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.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Scribbles and Scrambles ~ A Lily Story

This little trio of trouble came in an e-mail forward. You know how much fun I have with those.

But since the latest happening, I believe this isn't a posed shot...we have Feral cat who thinks he's a dog. And apparently Lily thinks she's whatever she wants to be whenever she feels like expressing herself.

In our living room, behind our couch, we have a bow or bay window with a ledge. Usually we have pretties on it. Candles, glass objects, you know. Often we temporarily store stuff. The cat bed is on the back of the couch.

21 walked into the room that she'd just cleaned, after removing clutter from the window ledge, to discover 70 pound Lily perched on the ledge, basking in the sunshine. Twice.

I guess it's good we don't have a 5 foot tall cat tower.

And Birdie, I'll be sure to send my friend to the website you've suggested. Anything to keep Tyson away from my ears.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Scribbles and Scrambles ~Happy Monday

















Meet Tyson.

He's kind of an honorary nephew.

My family has adopted his, and he's the latest addition.


I happen to think his name is VERY appropriate.


A) he's a boxer.


B) he bites, fortunately he's not able to leap and bite my ears yet, but I'm sure that's coming.


He gets to visit us in late December. Lily and Lola will be getting some payback for all their bad puppy moments.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Scribbles and Scrambles ~Randomness and Laziness Combine....

Kim tagged me. Here are my answers.


1) I own a cat that thinks it's a small dog.

2) I don't get football. I live in Nebraska Cornhusker Country and I just don't get the game.

3) My kids are growing older at an alarming rate but I still feel 18.

4) I wrote a romance novel when my 21 year old was a baby. I typed it, edited it, revised it and threw it away. It was a spy romance set in Africa. I don't remember the plot. I do remember that it was b-a-d.

5) I teach 5th and 6th grade Sunday School. I have issues with following curriculum to the letter so we are being very creative. I do have a passion for them. I want to help them grow more fascinated with God instead of becoming inoculated against passion by spouting the top three Sunday School answers to get the questions right. In case you don't know the top three, here they are. 1) God 2) Jesus 3) Bible.

6) I really love my husband. Sometimes I'm amazed how much. Seriously, I think he's the greatest guy on the planet.

And here are the taggees.

Jenny
Birdie
Ane
Mair
Nora

Here are the rules:

Here's the rules for those I'm tagging. Check the list after my 6 THINGS to see if you're it then
1. Link to the person who tagged you.
2. Post the rules on your blog.
3. Write six random things about yourself.
4. Tag sixish people at the end of your post.
5. Let each person know he or she has been
6. Let the tagger know when your entry is up.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Scribbles and Scrambles ~ Epiphany Thursday




















The price of anything is the amount of life you exchange for it.


Henry David Thoreau

How's your rate of exchange?

I'm good. I've got peace and I have very few regrets. Yeah. I'm good.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Scribbles and Scrambles ~ I Was Only ACTING!


As promised. Details regarding my new mini-career as an....(drum roll) actress.

My brother has begun a small film production company here in the heartland. Think Alexander Payne on a slightly smaller scale. A shorter scale.

It so happens that the first production "Sold Out" was in need of a mother figure.

You can view me in all my glory while my film son, husband and leech stare at me after I tried to ease the tension of the moment. I forgive my brother for the angle of the shot. Want to see it? Ready, set, click.

The above accompanying picture is much more flattering : ).

My part consisted of two lines. Actually three with a very crucial pause between two of them. The scene was stolen by one actor with zero lines. But I did feed him which kept up his strength.

As for prior acting skill builders, my first film experience was a Public Service Announcement in which I played a crowd member. The director singled me out and spoke to me. I made a big impression. This is what he said. "Hey! You in the brown. Quit smiling. This is a serious scene!"

Obviously my brother didn't read that on my resume.

Once the film debuts I will provide a link so you can watch it. I will warn you that it may hover around a PG-13 rating. I will also inform you that you should expect to laugh.

Hopefully my mothering skills will be required in future flicks. And if you want an autograph, just let me know. : )

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Serials and Scenarios ~ Faking Grace ~ Tamara Leigh




I haven't had a chance to read this book, yet. But I will. Check out my review of Tamara's Splitting Harriet and her interview here. (Scroll down) Here and here for two different reviews of Faking Grace.

And because Tamara's books are fun and convicting, click here for a chance to read the first chapter, here to visit her website and as always click on the book cover to visit Amazon.Wow. Tamara, you're going to give everyone carpal tunnel syndrome from all the clicking.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Scribbles and Scrambles ~ Doesn't Get Much Cuter Than This....




