About Me

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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.

Friday, August 31, 2007

Serials and Scenarios - T.L.Hines Whispers On

You are in for some fun. You might want to have fingernails at the ready for a chew if you belong to the Big Honken Chicken club*, or tissues if you tear up at coffee or greeting card commercials.

Thanks, Tony. You gave us a great glimpse into the inner working of your mind. Oh my!

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

I don’t know if I’d want to be him, but one of the characters that remains the most alive for me several years later is Holden Caulfield from JD Salinger’s “The Catcher in the Rye.” Actually, I’m quite sure I wouldn’t want to be him. On the other hand, I would like to be a hardboiled pulp-noir detective of some kind. One who isn’t alcoholic.


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

Um…black, black, and black.


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

All of the above, because then I’ll be sitting down to a bowl of me Lucky Charms.


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

Many have lingered with me over the years. One I always remember, for some reason, is a line Stephen King used to describe a storm: “The lightning walked and the thunder talked.”


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.

I don’t have any “If only I could write…” fantasies, to tell you the truth. I’d be writing the same kind of thing I write now. That’s what I love to read, and it’s what I love to write. So, I’d just magically make the book sell a couple bazillion copies.

What makes you feel alive?

This is going to sound flip, but it’s true: getting diagnosed with cancer earlier this year. It’s not anything I wish on anyone, and yet, the old cliché holds: it sets your priorities. It forces you to concentrate on what’s important. I’m less focused on “someday” kinds of things now, and more focused on making those somedays today.


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


Ooooh. All of them. I worked in marketing and advertising for several years, and one great wag once said: “All great advertising hinges on one of four emotions: sadness, fear, humor or logic.” I think all great stories hinge on one or more of those. I’m not sure “logic” really counts as an emotion, but give the guy a break. He was in advertising.

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

Well, I’d have to take my iPod, which is filled with music. Of course, if I had to answer the classic “If you were stuck on a desert island, and you could only listen to one album the whole time, what would it be?” question, I’ve always said it would be Pink Floyd’s “Dark Side of the Moon.” Or maybe the Pixies’ “Death to the Pixies.” But I’d probably also cheat and bootleg some Better Than Ezra, Foo Fighters, and David Crowder Band.

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

Having “Waking Lazarus,” my first book, named to the Library Journal “25 Best Genre Books of 2006” list was quite a lot of fun. Of course, that put incredible pressure on me, as well—it’s hard to raise the bar sometimes—but that’s also the thing a slightly neurotic personality needs. And to tell you the truth, I most enjoy the comments out of the blue: the random emails from people who have read a book and enjoyed it enough to find me and send me a note.

What criticism has cut the deepest and why?

The neurotic part of me remembers every criticism. It doesn’t matter how many nice comments and reviews you’ve received—and I’ve received a ton of very kind ones—it’s the “But…” statements that stick with you. The Publisher’s Weekly review of my first novel had a “But the book has a few flaws…” There was a lot of gnashing of teeth about that one. I also received a long diatribe from a woman who thought my first book was horrible—HORRIBLE!—begging me to please never write another. I thanked her for reading, and told her I was sorry she didn’t like it. She apologized and admitted she was insanely jealous a hack like me was getting published, while she was getting unnoticed. I don’t admire her lack of couth or approach at all, but I do admire that she was self-aware enough to realize she was being driven by feelings of jealousy.

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

This is, I suppose, a particularly poignant question in light of my recent cancer diagnosis. I mean, I’ve been able to think in these terms the last several months. I’d spend time with my wife and daughter—maybe on a cruise. Write at night while they slept. Do all I could to not sleep myself; in a week, after all, I’d be able to catch up on my sleep.


What is your favorite word?


Oddly enough, I’ve always been fascinated by the sound of the word “spatula.” Occasionally, I’ll find myself turning it over and over in my mind.


What word annoys you more than any other?

“Can’t”


Superhero you most admire and why?

I was a Marvel guy growing up, and particularly loved the Silver Surfer, Thor and Ghost Rider. Thor and Ghost Rider, I think, because I was fascinated by mythologies. Also, Ghost Rider because he was touched by Heaven and Hell—both sides in conflict, deep inside him. I’ve been a committed Christ-follower for several years, but I can still identify with that struggle. I haven’t seen the Nicholas Cage movie of Ghost Rider; I’m not sure I can bring myself to watch it. At first, I was excited, but then I realized: nothing they put on screen can begin to compare to the world of Ghost Rider I’d created in my 12-year-old mind.


Super power you'd love to borrow for awhile?

I love the NPR show “This American Life.” One of the segments on TAL some time ago was about this guy who went around asking people: “Which superpower would you rather have: flight, or invisibility?” And invariably, he was shocked at how seriously people pondered the question, asking all sorts of “what ifs” to clarify.

That said, I’d probably choose neither. I always wanted to have Ghost Rider’s flaming skull. Let’s not consider what that says about me in Freudian terms.


Favorite chore

It’s not a favorite, but I’m borderline obsessive/compulsive about the kitchen. I can’t stand junk or clutter, and I have to wash dirty dishes IMMEDIATELY. My wife enjoys and encourages this obsession.


Grammatical pet peeve…sound off.

Oh, just one huh? Well, I can narrow it down to three. First, I hate purposely misspelled brand names and such. My hometown is home to the headquarters of KOA, which stands for Kampgrounds of America. As a result, KOAs offer Kamping Kabins. And so on. What did the letter “c” ever do to the KOA folks that they’ve banished it for life?


Second, I hate transposed “it’s” and “its” and, unfortunately, I have to say I see it all the time. Maybe that’s why I hate it so much: familiarity breeds contempt.

But perhaps number one on my list is unattributed quotes, in ads and signage: “We do it all for less!” or “Best in the West” or…whatever. All those little bits of puffery, put inside quotation marks. Is someone else saying this stuff, and that’s why it’s in quotation marks? Well then, tell me who it is. If it’s the company or business saying it, I don’t need the quotation marks; I can figure out that you’re declaring yourself “Best in the West” without the quotes.


CREATIVE CORNER:

Pick any of the following and have fun with it.

Pick a Genre - Describe a kiss….

I always love those overwrought, faux-literary works that try to be outrageous and social commentaries at the same time…and end up prattling on for several sentences with nothing happening.

