Friday, December 29, 2006

Scribbles and Scrambles - Random Lessons from 2006

I'd like to share a few lessons I've learned this year.

First, I'm glad I'm teachable. Life would get a little stale if I just rode the big floating ball we call earth.

No longer a closet Pollyanna, I will look for the compliment in any statement directed toward me. Example...I found "you look like a deranged elf" endearing because it was preceeded with "you look adorable." Crazy? Perhaps.

Visits to Nannyland have refreshed a perspective I've lost now that my kids have gotten older. I tend to take life for granted and forget:
Sometimes all you need is a good nap.
That good music is designed for dancing.
Emotions are best expressed.
Some books and songs require belly laughs.
Walking is one step at a time, one foot in front of the other, and learned gradually.

Nike's catch phrase, "just do it" rings true in writing. Plugging away and being persistant has made writing easier and the end result less nasty. ( I may be deluding myself - please refrain from contrary comments until after the changing of the new year.)

I hope your 2007 is a year full of God's blessings, learning and moments that inspire dancing. And French Press coffee.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Scribbles and Scrambles - Blog Pays Off

Who says Bl0gs are useless?

I’ll have you know that “Scrambled Dregs” has paid off big-time.

Several months ago I whined about auto-drip coffee being forever ruined after my palette found French Press.

Fast forward to the annual-post-Thanksgiving-dinner-family-name-drawing-for-Christmas-gifts event. (Yes, it’s a cumbersome title – we thought about A.P.T.D.F.N.D.C.G.E but we just couldn’t sell the concept to the majority…something to do with turkey induced lethargy, I think.) My aunt who reads my blog and remembered the whining-about-French-Press-coffee post, drew my name and… gifted me with an 8-cup French Press. Thanks, sweet, sweet auntie. (This is one of the same aunts who took me to bright blue Mt Crash-a-lot in Colorado. In hindsight posting the French Press whines followed by the four part visit to Mt. Humilation was a brilliant marketing ploy. Of course this only works for family members who’ve somehow had a hand in scarring you and who read your blog.

Hope your Christmas was a French Press kind of day.

In the near future I think I’ll be sharing some family lore – the stories that crop up every time we get together.

Heads in my freezer, dead trikes, things like that.

Maybe I’ll start my campaign for a Blackberry soon, too. My cousin/nephew and I had a discussion over some excellent ideas for blog posts and in all the frivolity I forgot the darn topics, maybe they’ll come to me, they were funny enough to spew organic jelly while laughing over them. If I had a Blackberry that would never have happened (the forgetting, not the snort/spewing.)

So how guilty do you feel over Mt. Marked-For-Life, aunties?

Friday, December 22, 2006

Scribbles and Scrambles - Why I Believe....

So many songs about a baby who was born in a manger, wouldn't it be nice if it was true? That Baby Jesus really did exist and came to bring peace, we need some peace in this messed up world. Innocence is a lacking commodity, too...and truth, well, we've replaced that with drama.

Pondering the birth of a baby, I want to share my thoughts on why I believe, why I've bet the whole farm on the far-fetched story of a baby born to a virgin, long, long ago.

Why do I believe in Jesus? Why do I a 40-something adult still cling to a story that others have dismissed as easily as Santa Claus or the Tooth Fairy?

Is it because I grew up in a “Christian” home and have spent countless hours becoming inchurchiated?

Fair question.

As a child I panicked at the idea that Jesus might come back and take my mom and dad and leave me behind. So it seemed logical that I should do what it took to go with them should the rapture occur. And honestly, it’s a no-brainer, heaven or hell? I’ll pick heaven. Fate sealed, life taken care of.

But then, as I grew-up, survived the teen years, got married, began raising my children, dealing with mortgages, insurance, dentists and the ravages of sin, I faced another menu of choices.

For awhile I chose to step away from the church. Because I felt unworthy to even wear the name of Christ, I shed Him, as if I changed my clothes. Life as a modern woman, as defined by Cosmo, beckoned. The church had disillusioned me.

Deep down though, I hoped that Jesus would maybe recognize me as the little girl who had rededicated her life to Him a thousand times.