And I thought the Wii was a workout.

I'm am beyond impressed with the grace and skill. I would have knocked myself out immediately on the doors. Maybe the Pull-Ups help.

Speaking of performances, I promise, the story about the budding acting career.... coming soon.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Scribbles and Scrambles ~ Right Priority, Today

















Okay, I was going to write all about my acting opportunity. But instead I've been having an amazing spiritual conversation with a friend on Facebook. So I'm going to just have to put the acting incident on hold for a day or two.


It's a tough decision, talk about Jesus and encourage and be encouraged or share the details of my fabulous experience. Jesus wins this wrestling match. But you will get the details of my thespian adventure. I promise.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Scribbles and Scrambles ~ Scenes from the Road...
















Sweet Iowa clouds taken while driving. Not recommended.


Just a few miles later I spied a car full of nuns. Not kidding. No picture. I was afraid the photo would be of screaming nuns and I'd hate to mess with their dignity.



















My bizarre friend and I at the Minneapolis/St. Paul airport. We were told to hold a small sign with the letters ACFW so people could find us easily. We took it to the next level. Boredom set in and we decided we needed to mix it up a bit. Six people were kind enough to tell us that the sign was upside down. Heh, Heh, Heh.



















The moon was spectacular. This is as good as it got on "film." Even after Michelle and I ran across the road, risking our very lives, to get it in our sights.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Scribbles and Scrambles ~ A Proverb

I'm traveling again. Minnesota is becoming my home away from home. While I'm waiting on a few interviews to come in this week, I still need to post something. So even though my brain is crunchy, I found the following food for thought.

Proverbs 27:19

As water reflects a face, so a man's heart reflects the man.


That's convicting!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Scribbles and Scrambles ~ A Little Warped Fun



This may just be wrong on thirty-two different levels, but really, how fun is this?

They say interpretation is everything. ( A paranoid-leaning interpreter should be really nervous about now. "Who is this they?" )

I see the glass as half-full most of the time, as does the classic Ms. Poppins.
I'm wondering what's in "Moviemker" glass.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Serials and Scenarios ~ In the Shadow of Lions



As promised: My review of In the Shadow of Lions. ( A little late, but....)

In the Shadow of Lions is a story as dictated by a guardian angel to a present day woman who needs to hear it.

Two women without freedom face a reign, battles for power, threats of death and superstition. Beliefs collide to bring an alternative and gripping tale of King Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn. Historical fans and those who devour great storytelling should find much to like. If martyrdom and torture themes bother you, look before you leap. I found the novel to be a little challenging as I tried to piece together who was who and how they all intersected. But once I got it, the story rocked and rolled.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Serials and Scenarios ~ Thought Morsels from Ginger Garrett







Ginger Garrett dropped in to answer the Dregs questions. I'm still reading the book and will buzz back through with a review tomorrow. In the meantime, you can go here to check out the first chapter. And by all means click on the book cover or here to find out more about Ginger and In the Shadow of Lions.

Did she pose for her book cover? Is it just me or do she and Anne Boleyn look alike? And I suppose since I used morsel like her not so nice friends I should consider myself one of them, I will, until I hear from her lawyer. Thanks, Ginger.

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


Snoopy. I’d love to be Snoopy. He’s so good-looking, calm and cool. And he flies doghouses, oops, I mean airplanes.


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

If I get stuck, I have to do my nails. Maybe because I am staring at them blankly, sitting on the keyboard! I also take a break every 45 minutes. I set the timer for 10 minutes and clean like a dervish. It freshens me up and the house!


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


Once a book is finished, I have a true phobia about every opening it again. I get sick to my stomach at the thought. I can’t answer that question because I never open them again. And hopefully never will have to.

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

We own a bearded dragon named Goliath, and he rocks. So I’d choose an iguana, although they are nowhere as much fun as dragons. Cows eat grass all day and still end up overweight, which I can identify with, and giraffes have such long necks that they probably can’t find turtlenecks sweaters that fit. And a feather boa would just get lost in the visual.

Cows are too much like me, and giraffes are too hard to dress. A pink iguana it would have to be.


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


Not all who wander are lost—Tolkien.


What period of history intrigues you the most?


The rise of the Black Death, 1348. The second book in the series, Chronicles of the Scribe, (chroniclesofthescribe.com) is about this.


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.)


There are no rules or barriers. You have to live in your own imaginary world to write. And I don’t let rules inside my pretend world.