Perhaps they would choose to kiss. Perhaps they would not. Perhaps their worlds would merge in that delicate touch of flesh on flesh, she the transgendered boy/girl from a small town in Wisconsin, he the self-loathing aristocrat who abhorred the blue blood coursing through his veins. And what, then, would follow such an exchange? Would she contact her estranged sister who had succumbed to the allure of methamphetamine and was now ensconced in a Georgia penitentiary? Would he admit to her that he had rejected the capitalistic values of his forebears, and now attended clandestine meetings of socialist thinkers?


Cliché, yes, but one couldn’t help being a cliché sometimes, and how so very cliché of them to be standing here, Capulet and Montague, pondering a future together against the backdrop of a world spinning unknowingly into its own oblivion.

Perhaps they would choose to kiss. Perhaps they would forego the kiss and instead choose the dagger and poison without so many obligatory steps that surely would come before.

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

If Alex had known the body of the senator was in the bathtub, she would've taken Jim's offer for coffee.
After all, she had carefully orchestrated the senator’s murder—just as she’d orchestrated the seventeen murders before him—and she had been quite careful to leave the corpse in the garage.

But then Jim--dear, sweet Jim--dropped by unannounced. He wanted to take her for coffee, he said. Just a quick cup. But she had work waiting for her in the garage, didn’t she? Of course she did.

Or so she thought.

Some time during the night, while she slept, Dear Sweet Jim had moved the corpse to the tub to taunt her.

She would have seen it in his eyes, she knew, if she’d agreed to go with him to the Java Joint on the corner. She would have seen that manic fire dancing inside the pupils, and she would have known then what she knew now, standing over the senator’s lifeless body in her pink-tiled bathroom.

Dear Sweet Jim was going to be Victim Number 19.

Have an excellent weekend, everyone. Hope you BHC* Club members can sleep tonight. : ).

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Scribble and Scrambles - Blog Post on a Stick Part 3



A few last thoughts on my day at the Iowa State Fair…

The fair sports an art theme/gimmick. One year, large, decorated pigs lounged around every corner and in front of nearly every building. This year…soybeans. Artified and unique oval shaped blobs.

A true test of creativity.

Another standard Iowa State Fair treat appearing for over forty years -- the infamous butter sculptures. They were so popular that while we wandered the building that housed them we could only look from a distance. According to the Des Moines Register state fair quiz, Dolly Parton has not been immortalized in butter.

I think she’d be a great display for next year.

The extension office had a booth of bugs (or insects) and the five inch millipede appealed to me for some reason…probably heat stroke. Though I enjoyed holding it (yes, definitely heatstroke) with it crunchy outer shell and hundreds of tiny legs that undulated across my palm, I didn’t enjoy the slime trail it left. Millipede urine. A once in a lifetime experience for many of us – eh what?

Okay, I'm done with my fair thoughts. I'm attending LifeLight a huge Christian music festival in Sioux Falls this weekend. I'll see what I can stir up there and report back to you all.

Come back tomorrow for Tony Hines interview. He gave some excellent answers.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Serials and Scenarios - The Dead Whisper On





Click on Tony's name to visit his site. Click on the book cover to find out more about The Dead Whisper On.










My Review:

The Dead Whisper On is completely different than Waking Lazarus.

Which goes to show readers that T.L. Hines is versatile in his story telling skills?

Two secular books I've just finished are far more "spiritual" in nature than The Dead Whisper On which goes to show how the face of Christian Fiction is changing. The spiritual elements in "Dead" are heavy and at the same time light, the gospel isn't shared, but the underlying truth of dark versus light is handled in a fascinating manner.

Hines sets his story in Montana and in the hands of miners. Spiritual forces manipulate and stir the setting making for a unique tale that feels like a blend of Cramer's Bad Ground, Peretti's Monster, and a handful of non-gory horror stories. With the addition of humorous banter, a hint of romance, and a snappy character coming-to-grips, there's quite a feast.

Hines has created a character -- flawed and honest -- who only wants to change one thing in her life and ends up changing the world.

The Dead Whisper On cuts across genres. Who can I recommend it to? Those who like a well-written tale of good vs. evil. Those who like a touch of mystery or horror or fantasy mixed with well-written story.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Scribbles and Scrambles - Beware of the Names.

I've mentioned how much I love a dry sense of humor and sarcasm.

My brother is masterful in the art of repartee.

I usually speak to him via G-Mail. I see his little circle lit up in an inviting green and toss out a hi. Or while I'm slugging away at something that seems like the thing to do to move my writing career forward... whamo! A happy little G-Mail Chat box pops up out of nowhere with a greeting from my brother.

I spied his green circle tonight and since I'm avoiding some things I should be doing I popped over to say "Hi! Lil Brudder." We chatted. He hadn't gotten the low down on the puppies yet.

Oh, by the way, the puppies have found a teeny feral kitten who has wormed his way into our house. We are foster care - but unfortunately, the kitten excels in potty training and cuteness and takes no effort on our part - and the foster thing keeps slipping further and further away from our active thought processes.

The puppies come across as liquid spewing giants in comparison to this well-behaved kitten. I will admit that the puppies are even cuter than they were when we got them.

And about as well potty trained.

I'm not kidding.

So I shared the detail of potty training kitten vs puppies with my brother. He said. "Yeah, it's not an accident that puppy starts with P and has a little pp in the middle."

Did I mention I was in a bad mood when I said hi? So I laughed. "You didn't just make that up!"

"I did. I was just thinking that all that was left is u asking y."

So trying to be clever and build on this, I said. "Good thing the girl named them Lily and Lola instead of Cappucinno and Latte like she considered."

And he did it again. "Caffeine is a diuretic, so it was a close call."

Thanks for the laugh, Lil Brudder.

Scribbles and Scrambles - Christian Attack Dogs

I've written about this before...this being the lack of love the world sees when they take a peek into Christianity. But good things bear repeating. And frankly, I'm tired. So here goes.

I just read this.

I don't want to repeat what's in the article. I don't want to debate the doctrine of sanctification, imply that I'm emergent in my thinking, or that holiness doesn't matter to me.

The Word of God is life. But the Word of God is Jesus, Himself, as well as the black and white crinkly pages I read.

I'm weary of listening to the charges that Christians bring against one another. This issue infects the local church. And is within the battles marked by denominational lines drawn in the sand. I can't see evidence of hurting, seeking souls finding the love of Jesus, His healing, His hope in the midst of this war of words.

Are we called to polish up this thing called Christianity? Is that why we remain on earth? Spiritual janitors making sure that all items are dusted and left exactly as they were when He left. Or is God capable of protecting His own reputation and words as He has done for centuries?

