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.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Scribble and Scrambles - Thursday Thoughts on Wednesday Night






I'm stepping away from the computer for a couple of days. No, my hubby didn't take the computer away.

This is a planned mini-whirlwind fun-fest.


Tomorrow night I'll be swing-dancing in a cave. Odd, I tell you, and it sounds extremely dangerous. There will no doubt be stories I can share next week. And hopefully, they will not involve serious injury -- just entertaining near misses.


And, no, the picture will not even be close. Imagine instead, flailing arms on the female form. The male might be bent double grabbing at the foot that just got stomped. Causing the female form to let out a few unladylike har,hars and trip over her own size 8's.

Who says fun has to be pretty?

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Serials and Scenarios - Stuck in the Middle



Author Virginia Smith visited a few months ago. Click here to read her interview.



My Review:

As a woman without the benefit of sisters, some of Stuck in the Middle was almost a foreign language to me.


It did make me both relieved and more than a little sad that I don't have a woman or two in my life who helped shape me from birth.

Smith does an excellent job in making the birth order, sister love/angst big as life. I enjoyed spending time with the sisters when they clicked and not so much when they didn't, which is very similar to the way I feel around real sister units.

Joan, the middle daughter, was the focus in the novel. I found myself almost wanting to protect her from the circumstances in the story.

If you like characters that step off the pages, or kind men, or dogs, you'll probably enjoy Stuck in the Middle as much as I did. Of course, if you have a sister or two, you should probably check into "Stuck." Twenty-somethings who are looking for a ministry fit might find some common sense guidance within "Stuck." The spiritual themes were not overbearing and were realistic.

Overall a pleasant, fun and poignant read.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Scribble and Scrambles - Behind the Smile


Thanks, for your comments yesterday.

This really minor crisis in huge scheme of things has got me thinking.

As you well know, this is always a little scary.

How many people do we encounter in an average day who have some trauma hidden behind their smiles?

Is the waitress who pours your coffee struggling with her marriage? Does her stomach drop to her shoes and her mouth dry into a desert as she unlocks the door to her iffy home?

The smiley guy who changes your oil...is there something growing in his body that is going to make itself known too, too soon? Right now, though, he's just dealing with vague symptoms and an optimistic attitude.

Did the guy with the cellphone pressed against his face who cut you off in traffic just lose his job?

The cleaning lady who vacuums your cubicle, the one with the twisted knuckles, has an adult son with a gambling problem who keeps hocking her stuff.

The picture perfect family who vacationed in Europe over Christmas...what do those white smiles hide? The perfect hair, the designer clothes, the luxury sedan...all cover-up brokenness.

We're all havenots. If it isn't money, it's health. If it isn't health, it's a heart that is broken a little bit everyday. If it isn't a broken heart...then maybe it's one that has broken one too many times and settled into a puddle of malaise.

But those of us who have Jesus, we have the great equalizer, the wonderful counselor, the great physician, the almighty God, the great I Am dwelling within giving us hope and a future.

Look into the next eyes you see. Beyond the smile. Does that person need something from Jesus? Is that person you?

I'm praying for you guys, even if I don't know who you are.

The picture is a snapshot of a blessing. The little guy on the phone turns 25 next month. There is not a prouder mother on the planet. He has overcome, he has trusted God, and he has grown into a man who is changing the world. His buddy is one of the greatest guys in the world, too. God has blessed me with people who knock my socks off, challenge me and inspire me. That's pretty much what this life is about.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Scribble and Scrambles - A Prayer For a Dark Monday


Though the accountant calls with nauseating news regarding our tax return, I will trust God.

Though the American economic situation has reached the midwest and the pressure and uncertainty of what tomorrow may bring is pressing a little too close to home, I will trust God.

Even though all the "known" avenues of security and quick-fix have dried up ... I have no choice, I will trust Him.

I will praise Him for providing what He has and for promising to provide in His time.

I will praise Him that the unsettling call was from the accountant and not a doctor.

I will praise Him that even though tomorrow is uncertain, my future is not. I know where I will spend eternity.

I will praise Him for the huge, fluffy snowflakes today, following sunshiney spring yesterday. These changes are a reminder that He is in control and does not behave as I prescribe.

I will praise Him for purring cats, a reminder that He creates with humanity in mind. For why else would a cat purr, but for a human to receive comfort or pleasure?

I will praise him for the laws of the land. Because they help protect me, even when I don't like them.

I will praise Him for His mercy and His discipline. Without His mercy I would be crushed. Without His discipline I would be a fool.

I will praise Him that He is more powerful than a phone call and a tax law. I will praise Him that He has made me His child and promises to meet my needs from His bank accounts.

Now. I feel better.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Scribble and Scrambles - Books, Books, More Books


Ane blogged the top five reasons that she knows she has too many books on her to-be-read list...

Here are mine:


5) My cats lay on my books just to get a little attention and affection.


4) I have to take a running leap to clear the stack of books near my bed.


3) The puffy gold packages on my doorstep or in my mailbox induce a blend of guilt, excitement and weariness.


2) I have books in random stages of reading in my purse, on my bedside stand, in the kitchen, living room and bathroom so that I can catch a few paragraphs while stirring, waiting or winding down.


