Thursday, May 31, 2007

Scribbles and Scrambles - Sleeping Single in a Double Bunk

In all the years we've been married, in all the sleep situations in which we've found ourselves - I have yet to have had the pleasure of sharing a bunk bed with my hubby.

This has changed.

We traveled to Minnesota over the weekend and the "grown-up" beds were all spoken for. I've slept in the bunk beds before...about 28 years ago while we were dating and I visited Minnesota with Rob's family. This trip, I had company. Rob grabbed the top bunk which turned out to be fortunate with my ability to injure myself.

Since we've been married we've shared a tent in the pouring rain ( a few times). A tent jam-packed full of children in all types of weather. Rocks have bruised my kidneys and small furry mammals interrupted my sleep. Our lullaby -- the buzzing of blood-thirsty mosquitoes alerting the others to fresh meat. Drifting off to the warm and fuzzy knowledge of a two a.m. walk to the outhouse should I attempt to slake my thirst.

We've slept in a family bed. Short-lived. Once I slept between him and a frightened child who had already surpassed me in height. This was a one-time arrangement. I awoke in a panic, suffocating, pinned and overheated, I bolted. Now the children are invited to sleep on the floor when a thunderstorm strikes. (Yeah, go ahead, notify PETA).

My hubby's former boss took us on a cruise once (in lieu of paying overtime -- probably highly frowned upon by wage and labor laws -- but, oh well). We were rocked to sleep in two single beds, but each pillow contained a mint every night.

Would I recommend a bunk bed? Well, the mattresses were new. That was a good thing -- especially upon hearing about the condition of the previous ones that rested on the rusted springs for 30+ years. Shudder.

I felt tall. If I stretched out I could touch both walls, as a matter of fact anyone over the height of 5'7" probably couldn't sleep without being overcome by claustrophobic nightmares full of rabid monkeys and bad poetry.

Speaking of rabid monkeys, I echo Dorothy "there is no place like home." As long as the children sleep on the floor, that is. And, in a pinch, borrowed beds without mosquitoes come in a close second.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Serials and Scenarios - The Spirit of Sweetgrass

Click on the book to visit the Amazon page.

Get to know Nicole @ her website

and then come back on Friday for Nicole's Q & A...

My Review:

"The Spirit of Sweetgrass" is a beautiful tribute to southern traditions and lifestyle as well as a disappearing art. The history and Gullah details in "Sweetgrass" makes it a must read for anyone fascinated with the culture of the Lowcountry.

Nicole Seitz writes beautifully, weaving and crafting, not unlike the baskets so diligently and painstakingly woven by her protagonist's loving fingers.

Those who expect a specific genre basket hook on which to hang "Sweetgrass" will find a touch of sweet romance with women's fiction depth, chock full of history and fantasy. "Sweetgrass" stretches beyond one genre and seeps into other categories. If forced to choose, I'd call it literary because of Nicole's style. I got caught up is Essie Mae's life from the beginning, and though there were a couple of chapters that dragged a bit for me, the end satisfied.

Jesus is mentioned throughout, but those who only read clear "how to be saved" Christian fiction aren't likely to feel comfortable reading "Sweetgrass." Nicole has managed to bust open the God box, maybe replacing it with a woven basket so He bursts out all over. Heaven sequences are thoughtful, speculative and may frustrate theologians. Serious jot and tittle Christian fiction readers may want to avoid reading "Sweetgrass," especially if they tend to read with a microscope. Voodoo and "ghosts" are tossed into the mix now and again, too.

If you love to ask God questions and like to ponder heaven, or if you curl up with lazy, literary fiction, quirky characters, cultural details and stories that wrap around your thoughts and your heart, I think you'll enjoy "Sweetgrass."

Friday, May 25, 2007

Serials and Scenarios - Rene Snitches

Rene's back with some answers to random questions.

Visit Wednesday's post to read more about her latest release, "Snitch."

If you could write in another language, which language would you choose? Why?

Hebrew. I think it would be amazing to be able to write in the original language of the Bible.

Flora and fauna or meat and potatoes? Why?

Meat and potatoes. I have no idea what flora and fauna are!

Favorite Blog or Website?

MSNBC. I'm always checking the headlines.

If you could only own three books, which ones would you own?

My Bible, my first novel, some really big, fat, deep, hard-to-understand theological book that I would normally never dream of reading.

Give a premise/tagline, character name, first line from a romance set in a sewage processing plant.

Hey...this sounds a little like Scoop! The book does revolve around a sewage processing plant. But not inside, so let me see here: FIRST LINE He knew immediately it was love, not because of how his heart skipped a beat or his skin perspired when she walked by. He knew because he could smell her floral perfume from the other room, and that was no small miracle in his world.

Share a moment when you realized that you really are a writer.

I was teaching at a writers conference and my name tag read: Rene Gutteridge, novelist.

Which book of the Bible fascinates or touches you most?

The book of John. I love the style of writing, I love the relationship they had. I can't read the first chapter without getting chills. I named my first child John.

If money/responsibilities were no object what would you do with one day?

Take my husband and kids to see the castles overseas.