Why is love the identifying mark of a Christian? How do we justify twisting it so it doesn't look anything like 1 Cor 13? And when are we going to see real love within our religion? Or is that the problem? Religion instead of love.

Serials and Scenarios - Catherine Palmer - Sense and Season




I had an opportunity to interview Catherine Palmer, co-author of the Four Seasons of Marriage series with Dr. Gary Palmer. Visit the Summer Breeze Amazon by clicking on the book cover. For a review, click here.




Thanks so much, Catherine. It was fun getting to know you.


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

I’d love to be Mma Precious Ramotswe in Alexander McCall Smith’s series THE NO. 1 LADIES’ DETECTIVE AGENCY. Mma Ramotswe is a loving, intelligent woman who does her best to help everyone she meets. She’s totally comfortable with her size 22 “traditional build” and her tiny white van. Most of all, she lives in Botswana. I grew up as the daughter of missionaries to Kenya, and I love Africa!




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

I’d ask Mahatma Gandhi why he never became a Christian even though he seemed to admire and understand Christ so well. I’d also love to have a nice long chat with Osama bin Laden. My number one question – What incident in your life initiated your hatred of Americans?




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

Nothing too strange. Just a lot of tea drinking.




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

I’d create more easily read versions of Jane Austen’s books so everyone today could enjoy them.




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

On a good day, I’m “Cornflower Blue.” On a bad day, I’m “Burnt Sienna.” I wish I could be “Turquoise.”



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

Periwinkle giraffe – no way! I grew up in Africa. That would be the first one taken down by the lionesses. Kwaheri, Giraffe.




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

Mr. Darcy (in Pride and Prejudice): My good opinion, once lost, is lost forever.

Elizabeth Bennet: That is a failing indeed.




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.

My favorite genres seem to change almost by the day. Maybe that’s why I write in so many of them. Right now, I’m in a Regency frame of mind. I’d introduce an arrogant lord to a spunky housemaid. Oh wait. I already did that in THE BACHELOR’S BARGAIN!





What period of history intrigues you the most?

That’s a tough one. I love history. Right now I’m into the Regency, but I’d also like to know more about ancient sub-Saharan Africa, British-era India, and medieval England.




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 love writing books, but I’d also enjoy writing screenplays.


What makes you feel alive?

People. I especially love being around people with a multitude of nationalities, skin colors, languages, and backgrounds. That’s where I’m most at home.




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

I have to admit I’m a sap. I am SO drawn to sad, heartbreaking stories. On the other hand, if it’s a book or a movie, I must have a happy ending. If it’s real life, then I’m inspired to do whatever I can to help turn the sadness into joy.




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

A very long trip? My husband, of course! I totally love that guy. We’re coming up on our 30th wedding anniversary.




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.

Easy. I’d go back to childhood – to Mombasa on the coast of Kenya with my mom and dad and my sister. We’d stay in our favorite thatch-roofed house with sea breezes wafting through the windows. We would walk on the white sand, snorkel out to the reef, collect shells, and stroll down to a beach-side hotel to get big glasses of mango juice. Those were the happiest days of my life.


Favorite season and why?

Believe it or not, I don’t like seasons. How ironic for an author writing about THE FOUR SEASONS OF MARRIAGE. Ha! Having grown up on the equator in a land of eternal flowers, occasional rains, and plenty of sun all year round, I’d love to live that way again.


Favorite book setting and why?

Right now, Regency. I love the clash of the classes.



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

When a reader tells me that my book brought them closer to the Lord or strengthened their faith in some way, I’m touched to tears. That is my goal.



What criticism has cut the deepest and why?

I try not to focus on the negative. It makes it hard for me to write if I’m discouraged.



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


I’d spend time with all the people I love the most. I’m really looking forward to going to heaven, though, so I wouldn’t be panic stricken.


What is your favorite word?

Love.


What word annoys you more than any other?

Dental floss (okay, that’s two words)



Favorite chore

Weeding my garden on a cool, non-buggy day.



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

Scuba diving.



Grammatical pet peeve…sound off.

Apostrophes in the wrong place. Aaaarrrrrrgh!!!!



Societal pet peeve…sound off.

Nose picking in public. Don’t do it. Just don’t.



CREATIVE CORNER:

I’m going to leave this fascinating section to your readers! If you want to know how I handle creativity, please read my books. Being creative is what I’m all about.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Serials and Scenarios - Mynheir's Marks....

Mark Mynheir dropped in and left a mark... wait til you read his mini-story created just for us.

Good stuff. You like it? You need to get your hands on his books.

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

Jason Bourne, because he can Kung Fu people really well.


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

Rose and black. Very Black. I aspire for rosy days when an eternal wellspring of ideas and phrases bubble forth from my brain to the page with relative ease. (Those days don’t happen often.) Unfortunately, I have to put up with those “very black” days when I stare at a blank screen like a zombie and stress out about my deadline. I’m working on it, though.


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

“This was no boating accident!” Richard Dreyfuss, Jaws. I try to say it at least once at every crime scene.


What period of history intrigues you the most?

WWII. Because the world hung in the balance. Good guys, bad guys. Axis, allies. Great stuff.


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 would probably continue to write mystery/suspense novels. I’m blessed to able to write the stories I love. If I had more time, I might want to try some screenplays, but who knows what the future holds.


What makes you feel alive?

Anything dangerous and mildly stupid. I’ve done some alligator hunting before, and that was a blast, but my wife has suggested that I NOT do that any more. I think police work has made me a bit of an adrenaline junkie.


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

Tears and humor. I think that’s true with most people. We want to be moved, be it with humor or sorrow.


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

Persons. My wife and kids. I don’t think they’d let me go on a very long trip without them, especially if it’s somewhere nice.


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.

Israel. It’s where Jesus walked, and the whole world seems to be watching it right now. I’d also like to go to Australia. Not nearly for the spiritual reasons of Israel, but it just seems like it would be a fun place.


Favorite season and why?

Fall. It gets me ready for the Christmas season, and gives us a break from the torturous Florida summers.


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

A non-Christian friend of mine told me that he liked my books because I was fair to the non-Christians and didn’t demonize them. It meant a lot coming from him.


What is your favorite word?

Cacophony. I just love the sound of it.


Favorite chore

Mowing the lawn. I can work my stories in my head while putting around the mower.


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

I still stay active with martial arts and stuff, but to be honest, I’m over forty—everything hurts. So why worry about it.


Societal pet peeve…sound off.

