what type of scene I’ll be writing that day (I usually write to movie soundtracks or classical music.) Then I light some scented candles. Then I brew a nice pot of coffee. Then I clear off my desk. THEN I can start writing—unless it’s lunchtime by the time I get all that accomplished! ; )

Deborah Raney Newly updated reissue of A VOW TO CHERISH coming in JUNEOVER THE WATERS, Steeple Hill, RT BOOKclub Reviewers’ Choice Award nominee From WaterBrook Press, HOLT Medallion Winner A NEST OF SPARROWShttp://www.deborahraney.com
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0373785623/sr=8-3/qid=1144348398/ref=pd_bbs_3/102-7286102-5764904?%5Fencoding=UTF8


Some out there in writing land have strange rituals. Share yours.
I need to have all my ducks in a row before I begin a new writing project. The plot, the chapter outlines, the research, the character sketches — that all has to be done before I begin. I’m a lost puppy without them. A Diet Coke with Lime is also required. And an occasional handful of Jelly Bellies.

BIO:
Susan Meissner is the author of four contemporary fiction titles, including "A Window to the World," named to Booklist's Top Teen Fiction for 2005. Her fifth novel, "A Seahorse in the Thames," will release in July 2006, followed by "Widows and Orphans," the first of three mystery novels, in October. Her current release is "In All Deep Places," now on bookstore shelves. She lives with her family in rural Minnesota and enjoys good coffee, real cheese and the occasional malt ball.



I'll see what I can scare up for tomorrow.

I have a deadline looming, and it's sapping my creativity.

Maybe something will knock loose, you never know what will trip into your path and crack you on the funny bone.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Serials and Scenarios - Comma(on) Rituals - Gina Holmes

Some out there in writing land have strange rituals. Share yours.

I sometimes clap for myself when I write something well or my characters surprise me. Not like a 'bravo' clap but like a happy, yey clap. And sometimes I get caught acting out the action scenes. (Nothing like having an audience when your pretending to kick in an imaginary door.)

Gina Holmes runs the popular fiction writer's blog, Novel Journey and assists with sister site, Novel Reviews. She has interviewed many of today's greatest authors from Ted Dekker to Karen Kingsbury to Walter Wangerin Jr. She is wife, mother, writer, blogger and Registered Nurse. She is currently working on her third suspense novel. www.noveljourney.blogspot.com www.novelreviews.blogspot.com

If this seems odd to you. Check out the following question and answer. I think it will put a whole new slant on things.

I also asked Gina the following question....

If you could ask any person, living or dead, a random question -- what question would you ask of whom?

I'd ask Ane Mulligan why she puts tea cups on her head.

Being a curious individual - I sought out Ane and posed this strange question.

She provided the following answer....

LOL – well my brain needs caffeine for creativity. The closer the source, the quicker the fix … right?

Ane Mulligan www.anemulligan.com Book Reviews: www.novelreviews.blogspot.com

Alrighty then, see you tomorrow.......

Monday, May 08, 2006

Serials and Scenarios – Comma(on) Rituals - Part !

I propose a charming new ritual – let’s delete Mondays. The extra hours could be turned into Saturday Jr.

Someone who’s really good with legalese or political double talk needs to draft a petition. I’ll sign it.

It should be a ritual to post on Monday, but I’m not quite ready to commit to the requirements of ritual as described below.

Rituals are defined as - A ritual is a formalised, predetermined set of symbolic actions generally performed in a particular environment at a regular, recurring interval. The set of actions that comprise a ritual often include, but are not limited to, such things as recitation, singing, group processions, repetitive dance, manipulation of sacred objects, etc. ...en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rituals

This explains Cheeseheads and half-naked, brightly painted, screaming men at sporting events.

And I’d paint my torso and wear dairy products on my head and dance if we could really and truly delete Mondays.

I’ve asked some writing buddies for their rituals. I’ll post a few over the next few days.