Have a great weekend, everyone -- a nice long, relaxing, hang-out kind of three-day weekend.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Serials and Scenarios - Snitch

Click on the book to be whisked over to Amazon where you can find out a whole lot of information about Rene Gutteridge's newest release.
You can visit Rene by clicking, too.
And, of course, you can come on over on Friday to get a peek into her mind. Since she's already spilled her guts on the Scoop (book one of Occupational Hazards) tour, I had to come up with some more odd questions for her to answer.
My Review:
As much as I hate to admit this...I just figured out the whole Occupational Hazards series premise. Old school meets new school meets homeschool.

As in book one, Scoop, there is an older character who discovers that he may be an old dog that can learn a trick or two from a young pup. The young pup discovers the old dog survived to an age where he can taste retirement because he was smart enough to learn the game and wise enough to play by the rules.

Then we have the Hazards.

Mack Hazard stirs up under-cover work like Hayden upended the television newsroom in Scoop.

The homeschool uber-focused intelligence with the classic innocence born from limited socialization to the Christian faith that is refreshingly and foreignly foundational, shapes the Hazards into anomalies - attractive ones - but challenging and uncomfortable.

Gutteridge's humor is on display in her subtle descriptions and characterizations. Kyle -- the pastor on sabbatical with the Miami Vice dreams. Jesse -- the classic rebel cop -- with a few twists and snippets of his past come back to haunt him.

Nan and Ron, Laura and Dozer -- all characters that are real enough that you grow to care.

The story line is fast moving and well-developed.

I liked Scoop and Snitch is even better. Snitch can be read without Scoop, they stand alone, but the series will no doubt scatter bits of characterization for each sibling throughout.

If like Gutteridge, you're going to like this series. If you haven't tried her yet, give her a shot (pun intended, of course.)

Monday, May 21, 2007

Serials and Scenarios...Tim Bete

I'm stepping out of the normal sequence of things. Call me Abby - Abby Normal, if you will.

I "met" Tim Bete on a Christian humor writers e-mail loop. He just published Guide to Pirate Parenting. How can I not include him in my Q & A's? The title alone...

I'll have my usual tour Wed and Friday of this week, but I just had to slip this in. Do go to Tim's Pirate Parenting website.

Questions in red, Tim is blue.

Fiction character you would most like to be or most identify with and why?

Cap’n Billy the Butcher MacDougall, from my book, Guide to Pirate Parenting. My relationship to Cap’n Billy is like Dr. Jekyll’s relationship to Mr. Hyde.

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

I have a day job, so I usually write at night, after my kids are in bed. I grab a beer, sit down at the PC, and bang my head against the keyboard until I’m unconscious. When I come to, I clean the drool off the keyboard and look to see what I’ve written. It’s usually not pretty.

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

I’d rewrite classic literature, changing all the characters to pirates.

War and Pieces (of Eight) by Leo Tolstoy
Pride and Prejudice and Scurvy by Jane Austen

You get the idea. Any novel can be improved by adding pirates.

Favorite turn of phrase or word picture, in literature or movie.

From The Importance of Being Ernest:
Algernon. [Picking up empty plate in horror.] Good heavens! Lane! Why are there no cucumber sandwiches? I ordered them specially.

Lane. [Gravely.] There were no cucumbers in the market this morning, sir. I went down twice.

Algernon. No cucumbers!

Lane. No, sir. Not even for ready money.

Cucumbers are hysterical. The funniest vegetable by far.

What would you write if there were no rules or barriers?

I didn’t know that there WERE any rules or barriers? I must have missed that meeting. The best thing about writing is you can do whatever you want. It may not get published, but you can still do whatever you want.

What makes you feel alive?

Food, water, oxygen and an occasional glass of wine.

Favorite book setting and why?

I usually set books on the nightstand, next to my bed. Why? Because I read in bed. I also like books with ocean scenes. I love the water.

Which compliment related to your writing has meant the most and why?

One of the best compliments was this quote:
"I loved Guide to Pirate Parenting! It’s as if Cap’n Billy was ripped from me own loins, which would explain that drafty feelin’ I get in me nethers."
-- Mark "Cap'n Slappy" Summers, co-author of Pirattitude! So You Wanna Be A Pirate? Here's How, and co-founder of Talk Like a Pirate Day

Cap’n Slappy is the king of pirate humor, so I really appreciated his endorsement. Plus, I only had to send him a case of rum to get it.

What criticism has cut the deepest and why?

When I was in kindergarten, I was a model in the local department store’s back-to-school fashion show. I had trouble unbuttoning the raincoat I was modeling. It ended my career as a male model. I was never asked back, and I had to return the raincoat. If only I could have handled those buttons, I’d be famous today.

What would you do today if you knew you had only a week to live?

First, I’d stop answering these questions. Then, I’d go to the beach with my family.

What is your favorite word?


What word annoys you more than any other?


Favorite chore

One that’s already done. I hate folding socks.


At a writers’ workshop, the instructor asked attendees to write a short story that included mystery, sex and royalty. One attendee wrote: “I’m pregnant,” said the Queen. “I wonder who-dunnit?”

Now that’s a short story.

Describe something you can see, hear, taste or feel without telling us what the item is.