What makes you feel alive?


Running. I am training (painfully!) for my first half-marathon. I finished my first triathlon this summer and it was amazing. (Amazing that I finished, I mean.)

I come home after a run, terrify my children with “Sweaty Mom” and listen to them scream as they avoid me, then I get in the shower and get clean. I feel a surge of relief to be done, and relaxation from the endorphins.


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

Black humor, sarcasm. When the people I love make fun of me, I feel very loved and accepted. I despise overwrought sentiments and sloppy hugs and kisses. I won’t read effusive greeting cards, which makes my mother mad.


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


I’d have to say my soulmate, Mitch. We’ve been married 12 years and I still love his touch. I’d also take a Bible, chocolate, and some Gaelic music. Or blues. Or anything with YoYo Ma.


Favorite season and why?


Valentines for the chocolates, Halloween for the mellow pumpkins, Christmas for the peppermints from Bob’s factory, and Easter for the Cadbury eggs. The Fourth of July needs a good candy, don’t you think?


Favorite book setting and why?


Belgium. I love Belgium. It’s the most drearily romantic place on earth. I also love Ireland because I sleep well there, and Italy because it has such wild abandon.


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

Anytime a reader emails me, I am elated. I write to build connections, and reader emails mean it’s working.


What criticism has cut the deepest and why?

I don’t think I’ve ever been deeply wounded by a criticism. They are the costs of doing business, that’s all.


What is your favorite word?

Puppy. I love puppy everything. I love puppy smell, puppy food, puppy leashes, puppy breath. I love puppies. When I was pregnant, I worried I wouldn’t like my baby as much as I like puppies. Fortunately for us all, I was too drugged to decide for several days. By then, I liked the kid a lot.


What word annoys you more than any other?


Morsel. I despise the way it feels in your mouth, the way it sounds, the meaning. My friends work it into conversation wherever possible.


Superhero you most admire and why?


Sarah Palin


Favorite chore


Taking the trash to the curb. It’s very satisfying.


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


I do *everything* because of fear of pain. If I am afraid of it, I get a thrill out of doing it.


Societal pet peeve…sound off.


People who give their animals away because they get “too busy” to care for them.


CREATIVE CORNER:

Pick any of the following and have fun with it.

If Alex had known the body of the senator was in the bathtub, she would've taken Jim's offer for coffee.

Jim looked much better naked. (sorry, couldn’t resist!)

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Serials and Scenarios ~ Wounded Reviewed



I don't hesitate to lay a book down and skip going back to it. I belong to a mystery readers club that sends a portion of a book via e-mail every day. Usually, I know whether I want to open the excerpt the next day or not by what I read on day one. That's why I love the feature that CFBA is offering now -- the entire first chapter. I recommend that you read the first chapter of Wounded. Click
here to do so.

Wounded is a challenging novel. Personally challenging in what will I, an evangelical Christian who has concerns about Catholic doctrines, do with a book that is very much about saints, stigmata and Christ's wounds? For starters, I won't recommend it to anyone who is confused about Mary worship vs. Christ worship. Can I recommend it to those who are mature enough in their walk with Christ that they know His words and His heart? Yes I can, because a person who is mature is going to be able to discern the truth throughout, within and behind this novel about very broken people who are in need and receipt of scandalous grace.

I know folks who won't read C.S. Lewis because of his deep questions. Others in my circle of influence don't believe a Catholic can be saved because of the tradition and error that stands between soul and Savior. Still others label things outside of their experience and knowledge heresy. If you fall into any of these camps, don't pick up Wounded because you will be offended.

However, if you believe that Jesus works today as He did when He walked the earth, that He is not bound by our expectations, that He is lavish and almost wasteful with His grace then read the first chapter. If you are intrigued by stories of those who sacrifice everything for Jesus or powerful and unexpected healing from hideous consequences and lives, Wounded may speak to the very center of your soul. If you are broken and don't want to be broken anymore, if you feel like you are a blind man and you are looking for another blind man who can accompany you while you search for freedom you may want to stumble to the bookstore to pick up a copy of this novel.

Claudia Mair Burney writes with passion and poignancy. She also writes as if she is using "ink" from her own veins. Her characters are haunting. People who are broken, blind and needy, and people I recognize when I walk through my safe little suburbs and sometimes even when I look into a mirror.

Wounded is not for everybody, but it is for some. I think you will know who you are.



Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Scribbles and Scrambles ~ This Does NOT Happen at My House.