Though I’m not organized enough to have developed rituals, I’d venture a guess that cleaning out my e-mail files before writing would count as a not-so-productive one.

I suppose I should develop a happy comma success dance. I have trouble with commas. It may come from my less than positive experience with snakes, and what does a comma resemble, I ask you. So, pumped full of adrenaline at the sight of a snakelike comma, I often don’t know what to do with them, and I’ll admit I kind of lose it. Either I use commas as liberally as some use a pepper grinder, or completely randomly.

Fortunately, I have gotten better with careful teaching. Michelle, my first line go to ego stomper (technical term – critique partner) tells me my comma cancer might be in remission.

The best comma rule ever, came from Steve. He stated that words beginning with the same letter as the current month all received a comma at the end. I suppose it’s a reward thing -- good prose gets rewarded with happy little snakes. Kind of like stickers in Kindergarten – maybe.

I think Steve may smoke peppercorns, but it was amusing – don’t try this with editors!

Come back tomorrow for Comma(on) Rituals. : )

Friday, May 05, 2006

Scribbles and Scrambles - Scenes From My Life - Seussian Mom Moment

Now that you’ve read some of my formative events, I’ll share just a few scenes from the lives of my children.

In our home, terms of endearment are creative. And pretty much any word can become one.

When our middle daughter was at that excellent stage where babies laugh at anything and find delight in the strangest things, she did something silly and I called her a little geek. Our son, who was four at the time, burst into tears.

“What’s the matter?”

“You didn’t call me a geek.” So I did, and then he was fine.

Several years later, when said cute baby had grown into a middle schooler, (I refuse to make any statements that could incriminate me about this particular stage in life) she went to a football game with a group of friends.

Drama often accompanies hormonal surges in adolescence. The football game outing sparked and flared with melodrama like the pictures of the surface of the sun.

Said daughter returned home, disgust dripping off her facial features. A few well-aimed questions opened up the happenings of the evening. Apparently, a classmate, juiced on caffeine, sugar and aforementioned hormones, bothered the gaggle of girls all night.

While they watched the game, talked, ate – he was there – tormenting and teasing.

“Mom I was so mad.” She explained in great detail and ended with these lines.

“He ripped off my hat, and pulled out my hair,
And made me spill my chips everywhere!”

This undid me. The sing-song delivery, the cadence, the beauty of the rhyme, the visuals -- I dissolved in laughter. She, not knowing what I was laughing at, stomped her foot. Oh, that settled me right down. Ha.

I laughed myself sick while she gathered the rest of the family who then looked on like helpless, untrained monkeys.

For days, weeks even, I tried to tell this amusing anecdote but couldn’t. Occasionally puffs of airborne words filtered out of the full blown ha, har, ha, hee’s. Never enough for someone to actually understand the story. I could get two to three words out, but then I’d melt into a puddle of glee. The family member who was assigned to accompany me in public would try to tell the story. I heard several versions. Ah, but mine is the best. Wish you could hear it.

Years later, the perfect Seussian delivery still brings a chuckle, and a bubble of hysterical laughter lies just below the surface.

I suppose I should seek professional help…… but how would I ever explain my symptoms?

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Scary and Sensational - Stay Tuned - Collins & Hines Summer Thrillers

Heather has thrown down a gauntlet. I now have a goal to make her wet her pants.

How quickly good ideas degenerate into the earthiness of humanity. sigh.

I may share my Dr. Seussian mom moment – that could do it. I’ll have to swirl that one around in my sieve-like brain to see if anything falls out. (Pun intended – like a disposable diaper circa 1973.)

While I’m stewing on that let me share a differently slanted thought.

I’ve decided that Christian fiction writers are some of the neatest, and most talented individuals you could ever hope to meet.