Okay, so there’s a really sharp pain in my left shoulder, and I can hear laughing and there’s a musty – slightly fishy – smell in the air, and then someone says, “That’s the last time you steal me rum, you scurvy bilge rat!”

Answer: The item was Cap’n Billy the Butcher’s hook. I bet the Emergency Room doctors haven’t had to remove a pirate from a writer before.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Serials and Scenarios - Argh...Pirate Parenting....

Pirate Parenting.

Normally I interview Christian fiction authors.

But what do you do when you run into a pirate who just so happens to have co-authored a book on Pirate Parenting?

I guess it depends on where his hook is resting.

If you're like me and love to laugh, and you have a sick and twisted mind, you buy his book, read it, review it and ask a few questions.

You've got to have an edgy sense of humor to enjoy this book which may hang out a little closer to fiction than non-fiction - which is probably good.

My patient hubby smiled as I shared some great gems. He shook his head, but didn't make me stop quoting.

The "Me cat kittened in my mouth" Q and A ended up being worth the cost of admission - two Abes and a George (11 bucks). Several rewritten nursery rhymes, songs and other great stuff only increased my enjoyment. A check list at the end of each section forces me to give my stamp of approval.

A quick test to see if you'd appreciate Pirate Parenting.

Creative discipline techniques are your forte. T or F.

You have a child who once cried because you called another child "geek" and forgot to toss him a "term of endearment." T or F.

Pirate talk amuses you. T or F.

You laugh when someone falls. T or F.

Wally from Dilbert is way funnier than Garfield. T or F

You often quote lines from Pink Panther movies i.e "Does your dig bite?" T or F

You laugh out loud at Dave Barry, Patrick McManus or
Dear Abby. T or F

If you can answer true to most of these, I believe you won't regret your $10.95 investment. Not only is it only slightly more expensive than the price of a movie, it's a very fast read.

Sure, you're not going to unbury a treasure of usable parenting tricks, but the imagination stimulation will almost make parenting fun. You don't actually have to serve them salt cod to appreciate the fact that you can tell them you are. Plank walking - arghh - who sez the plank has to be suspended over the ocean, matey?

If laughter is the best medicine, then I imagine that also applies to anti-anxiety meds. Think about it. The co-pay to the drugstore, or the opportunity to laugh your cares away?

Read Tim Bete's interview on Monday for further information and a bit of grog scented feed-back. If you are amused with his interview - I think you'll like the book. Check out his web page for some great endorsements.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Serials and Scenarios - Seedlings from Ann Gabhart

Had a little fun with Ann Gabhart. Enjoy.

As per usual, I'm red and she's blue.

Fiction character you would most like to be or most identify with and why?

Peter Pan. He can fly and he doesn’t get old. Of course he does have to fight crocodiles, but he does it very bravely.

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

I’d ask my dad, who died almost twenty years ago, “What was the most fun you ever had when you were a kid?”

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

Nothing too strange. I just apply the seat of my pants to my chair and stare at my computer screen and wish out a few words that tell a good story. Nothing gets written, though, until I actually put my fingers on the keyboard and start poking the letters.

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

Some bad endings here and there, but I can’t think of anything specific.

What crayon in the box describes you on a good day? Bad day? Which one do you aspire to be?

On a good day – red. On a bad day – tan. I suppose I aspire to be the most vibrant red in the box.

Pick one…..Pink iguana, purple cow, periwinkle giraffe. Which one and why? Can be negative or positive.

Periwinkle giraffe. I like the way that sounds when you say it.

Favorite turn of phrase or word picture, in literature or movie.

“I’m off to the city of Solla Sollew on the banks of the beautiful River Wah-Hoo where they never have troubles. At least, very few.” From I Had Trouble in Getting to Solla Sollew, one of my favorite books by Dr. Seuss. I love reading Dr. Seuss to kids.

If you were assured of writing a best-seller, what genre would it be? Give us a sliver of information, a characteristic or glimpse of a scene.

If I could be assured of writing a best-seller, any genre would do. But how about a mystery? I love a good mystery. No one would guess who did it until the very last scene, and then I would have been so brilliant in planting the clues, that the reader would think back and say, “Of course. How did I miss it?”

What period of history intrigues you the most?

I can get wrapped up in any time in history when I start reading about what happened at that time, but the pioneer days here in America have always captured my interest. People then had to give up so much when they walked across the mountains to settle new land. They left behind family forever and risked not only their lives but the lives of their children to find a fresh start.

What would you write if there were no rules or barriers? (epic novels about characters in the Bible, poetry, greeting cards, plays, movies, instruction manuals, etc.)

Are there rules and barriers? You can write anything. You just might not find an editor or readers who will read it. All I’ve ever wanted to write is a good story with characters that readers will love.

What makes you feel alive?

Walking in the woods or down a creek. Feeling the sun on my face. Getting a hug from a beloved child. Writing a great scene.

How does something worm its way into your heart? Through tears, truth, humor or other?

Life is a combination of all those and more, but I think if you can make me smile then you have me listening and then I’ll be more ready to hear your truth.

Book, music, person, food you would take with you on a very long trip.

The Bible, The Beach Boys music, my daughter, apples.