1) I wake up with random words "tattooed" on my forehead or cheek.


But, I must say, reading is a passion, pleasure and blessing. So, as long as they keep a coming, I'll keep on a reading.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Scribble and Scrambles - A Tag-A-Lag-A-Ding-Dong


No word from Ted, yet. But he always has an open invitation to stop by for a cup o' dregs.

So here's some Friday fun. Ane Mulligan challenged me to play along. So here are the rules (hence the next line.)

The Rules:

1. Pick up the nearest book (of at least 123 pages).
2. Open the book to page 123.
3. Find the fifth sentence.
4. Post the next three sentences.
5. Tag five people.

And here are my three sentences.

From Tricia Goyer's Generation Next Marriage

"Years ago I loved reading secular romance novels. The men in those books said all the right things at exactly the right moments. They proved their love in extraordinary ways, the chemistry was hot, and they made my heart soar."

Now I'm going to tag Kim, Chanda, That Girl (she won't be quoting Dekker), Kristi and Jordan.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Scribble and Scrambles - A Long Night in Iowa


Do you ever feel your patience wearing thin?

Right now, the puppies are junk-yard dog wrestling.
Cute, except for the following facts.

It's 10:20 p.m.

Feral Will is on the desk teasing them. Two annoying things there....desk, teasing.


Dogs get bored. What? How can they be bored when there is another dog and humans to interact with, not to mention fifty million toys? They have spent the past-half-hour, while I'm trying to get my ducks in a row for tomorrow, nudging me, disobeying me, body slamming me, and begging. Now, they have curled up and are resting at my feet while Feral knocks items from the desk onto the floor.


The remainder of the evening was spent chauffeuring and attempting to be a good parent while taking sixteen-year-old to work, then returning to pick her up from work and rushing to school for a two-part drop off, then squeezing in an errand and returning to school for a band concert -- number seventy-two this year -- (okay slight exaggeration). I love music. I love my kid. But I do not love evenings spent hauling, sitting, hauling, waiting.


It's not a surprise to me that my mind wandered during the concert. I found myself dreaming up a book plot (and writing it down), then thinking about the bills I have to pay, and then why so many of the males on stage have shaved heads, and how the guys feel about wearing gold glitter sashes?


All of a sudden the musicians spotlights completely shut down. The band continued to play, but the audience as one, turned toward the light booth....just in time to see a brave man jump up on the last row of seats in front of the sound booth, pry open the sliding glass window and launch himself in. After being mesmerized by his khaki rear end and his flailing legs, I realized that the lights were back on.

Sweet.


Who was that masked man?

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Serials and Scenarios - Adam.





Shudder. Big honken chickens -- run!!!!!







My Review:




Dekker fans are in for a thrill ride. Dekker is at his best when he writes thrillers. His fantasy is good, but his thrillers are breathtaking and sleep stealing.

Adam pivots on the usual Ted Dekker standard theme of man's fall and God's extravagant grace. An avowed atheist, psychological profiler on his quest to catch the bad guy enters into places he never believed existed, especially within himself. The woman who loves him gets entangled in the increasingly tense cat and mouse game between the ever-changing status of hunted vs. hunter. Dekker covers the murderer's intriguing backstory in a multi-part news expose which amps the tension with each segement of article.

The only negative is some ambiguity in the final sewing up of details. Dekker may very well have meant to be ambiguous as he left some story lines with opportunity for growth in future novels which would be very okay by me. The climax ended on a decided downbeat, too. But to have pumped any more intensity into the scene may have been overkill.

I'm calling Adam my favorite Dekker novel -- to date, you never know what's going to tweak his creative flow next.
Haven't heard back on the interview questions. So, Ted may or may not be appearing on Friday. We'll see what shakes loose. Whether we hear from Ted or not, the book is amazingly creepy, good, freaky.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Scribble and Scrambles - Coffee Shop Thoughts


I'm sitting in a clean and delicious smelling environment. My three housemates are working. I'm stranded at a....coffee shop.

Feel sorry for me don't ya?

I scheduled an interview a half hour from home then found out that daughter number one had to fill in for a sick manager at a branch two minutes down the road just after my interview would conclude. We carpooled. (Like the back to back world's longest and shortest sentences? I thought it was pretty spiffy. Okay, carry on.) So she played on the computer at coffee shop number one while I interviewed my subject. Now I am sitting in coffee shop number two before heading to the mall to pick her up.

I've had hours of uninterrupted writing and thinking, well, not totally uninterrupted, I occasionally catch a bang, a swoosh and the easy listening music grabs my attention now and again. But I'm cleaning out my inbox, saving blog posts for future posting, writing reviews and pondering my book series.

Really pondering my book series.

The woman I interviewed today felt like an instant friend. She has shared a marriage journey and learned and grown through the process. We thought alike and connected as I shared what God has taught me, and what He has taught her. Interestingly, He used some of the same colors from His amazing "trial and error wisdom" palette in each of our lives. As we spoke, she leaned in closer and listened to what I had to say. She asked when my book was coming out.

Is that confirmation? Every time I tell my story, every time I encourage someone with the fact that life isn't over when it hits the wall, I sense that the story I'm sharing is not my own, but His. Totally His. Because if it was up to me, I'd be divorced. If it was up to me, my kids would be broken and still bleeding.