No religious guilt for me, just an honest relationship where I refused to pray for help or guidance because I couldn’t muster the gratitude to thank Him for giving me my breath or children or roof over my head. No guilt, true, but hollowness leeched into my soul.

Then the growing babies in my care began to ask questions about the deeper things of life, like what happens when we die. I then looked at the church as an educator for them. We’d go every once in awhile. Kind of like childhood immunizations. Satisfied that I took care of securing their souls, I continued to live as I had been, embracing life.

Who knew that what I embraced wasn’t life at all but slow death by poisoning?

One night, after the same old fight over the same old thing where Rob spoke unintelligible words and accused me of the same, I gave up. I told God I was through doing it my way and asked Him to teach me His.

He steered me back to Jesus.

Jesus freaks people out. He did 2,000ish years ago and still does today. Most preachers don’t spend a lot of time preaching on Jesus’ words because they are too simple and too costly. But Jesus boiled it all down for us. Love the Lord your God with all your mind, soul, strength and heart and your neighbor as yourself.

Love and brutal honesty were His trademark and expectation for those who followed Him. He enraged the religious. He spoke in stories and examples and He embraced the ugly and sin-sick.
C.S. Lewis pointed out (paraphrased) that Jesus either spoke the truth and is who He claimed to be, was a liar, or a lunatic along the lines of a man who might claim to be a poached egg.

Sometimes I find myself getting discouraged. I hate the games that are played in religious circles. I chafe at those who are selfish or mean yet call themselves followers of Christ. I’ve even pondered giving up, questioned if Jesus really is the ONLY way, truth and life.

But the strange thing is that when I get there, I picture a scenario that happened a long time ago. Jesus plunged into unpopularity. He’d been feeding and loving the people and then He introduced the concept of their commitment to Him. Too hard, too much, too painful, the people left.

His disciples stood near Him. I imagine they had the sour taste of disappointment in their mouths. Would a few have been angry? What a stupid thing to do in the middle of a flourishing ministry. Jesus asked the disciples. “Are you going to leave Me, too?”

Peter, who was prone to passionate outbursts, spoke. “Where else can we go? You have the words of life.”

I have to agree. I’ve looked under rocks, in buildings, Googled, searched, studied and have found nothing else that offers the words of life. Instead, I’ve unearthed a whole lot of nicely wrapped death.

That is why I believe in Jesus. Not religion. Not what other people tell me about Jesus. But Jesus Himself.

I believe Jesus is the Son of God, the Promised One, the Messiah, born to a virgin. I believe He lived without sin and became my Passover lamb and my scapegoat on a cross. I believe He died, was sealed in a tomb and that He rose again. His words fill me, because He is the Word and He has placed a part of Himself into me, just like God did when Mary’s womb was filled. I believe Jesus will return for me as He promised. I believe I will see Him on His white horse and on His thigh will be written King of kings and Lord of lords.

What else can I believe? He has the words of life. He is the Word of Life.

Merry CHRISTmas. May you come to know the Prince of Peace intimately......

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Scribbles and Scrambles - My Momma Drops By With a Poem

Here's a treat for you. My mom, the rhyming maniac, has managed to write a poem using the words Superman underwear and squat. And it even has a higher purpose than entertainment. sigh. Well. I did write that incredible Die, Cricket, Die poem a few months ago. (She will not be amused that I tied the two poems together - but it's my blog.)

Mom's Poem (Catchy Title Huh?)

T’was the week before Christmas,
And wouldn’t you know,
I was not nearly ready,
Nor had we had snow.

The stockings we’d found
In the basement, it’s true.
We’d shopped and had purchased
Some gifts (far too few).

The dinner plans, finally,
Were now taking shape.
(work schedules, conflicts, the dishes we’d make).

I longed for the days of the
Fisher-Price stuff, when
Delighting the children
Was never too tough.

A squeaky toy here,
A baby doll there,
Some books, new pjs,
Superman underwear.

Today it’s electronics
About which I know squat,
(except for a few things
my children have taught.)

But in all this confusion
We treasure so dear,
There’s really but one reason
For this time of year.

We stop in the night
To ponder the star,
That light that drew wise men
Who came from afar.