Where would you most like to travel ----- moon, north pole, deep seas, deserted island, the holy land or back to a place from your childhood, somewhere else? – and why.

Not the moon – too far from home although the view must be great. Not the north pole – too cold although I might see Santa. Not the deep seas – no oxygen although I would love to know what’s down there. Not a deserted island – too lonely although I might get some writing done in all that quiet time. But I’ve always thought it would be fun to walk the Appalachian Trail. I love to hike and I love nature.

Favorite season and why?

I like them all and wouldn’t want to live where it was hot or cold all the time. I especially like Spring because of the way everything bursts back to life. Grass grows. Flowers bloom. Bees start buzzing. Birds start singing and the whole cycle of life starts afresh.

Favorite book setting and why?

My book or someone else’s? My book – a wild nature place on my own property that I used in one of my young adult novels, Discovery at Coyote Point, because I love going there. Other books – Middle Earth in The Lord of the Rings, because it was so real.

Which compliment related to your writing has meant the most and why?

“I couldn’t put your book down.” That always makes me feel good because it means I didn’t write a dull book.

What criticism has cut the deepest and why?

I don’t know. If I hear or read something critical about my writing, I try to listen and learn from the criticism if it’s from an expert or someone I respect. But you know, everybody is a critic and you can’t just fall down and weep every time somebody doesn’t like what you write. At least not for over five or ten minutes. There are more stories to be written and your next one will surely be better.

What would you do today if you knew you had only a week to live?

Take my grandchildren for a walk in one of my favorite places. Tell my children about things they did when they were little. Hold my husband’s hand. Breathe the air and enjoy the sunshine.

What is your favorite word?

My editors say it must be “just” because I use it way too much. No, seriously, I would go with “joy.” Just saying the word seems to give my spirits a lift.

What word annoys you more than any other?


Superhero you most admire and why?

Superman. He’s always saving the world.

Super power you’d love to borrow for awhile?

You know that flying thing again. Doesn’t everybody want to be able to fly?

Favorite chore

Favorite chore – you’ve got to be kidding. Chore and favorite can’t go together.

Anything you’d do but don’t because of fear of pain? What is it? Ex. Bungee jumping, sky diving, running with scissors.

I’m afraid to bungee jump or sky dive but I never thought about it being fear of pain. I thought it was just plain fear. As for the running with scissors, that’s just common sense. There’s a difference between fear and common sense. Then again maybe not doing the bungee jumping is just common sense too. Of course skydiving might be a little like flying, so if I wasn’t such a chicken I might try that.

Grammatical pet peeve…sound off.

Long run on sentences that go on and on and that never seem to end while lots of words are being used but nothing is being said and you finally get to the period and you’re glad but you have no idea what you just read so you have to go back and read it all again. Now what was the question?

Societal pet peeve…sound off.

Clerks who take a phone call and wait on whoever called while they are supposedly waiting on you after you’ve been standing in line forever.

Pick a Genre - Describe a kiss….


She wanted to kiss him. He had pulled her in behind the library door and put his hand softly against her lips so she would know silence was of the utmost important. Somewhere inside this old mansion a madman was stalking them, but here shoved against him with their hearts racing, all she could think of was how his lips would feel on hers. If she was going to die, didn’t she deserve a kiss first?

She put her hand behind his neck and pulled his head down toward hers. Their lips met with such an explosion that she felt as if she were flying. Then she realized she was flying. The madman must have set off a bomb in the next room.

Describe something you can see, hear, taste or feel without telling us what the item is.

It can come in several colors but only one general shape. It is very common. You might see one somewhere every day. A good one has a nice pop to it. Lots of different things are made from it, but the original form has always been the most popular since the very beginning of time. It smells like fall and can, at times, taste like candy. Doctors who need patients don’t like them.

Frizzy hair, purple scarf and a book – make a character.

Her life was fried just like her hair. Nothing was going right. Absolutely nothing. Even Superman couldn’t fix her life. Frannie looked in the mirror and tugged a comb through her hair. It was useless. The box of hair color that was supposed to turn her into a beautiful blonde had instead made her look like some weird clown with white sheep wool for hair.

And now she had to ride a bus halfway across the country to see her Aunt Stella. She didn’t want to, but her mother said she had to. Another example of how fried her life was. Here she was almost twenty-one, and still doing what her mother said instead of what she wanted to do. But she had two more years of college and no money. She couldn’t make her mother mad. She needed tuition money and what was a couple of weeks out of one summer. It wasn’t like she had anything happening here. No boyfriend. No job. No nothing. So she’d promised to go.
Aunt Stella had something wrong with her, cancer or something bad, and she claimed Frannie was her favorite niece and she just had to see her. Had to.

At least Frannie would be out in the boondocks where no one she knew would see her with her disaster hair. She reached into her drawer and pulled out the first scarf she touched. It was purple, her mother’s favorite color. Frannie hated purple, but she wrapped it around her head anyway.

Then she grabbed the book she’d picked up on a whim last night at the store when she was buying the blonde dye. How to Succeed at Life and Love in Ten Easy Steps. She could write some steps on how not to succeed. Dye your hair twice in one week. Let your mother talk you into being some kind of Good Samaritan. Waste money on a book written by some idiot that thought life was easy. She shoved the book into her bag. It would probably be good for a few laughs as she rode across country.