I struggle with the thoughts that my ideas aren't special, that what "wisdom" I can offer isn't going to change anyone's life let alone mind. Who am I? Some chick from Iowa who is growing more silver hair by the day and still breaking out with zits... and I don't feel any more mature than either of my daughters. My son knows what he wants to do with his life. I sometimes feel like I'm still going through the motions. My "career" is just a day job to me. Writing energizes me and terrifies me in the same breath.

But when I breath really deep and stay really quiet I keep getting a whiff of a call into speaking and writing and somehow going out from my safe little corner.

Is that why I've nearly burned out on church work? Because what I was doing is coming to an end and was preparation for what I'm supposed to be doing? And Rob...he's feeling pulled and unsure, too. What does God have in store for us? I'm positive it will be beyond us, it always is, and it will electrify and terrorize, satisfy and stretch us. He'll use what He's allowed in our lives, and He wants us to bloom, plant and multiply.

The scent of coffee fills the cafe, a hint of spring is in the damp air that hovers, dark, beyond the windows, and spiritual buzz of expectancy for something I can't put my finger on has quickened my heart.

I can't sit here anymore and think. I need to get ready...spring is just around the corner. I'm going to open a fresh page in my word processor and see what comes tumbling out.

Scribble and Scrambles - Puppy Pictures to Brighten Monday



Lola helps Grandpa (trying to get used to that word just in case it's reality in the near-distant future) with the adding machine tape he just finished working on. Then she enjoys a lovely bath.


I think these are maybe my favorite pictures, ever, of Lily. Who couldn't love this face? She's even cuter than when she was a tiny puppy. She doesn't much care for bathtime. Auntie Oh! does scrub duty.
Lily, Lola and I hope you have a good Monday.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Pray for Mike

Hey, guys,


I just found out that Mike Snyder's family has suffered a loss. Please pray for him and his brother's children and wife.

Thanks,

Kelly

Friday, February 15, 2008

Serials and Scenarios - My Name is Michael Snyder


Of all the interviews I've ever had the pleasure of cutting and pasting into Scrambled Dregs, Mike's holds the distinction of making me laugh out loud the most. Thank you, Mike.


Readers, if you have pathetic Kegel muscles, take a potty break before reading any further. And have a great weekend.


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


I think the guy who had the golden-egg-laying goose. First, I could go on Letterman and do Stupid Pet Tricks. Next, I would have my agent negotiate all outrageous film and memoir rights. Then I’d hold a widely publicized auction on eBay and get rid of the silly thing before I too succumbed to all that greedy temptation.


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


I’d like to find the guy who came up with the idea of slavery and ask, “Really?”


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

I’m not sure that I can, in good conscious, use the word ‘ritual.’ That would imply something other than the controlled randomness I employ.

My writing probably has an element of jazz to it, meaning—there’s enough structure or sameness to qualify for a routine. But then I allow for a certain amount of improvisation as well.

Imperatives include: my computer, my clothes, my broken chair, a hot beverage (usually orange spiced tea), and rhapsody.com MUST be running in the background.

After that, it’s all up for grabs. I don’t outline. Music is optional. I prefer the door closed, but can live with it open. And I find that I’m usually inspired when there’s an assortment of cereal within reach.

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

Hmm…I think I would put a warning label on page one of Andre Dubus’ House Of Sand And Fog. Something along the lines of: “Don’t get your hopes up, people!”

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

Probably gray, so long as the tip is somewhere between really sharp and really stumpy. Gray is sturdy, necessary, and reliable as opposed to flashy and out front. So…as meager as it seems, I think I’d be content as the self-sharpening gray crayon in the back of the box.

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

“Son, you’ve got a panty on your head.” From the Coen Brothers film, Raising Arizona.


What period of history intrigues you the most?

The period beginning in April of 1965 and running through (approximately) one minute from now. Not only does my memory stink, but my brain has virtually zero capacity for history. On a good day, I can put the two major World Wars in chronological order. (It helps if the Roman numerals are supplied.) I’m not all that interested in the future either, save for the fact that I hope to be in it. That said, I am working on a sci-fi historical novel in which a couple of neurotic time travelers are thrust into some ordinary existence in the early 21st century. The girl is from, like, the Civil War era and the guy maybe commanded a funky spaceship in like, 2184. But neither has any memory of their respective lives other than what’s happening to them right now.

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.)

Not to be a smarty britches, but hopefully exactly what I’m writing now.


What makes you feel alive?

I feel most alive when I’m breathing. Naps are a close second.


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

Okay, that is one fantastic question. I’m guessing my answer is a combination of all of those. But there is a special (and large!) place in my heart for humor. But I’ll keep thinking about this one for a while…
Favorite season and why?

It’s a tie between Spring and Fall, mainly because I’m a big fat sissy and don’t like to be uncomfortable. Summer and Winter are simply there to keep the longing alive in our hearts. In a sense, they reaffirm our belief in heaven. I’m no theologian, but there will be neither frostbite, nor sunburn in heaven. And if they do happen to make a cameo, they’ll
tickle.

Favorite book setting and why?