It beckons us still
To consider this birth.
This wondrous, unfathomed gift
To the earth.

The Redeemer who came
In the humblest of ways,
Wrapped, in the manger –
The Ancient of Days.

To purchase His treasure
From the bondage of sin.
He came for your heart.
Won’t you please let Him in?

Phyllis A. Griffith

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Scribbles and Scrambles - Christmas Dreadlines

Sugar plums and roasting chestnuts are the things that are supposed to come to mind when the Christmas season is upon us.

I wouldn’t know a roasted chestnut from a plum pudding.
And sugar plums -- are they anything like sugar beets or a sugar high?

Instead, foremost in my mind intermingling with the Christmas fa-la-la-la-la tunes, come the ghosts of this year past.

First -- the mother ghost -- what I coulda, woulda, shoulda but dinna --haunts me. After she sufficiently whips me about the head and shoulders, enter Mr. Debt to rear his hoary head. He manages to transcend time and become the ghostest with the mostest -- present, past and future rolled into one big headache. The writing wraith beckons, sure, but is easily ignored.

The absolute worst of all is the ghost of Christmas Ritual.

I’ll explain. I have Christmas Eve festivities at my home. In a moment of weakness, years ago, I agreed to my mother’s suggestion to host the family dinner. The tradition has not left me, nigh these two decades. The easiest year, was the one I spent in the emergency room with my eight-year-old. His injury wasn't hideous and when we returned the house was clean and food bubbled in the oven, thanks to my husband and my mom. But for months afterward I found things in odd places.

This experience may have intensified the ritual for me.

I have Martha Stewart dreams but live a Phyllis Diller life. In other words, I want candlight to glint and delicious smells to waft, and these do not occur naturally. Martha’s grand ideas must be kept waiting until I give in to the “company’s coming ritual”.

Defined, the ritual is the compulsion to clean the cupboards and closets so the clutter of my life has a proper home. Therefore, my December 24th gala often becomes a crushing Christmas dreadline.

This year I think I may buy lots of candles for my Christmas Eve celebration. And if my guests cooperate and promise to squint even the dusty things will glint. If the candles are scented I believe I could pull off the fine art of entertaining under pressure. Worse case scenario, a thousand open flames may take care of the clutter once and for all.

Wishing you organized closets and cupboards for 2007.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Scribbles and Scrambles - Thoughts on Buddy.

If you are an “Elf” hater, don’t read any further. Okay, you can but don’t say I didn’t warn you.

I love “Elf” – the movie. Generally speaking elves scare me. Situations such as the baking elf phenomena or the “you’ll shoot your eye out!” elves on “A Christmas Story” force me to classify them as close mutant cousins to clowns.

But Buddy the Elf – ah – he’s in a whole different kind of category.

I suppose with my sense of humor it could be because Buddy finds himself in many hilarious painful situations. My girls and I watched “Elf” last night. We rewound the taxi scene at least three times and the star hanging scene twice, just so we could laugh longer.

Yes, I’m afraid I’ve passed the mutant “laugh at all pratfalls” gene to my children. Sigh. Why didn’t they get the “Oh my goodness. Are you okay?” gene from my husband’s polite family? Oops. I digress.

Maybe I like Buddy the Elf because he’s just so sweet. I know he drinks syrup by the gallon, but that’s not the source of sweetness. Buddy is the ultimate Pollyanna (Paulyanna). Even when he despairs of being a proper elf and labels himself a “cotton-headed ninnymuggins” he still wants to be all he can be and hopes that there is something out there that is his to accomplish.

I want to be a Buddy. I want to see the potential and good and seek to make it even better. I want to live life without being self-conscious and concerned about the thoughts my behavior will generate in others. I want to see the world as shiny and exciting…each cup of coffee might be the “world’s best” in a wonderland where people leave gifts everywhere. I’d like to see the good but hidden gifts in others and encourage them to use them because they make the world a better place, while being thoughtful enough to warn them to watch for speeding cabs. I want to respond “yeah! He’s coming? Oh, Goody!” when I think about Jesus returning for me. Yes. That was Buddy’s response to Santa. So shouldn’t my response to Jesus be even stronger?