Not only have I been blessed enough to have a group of extremely talented and encouraging critique partners, but I’ve somehow gotten into the enviable place where I occasionally get to read an ARC. Advanced Reader Copies look like the novel, sound like the novel, smell like the novel, but aren’t quite cooked yet. Kind of like entering the kitchen and inhaling baking chocolate chip cookies, oh so close, but you gotta let them cool so you don’t have to seek treatment for severe throat and lip burns.

I have in my possession two very excellent reads that haven’t quite dinged the timer. So, I’ll just dangle these in front of you for just a few seconds.

Brandilyn Collins new series – Kanner Lake – debuts with Violet Dawn. If you love her, you’re going to love this book. If you haven’t read her, and you like suspense, and strong characters – ditto. Suffice it to say that I only stopped reading because my eyes crossed with exhaustion and I couldn’t make out the words. I’ll post a review on Amazon and CBD, soon.

T.L. Hines is a newbie novelist. His Waking Lazarus is -- wow – you’ll be hearing his name thrown around a lot in the next few months. Again, I’ll be posting some reviews. My husband, who does not read a lot, and rarely fiction, picked it up one night and couldn’t put it down. So I was thrilled when he had to work late the next night so we didn’t have to wrestle for it. I so hate it when he begs! Another compelling, eye-crossing read.

I’ll see if I can muster up something for Heather tomorrow. Hmmm.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Scribbles and Scrambles - Twisted Formation - Aunt Har Har Comes to Visit

* some names not mentioned to protect the innocent.

My aunt is only ten years older than me. So when she came to babysit my younger brothers, I got to be her sidekick. As I aged, she babysat only on evenings my parents would be out late. One of her last visits rolled around. I was eleven and almost ready to take over all of the brother wrangling.

Earlier that afternoon my baby brother toddled around the house in the disposable diapers of the seventies. Disposable was the big sell at that point, they didn’t have elastic around the leg holes or cartoon characters emblazoned on them, they were just pretty much disposable, which, if you’ve ever used cloth diapers, you would probably agree made them a very good thing. A friend of mine, Kim, was over hanging out, which is what we used to call playing. She and I went into the living room as bottle clenching toddler buns disappeared into the kitchen. Dad jogged down the stairs intent on some errand, and the three of us met up in the hallway. Kim’s eyes darted to the corner, and mine followed. A small dark olive green object sat at the edge of the entrance to the kitchen. As if magnetized, she leaned closer, and then her body followed her eyes. Dad now had noticed and we watched her bend over and scoop the object up.

Her knit eyebrows screamed confusion, I think she almost scratched her head in bewilderment. “What is this?” She finally asked. By then she was just a foot away from us.

I screamed and Dad laughed one loud guffaw. “It’s a turd!” He chortled and gasped. “From the baby’s diaper!”

I will never forget the scene. Kim launched the disgusting little gem and fled from the room. Dad and I laughed so hard that neither of us wondered what happened to Kim. A flash of white got my attention. I wiped the water from my eyes and watched Kim bend over the offending object with a paper towel clutched in her fist. She scooped it up and raised it high over her head in victory.

Enter Aunt Har Har. The boys were scrubbed and drugged or whatever they did to get rowdy boys to sleep in the seventies. My bedtime neared. Aunt Har Har offered to tuck me in. I think she was just bored. But as we were chatting I remembered the excitement of the flying turd.

She sat on the edge of my bed and I told the story with great relish. She laughed, and then laughed harder. I should mention here that I had a bedside light, not on a table, but on the floor next to my canopy. As I described Kim’s realization and actions. Aunt Har Har bent over double and laughed, “har, har, har, har” into my lamp. And I laughed so hard I peed the bed.

Sigh.

Those were the days.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Scribbles and Scrambles - Twisted Formation - Part 1

Humor is subjective. Some people don’t find the Stooges amusing. Others are left cold by some of the more popular newspaper comics. Napoleon Dynamite is a perfect example. Either you loved it or thought it was the stupidest movie ever to grace celluloid. (Do they still use celluloid or am I mixing up my vocabulary words again? Forgive me if I just laid out some nasty medical condition for your perusal, especially if you’re eating.)