Not being able to watch a sitcom or hardly any other TV show with my children. It would be nice to a have decent TV shows again that don’t assault my values. Oh well. Enough of the rant.


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

A crack broke the stillness as Terry tugged on the frozen door. He jerked it once more, the fracture echoing through the quiet, frosty night as the house loosed its grip on the door, swinging it wide open.

Terry raised his flashlight and illuminated the darkened entryway of the long-abandoned home as his partner, Jeremy Wilson, unholstered his Glock 9mm and eased in behind him. They’d worked together long enough to know what to do without having to speak it.

Did someone really hear a cry for help? Or was the ancient wooden home just groaning and shifting under the pressure of the coldest night of the year? They’d have to search it to find out.

Flashlight in one hand, pistol in the other, Terry crept into a living room trapped in a time capsule from twenty years before, the site of the infamous and still unsolved Gaulty murders. Terry’s breath hovered in the room like a hazy apparition. A couch covered with a fine layer of dust and grime rested against the wall, and a reading chair filled the corner. A small coffee table was positioned in middle of the room. A portrait of the Gaulty family hung over the fireplace—a mother and father in the middle, a son and daughter flanking each. The former owners of the home kept watch over them with forced smiles and dark eyes.

He and Jeremy checked one room after another, searching for the source of the eerie 911 call. Terry’s heart pounded like a war drum in his ears and his breathing was short and sharp as they skulked down the hallway to the last room.

They broached the doorway and a silhouette on the bed caught his attention, drawing his flashlight toward the dark lump on the canopy bed. The form took the shape of a motionless man with blue jeans, a green down coat, and a bearded face, gazing at them with a vacant stare Terry had seen a hundred times before. A crimson stain encircled the man on the mattress. Terry shuffled to the side of the bed and slipped his finger on his neck, checking for a pulse. Nothing but slimy skin at room temperature.

“He’s dead.” Terry glanced back at Jeremy and shook his head, swallowing hard. “And I know one thing for sure: this was no boating accident.”


Thanks, Mark. Hope we can all sleep this weekend....

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Scribble and Scrambles - Blog Post on a Stick Part 2

More Iowa State Fair moments…

The Iowa State Fair has never been emblazoned by the theme – “More Fun Than You Can Shake a Stick At” – too bad. A visit to the fair really has the potential of being great stick-shaking fun.

Our family of seven piled into two vehicles early Saturday morning and headed I-80 East.

When our kids were 4-Hers we spent a good part of our summers at either the county or state fair and nostalgia has been pulling at us of late.

My favorite part of the Iowa State Fair was being with my peeps.

No, not the ones in the fowl barn, the ones who live, or used to, in my house. We laughed, whined, guzzled shared water, sweated and walked together for several glorious steamy hours.

And we ate.

Smoothies, funnel cakes, onion blossoms, tenderloins, Mexican food done as only Iowa can, gallons of water, and fresh squeezed lemonade. Yum.

We patted huge draft horses with hooves bigger than our heads, snickered at polka-dotted llamas. Like salmon squeezing upstream we entered and attempted the many rows of vendors in the only air-conditioned building. A few “as seen on TV” demonstrations caught our fancy, but not our money.

This year, we got to see moldy award winning food. The 4-H displays had been sweltering for nine days. Not pretty. Though some cakes decorated in fondant looked fresh as a daisy. I’ve not seen anything prettier in magazines or on the television, one exhibitor even crafted a guitar, drum and amp. The record breaking pumpkin weighing in at over 1,100 pounds putrefied on the lawn.

Photography has to be my all time favorite exhibit, though. From the 4-Hers to the adults, I was awed by the images they captured. Who woulda thought wooden clothespins encased in glassy ice could be so beautiful? And the shots of scenery from exotic to homey transported me to places I’ve never been and places I will never tire of.

There are some very talented people in Iowa.


And speaking of talented people...you must go here tomorrow Friday 8-24-07 (after coming here to read Mark Mynheir's interview, of course.)

I'm doing a regular gig at NovelJourney blogspot(usually every Friday) and I had the opportunity to interview Kevin Alexander from Writers Digest Magazine. Now Kevin isn't exactly a household name, but he's dang funny. And Writers Digest is pretty much THE writing magazine. I so enjoyed bantering with Kevin and I think you'll love his slightly sarcastic answers.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Serials and Scenarios - The Void




Click on the book cover to find out more about The Void.

Visit Mark Mynheir.

My Review:
I can't believe I haven't yet discovered Mark Mynheir's previous novels.
Mynheir is an author worth watching.

Tense, tight prose, fascinating police-work details, strong grasp of point of view, and a spine-tingling plot sucked me into The Void and didn't let me go until the heart-twisting conclusion.

Though part of a series, I found this novel to be comfortable as a stand alone. I didn't feel overwhelmed with backstory nor did I feel like I'd thoroughly missed a chunk of previous life that would have helped flesh this story out.
I will head back and pick up the titles I've missed.

Suspense lovers, police novel fans, great story junkies...pick up The Void. Like Dekker, Hines, Liparulo, Gansky, Wilson or Collins? Add Mynheir to your list.
Come back Friday (8-24-07) for Mark's Dreg interview. He wrote a scene that curled my toes.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Scribble and Scrambles - Blog Post on a Stick

Somehow the Iowa State Fair has become famous for food on sticks.

You’d think we’d have exhausted all the possibilities after 153 years. Apparently not. According to a Des Moines Register trivia quiz we lack spuds on a stick. Any entrepreneurs out there may want to consider spending the year formulating a whole new spud experience and getting your name on a vendor list.

Let me know if you’ll be doing this and I’ll be happy to give you some blog promotion.

Though I didn’t go looking for food on a stick, apparently, sticked varieties of Twinkies, cheesecake, lamb or pork chops were available. I did experience one unique stick item. I wouldn’t have purchased it, and I don’t think it’s going to catch on, but it was free and moderately tasty.

Ready? The Egg Council handed out….egg on a stick. Hard-boiled, of course.

One other stick item stuck out. In the arts building one of the vendors sold Origami on a stick.

I suggest the following – funnel cake on a stick, onion bloom on a stick and Grand Champion Rocky Mountain Oyster on a stick.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Serials and Scenarios - A Drawing - Check it Out

Check this out, Dreggies.

"Thanks for posting my interview. While I'm here, you-all might want to zip over to my website at http://www.elizabethwhite.net/ and enter my drawing for two book baskets, each of which will include 10 Zondervan new releases. The welcome mat's out!Beth "

Serials and Scenarios - Elizabeth's Black and White of it.