A crack broke the stillness as Terry tugged on the frozen door.

She held her breath and listened. No footsteps running toward her. Maybe she was okay. In an old house like this, creaks and cracks were probably the norm. She was hearing a few creaks herself. Perhaps crazy Jacob, who had locked her up in here, wasn’t running to stop her, but instead was creeping toward her in the shadows where he was watching her and silently laughing at her inept attempts at escape. What did he want with her?

She’d met Jacob at a writing workshop. His stories were weird but he’d seemed nice enough when he asked her out for lunch. Nothing bad could happen at lunch. Then he’d talked her into acting out a scene from one of his stories. Anybody with the first bit of good sense would have said no, but not Terry. Her first husband used to tell her that she thought everybody was good. Bill had certainly proved that wrong, but Terry hadn’t learned her lesson. Now here she was locked inside a creepy old house with night falling.

Her heart started pounding harder in her chest as she remembered that everybody always died in Jacob’s stories.

Thanks, Ann. You've got a flair for suspense. Happy weekend, Dregites.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Scary and Sensational - Sheep Doodie Clean-up.

Do you ever feel like God has taken you seriously?

I think we all tend to try to bargain with God. Right? Like we will give Him more time, money, heart -- if He’ll just ___________________________________________________
(fill in the blank i.e. send more money, provide a better job or more mature fruit of the Spirit).

But the bargains, and correct me if I’m wrong in your situation, usually have some serious small print that we are hoping God overlooks.

Bottom line, I give Him additional hoops to jump through. I think we usually call this dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s. And if He doesn’t jump the hoops in the proper sequential plan or within the time/space continuum, or follow Robert’s Rules of Order, then we can drop our end of the deal.

Sometimes I get really sick of myself. The self part of me.

I kind of like the part that God has remodeled, but frankly, the Kelly in me gets a little old.

But since I know I can’t be good or look at all like Jesus without serious help from above, I will often tell God I’d really like Him to dig for some stubborn Kelly-roots or burn off some Poison Ivy. Sometimes, I actually mean it.

So a few Sunday's ago, I cried through communion. After a lesson on forgiveness and some really great songs, the pastor told us to take communion only when we were at “peace with God” instead of all together in a group as usual.

In the quiet time that followed, God flipped through a few pages of unresolved issues in my life.

Did you know that we sometimes have to forgive people for being human and imperfect?

I didn’t think about that until God reminded me of the requests I’ve tossed at Him. The ones where I’d like to get over myself, and actually accomplish something of meaning and value with this life I’ve been given.

I’d like to think I forgive people easily. I say the words. That’s got to be worth something, right?

But sitting there, staring at my tiny cup full of burgundy liquid that is representative of Christ’s blood – the most powerful substance on earth – I realized that I held people to a standard that I can’t keep.

I want the “mature” people that go to my church to actually be “mature.” Reasonable, isn’t it?

I expect the long-term Christians to play well with others and to share.

I expect newbies to want to grow.

I hope – strongly – that the deceived actually want to believe Jesus words of truth rather than Satan’s words of death.

I really do think these are great goals. But I take it a step further and take it upon myself and either make it a burden when they don’t behave as I wish they would, or I get discouraged and let the enemy steal bricks from my foundation of faith.

I forget that God lets people wander in the wilderness because it teaches them and changes them.

He’ll also allow someone to ram over and over again into a brick wall should they choose to do so because they are determined that the rules don’t apply to them.

Noah built a boat on dry land. Abraham had to believe but not see God’s promise until he turned 100, thirteen years after Abraham and Sarah tried to help God out with said promise. David waited years for the whole kingdom of Israel.

And why did these events take so long? Because God doesn’t behave the way I expect Him to behave.

So I chose to forgive a whole bunch of sheep for acting like sheep, and decided to let God shepherd them, since He knows what He’s doing.

Sheep – would you forgive me for being a dumb-baa and tracking sheep doodie on your carpets?

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Serials and Scenarios - Orchard of Hope

Orchard of on the cover of the book to head over to Amazon and check it out.

My Review:

Like a shoot of green forcing its way in hard-packed soil is the truth behind the issues in "Orchard of Hope." Through severe and unexpected racial tension, unknown and bitter prejudices, and intense pain, hope grows, unfurls and flutters.

This is a novel that gets stronger as it heads toward the conclusion. I grew to care about the characters and I found myself grieving, even aching, with them.

This isn't an easy read. I don't like to be reminded, or encounter, fresh evidence of prejudice and bitterness based on the color of flesh. Nor do I like to see the ugliness of the human condition without Christ's healing and redemptive power.

Gabhart handles spiritual issues with sensitivity. Story lines of unfolding love and new life add to the sweetness of the planting of hope in "Orchard."

Come bad on Friday for a Q & A with Ann.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Scribbles and Scrambles - More Bad Poetry...

I had some literary fun over the weekend.

Chip MacGregor – Agent Extraordinaire -- sponsors a bad poetry contest in honor of his birthday each year. Chip MacGregor. Chip is not my agent, not even close...but I claim 6 degrees of separation status.