I love normal settings—work, home, restaurants, etc. My favorite authors make those normal scenes vibrate with conflict and intrigue, somehow milking humor and pathos from seemingly ordinary locales.


Which compliment related to your writing has meant the most and why?
What criticism has cut the deepest and why?

WARNING: SELF-THERAPY ZONE…
I put these two questions together to remind myself of something. I vowed long ago to take it all with a grain of salt. My theory is that if I buy into the praise, then I have to accept the criticism as well. It’s like a swinging saloon door—once it starts flapping, I can’t control who comes and goes and how much trouble they cause when they start drinking together. So I can’t see where it’s entirely healthy or helpful to put too much stock in either. The temptation would be to accept the praise and ignore the critics. Hopefully, I’ll be able to enjoy and learn from it all. It sounds good in theory. But we’ll see how it goes…(I really do love the praise though…a lot!)


What word annoys you more than any other?

Packet. I’m not sure why, but that word has always bugged me.

Superhero you most admire and why?

Robin, but only for his abject loyalty. He’s always in Batman’s shadow. I can’t tell what his powers are supposed to be, other than like Super Valet, or maybe Super Errand Boy Flunky. Plus, he has to wear panty hose and a yellow cape. Come to think of it, those red vest and green shoes aren’t helping much either. Maybe I should add Super Decoy or Super Moving Target to his list of powers. I think Batman made him dress like that on purpose so he’d have time to duck and hide when the sniper picked off the more flamboyant target.


Super power you’d love to borrow for awhile?

Batman’s precautionary thinking when choosing sidekicks.


Favorite chore

Folding laundry, I think. Lawn-mowing is okay too for about twenty minutes.

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

I was supposed to go skydiving with my uncle when I turned eighteen. We talked about it but it never really worked out. I would love to say the reason I don’t do it now is because I’m a father of four and all that. I think I’d probably be too chicken now. Or maybe just too apathetic.

Grammatical pet peeve…sound off.

Whichever grammatical errors I make.

Societal pet peeve…sound off.

Another tie…when people flick their cigarette butts out the window and/or when people just leave their grocery carts all over the lot. I’m as lazy and selfish as the next guy. But somebody has to clean up after those folks, right?

And if racism counts as a pet peeve, then I guess I’d like to solve that issue by tossing racists out the window (only after igniting them and breathing bad breath all over them) and running over them with shopping carts.

CREATIVE CORNER:
Pick any of the following and have fun with it.
Pick a Genre - Describe a kiss….



DISCLAIMER: The following snippets are in no way meant to impugn any particular genre (yours, mine, or anybody else’s). If there’s any impugning going on here, it’s aimed at me, and my lack of ability to write across genres. Besides, the instructions said to ‘have fun with it.’


Suspense


Basement lights dim.
Eyes close.
(Soundtrack orchestra clings to a brassy—and ridiculously long—minor chord, as the POV cuts to a handgun on a dresser.)
Lips pucker.
Fatherly footsteps approach from above…


Thriller

As the burning helicopter plummeted toward the scorched earth, the ruggedly handsome archeologist took the brilliant barista-cum-triple-spy in his bulging-but-recently-lacerated arms.

Their eyes met.
He shot somebody.

They tilted their heads to the side (to make room for their perfect but dirty noses) and locked their lip coordinates on FULLY ENGAGE, then hit their respective thrusters, and …
BAM! KA-POWEE!! BOOM-BOOM-BOOM!!!


Romance


“Excuse me, miss?” the pool boy said handsomely. “Is your bodice ripped?”
“You fool! Shut up and kiss me!”


Chick-Lit


Austin made a smoochy face in Victoria’s general direction. She smashed him in the schnaz with her (brand name) purse, kicked him in the shin with her (brand name) shoes, made a pithy remark to her homosexual best friend on her (brand name) cell phone before sashaying to her convertible while sipping from her (brand name) low-fat but really super expensive coffee-based beverage.


Literary


The music box sits, unopened on the scarred wooden table.
Her moist lips glisten like two bulbous slugs. He cups her neck, his fingers braided through auburn tresses of her delectable strandiness. The raucous palpitations of their respective hearts beat together as one lone drummer in the marching band of love. The chalkboard sky parts as the joy of the heavens shower them in petals of tender consent.
He pauses, willing his mind to banish the image of his abusive, alcoholic, not-very-affirming father. Her entire sad childhood crystallizes in the single tear springing from the corner of her azure eyes and rushing down her cheek like liquid fire. The heat of his passion breaches the void between them.

They pause to think about something meaningful, but that in no way seems relevant to the rest of the story. We just know it’s supposed to be really deep and over our heads.

Their lips meet.

He dies and she has to move away, still very sad and very lonely, with more questions than she started with at the beginning of chapter one.

She leaves the music box on the table. We’re not sure why, but we know it’s somehow fraught with significance, like the scars on the wood. So we pretend to understand, so we’ll feel as smart as the critics who praised this otherwise inexplicable tome.


Sci-Fi/Fantasy


Harzimok watches Danelctro dematerialize, her shiny, one-piece, pajama-esque spacesuit glistening in the artificial light of the transport chamber as she vanishes in a minor electrical storm into some other world that sort of parallels earth, but with lots of funny names and strange creatures and, like, it’s own sort of gravity and symbolism and stuff.