Off the Record's Elizabeth White dropped in with some thoughts to take us through the weekend.

Thanks, Elizabeth.

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

Marguerite Blakeney, heroine of _The Scarlet Pimpernel_, which is one of my favorite books ever. She was brave, beautiful, and had an amazing adventure with a husband who loved her. All that married sexual tension. Wow!


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

The ending of Little Women. Why on earth did Jo not marry Laurie? Why did she marry the frumpy old Professor Bhaer? I never did get that. I mean, he was a nice guy and all, but if you can have fun, hot Laurie, who gets your humor...


What period of history intrigues you the most?

I think the American Revolution. One of my favorite novels is _Dawn's Early Light_ by Elswyth Thane. People had a real cause to fight for. Faith was an everyday element of life, and people weren't pressurized to hide it. Maybe I'm idealistic, but it seems from this side of history that political issues of the day were very clearcut. Plus, the clothes were so beautiful, and women were very much a part of the struggle for independence. I may set a book in that era one day.


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

Music. Poetry by itself doesn't interest me very much, but I get overwhelmed with truth wrapped in the lyrics of a powerful song. Next in line would be humor. A novelist who can twist in a bit of humor with a good plot and "real" characters will hook me forever.


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

When people tell me they get my humor--especially laughing out loud--that rings my bell. Particularly since character-based humor makes me go back to an author again and again.


What word annoys you more than any other?

Predestined.


Grammatical pet peeve…sound off.

"She lay her head on his shoulder." Grrr.

Happy weekend, all.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Serials and Scenarios - Me Unleashed- Part 1

I received a challenge last week.

What should I do? It's not like you don't know my "voice." But then on the other hand, my anonymous friend Xta knows me far too well and yet continues to call me. I do think she calls me for entertainment purposes only, since she tends to get me into trouble or at least into situations that threaten my sanity.

Xta began our friendship with a big, hairy lie, and has kept me on my toes since. This is her challenge.

Kelly,I would like to read an interview you do with...yourself! How about that for next week? I want to know your worst grammatical pet peeve and periwinkle preference and the whole caboodle.Anxiously awaiting, Xta

The sickening part of this whole thing is that I lose so many blogging ideas just from the split second thought to later recall, that I consider this a keeper.

So over the next few weeks, you'll find random posts wherein I'll ask myself the burning dregs questions.

Without further ado, let's begin.


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

This is hard. Do I apologize to all my past guests who've had to scramble for an answer? No, they could pass.


Lucy from Narnia. Not for the kingdom or the wardrobe or even the adventure. She seemed the most innocent and sweetest of the four and she loved Aslan and spent time with him. Aslan is such a strong allegory for me, and I read the series when I was young enough to be shaped by Aslan's character and strength. Lions are favorite animals because of that influence.


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

Okay, another toughie. Alright, I apologize previous guests.

Who and what? I don't leave a lot of questions unasked or carried around like a burden. I admire many, but do I have a burning question? For someone?

I'd thank my grandpa for his enthusiastic support. Grandpa Henry always believed in me. He encouraged my artistic side. I'll never forget his compliments and his quiet demeanor. When Grandpa spoke, people listened, including me. If he hadn't been so encouraging and excited about my dive into writing, I don't know that I would have continued to pursue it. His response made me wonder if I really did have some talent. "Thanks, Grandpa. I know you'd love the Pat stories. Maybe one day I'll tell the one about you, me and Grandpa Bill in the 54 Ford."



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

I don't know that I consider myself a real writer yet. I have a love/hate relationship with procrastination. I try to beat deadlines with days to spare. But book length works paralyze me. And I have this horrible habit of getting 10,000 to 20,000 words into a story and then setting it aside to ferment.


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


I read a popular novel several years ago that left its mark. I absolutely hated it. The characters were ones I didn't care about which ended up being a good thing because one died.

Unfortunately the character died only after she began to become someone I could like and I had invested hours into her life. Not only did the death bug me, but the fact that it felt tacked on and almost random annoyed me to no end.

I can handle death in books. But this left the heroic, bittersweet and hope out of the equation. I'd change it by not reading it.

To Be Continued - Randomly.

Scribble and Scrambles - Ask Me About My Grandpuppies!
















Meet Lily (left in all three pictures) and Lola (right in all three pictures)...the cutest Boxadors in the world. (Especially when sleeping)


Fortunately, we don't have any pictures of them piddling on the floor.


Okay, now everyone...one...two...three...Awwwwww!


Am I going to be insufferable when I have babies to brag about? Maybe.
By the way, I am way too young to be a grand of anything, so I'll wait.
Patiently.







Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Serials and Scenarios - Off the Record




Click on the cover to see more about Off the Record.

Visit Beth.




My Review:







Elizabeth White's Off the Record ended up surprising me. I expected a typical romance boy meets girl etc. etc. But what White manages to pull off is a sweet look at the damage done through kept secrets and truth's freeing power.

Charming characters and situations full of humor, tension or sweetness made this book a quick read. The revealed secret ended up holding a few surprising elements.

I was pleased to find that my favorite character from the book, Matt, will be starring in White's next release, "Controlling Interest."

One note to very cautious readers. White uses slang throughout. If you make it a policy to NOT veer from conservative Christian fiction you may find some words and situations offensive.

Those looking for a humor infused read, romance lovers, and women's fiction junkies should find much to like in "Off the Record."

Monday, August 13, 2007

Scribble and Scrambles - Monday - Tuesday Blather

My internet at home has taken a temporary powder. A few nights of storms took out the modem, and then something went wacky with the wireless card.

You'd think this wouldn't be a huge life issue. It's not, unless I really want to click through a few links, post on a blog or check my e-mail.

I use the day job lunch-hour, pre-clock-in or post-clock-out time to do some writing and the behind-the-scenes of writing, too. But I ended up rattattaing my fingers on my desk during lunch yesterday, because, you guessed it, the internet wouldn't cooperate.

I guess I'm going to have to wait to tell you about my new grand-dogs, who helped take the edge off of not having internet all weekend.

I'll have to tell you all about Lily and Lola. Someday, I'm supposed to get some pictures to post so you can see them.

I can tell you that Lily and Lola (formerly known as Lightning and Steve - now there's a story) are eleven week old Boxadors. Boxadors are apparently notorious for not being able to hold their liquid. Or maybe it's just Lily and Lola.