How could I not participate in this contest? You guys know that bad poetry is one of my fortes.

I went for tragic, classic angst.

Chip had this to say about my entry. "Yes! Wonderfully bad, Kelly!"

Cumulus Angst


The sky? Blue? Why?

Acid rain falls from it.
Blackening my thoughts.

I say the sky
Is poison.

So the grass then
Is painted
In shades of gray.


I didn’t win. I didn’t even place, but Chip gave me a bit of a nod. You must go to his announcement to read it.

I lost to “Blind Puppy on the Freeway,” “Ode to Snow” and “Moose Without Lips?” I’m honored.

Check out Chip’s blog comments to read the other entries.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Serials and Scenarios - Amy Wallace Wows

Here she is -

Amy shares her soul...I can't wait to meet her, we have a tentative coffee date in Dallas. You all are invited, too, I'm sure she wouldn't mind. Mark your calendars --sometime in September.

Fiction character you would most like to be or most identify with and why?

The fiction character I would most like to be is Shari Hanford from Dee Henderson’s The Guardian. For any O’Malley fan it probably goes without saying why. : )

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

Strange rituals? I like to procrastinate until the last possible minute before I get started writing on Saturdays, does that count?

What crayon in the box describes you on a good day? Bad day?

On a good day, I’m a happy cerulean. On a bad day, I’m probably more like a fire engine red that everyone wants to steer clear of.

Pick one…..Pink iguana, purple cow, periwinkle giraffe. Which one and why? Can be negative or positive.

I’m thinking a periwinkle giraffe because I like that shade of blue and giraffes are totally fun to watch eye to eye.

Favorite turn of phrase or word picture, in literature or movie.

“Open war is upon you whether you would risk it or not.” Aragorn from Return of the King.

I love the sentiment here that, like it or not, we’re at war. You can either stand and fight or die. I’d prefer standing to fight, and dying a warrior not a coward.

What period of history intrigues you the most?

Modern times intrigue me the most. We have every convenience known to man, the ability to communicate around the globe in seconds and yet we’re still very alone and disconnected human beings. I’m also fascinated with the fact that even with the best of technology people can disappear and reinvent themselves with a little bit of knowledge and a whole lot of money.

What makes you feel alive?

Laughing with my kids and dancing in a mountain stream are two of my favorite things that make me come alive like nothing else.

How does something worm its way into your heart? Through tears, truth, humor or other?

Solid truth mixed with a good dose of humor will endear people and books to me very quickly. I also like people and authors who make me cry because of the depth of passion they live out in their words.

Book, music, person, food you would take with you on a very long trip.

I’d have to take my Steven Curtis Chapman collection of CDs along with my Casting Crowns and Chris Tomlin CDs and a healthy stash of Godiva chocolate. With those things and my family, I’d be set to go, no matter how long the haul.

Where would you most like to travel ----- moon, north pole, deep seas, deserted island, the holy land or back to a place from your childhood, somewhere else? – and why.

I’d like to hang out in the Garden of Eden and experience a little perfection for a while. Then I’d like to stomp the snake before he ever chatted with Eve.

Favorite season and why?

I love fall with all its vivid color, home-baked smells, and the crisp air that promises nights by the fire curled up with a good book.

Which compliment related to your writing has meant the most and why?

That would be a tie between the teary eyes of my husband and kids when they read the Christmas letters I write for them and a reviewer’s comment that the thing which grabbed her heart the most wasn’t the great things she could say about me, but that she heard Christ through my words.

Why? Because I want to connect with people’s hearts and encourage them as well as point them to God.

What criticism has cut the deepest and why?

Being told in one of my first rejection letters that I was melodramatic and cliché, cut deep because it almost pushed me away from writing.

What would you do today if you knew you had only a week to live?

I’d definitely stop marketing.

Then I’d eat lots of chocolate and spend my time running on the beach and hugging my kids and hubby a lot.

What is your favorite word?

Sans. I think it’s a cool word even though my best friend says “normal” people don’t really talk like that.

Favorite chore?

Uhm, none?

Anything you’d do but don’t because of fear of pain? What is it? Ex. Bungee jumping, sky diving, running with scissors.

I’d love to do a thru hike of the Appalachian Trail, except for the inevitable pain in my calves, not to mention the bugs, sweat, and no indoor plumbing.

Societal pet peeve…sound off.

Not being looked in the eye. That bugs me to no end. If you’re gonna tell me to “have a nice day” at least do me the courtesy of looking to see if that’s a possibility or not.


Pick any of the following and have fun with it.

Describe something you can see, hear, taste or feel without telling us what the item is.

This item smells like summer, tastes like salt, and can feel both scratchy and smooth at the same time.

Frizzy hair, purple scarf and a book – make a character.

An over fifty librarian wearing a red hat and waiting impatiently for her hot date that she was terribly worried she’d be too late to meet.

A scatterbrained pacer, a train and a crumpled letter – make a thumbnail plot.

A genius professor clutches a love letter and awaits his destiny arriving on a train from back east. But nothing makes sense when his deceased doppelganger shows up and kidnaps the girl before he can remember what day it is.