“Dude,” he says to his crater-faced buddy, Zoink. “It was like making out with a bug zapper!”


Historical

“That was amazing,” she said as the Nazi fighter planes shook the sky.
“Yeah,” he said, cleaning his musket. “I guess it was pretty good. I don’t really remember.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Serials and Scenarios - My Name Is Russell Fink

Michael Snyder's blog.


Back Cover Copy:


Russell Fink is twenty-six years old and determined to salvage a job he hates so he can finally move out of his parents house for good. He's convinced he gave his twin sister cancer when they were nine years old. And his crazy fiancée refuses to accept the fact that their engagement really is over.


Then Sonny, his allegedly clairvoyant basset hound, is found murdered.The ensuing amateur investigation forces Russell to confront several things at once -- the enormity of his family's dysfunction, the guy stalking his family, and his long-buried feelings for a most peculiar love interest.

At its heart, My Name Is Russell Fink is a comedy, with sharp dialogue, characters steeped in authenticity, romance, suspense, and fresh humor. With a postmodern style similar to Nick Hornby and Douglas Coupland, the author explores reconciliation, forgiveness, and faith in the midst of tragedy. No amount of neurosis or dysfunction can derail God's redemptive purposes.

My Review:

If you are a fan of Ray Blackston, you are going to want to check into Michael Snyder.

With fresh and humorous storytelling, Snyder dumps us into the world of Russell Fink. Russell oozes dysfunction what with being named after his imprisoned grandfather and doomed to inherit his father's double chin. Russell fears the notoriety of both male role models and bad genes have pretty much cooked his own goose. After all, he's already killed once and just awaits the cancer that will surely be his reward.
With a sharp wit and troublesome tongue Russell both severs relationships and endears himself to a quirky cast of characters. Can Russell shed his wacky fiancee so that he can embrace true love? Will Russell ever find faith instead of empty religion? Does Russell deserve anything good or satisfying?

I wanted to hug Russell and make him a homemade meal, or at least pour him a bowl of cereal. I found myself surprised with a completely unexpected revelation within the story which was nice.
My only non-rave, but not big enough to keep it from a five star read, is that the end felt a little rushed with the unraveling of the details. But this was definitely a minor concern. If you must have "all your ducks in a row" in your endings you might have an issue with some ambiguity.

Russell is a satisfying and introspective read. Fans of Annette Smith's A Bigger Life should find it appealing also.

I am a Snyder fan, and am anxiously awaiting the next release.

I wouldn't mind a follow-up to Russell, I wasn't quite ready to leave him.
Come back Friday for a slightly quirky ; ) slice o' Mike.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Scribble and Scrambles - Friendship Defined Kind Of


I've been thinking about friendship lately.
I know you get all weirded out when I think, so I'll try to be sensitive. No major, bizarre leaps, I promise or I hope anyway.

I belong to a few online communities. Shoutlife, Facebook, MySpace, Shelfari, Linked In and a couple of writing groups. You could say I'm uberconnected or overconnected. Within the last few days I have accepted friendship from a young man who invited several people with the same name to be his friends. After looking at his profile I hesitated for a second. After all, what he said and what he stated as beliefs, are contrary to me and mine. But these differences don't frighten me, or challenge me beyond my need to continually open my heart to people who need a dose of love and grace. Another new friend lives in my state. Others come and go with comments and slices of connection in this huge worldwide "friend-net."

I consider some of my critique partners very close friends. One is so close that we share far more than writing. I'll visit her for the fourth time in a few weeks. She and her family ushered in the new year with us. I would never have met her without this writing season in my life. Nor would my kids know their "crazy cousins from up north."

I spent a few hours with a few "past" (not going to use the world old) friends this weekend. Three women who have at one time been close. One I spent months phone praying with every morning before we left for work. Another I grieved with over several lifequakes. The third was a salt sister, neither of us could make it through a Sunday without tears. But each of these friends have moved on, changed churches and slipped out of my daily or weekly life. Yet I love each of these women and bear their fingerprints upon my heart.

Complexity in pure simplicity. Friendship. Thank you, friends.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Scribble and Scrambles - Joking! Seriously!










Janet's pirate jokes as appearing in the comments from the Dreg's Friday cheesy post cracked me up.

I'll reprint them below.

I'm not sure if she created these or borrowed them. But as a lover of pirate talk, I'm smitten.

Here they are. "What's a pirate's favorite kind of socks? Aaaarrrgyle! Ha ha ha ha... Or, What is a buccaneer? A might steep price for corn..."

So now I'm going to out myself.

This is the only official joke I have ever written.

What do you call a Jamaican phlebotomist? (okay, if you do not know this, a phlebotomist draws blood from patients)

Now.

Drum roll.

A Pokeymon

ba-da-duh-dum!

Friday, February 08, 2008

Scribble and Scrambles - Don't Tell These in an Airport


This is the cheesy reality of my life. My daughter made up these jokes and shared them with me last night. She grew hysterical as she spouted punchline after punchline and then decided she'd type them out so I could share with my friends.

Fearing the loss of my job over the potential outbreak of hilarity...I'm sharing them with you.