The amazing thing about having grand-pups is that I don't have to clean up after them unless I feel helpful. I don't have to worry about who's going to watch them if I need to leave the house for any length of time. Nor do I have to pay for the vet bills or food.

All I have to do with grand-pups is enjoy them. I think I could really get used to this.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Serials and Scenarios - Hints from Mindy Starns Clark

Mindy dropped in and answered a few dregs questions. I had every intention of cleaning up...but....well, good thing this was an e-mail interview.


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

I always wanted to be Heidi, eating cheese melted on a stick and sleeping on a soft bed of hay beside a window that looks out at the Alps. Of course, I'm allergic to hay and I have a feeling that in reality it's not all that soft anyway. But it sure sounded like fun at the time.

These days, I'd probably want to be one of my own characters, because they always seem to possess different qualities that I wish I had but don't.


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

When a deadline is looming and I'm in full panic mode, I'll book room in a hotel. I go there, hang out the Do Not Disturb sign, and immerse myself in my writing so completely that I forget to eat, sleep, and sometimes even breath. When the book is finished, I'll take a shower, order room service, and come out again, manuscript in hand.


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

I would change the ending to My Sister's Keeper by Jodi Picoult. It's a wonderful, amazing book until you get to the end, which is just the worst ever. Terribly dissatisfying and anti-climactic.

I would also change the last season of the TV show 24. It was just the best show ever until then, when it completely fell apart. (And I've been watching since Hour 1, Day 1, so I've always been a big fan.) I'm sure hoping it gets back on track next season.


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

I always had a fondness for the discontinued colors. It's like they were there, and then they were gone. At the Crayola museum, you can read all about the colors that have been pulled over the years, and why. Fascinating.

My favorite was always Cornflower, which I see as beautiful and cheerful or doleful and sad, all in one little crayon, so I guess that fits good days and bad. I aspire to be gold, though in a crayon it never comes out as sparkly as you expect.



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

Periwinkle giraffe because, well, periwinkle anything.


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.

It would be a fabulous spy-type espionage thriller. And it would be even more fun when they turned it into a movie. My favorite scene would be in the restaurant, when my husband and are in the background as extras.



What period of history intrigues you the most?

The settlement of the American West, the Oregon Trail and all of that. I cannot imagine anyone having the nerve to embark on such a perilous journey, not to mention going that long without a Diet Dr. Pepper.



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 write a fabulously successful Broadway show, a musical about redemption of the common man, filled with God's truth. People everywhere would fall in love with the characters, hum the tunes, find God. How cool would that be?



What makes you feel alive?

Riding on a boat, really fast, somewhere beautiful.


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

A person, through humor and intelligence and decency.

A story when it strikes at the core of that big "Yes! I know exactly what you mean!"

A place when it gives me a sense of peace and contentment.



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

My husband isn't just my best friend, he's also the best travel partner in the world, so I'd never want to go anywhere for very long without him. As for music and food, we would sample the local delights (as long as the food isn't gross or too "out there"). As for a book, I'd want something totally gripping and captivating that just happened to be set in the location I was visiting. That's always fun.



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 take a year-long luxury cruise around the world so that I could see all of those places I always wanted to see, but without having to unpack and repack or spend time on airplanes. I was a travel agent for years, so I got more than my share of handling logistics. I'd rather just float along and let someone else do it for a change.



Favorite season and why?

In the South, where I was born and raised, it has to be the Spring. The temperature is perfect, the flowers are blooming, and the world seems ripe with possibility.

In Pennsylvania, where I live now, Spring is the most miserable season of all—cold, snowy, rainy, wet. Here, I much prefer the summer, probably because that's when the kids are out of school and we can go off on various adventures without having to worry about schedules and homework. And it's warm. Did I mention warm?


Favorite book setting and why?

I love books about survival, so I'd have to say a deserted island or a deep forest or jungle. Just nothing cold, like survival on a mountaintop. I don't like cold. Did I mention I like warm?


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

I had several reviews in a row that said I had "set the standard" for Christian mystery. That tickled me so much! When my husband would ask me to do the dishes, I'd say, "Sorry, can't do it, I'm too busy setting the standard for Christian mystery. "


What criticism has cut the deepest and why?

I just get so tired of reviews in secular outlets that praise my books but "warn" the reader that there's Christian content. (I must have 50 reviews that actually use that word—"Warning!".) Like that's something so offensive you need to know full well ahead of time so you can avoid it. Watch out for rattlesnakes, razor blades, and oh yeah, the Christian elements in this mystery! It makes me very sad.


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

I'd clean my house and do laundry.

Kidding.

Day one: Like in one of those weeper movies, I'd probably set up a video camera and make a bunch of tapes for my kids—you know, "watch this one on your 20th birthday. Watch this one when you're ready to get married…" I still have so much to say to them!

Day two through four: I'd probably rent out a bunch of lovely lakeside cottages and gather everyone I love around me, friends and family. We would spend the time talking, hugging, eating, singing around the campfire, building memories. Oh, and I'd talk with each of them about the state of their salvation, just to make sure we'd get together again in the long run.

Day five: I would send everyone away except one of my kids and I'd spend every moment sharing, planning, talking, and just being together. I'd prepare her for my death.

Day six: I'd switch out kids and repeat the events of day five.

Day seven: I'd spend every moment with my husband, make plans for our family's future, laugh and cry and end it all wrapped in his arms.

Okay, that was a very morose question! Now I'm depressed.


What is your favorite word?

Grace.


What word annoys you more than any other?

Irregardless. (Not that it's really a word!)


Superhero you most admire and why?

Batman, probably because he's smart. I like intelligent superheroes. Plus he's a billionaire who decided to use his money for good. Can't beat that!


Super power you'd love to borrow for awhile?

I have always wanted to be invisible. That's probably why I'm a writer, because it's like being in the midst of these lives and just watching and listening.


Favorite chore

None. I don't like chores.

Well, I guess I don't mind making dinner, as long as my husband is home doing some project, the kids are quietly doing their homework, and I can just putter around the kitchen in the midst of all of that.


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

Oh, there is much I don't do because of fear of pain! I don't like pain.

Run a marathon. Swing around like a gymnast on parallel bars. Try couples ice skating. Do backflips off the high dive. Touch my toes. The list goes on and on.



Grammatical pet peeve…sound off.

It's a tie:

Using the wrong pronoun as the object of a preposition, ex. "Give that thing to he and I." UGH!

Putting an apostrophe before the letter S for no reason, ex. "The Smith's are going to join us."