My aunt thinks there should be a DVD with snippets of the great one-liners and comic bits from all of her favorite funny movies, so she could just pop it in and laugh herself sick when she’s having a bad day. But her set of “must have” movies might not be anyone else’s.

This has me wondering why I laugh at the things I laugh at. I have gotten hysterical over some of the most benign and bizarre things. My family loves to see me wind up for a laugh attack. They laugh at me, but hardly ever at what set me off. The most recent attack was during the movie Elizabethtown. A little kid has a temper tantrum, and his screams set me off. I even entered silent laugh mode which is where I laugh so hard no sounds come out except the occasional Smedley-type – “har, har.” Trust me, I’ve lived through many a temper tantrum, and usually they don’t make me laugh. Go figure.

One of the strangest things that gets to me is heavy objects. My husband loves this. This condition (it is probably in medical journals under abnormal psychology) started when I was very young. Mom asked me to pour milk. Every time, and I kid you not, I’d be perfectly fine, normal, and laid-back even, as I opened the fridge. Walking to the table was no problem, but something happened when the lid was off, and I was poised over the cups. Suddenly, the act of pouring milk was off-the-charts hysterical.

I wonder how many nervous breakdowns my mom had. She hid them well, except for the occasional twitches.

Sophistication dawned with motherhood. I now have no desire to laugh when I pour milk.

But moving heavy objects is another story altogether. As long as I bear the burden alone, I’m fine. I can haul boxes with nary a grin. I’ve pushed/humped/heaved heavy furniture across miles of carpet in my day. But if my husband asks me to help him haul something, I lose it. Any psychiatrists out there -- feel free to diagnosis this problem.

Tomorrow, I’ll share a very formative event…entitled Aunt Har-Har.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Serials and Scenarios – Mary and Susan - Swirling Leaves

Happy May Day – the legal ring and run holiday. Not that I know anything about ringing and running.

I asked some authors to add to a couple of story starters (a sentence or two – for the non-writers in the group). Today I want to share two.

Susan Meissner and Mary DeMuth added to the same starter and took it different directions.

I love how creative people think.

I suppose since I focus on dregs, I should come up with some random numbers and give them to mathematics genius (genei? What’s plural for genius?) It’s not fair to leave the logical out, right? Can’t do it… breaking out in…cold sweat. Must stop…thinking about it…now.
Stay tuned…likely for a really long time. Math free site folks.


My story starter is in red italics and their comments are in bold blue.

Susan:
Swirling leaves riding the icy wind, danced up Liesel's skirt. The leaves weren’t the only things stirred up by the breeze which now carried the cloying scent of death.
The tattered pages of the manuscript that lay at the dead man’s feet began to fly about the barn floor. She reached down to grab at them, but a gust of wind snatched them away from her grasp. She ran back to the huge wooden doors, forced her body against them and closed them shut and the papers and leaves settled to the ground in a hush. Liesel knelt down to gingerly peel away a yellowed piece of paper that had plastered itself to her ankle. She carefully turned it over. The printing was smudged in places but she could still make it out. Which meant anyone else could, too, were they to look at it. She grabbed the other pages at her feet, crumpling them into a wad. They would burn quicker that way.
http://susanmeissner.com/

Mary:
Swirling leaves riding the icy wind, danced up Liesel's skirt. The leaves weren’t the only things stirred up by the breeze which now carried the cloying scent of death.
She felt the gun under her skirt, caressed its long handle tucked into her nylons. “That terrible Rolf,” she whispered to herself. “How dare he turn in the Von Trapp family.” She turned the corner. In perfect formation, Rolf stood in the front row of the Young Nazi Brigade, three from the left. She had a perfect shot.
Mary E. DeMuth Blog. Website.