Suppose this guy gives lessons? Maybe he drinks chamomile tea and the puppies respond to the essence on his breath.

Pet bedtime at our house? Hmmm. 21 lays out the "puppy" beds and bids them good night. After a few minutes of wrestling they do fall asleep. Nervous Nellie, the cat that only leaves the upstairs when in dire need of food, drink or box, stands at the top of the stairs and "announces" that it's time for a human to join her i.e. give her attention. That announcement is usually followed by the pounding of kitty feet as Mr. Naughty, Nervous Nellie's nemesis decides he wants to get one more pin in before bedtime. Hissing and yowling commence as eight cat feet thud across the floor.

Finally, the humans are ready for bed. As soon as I turn off my light, the cats descend upon me.

Suppose the guy speaks cat? And if so, does he make house calls?

Monday, September 08, 2008

Serials and Scenarios ~ Claudia Mair Burney's Heart Squeezings....

Claudia Mair Burney's latest book, Wounded, is on my bedstand and let me tell you the woman can write. But if you keep reading her Q & A that won't surprise you at all. The woman has a deep, deep vein leading to and from the heart. I'll return with a review and in the meantime you'll want to read the first chapter. If you love literary fiction with deep themes and ragged characters, check it out. (Click on the book cover to visit the Amazon page. And here to visit Ragamuffin Diva Blog Spot. )



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

Honey, sometimes I feel like I'm a fiction character. So, I'll have to go with Claudia Mair Burney in the novel of life.


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


Dorothy Day is in my thoughts this week. In fact, I just ordered her diaries for my birthday. So, maybe I'd ask her how she, a mother, a writer, an ordinary woman, could keep welcoming the stranger as Christ, again and again, no matter how distressing Christ's disguise was, because I want to welcome him, too.


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


Agonize about not having the story until the last minute, then write, eat, sleep, write, repeat the cycle non-stop only days before deadline. And do nothing else. It's AWFUL, but I find myself there again and again.


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


I would make the Catholic characters I created actually act like Catholics instead of some Cathovangelical hybrid. Somethings you only figure out on the inside. Many regrets there.


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 cotton candy pink, bright, a little silly, conjuring the memory of something sweet and childish. On a bad day I'm indigo blue. Moody, somber, but not as quite as dark as noir.


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


Pink iguana, because I love pink, and she seems to be the happiest of the bunch to me, though the periwinkle giraffe has its charms.


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


From Mariette in Ecstasy, "Christ still sends me roses." Makes a sistah sigh. I totally stole it for Wounded. Ron Hansen didn't seem to mind. He gave me a lovely endorsement, I'll love him evermore for that.


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 literary fiction, with language so beautiful and poetic I'd have to grow up for five or ten years to be capable of giving you a sliver of it.



What period of history intrigues you the most?

The one we're in. Amazing time to be an American. To be in this world. There a lot of wonder to behold.


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.)


Maybe all of those, except for the instruction manuals.


What makes you feel alive?


Love. The Trinity. Wow! God in community with Himself. And then God in three Persons informs the way I'm to love. Love makes me feel alive, and God is love.


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


By moving me in some way, and it could be any of those. But I have to feel it deeply.


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


I'd take a Bible--with the Deuterocanonical books--wouldn't want to miss out on Tobit! My iPod that has a crazy eclectic mix of music and movies, especially about the saints! Gotta take that. And I'd travel with a bunch of healthy yummies from Whole Foods. Bono would go with me. I'd bring some strong Irish beer and Jack Daniels for him, and ask him to bring his iPod, too!


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've got mad longing to go to Italy. It's so full of romance and outrageous Catholic stuff. I love Catholic kitsch. I'd go crazy buying glow in the dark rosaries and statues.


Favorite season and why?


Summer. I feel brand new when it's hot and sunny.



Favorite book setting and why?


Each book is a wonderful world. I like to get lost wherever a good writer wants to take me.



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

I am so humbled and touched when someone says something I wrote made them love Jesus more. Or love their neighbor more. If everything I wrote could breed love I'd die a happy woman.



What criticism has cut the deepest and why?

A review said that my audience may be offended by references to Christ as Lover in Wounded. That really bothered me. I didn't make up the idea myself. It has a historical precedent, and I dare say it's Biblical. Nor do I take it, in my opinion, to an extreme that sullies the whole concept. How can the Bride of Christ seeing Him as Lover be offensive? We're His Bride! Aren't brides and grooms lovers?