Both make me crazy!


Societal pet peeve…sound off.

Parents who don't know how to help their child behave in public. Kids need to be told ahead of time how they are expected to behave before they ever get there. Once there, they need diversions for when they get bored. Most of all, they need to know that rules are rules whether people are watching or not.

Just the other day I watched a little girl probably 18 months old and she was getting into everything in a doctor's waiting room. The mother kept yelling but never did a single thing to distract the girl or entertain her or corral her. The woman just expected the poor kid to "stop doing that!" It made me so sad.

Worse is when a kid learns that acting up and being loud in public will get them exactly what they want. Mom and dad need to allow themselves to be embarrassed once or twice without caving in, and soon that bad behavior will stop! Please note, my compaint isn't with misbehaving kids, it's with parents who don't help them learn to behave.



CREATIVE CORNER:

Pick a Genre - Describe a kiss….


Mystery – Okay, I'm cheating. This is from my book Blind Dates Can Be Murder.


Here's the setup: Jo and Danny have been best friends for years, though Danny has recently realized that he loves Jo. In this scene, she needs to make someone watching think that they are involved romantically, so she tells Danny to kiss her. The scene is from Danny's POV.

“Don’t talk now,” Jo replied evenly. “Just kiss me. And make it look real.”

Danny swallowed hard.
Kiss me? And make it look real?

She didn’t have to ask him twice.
Knowing this wasn’t how he wanted their first kiss to be, knowing there was some other motive here entirely, knowing that Jo’s mind was not on him but on some strange sort of display for the woman who watched from the doorway, nevertheless Danny did as Jo asked. Leaning forward, he met her upturned lips with his own and lingered there. Jo’s mouth felt exactly as he had envisioned: warm, welcoming, sweet. Touching his fingertips to her chin, he pressed his lips more firmly against hers, and then suddenly she was kissing him in return. She raised up one soft hand and pressed it against the back of his head, pulling him even more tightly toward her. He was surprised to hear a small whimper escape from her throat. If they had been in a more private setting, he might’ve kept kissing her for hours.

As it was, he finally ended and pulled away, his breathing ragged, his heart pounding. In Jo’s half-closed eyes, he could see that the kiss had gotten to her too.
“Ah,” she whispered with a sigh.

Jo’s eyes opened wider. As if coming to her senses, she sat up and turned away, smoothing her hair, looking out of the side window.

“Thanks, Danny,” she squeaked. “Now drive.”



Chick-Lit – in the same situation, once we have moved to Jo's POV:

Jo kept her eyes firmly on the side window, turned away from Danny. Was she crazy? Was she an idiot?

Was that really the most amazing kiss she’d ever had in her life?

Jo forced herself to breath evenly, forced herself to act nonchalant. Inside, though, she was gasping for air, gasping for comprehension. This was Danny, her best friend.

And, yes, that was the most amazing kiss she’d ever had in her whole life.

She swallowed hard, her mind swirling with thoughts. No wonder girls threw themselves at him all the time. No wonder he usually had multitudes of women waiting in the wings. No wonder he was considered a real “catch”. It wasn’t just the sweet manner or the sloppy good looks or the artsy photographer-musician appeal thing. It was his kissing!

He must be known far and wide, much as Jo was known for her household hints.
Miss Tulip, can you help us get the smudges off our tennis shoes? And, oh, by the way, Mr. Watkins, can you run that outstanding lip-lock past us again?

Jo wished he would run it past her again, just one more time.

Unbelievable.


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

It was a damp and dismal afternoon.
I sat at my desk and stared at the computer screen, wondering if I would finish these questions in time for Kelly to post them. Just one more sentence, one more word, and then it would be done. If only I could tell her about the…

THE END

Thanks, Mindy. This was a fun interview. And I enjoyed outing myself and appearing in your book.

Have a great weekend, everyone.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Scribble and Scrambles - Housekeeping Horror - Grandma Will Never Forget

Immortalizing my messiness...story number two.

Page 108 of The House That Cleans Itself

Writing under the pseudonym Evelyn R.

Time for a Change

"Grandma dropped by for a scheduled visit. I'd cleaned and delegated jobs to the children, one of whom had forgotten to put away the vacuum cleaner. (This wasn't an issue; at least it proved we vacuumed on occasion!) The brand caught Grandma's eye, and she walked toward it and grasped the handle.

"Is this one of those light little 8-pound vacuums?" she asked.

I nodded and smiled just as Grandma tried to lift it -- and couldn't.

"Good grief!" she cried. "That's a lot more than 8 pounds!"

I grabbed the handle. A churning in my stomach reminded me that I'd given all vacuuming responsibility to my 12-year-old, and I hadn't checked the bag in ages. Gulping at the gritty gray trail of dust that followed any movement of the handle, I wrestled it to the front porch. It weighed at least 30 pound! I unzipped the bad and engulfed my Grandma, Mom and me in a cloud of dirt.

Grandma still laughs 10 years later. The vacuum still works...if I remember to change the bag."



Come back tomorrow for a Q & A session with Mindy.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Serials and Scenarios - The House That Cleans Itself

Now that I've shared one of my humiliating housekeeping snafus, here's Amazon's link to the book that I'm taking pretty seriously. Okay, right now it's in a pile, but I keep lifting the corner of the mound of stuff on top and peeking at my helpful little friend.

Mindy's Website offers lots more info, too.



My Review:



Housekeeping is not my forte. Like Mindy Starnes Clark I feel drawn to helpful hints, but alas, they end up becoming part of my clutter rather than part of my solution.

This book is designed for the housekeeping impaired or challenged. What an amazing idea...restructuring the house rather than attempting to rewire the brains of the household members.

Eureka! If you have struggled with waves of stuff, or a house that seems to explode contents randomly and without warning, this book may be "the one!"

The very Christian message of prayer and persistance is within the pages along with encouragement.

Though I may not begin tomorrow, the ideas and tips are going to be swirling in my mind for weeks, and I'll end up taking a highlighter to the book and then I'm going to get to work.

Two of my housekeeping nightmares are printed in the book and it was no surprise to my friends and family that my stories were chosen.

The House that Cleans Itself and I are going to become very close. I think I can smell lemony fresh freedom.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Scribble and Scrambles - Housekeeping Horror...Pat's Revenge

I mentioned recently that I've been published...in book form. A real book. Yes. It's true.

Unfortunately...I'm anonymous.

The call came several months ago.