Pick one of the “story starters” below and give us a sample of your voice.

The leaves weren’t the only things stirred up by the breeze which now carried the cloying scent of death.

FBI Agent Bowers fought the gruesome images vying for control of his mind. Too late, he’d been too late again.

While death clung to every tree branch and fabric within the cordoned off area of Kentucky backwoods, John imagined the moment he’d come face to face with the killer.

In that one encounter, he’d send a nightmare to hell. The risk of his badge and sidearm were no match for the satisfaction of watching his brother’s last breath.

It wouldn’t bring back his wife or baby girl. But it would silence the ticking clock that haunted his dreams.

If only he’d come home an hour earlier.

If only he’d deciphered Braden’s clues, left just for him to find.

If only…

The words wrapped around mounting case files of unsolved destruction and called out of his subconscious the final photographic remains his brother had orchestrated.

No more. Justice had earned her revenge. He’d see her paid in full.

To that hope he clung. It was all he had left.

Thanks Amy, and Happy Weekend Dregites - especially you mama dregs -"Happy Mother's Day."

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Serials and Scenarios - Ransomed Dreams

Ransomed Dreams -
click on the cover to visit Amazon for more details.

The author: Amy Wallace

The Review:

Amy Wallace has produced a story worth reading. A solid debut novel about the power of love, the fragility of life, the pain of loss, and the complexities of relationships.

The deeper I entered into the story of Steven and Gracie, the more I grew to care about them and the faster I turned the pages.

Weak-kneed readers need to proceed with caution. The subject matter is heavy, involving tragedy and death. Evil hovers and stark realities will impact soft hearts.

Though full of hope and forgiveness, mercy and love, if you can't read Karen Kingsbury you will likely struggle with Ransomed Dreams. And if you are a fan of Karen Kingsbury you will find much to like in Amy Wallace.

Come back Friday for Amy's interview...she's lots of fun.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Scribbles and Scrambles - Tagged - and Contagious

I've been tagged by

"Here are the rules as passed on - Each player starts with seven random facts about themselves. People who are tagged need to write on their own blog about the seven things and the rules. You need to choose seven people to tag and list their names. Don't forget to leave them a comment that they have been tagged and to read your blog!"

I'm supposed to tell you seven random facts about my life and then cough or sneeze on seven other bloggers so they get infected and have to spread this scourge.

Factoid # 1.

I used to play the violin. I now love the violin, but years ago didn't so much. Three years I slaved away learning this fine instrument. You'd think I'd remember something. But it has slipped my mind - like French. A couple years ago I picked up a guitar and taught myself, with the aid of a video, four or five cords. I even developed a little callous. I never graduated to a song. I did think that maybe my musical mind had been loosened, so I picked up my violin and remembered that I had to tighten the bow. That's it. When I took piano lessons and wanted to quit my mom told me I'd be sorry that I did. I'm sorry...but I still have the goal. Guitar, violin, voice or piano - I want to make pretty music...someday.

Factoid #2.

I hate chain letters and guilt inducing e-mail forwards. I break them. Even the children's books or dishtowel ones. I have forwarded e-mails of interest but I take out the part that says if you break it you're cursed and if you pass it on you're blessed and the prayers. But I'm participating in this little virus because it's fun. And I'm pretty sure Mike Duran will be very annoyed, and that adds an element of fun, too.

Factoid #3.

I don't have a college degree. I have a certificate and a state license in limited radiography. But I also have a mish-mash of classes that I've taken over the years. Creative writing - I even edited the college literary journal -- to secretarial, to medical, to early childhood, to accounting. Oh my. Twentish years of higher education. I don't know if I'll continue with classes, but I'm always learning.

Factoid #4.

I was trained to teach inductive Bible studies and I love looking into the rich cultural heritage that I have through Jesus. The Hebrew history and culture fascinates me. One place I'd love to go is Israel, and I'd also love to go to Greece. I'd also love to attend synagogue - especially Messianic.

Factoid #5.

God "made me" go on a 40 day fast a few years ago. He didn't make me, but it was one of those moments of clarity when He called me to step forward and follow Him. It was probably the most frustrating days of my life - spiritually. Very little got "accomplished" - He didn't meet my agenda. But He still uses it in my life - in weird and unexpected ways.

Factoid #6.

Horses hate me, and I'm not so fond of them either. I've been bucked off, trampled, reared off, spun upside down, kicked at, bitten and left high and dry. Oh, and snotted. My parents have a parrot - I love parrots - that hates me. Yet, I was in a pet store once and a "mascot" parrot climbed onto my shoulder while I talked to him. He tried to bite the shopkeeper when I needed to go. Ohhh - that's another Pat story - Pat and Polly Want a Juicy Calf...hee, hee, hee.

Factoid #7.

I really like Iowa. It's beautiful. Yes, mountains call my name, beaches mesmerize me, but Iowa is home. If you were here right now you'd see the sun shining for the first time in days. The earth is swollen because of massive amounts of rain. Green scents the air, like high corn season during high-July-humidity.