Believe. Sing. Embrace. Spread a little joy and cheer while you interact with others this weekend. And watch out for the yellow ones because they don’t stop.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Scribbles and Scrambles -Livin' It

A patient of mine convicted me today.

I hate that.

He didn’t really convict me but what he said did which is even worse because I didn’t get to respond with an “ouch” and recoil so he had to carry guilt around all day.

I called his name and asked him how he was doing. One of those mindless, polite conversations where you expect the person to respond, “good, and you?”

He responded. “Livin’ the dream.”

I laughed. Sarcasm and dry delivery happen to be a couple of my favorite things.

But then his answer swirled around in my thoughts and I began to wrestle with them. Why do I not consider my life to be “livin’ the dream?”

I am. Really.

For starters, I live in the land of the free and home of the brave – the land of opportunity. I understand the concept of fun money, own a microwave and take indoor plumbing for granted about a hundred times a day.

My husband and I though flirting with the abyss early on didn’t plunge over. Our family is intact and a source of joy. Our son is married and doing well. Our middle daughter is delightful, and our baby is growing and learning and turning into a terrific human being.

We have a roof over our heads. And when tidied up and with low light it’s a wonderful place to live. As long as we keep the senile cat away from the open flame of a candle or keep the candle away from dust bunnies, that is.

So why did the comment trigger a snort?

Granted, the sound of foreclosures and the crashing waves of our dying rental business is an albatross we’ll carry a few more years. Chronic pain from the arthritis that has attacked my active husband remains a concern. And the unknown future of our three children is something we take often to the Lord.

But the bottom line is…I am living the dream. No matter what happens here, I have hope in God’s promises. I’m living beyond the dream. I’m livin’ blessed.

I hope you are, too.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Scribbles and Scrambles - Fa-Ha-Ha-Ha-Ha...La-La-La-La

Why is it I laugh at inappropriate times? Is my brain so malformed or twisted that I find the less-than-humorous hysterically funny?

For the record, I don’t laugh at truly horrific things. Never would I laugh at war footage, or car accidents with casualties, or pictures of orphans and/or mistreated animals. These things can dredge up deep emotional responses resulting in weeping.

I tend to tear up at the slightest emotional cue. The Christmas Shoes. Yep. It gets me, even though I’ve heard the song a thousand times. Sentimental commercials force a tear, too. I can’t enjoy a movie with a hint of emotional upheaval without my family watching me for signs of weeping rather than the touching moment on the screen.

But most other things are fair game.

For example, I was just reminded of a special Christmas moment that still makes me laugh 18 years later. Most mothers would not appreciate a wrestling match underneath the Christmas tree, the ones I know, anyway. Chances are, even fewer mothers would take a picture of their children fighting under the tree. So what does it say about me that I have a scrapbook page showing the progression of my two oldest children, at ages one and three, struggling to possess the same book? Starting with frustrated, red faces and ending with a headlock pin, in full color? Probably something the psych blog down the street needs to deal with.

Or is it scary that one of my favorite pictures is of our son while he sobs on a wooden reindeer? In my defense…he loved Rudolph. We were visiting my Grandma in Missouri, and Jordan wouldn’t leave the red-nosed planter alone…until I wanted a picture for our Christmas cards. Then he cried. So what’s a mom to do? Snap a picture, of course, if you’re a mom like me.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Scribbles and Scrambles - Scientific Poll...Vote Today!

Hmmm. I see some sort of connection here. Sue’s most vivid memory is her childhood car crash and then comes Janet with a story about her mishap.

Brace yourselves.

I, too, experienced this phenomenon.

Now, it could be a coincidence that we all three share this type of event and that we write.

Or maybe there is something to it. Could it be we each suffered a specific type of brain burp while rolling around – or flying out of – the backseat? And the result of the brain burp is the compulsion to write. Sue claims it, I know I’ve got it, and Janet…well, she even pens poems about writing.

My incident involved a trip to the hospital. My mom drove, lest you think that my dad, Pat might have a finger in all of this. I occupied the back seat of said hurtling car.