A search for housekeeping moments that should never see the light of day. Embarrasing and horrific seconds that seem like lifetimes when our faults and faux pas become visible.

I'm not content to be anonymous.

I want to own my messes. Actually I'd like to give them away, but these are funny as well as embarrasing. And other than the few folk who stumble into dregs by accident, we're all friends here.

So here it goes. The first story. Page 32 of The House That Cleans Itself

by Kelly Klepfer aka Corinne Z.

"My child's birthday party brought much work -- closets to clean, floors to scrub, clutter to hide. Hours later I had conquered it all. (I have this bizarre compulsion to clean everything if I'm going to clean anything.) The closets, gleaming and organized, brought tears of satisfaction to my eyes.

Until my father wandered in. According to him, the moment was so rare that he wanted to capture it on film. He ran back and got the video camera, and then he returned and began filming. In awe, he traveled from room to room, immortalizing the cleanliness on film -- all the while quipping sarcastic commentary.

Sigh. At least he noticed it was clean. "

If you are a long-term reader you will understand why I've named this post - Pat's revenge.

Come back tomorrow for my review of the book. And Thursday will reveal an even more horrific housekeeping moment.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Serials and Scenarios - Robin Lee Hatcher Returns

Robin Lee Hatcher was kind enough to stop and chat for awhile. I enjoyed her visit. I know you will, too.

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

I’d like to be Scarlet O’Hara, keep all her spunkiness and bravery, and overcome all of her flaws (selfishness being the first that has to go). I can’t say I identify with her, but she is a character who has always fascinated and intrigued me. If I’d been an actress in 1930’s Hollywood, you better believe I would have done a screen test to play the role.



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

Sorry. I think I must be rather dull in this regard. I just want my computer, a bit of soft background music (mostly movie soundtracks), and a dash of creativity. In a pinch, however, I have been known to write the last of a book without stopping to fix meals. In such cases, I survive by popping M&M Peanuts. Hey, it makes sense. Sugar for a boost of energy and peanuts for protein.



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

Back to Scarlett O’Hara and Gone With the Wind. The romance writer in me longs to see Scarlett and Rhett finally get together, to admit how much they love each other and live HEA. But then maybe I wouldn’t be fascinated by Scarlett if the ending was tied up so neatly. {{shrug}}



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

Good day: TealBad day: Slate gray



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

Purple Cow.
Why?
Because...I've never seen a purple cow;
I hope to never see one.
But I can tell you anyhow,
I'd rather see than be one!



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

I have two favorites, both of them from the same movie, A Knight’s Tale.

#1, Paul Bettany as Geoffrey Chaucer, sometimes called the father of English literature, says: "I'm a writer. I give the truth scope!"

#2, Chaucer, talking to some bad guys who beat him and stole his clothes earlier in the movie: "I will eviscerate you in fiction. Every last pimple. Every last character flaw. I was naked for a day. You will be naked for eternity."

Ooh, I do so love those lines.



What period of history intrigues you the most?

I can’t name just one. England of the middle ages, Regency, and Victorian periods. The American West of the 1800’s. The time and settings in the Bible. And more. Much more. History was my favorite subject in school, and I love learning about new periods and customs.



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 pretty much write what I want right now without any rules or barriers. So I guess the answer is contemporary and historical women’s fiction written from a Christian worldview, novels meant to touch the hearts of readers and point them to the One who has all answers.


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

Tears.



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

Book: the BibleMusic: lots of different styles (praise, hymns, classic rock, classical, country), everything that was on my iPodPerson: my daughtersFood: M&M Peanuts (just in case I needed energy and protein)


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.

Ireland, England, and Sweden. Those are the countries of my ancestors, and I would love to spend weeks exploring them (preferably in the warmer and drier season of the year).



Favorite season and why?

Fall. I love the crisp mornings and the warm days we have in Idaho in the fall. I love the way the air smells in the autumn. I love the colors that seem so much more vibrant than at any other time.



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

When readers tell me that something I wrote brought them closer to God or helped them hear Him better or brought healing to an open wound in their lives, that is the best feeling of all. It always amazes me the way God uses fiction to speak to those with ears to hear.



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

I’d gather my children and grandchildren together and spend every last moment with them, making sure they knew how much I love them.



Societal pet peeve…sound off.

How intolerant people who demand tolerance often are.


Thanks for the visit, Robin. Have a great weekend, one and all.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Scary and Sensational - James

I didn't know James very well.

I thought I had time.

I'm always so busy on Sunday mornings, people to connect with, t's to cross and i's to dot.

So busy that often a wave or a smile was all I had for James and the kids who came with him.

James lived a life I know nothing about.

I have parents who loved me and nurtured me. He didn't.

I have family that I can call my own, or call when I need them, or call just to laugh and reminisce. But James made his own family. A group of people who knew him and those who didn't know him so well, and Jesus.

James. A kid finally on his own two feet, earning his own way in life, making plans and grabbing his dreams with both hands, died this weekend.

In the wrong place at the wrong time. A shooting. One minute he lived to make the world a better place and the next he crossed over into a better place.

What do we do with moments like this, when all the lace and frills have been ripped off the walls of our blinders and we see this world for what it really is, brutal...

I think James would hope we'd open our eyes to the blinding reality and turn to the truth, hope and peace we can find in Jesus.

But I can't answer for James. I didn't know him very well.

Maybe his short life is a call for me to leave i's undotted and t's uncrossed when it means I can use that time to know people -- while there's still time.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Serials and Scenarios - Return to Me



Robin Lee Hatcher's latest book reviewed below. Click on the book cover to visit Amazon's Return to Me page. Robin answered the standard dregs questions and I'll post them on Friday (8-03)








My Review:


Roxie and Elena, broken, misunderstood and desperate for the same thing -- love -- choose different paths to get it. Elena, the good girl with the long list of do's and don't's, and Roxie, the rebel.

This modern reblending of the truths within the story of the Prodigal made me think and struggle with the reality of God's raw and generous grace, and the hearts that feel either unworthy or stingy.

Robin Lee Hatcher is a fine wordsmith and provided tension and multi-faceted characters. I especially liked the backstory as it unfolded in memorable events as seen through the eyes of Roxie and Elena as children. The struggle between sisters put me in a position to choose whom to root for and I couldn't decide because I understood how they each made the choices they did, and how much it cost them to do so. I was uncertain how the story would play out until the end so this was a quick read for me. Another book to blame a pile of unfolded laundry on.

Hatcher and women's fiction fans should find much to like in Return to Me.