I'm tagging the following bloggers: And I'm sure I'll be paying for it - they get so touchy!!!! Janet Rubin - come on down. Mike Duran - you are the next contestant... Kristi Herbranson...this'll be fun...really. Like I could leave out Jordan...hugs. Scott, so I have to resort to trickery to get you to post... Ane, you can't say anything about red hair. Because you really need some content!!!

Monday, May 07, 2007

Scribbles and Scrambles - Racking Up Points

Refresher moment…I work with the public. Yeah, yeah, I can’t believe they let me out into the world, either.

I zap people full of radiation and then bill them. I’m right up there with IRS agents. Side-note –due to the radiation I glow in the dark which comes in real handy sometimes late at night.

I digress.

Occasionally, I witness a touching moment.

We’ve had family reunions in our waiting room. One day, three siblings showed up without knowing the other two would be there. Good times.

No one brought potato salad, though.

Another time we watched a budding romance between two ninety-year-olds. We peeked over the counters as they held hands, and he kissed her hand when his name was called.

The downside of working with the public is the increase of cynicism. Let’s just say we weren’t after that little interlude. Not a dry eye in the office.

This may feel like another veer from the subject, but it’s connected. Rob and I are taking a marriage enrichment class at church.

Really good if you are in the market. It’s called Love and Respect. I’m amazed at how much we’ve learned.

A recent topic was understanding women. The teacher shared that a 5,000,000 point gift for a woman and man are vastly different. Get a guy a new car and he’d be in hog heaven. A woman is much easier…he suggested men could save a ton of money by just being aware of the little things they could do or say to impact a woman’s heart. He suggested something as simple (aka cheap) as a walk together where the man scoops up a rock, puts it in his pocket and later gives it to her with a tiny love note penned on it with Sharpie.

This morning, one of my co-workers, who also attends the marriage class, started flapping her arms. “Oh! That was a 5,000,000 point comment!!!!”

We take pictures of our patients for our electronic filing system. A long-time married couple came in. He had been in a few weeks ago, now it was her turn. My co-worker asked to take a picture of her. She wasn’t real thrilled, but agreed.

He said. “Yeah, I broke the camera, but that won’t be a problem with her.” Okay, not exactly eloquent, but she isn’t exactly Helen of Troy.

I think my co-worker was right. How nice, how loving, how encouraging, especially when we see people cutting each other down all the time.

It made me think of the most romantic thing Rob’s ever said to me. Here it is. “I timed the bridge, it only takes three seconds to cross it.”

Wow. I can hear your hearts pitter-patter.

But here’s the context…when my kids were tiny I had a horrible nightmare. One of those vivid and intensely real ones where you wake up panicked and disoriented. I’d dreamt that our car plunged into the river that borders our city. We crashed through the ice and I rushed to get the kids out before we went under. But I couldn’t get a buckle undone. I awoke as the icy water reached my seat entombed little one. To say the dream freaked me out is an understatement. And for months I avoided crossing the river. When I did travel over it, I held my breath as I planned "what I’d do if…."

Then my husband came home one day and shared that little 5,000,000 point nugget. Yep.

How about you? Are you hanging on to a 5,000,000 point gift that could make all the difference in someone’s life? Or have you received 5,000,000 points lately. And guys, you can share, too.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Serials and Scenarios - Chris Well - Tribulation House

I've run into some sort of bizarre mail-type of conspiracy.
Maybe Chris Well can use it as the plot of his next novel.

Twice I've been offered a Chris Well book for review. Twice I've accepted -- rather enthusiastically. "Deliver us From Evelyn" looked like a must read. I waited and waited and never got it. sigh. I did read the first chapter and it proved to be very interesting and entertaining, I'm sure I would've loved the book.
One day, I'll get my hands on a copy and read the darn thing.

And, now. I have no review for Tribulation House. I didn't get the book.
Suppose my mailbox is attached to a worm hole?
The space kind, of course.

Seriously. Every day I wait expectantly for the book. I've gotten several books, just not Chris Well's.

At least he took pity on me and answered some of my squirrely questions.
His answers appear in blue, as per usual. Color me red.
And click on the book and it will take you to Amazon where you can read other reviewer's comments.
What would you write if there were no rules or barriers? (epic novels about characters in the Bible, poetry, greeting cards, plays,movies, instruction manuals, etc.)
I’d love to find the time to write some plays. And radio dramas. It’s been too long.
Book, music, person, food you would take with you on a very longtrip.
Book: Writing The Novel: From Plot to Print, Lawrence Block
Music: Woodface, Crowded House
Person: My wife, Erica
Food: Nutter Butter Peanut Butter Sandwich Cookies.
Where would you most like to travel ----- moon, north pole, deepseas, deserted island, the holy land or back to a place from yourchildhood, somewhere else? – and why.
As a kid, reading the Chronicles of Narnia gave me a warm feeling thatmade me want to go there.
Favorite season and why?
I like the fall. It’s cool like spring, but without all the coughing and sneezing.
Super power you'd love to borrow for awhile?
Super speed. I hate being late for stuff.
Favorite chore
If I enjoy it, is it actually a “chore”?
Grammatical pet peeve…sound off.
“U.F.O.” is not synonymous with “flying saucer”! Once you IDENTIFY something as a “flying saucer” it is no longer “unidentified”! AARGH!