If you don't find them remotely amusing -- just imagine a breathless delivery with streaming tears and possibly nose byproducts, and a fleeing cat. If that doesn't coax a smile...she's 16. Now we're talking.


What do you get when you combine a bomb with cheese?

A cheetoh!

What do you get when you combine a bomb with mint?

A mento!

What do you get when you combine a bomb with cheese and tortilla chips?

Doritos!!!!

What do you get when you combine a bomb with Sisterhood of the traveling pants?

Kostos! ( lena's boyfriend)

Have a hilarious, cheesy weekend.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Serials and Scenarios - Rebeca's Ink




Rebeca Seitz came by and sat a spell.
Thanks, Rebeca!

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

Minerva Dobbs in Jennifer Crusie’s Bet Me. I identified with her so much – her struggle with self-image as well as the fairy-tale ending with Cal (or, in my case, Charlie). And I loved her circle of friends almost as much as I love my real-life circle.

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

I have so many questions for so many people, mostly women in the Bible. I’d like to ask Bathsheba if she forgave David for killing her husband and causing the death of their child. I’d like to ask Jesus if he had earthly sisters. I’d love to sit down with Lydia (from the New Testament) and have her share business principles with me.

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

I pack up the laptop and iPod and go to the UTM library, the Union City library, or the Martin McDonald’s and write all day. I walk away with 10,000-16,000 words, but you should see the looks I get throughout the day!

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

I’d have Jennifer Crusie’s characters get married before having sex and I’d have Kay Scarpetta in Patricia Cornwell’s novels come to Christ. The first because I’m just about sick of married people not having good sex in books and that woman knows how to write a hot scene. The second because Scarpetta’s introspection without a firm Truth to act as compass is just exhausting and annoying to read.

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

Periwinkle giraffe! Definitely not the cow – I don’t care if I was purple, eventually I’d become hamburger. And not the iguana – women have enough wrinkles to deal with. The giraffe, though, now there’s a graceful creature! Make me periwinkle and suddenly I’m a vision of beauty and stunning elegance!

What period of history intrigues you the most?

The 1940s. I love the music (big band!), the style, and the culture of the time. If there hadn’t been so much blatant racism, it would have been a perfect time to be alive.

What makes you feel alive?

These days – lots! Laughing hysterically with my kiddo when, at the first snow of the season, we hang our heads off the front porch and catch flakes on our tongue like we don’t have a lick of sense. Or jumping as hard we can into mud puddles just to see the splash. Letting myself be fully in a moment of discovery with him is a heavenly gift that I don’t deserve and that restores my joy completely.

I also feel alive when my husband puts his arms around me and says, “I love you,” and so much honesty fills his voice that it steals my breath.

It’s other moments, too – walking the golf course with my daddy on Christmas afternoon (my brand new golf clubs, a gift from hubby, safely strapped to the cart) and kidding him about only bringing one Diet Coke, only to have him skip the next hole to go back to the club house and get me one. I’m pretty sure that’s why I beat him on the next hole.

Or talking strategy with my mom, the director of a crisis pregnancy center. Helping her figure out how to raise money, get the word out, and help girls who are petrified by the possibility of pregnancy.

Or listening to my sister tell me about the growth of her photography business. Her hazel eyes light up and she clasps her hands at her chest, then says, “Isn’t that awesome?” I love that.

Or sitting in a women’s ministry meeting and presenting some grandiose idea for bringing new women into the church – then seeing these women embrace that vision and make it come to fruition.

I’ve been aware, for as long as I can remember, that my time on earth is so very small. There are a set number of hours I have to walk upon this planet, to love, to hurt, to yell, to praise, to experience. So I try to pay attention as I go and feel what’s in front of me.

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 really want to go to the French countryside. I’ve heard stories about the flea markets there and I’m a lover of bargains. My home is decorated in the French country style, so it’d be nice to visit the birthplace of that. Plus, I hear the French are some passionate people who love to debate and discuss. I’d have a ball!!

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

The best compliment I’ve gotten so far came last week, actually. Somebody told me that the only author they read as soon as her novels become available was Lori Wick – and now me. I’ve been a Wick fan since I was in junior high, so it was pretty surreal to see my name in the same sentence as hers.

What criticism has cut the deepest and why?

One reviewer intimated that I had chosen multi-cultural characters in some strange attempt to appeal to a bigger audience or be politically correct. She said the multi-culturalism was obviously not true to reality. I hated that – both that she was being so bigoted and that she had never been exposed to a family like I had down in Florida.

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

Questions like this scare the dickens out of me. I’m reading a book right now where the woman loses her eyesight – and knows ahead of time that she’s losing it. I keep wondering what I’d do if I knew ahead of time that something hugely negative was headed my way – blindness, deafness, paralysis, death. And I just can’t figure out if I’d end up one of those strong people who overcomes or weak people who devolves into a selfish, angry, mean being. I honestly don’t know if I’d spend my last “normal” (what a word) days rushing around doing all the things I could or being still and surrounding myself with family and friends. I think, most of all, I’d cry and write a lot.

Favorite chore

Laundry! It’s the perfect chore – stuff the clothes in the machine and it does all the work.

Grammatical pet peeve…sound off.