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

Have a long talk with each of my kids and my husband, then write something amazing, like I only had a week to live. I'd spend my last day serving the poor until I dropped dead. The poor Christ in someone else would be the last face I'd see.



What is your favorite word?

Love.


What word annoys you more than any other?

Evil.



Superhero you most admire and why?

I like most superheros. For all their their power and glory they're all a little broken.



Super power you'd love to borrow for awhile?


I'd be cool to fly, but being able to save lives would be quite useful.



Favorite chore

Writing believe it or not. It's a chore now.



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

I have a chronic pain disease, so I'm always in pain. Might as well do what I want. Right?



Grammatical pet peeve…sound off.

I have too many deficiencies to go off about grammar. I'm very generous and forgiving when it comes to such.



Societal pet peeve…sound off.


Poor and dying people deserve dignity. They deserve love and care.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Super Cinema Saturday ~ Penelope



I love this movie, for the most part.

What I loved:

Penelope's sweetness and her every girl struggles, whether her looks or her mom or the very volatile combination.
The supporting characters were entertaining, most of them, anyway.
Quirky and attractive sets and wardrobe.
The fairy tale aspects.
The overall cleanliness of language and low crudeness level. There were only two comments that were suggestive and both were more double-entendre than outright crude.
Clever writing and storytelling.
Max's soulful eyes.
Mean people got theirs.


What I didn't love

The emphasis on drinking -- I was amazed at how many scenes had a character either talking about drinking or actually doing it.
Penelope's friends weren't really developed as friends.
The key relationship for Penelope was either not fleshed out enough or was resolved too quickly.
Her parents stayed in fairy tale la-la-land but Penelope grew up.

I will buy this film because I loved more than I didn't, and my kids are older. You might want to preview if drinking is a hot button for you. I think Penelope is supposed to be a fairy tale designed with a message for girls, but then it also tried to appeal strongly to adults. I'm not sure it's the healthiest mix.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Serials and Scenarios ~ Up Pops the Devil



Here's my review. Interested in more, just scroll on down and check out the first chapter.

And now I'm going to bed.



Preacher, a new Christian fresh from two years in prison, reenters life with hopes and dreams and crashes into the reality of his past. All of the consequences have been waiting for him, curled up like dormant rattlesnakes, and once he attempts to pick up pieces the rattles begin. A glimpse into a Hades gives further tension as spiritual puppetry is revealed.

These characters are ones that I grew to care about and I hoped for Preacher as he faced serpents all around. Sensitive or conservative souls may want to use caution. The characters behave like sinners saved by grace who need a lot of forgiveness. Solid storytelling and writing skills make the novel an escapist read that ends up challenging and teaching.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Serials and Scenarios ~ Angela Benson Pops In.




Hiya Dreggites. Angela Benson, author of Up Pops the Devil popped in with a few answers to the Dregs' questions. I'm still reading Devil so I'm going to be back with a full or partial review tomorrow. In the meantime, visit here to read the first chapter. And click on the book cover to check out the book and here to get to know Angela a little better. Thanks, Angela.

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


I don't know if it qualifies as strange but I re-read Writing the
Blockbuster Novel by Donald Maas before I begin each book. It's my way
of refreshing myself on the key points of effective storytelling.

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

There's a horror story surrounding my second novel, For All Time, so
that's the one I would change. What would I change? Well, I'd have
them publish the right version of the story. A book goes through
several edits before it's published. The major edits come after you
turn in the manuscript and the editor sends back her revision letter.
After you address the issues raised by your editor and re-submit the
book, the editor re-reads it and, hopefully, accepts it. A while
later you get another set of edits from a copy editor. You make those
changes and resubmit the manuscript again. A while later you get the
final galley pages where you have to make sure no errors have been
introduced into the book during the production process.

At the galley stages of For All Time, I realized that the publisher
had typeset the original manuscript I submitted which had none of the
revisions I had made. I was floored and near tears. A frantic call
to my editor didn't avail much. I was told to make all the changes
on the galley pages and they'd get them in the book. They didn't. If
I could change something, I'd have them publish the revised
manuscript. Believe me, it was much stronger than the original I
submitted.

To this day, I don't read my books after they're published. Too much stress.

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

Easy. Rhett Butler in Gone with the Wind. You know the phrase.
"Frankly my dear. . ."

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

The compliments that mean the most are those that mention how the book has encouraged their lives or touched them in some way.

Something along the lines of a recent review of Up Pops Devil by
Armchair Interviews means a lot: "As I read this book I could feel
the characters' struggles because I had similar ones. To relive my
conversion again through Preacher's story was magnificent. I would
absolutely recommend this book to everyone."