The rest of the details are sketchy. I’m not sure whether we hit something or experienced a near miss but I do remember a rapid toss to the floor. Not really the floor, more like the bag of groceries residing there. I crushed a package of Oreos.

Somehow I ended up in the emergency room. I don’t know if they thought I may have another grocery item wedged somewhere but a rather cute doctor (okay, even five year old girls notice these things. Hello! Am I right romance readers?) sliced the straps of my new tank top so they could remove it. The adorable tank top that I’d only worn for a few hours.

So how about it writers…any childhood car accidents? Do your part for science, kids.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Serials and Scenarios - Sue Dent - Never Ceese - The Interview.

As promised a look inside the mind of a woman who has written a novel about a werewolf and vampire. Read on, if you dare.
Questions are in red - answers blue....

What is your most vivid childhood memory?

Most vivid . . . hmmmm I suppose the aftermath of going from the backseat to the frontseat, through the windshield and back into the back seat again. That's right, no regulations for seat belts in the good ol' days. I was seven or eight. I just remember my dad jumping out after someone ran a stop sign on a dark and rainy night when we were coming home from church. My mom's legs were cut by glass, my brother bumped his head and my sister had a small cut above her eye. But me . . . well, I got to ride on the stretcher!!! And yes, I remember that as the fun part. I remember looking up at the dark night sky, seeing lightening flash and feeling honored that I was getting all the attention. I have a nice scar on my right arm where it was cut to the bone and one all the way around my head, (which hair does a good job of covering). I could get more vivid but I think that's the mark of a good writer, knowing what your audience can tolerate or even wants to read.

What are you usually writing when you hit the sweet spot (when it feels almost effortless - characters, plot, beginning, end etc.)?

Let's put it this way, if I'm writing and it doesn't feel effortless, I stop writing. I don't think I've ever written when it didn't feel effortless. I write because I can't seem to NOT write. Honestly, it never is a struggle for me to write.

What natural or man-made things inspire your creativity?

Life inspires me. Struggles inspire me. Victory inspires me. Defeat inspires me. God has provided so many opportunities for inspiration. Thunderstorms inspire me. I LOVE them. Oh, and being bored inspires me. I can't stand being bored.

If you could visit any place in the universe where would you go and what would you do?

Wow! Universe. Not that long ago, I probably could have named a specific place. Now, I realize, everywhere you go is pretty much just like where you're at. If I can't do whatever I want to do right where I'm at, there's no point thinking about what I might do if I went somewhere else. I would classify that as wasting time and I don't have enough time left to waste though it is an intriguing question! LOL

What are you doing when you feel most alive?

Writing! Imagine that. Okay, just being creative. And praying!

What song makes you tingle or sing at the top of your lungs?

Right now, Mercy Me's I can only Imagine. And anything my brother Jeff Steele of the The Southern Gospel Wonders, The Steele Family writes and sings!

What movie or novel line resonates with you?

Marty Feldman's phenomenal delivery of this line in Young Frankenstein: "Could be worse. Could be raining." Sorry if it's not Marty Feldman. Too tired to do a google search.

How does something worm its way into your heart? (tears, humor, loss)

After having kids, one who's been through ADEM, just about anything tugs at my heart. Unfairness though. Don't let me catch someone being unfair to someone else!

What movie has impacted you the most and why?

This questions begs for a serious movie but I sincerely can not watch a serious movie. Okay, here's one The Ninth Configuration starring Stacey Keetch.(sp?) I loved the suspense, the brotherly love theme, MAN it was good!!!!

What makes you laugh until you hurt?

My kids trying to scare me! They do this because it's so difficult for them to sneak up on me. They're so predictable! I always no what they're up to. Yet when they finally succeed, they're laughter at seeing me startled is contagious.

Create a scene, a character, some dialogue, micro-fiction, or skeleton plot from two or three of the following items. (a paragraph or two - even a sentence would do.)

A coat-rack with a stocking cap dangling from its arm
has very little chance of doing you much harm.

An unidentifiable antique, the scent of pipe tobacco
Grandpa must be smoking, Grandma thinks he's wacko

Freshly cut grass on my feet, evening dew is forming
A wandering three-year-old enjoys. Summer days are warming

A frizzy-haired seventy year old fiddles with a cell phone
Stainless steel, a distant motor, another day is gone.