When people make up words in an effort to appear intelligent or well read. Ironical – um, not a word, people. On the radio last week, the interviewer said, “promiscuality” – I mean, seriously?! You make a living by talking on the radio!
The other one is billboards that have misspelled words. You want me to give you my money, but you couldn’t be bothered to spell the words correctly? No.

Societal pet peeve…sound off.

Men who don’t open the door for women – or, worse, who speed up their step to get to the door first, then blow right in and leave the door slamming behind them in the woman’s face. Can we say no character?

CREATIVE CORNER:

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

He’s gorgeous. He is. He really is. I know you don’t believe me, but I’m as sure of that as I am that he doesn’t know I exist.

Even though my hair looks like a giant red Brillo pad.

Even though my scarf – evidence of a brief love affair with crochet - is a huge mess of indigo and silver yarn.

Even though my book just fell on the hardwood floor with a whump loud enough to bring the librarian.

He doesn’t see me. No one ever does.


A man and woman sit at a table in an upscale restaurant. They each have a cell phone to their ear. What are you overhearing? Tell me about this couple…..

“He’s taking the house in the Hamptons.” The woman held her long, delicate fingers over her mouth, but I could still hear her conversation from one table away. I wondered as I reached for my water glass if the man across from her could hear as well.

But he seemed too busy with his own call. With the prices we were paying, the restaurant shouldn’t allow cell phone conversations in here. What happened to enjoying dinner as an experience rather than a chore? As an escape that couldn’t be interrupted by phone calls and business meetings?

I pushed the white linen napkin from my lap, then leaned down to retrieve it. “If I get the Hamptons, we can give her St. John’s.” His voice rolled like jagged rocks tumbling together. I straightened and cast a glance his direction. Discreetly placed spot lights favored his brown hair burnished with golden highlights. I couldn’t tell whether they came from an island sun or an expert colorist’s hands – either way, they worked to create the effect of a halo resting serenely. The hard set of his jaw fought such an angelic image.

“Right, I’ve got it. No, don’t come down. I’m fine. Thanks, Jerell.” She folded shut her phone and tucked a long, blonde wave of hair behind her ear. The spotlight kissed a diamond there, refracting only blue light. Another stone shone from her hand as she set the phone on the table and brought her water glass to ruby lips.

“Understood.” He slipped his phone – no bigger than a credit card – into an inner pocket of his jet black dinner jacket.

Lyrical notes from Vivaldi’s “Spring” - the restaurant’s choice of appropriate music when presenting works of art on plates to those who could spend four figures on one meal – nearly masked the words the angry angel spoke. If he hadn’t leaned across the table, putting him a foot closer to where I sat just one table away, I might have missed the reason she’d be found dead tomorrow morning.

“Take the Hamptons, Lucy.” He saluted her with a glass of sparkling wine. “Take St. John’s as well. This divorce doesn’t have to be difficult.”


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

Okay, maybe two. But she didn’t count Adam and the rest of the world shouldn’t either.

So just one do-over.

But did it count as a second do-over if she needed it for the same guy?

Probably not.

Lauren rolled out of the tangle of white cotton sheets and stumbled to her bathroom. She clicked on the light, then quickly doused it.

“Ugh.” Too much light on too little sleep. No one could be expected to face all this pink tile on four hours of sleep.

Wondering for the thousandth time why her landlord thought pink tile “classed the place right up”, Lauren turned the hot water faucet and sat down on the cold porcelain edge of the tub. She counted to thirty, then turned the other faucet a fraction of an inch and began stripping. In another thirty seconds, the old building’s pipes filled her shower with the perfect combination of hot and cold.
“My building needs a do-over, too.”

Hope you'll forgive me for breaking protocol. I know, I know. Wednesdays are review days and Fridays are interviews. But I'm mixing it up this week. I don't have a review...not yet anyway.
But, if you click here, Novel Reviews has a bonus two-for review.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Scribble and Scrambles - Now I Get It.


I finally get it.
I'm embarrassed to admit that I've never been able to grasp the significance of the whole groundhog seeing it's shadow thing. Does seeing the shadow mean more winter or less?

My father, the infamous Pat, explained it to me. Upon seeing his shadow Punxsutawney Phil runs back into his hole knowing it is still winter and will be for awhile yet. He doesn't like the idea of more winter. Clever groundhog, I say, since the Pennsylvania winters are not at all pleasant.

For more amazing Groundhog facts here's the wikipedia link.

Now, if I could just figure out the reason behind the plot of Groundhog Day.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Scribble and Scrambles - Numbers Game




For eleven years I've voiced a variation of the following instruction on average of eight times every work day. "Take a normal breath. In and out. (pause) Now take a deep breath in and hold it."

So today, as a lady hugged my x-ray box, I said, "Take a number."

Where did that come from? Not only did I not return anything to a customer service department this weekend, I didn't even shop. I watched two movies. Neither of which had anything to do with taking a number.

At least I could laugh about it. I think she laughed, too. But she seemed rather eager to escape when I finally opened the door and offered her freedom.

Suppose it was a Freudian slip? Maybe I'm supposed to quit my job, go back to school, and become a mathematician.

That's even funnier than the verbal faux pas. In order to grasp my radiation algebra, I needed to borrow my then 8th graders' math book, and I still didn't understand what I was doing. So that theory is a sad one.