This reader comment about Up Pops the Devil is also a good example:
"The situations are so real and on point several times I found myself
pausing and thinking of my own testimony in which God's love brought
me through."

What criticism has cut the deepest and why?

That's an easy one, too. The review of The Amen Sisters by Black
Issues Book Review contained this line:

Although The Amen Sisters is touted as a story about church culture,
some may question if it is simply a story about a dysfunctional family
in the church.

Ouch. That hurt a lot. It hurt so much because the reviewer missed
the entire meaning of the book and didn't grasp the characters at all.

I thank God that readers didn't respond the same. From the mail I
received, the Lord used that book in a mighty way. You can read some
the reader responses HERE
:


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

Stop dreading the planning and get married already. I'll have been
engaged a year in October. The whole idea of planning a wedding just
makes me tired. Although to be honest, I'm enjoying being engaged. I
just feel the pressure building when people ask, "When's the wedding?"

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Serials and Scenarios ~ Trespassers Will Be Baptized

A book review...for those of you who come for details from my life, so sorry, I have much to share though. A wicked wipe-out in a cornfield, music festivals and drama will be appearing soon.


My Review:


I've read a few memoirs in my day and I'm drawn to the entertaining storytellers who both tell it like it is and also manage to paint reality a little more 3-D, a bit glossier, or even smellier. It is a rare person who can touch on the childhood struggle of figuring out our own little acre and put that immature angst into adult language and rich visuals. Elizabeth Emerson Hancock has that gift. Her story of growing out from underneath the crushing burden of the Preacher's Kid label caused me to smile and sometimes laugh. Hancock has a knack with stringing just the right words together to make her guided tour down memory lane amusing and recognizable to anyone who has spent hours at church potlucks and in Sunday best outfits with thigh backs glued to polished oak pews.

But as well written as this series of life-lessons named for the Fruit of the Spirit is, I couldn't help but struggle with sadness while I read it. Some characters are so human (i.e. awful) I wondered if the author needs to consider forgiving them for the pain they caused in her life. I'm all for laughing, but some of these lessons on the road to faith felt a touch bitter. I know people can be hideous and mean-spirited. Church people can be some of the worst. And it's unfair for adults to put expectations of perfection on kids. I appreciate the emotional cost the author paid out to bare her soul for the world. I can't imagine the toll she paid for the expectations she placed on adults who disappointed her and crushed her tender heart. But Jesus did die for every mean Baptist Sunday School teacher, too. And He is willing to equip us to forgive and move on. I also don't think He wants us to make other human beings all-powerful in our lives and let them steal, kill and destroy our joy, peace or faith long after they perpetrated against us. Elizabeth has every right to tell her story, but I wonder whether some of her thoughts may have been better left "unsaid."

This may be one of the more difficult books I've read this year. I want to love and recommend it, but in spite of all the humor and great writing, I can't help but feel melancholy after visiting her childhood.

Click on the book cover to read more reviews at Amazon.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Serials and Scenarios ~ Kristin Billerbeck's Back to Life




Kristin Billerbeck has made me laugh, cry and sigh. I didn't get the "back to life" in time to read it for review, but I've read enough of Kristin's other novels to know I'm going to find a lot to like. Here is the book premise and a link to read chapter one. And then go here to visit Kristin's site, click on the book cover to go to Amazon, and here to see her trail at Scrambled Dregs. (Scroll down, there's lots to look at.)

About the book:

Lindsey realized when she married Ron, a man 17 years her senior, that the odds were he’d see heaven before her, but she never expected to be a widow at 35. There’s too much of life left for her to just sit around in mourning. But she can’t seem to kick start the rest of her life.

That is until she gets some help from Ron’s first wife, Jane, who shows up unexpectedly at her door one day as the executor of her husband’s estate. Jane is everything Lindsey’s not… independent, stubborn… and a lot older. Plus she has one surprise after another… including a son named Ron Jr. (she insists he’s not “really” Ron’s son). But an unlikely friendship develops as each woman begins to reevaluate what is really important, and owns up to the mistakes they’ve made in the past.

Told in the alternating voices of Jane and Lindsey, and with the return of many of the witty characters of The Trophy Wives Club, this book is a lighthearted, relatable read for when life goes in a direction you never planned. With faith and friends, there’s always light at the end of the tunnel.

If you would like to read an excerpt of chapter 1 of Back To Life, go
HERE.