Maybe I'm supposed to go to Vegas. You know, numbers. While I'm living out the numbers dream I could be an Elvis impersonator. With lots of gel I could pull of the do and I know I can do a lip curl.

Hmmm. Any of you live in Vegas? Lookin for a roomie (or roomies -- who knows how many family members will embrace my new dream)?

Friday, February 01, 2008

Serials and Scenarios - Pure Julie Lessman



Julie Lessman dropped by the Dregs for a cup o' cyber tea.

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

Omigosh—Scarlett O’Hara, hands-down! Why? Because I first read Gone With the Wind at the age of twelve and was so swept away by the romantic tension between Scarlett and Rhett, that I actually wrote 150 single-spaced pages of what today is my debut novel, A Passion Most Pure. Scarlett was not exactly a role model, I know, but I loved her strength, her confidence, her inability to be false or phony … and I especially loved the pull she had over Rhett whether he liked it or not. That’s what true romance is—a man who will cherish you and love you no matter your failings.

Q: Do any of your characters reflect your own personality?

Yes, there’s a part of my personality in each of the three sisters in the Daughters of Boston series. I like to think of Faith, the sister heroine of A Passion Most Pure, as my spiritual self. She has an intimate relationship with God just like me—she talks and prays to Him as if He is her best friend, but she gets angry with Him too. I like to refer to it as being emotionally engaged with the God of the Universe—we laugh with Him, tear up at His goodness to us, and worship Him with all of our hearts. In fact, Faith and I are SO much alike in the spiritual aspect, that a good friend of mine told me that reading A Passion Most Pure was “like going to lunch with me.” I’m hoping that’s a good thing!

Charity, the sister heroine of Book 2, is my rebellious and “passionate” self, before I came to the Lord. I was a wild child of the seventies, like so many of us before Jesus got a hold of us (as he does Charity in Book 2)!

Lizzie (or Beth), the sister heroine of Book 3 is my dreamer self. Lizzie is a bookworm bent on fairytale romance, just like I used to be as a little girl, sneaking downstairs to watch romantic movies after my parents went to bed. In her story, Lizzie has to learn (just like I did) that true romance, the kind that really satisfies, comes from following God’s precepts, not the world’s.

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

Well, maybe not “strange,” but definitely a bit quirky. My artist husband and work in the same small computer room, so most of the time, we are back to back, which is kind of nice because I like to lean back and kiss him after I put lip gloss on, which is OFTEN! That would definitely qualify as one of my quirks—lipstick and lip gloss. I wear it everywhere, even to bed (the lip gloss, I mean). Also, I always have a candle lit next to a favorite picture of my husband and me before we were married and I like to turn the lights down real low. How’s that for romantic inspiration?

Q: What makes you feel alive?

Well, when I was a little girl, sticking my head out of the window of a moving car used to make me feel incredibly charged and alive. Now that I’m … well, NOT a little girl any longer … it’s God’s goodness and His blessings that leave me breathless. Just having God at the center of my life—in my marriage, in my children’s lives, in my career as a writer—makes me more alive than I EVER was without Him.

Q: Favorite season and why?

Spring because I love the redbud trees and tulips and the faint haze of green in the trees as new buds burgeon forth. No, wait—summer because I like to lay out in my driveway slathered in Coppertone and listening to oldies. Well … maybe fall because I love the smell of wood fires in the crisp air as gold and scarlet leaves flutter to the ground. Okay, no, definitely winter, because there’s nothing better than being snowed in and cuddling up with my honey in front of a fire with an old movie or a great book. I like ‘em all, I guess, what can I say?

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

I love hearing that the romantic scenes are deeply moving and emotionally tense, but I have to say that the first compliments that really impacted me were when two separate women told me that A Passion Most Pure made them feel both closer to God and want to be a better person. No higher compliment could be paid an inspirational author.

Q: Favorite chore:

Believe it or not, I LOVE making revisions—my editor’s or revisions in general. I write my books to please women like ME who love romantic tension and lots of true-to-life romance, so I enjoy reading my own novels because basically I am the market I am writing for. So making any revisions—ones I’m happy with or ones I’m not—is fun, challenging and exciting for me to do. (Okay, I know that’s probably not normal, is it???)

Q: Societal pet peeve … sound off.

Oh, my goodness—discourtesy, hand’s down!! I DESPISE hurting people’s feelings and hate it even more when I see other’s do it. Life is hard enough—we don’t need the verbal abuse or discourtesy of others. It’s amazing how one kind word or gesture from the heart can be balm to someone’s hurting soul.

Q: Grammatical pet peeve … sound off.

I’m a travel writer in my day job, and it drives me CRAZY having so many variations in what’s grammatically correct or not. For instance, one client prefers no commas before the conjunction in a simple series, while another wants them. Groan!! And the word “Web site” … for pete’s sake, let’s go with one spelling, shall we? Merriam Webster shows it as two words and says it’s a capital “W” when referring to the World Wide Web, while other dictionaries show it as “website,” “web site” or “Website.” Can’t we just all agree and get along??

Thank you, Kelly, for having me as your guest—it’s been fun! But of course. And thank you, Julie.