The smell of rain, satin pajamas, how could it get much better
Rambling thoughts, a mind that's ripe, someone writes a letter.

Links to Never Ceese and Sue

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Serials and Scenarios - Sue Dent - Never Ceese

I'm a little bummed.
I declined a couple of books up for review because I had too much on my plate.
"Never Ceese" is one of those books.
How could I have done that? Angst - gnash.

Follow the links to Sue Dent's new book "Never Ceese" and her website and you'll see what I mean.

"Never Ceese":

What about that cover? Shudder.


Horror and/or sci-fi are not my first pick - but a vampire and a werewolf with a underlying redemption theme seems like a must read.

At least Sue jumped on my interview questions and sent me a little piece of her thoughts through cyberspace. I'll post those tomorrow. Ya gotta like someone who doesn't watch serious movies yet writes about characters in bondage to the darkness.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Scribbles and Scrambles - Why I Like Strange People

Strange is a negative word - usually. I prefer it's alternate or secondary definition - - - unique.

A dozen years ago when we bought the Casa Du Remodel Forever (or home as we like to call it) our realtor mentioned several times that we were strange enough to buy the house.

I didn't take that as an insult.

She explained that we were the round peg that fit into the unique round hole that the house offered. Most of the other interested parties had been square pegs. But we had the interest in the house, the ability to see it's potential and the know-how to pull it off. (I'm pretty sure she thought we'd be finished by now. I guess her strange-o-meter was a bit off.)

I have to admit that I love authors who hang out on the strange side of the pool, too. Not strange as in creepy, but strange as in they look at things differently than your average Joe.

I have an interview to share with you in a couple of weeks that fits this profile. I have yet to read the author's book. It's popular enough that they are having trouble getting copies to the reviewers, and I didn't get to his first book.

When I interview I always throw in something that prompts the author to give me a taste of his/her style/voice. This guy did not disappoint. Based on the four or five sentences he tossed out to me, I know I'm going to love his book.

I currently have another book that is next on my stack of books to read. I already cracked the cover and read the first sentence. Wow. I can't wait to dive in.

I love to read meaty writing.

If you haven't read any Christian fiction for a few years, you really need to give it another shot. There are some stellar authors out there.

Scribbles and Scrambles - Why I Like Strange People

Strange is a negative word - usually. I prefer it's alternate or secondary definition - - - unique.

A dozen years ago when we bought the Casa Du Remodel Forever (or home as we like to call it) our realtor mentioned several times that we were strange enough to buy the house.

I didn't take that as an insult.

She explained that we were the round peg that fit into the unique round hole that the house offered. Most of the other interested parties had been square pegs. But we had the interest in the house, the ability to see it's potential and the know-how to pull it off. (I'm pretty sure she thought we'd be finished by now. I guess her strange-o-meter was a bit off.)

I have to admit that I love authors who hang out on the strange side of the pool, too. Not strange as in creepy, but strange as in they look at things differently than your average Joe.

I have an interview to share with you in a couple of weeks that fits this profile. I have yet to read the author's book. It's popular enough that they are having trouble getting copies to the reviewers, and I didn't get to his first book.

When I interview I always throw in something that prompts the author to give me a taste of his/her style/voice. This guy did not disappoint. Based on the four or five sentences he tossed out to me, I know I'm going to love his book.

I currently have another book that is next on my stack of books to read. I already cracked the cover and read the first sentence. Wow. I can't wait to dive in.

I love to read meaty writing.

If you haven't read any Christian fiction for a few years, you really need to give it another shot. There are some stellar authors out there.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Scribbles and Scrambles - Blog Fog

I'm having a little trouble.

I can't focus.

The pressure is mounting.

I must leave my computer soon and I won't be back today.

Argh! Something quippy, inane, clever needs to come to mind. I'm waiting.

Nothing. Oh, plenty of swirling thoughts, but nothing falling into the chute that leads to the creativity pathway.

I think I'm suffering from Blog Fog.

Or Clever Constipation.

Do they make a pill for this? Should I eat extra fiber?

Okay. I'm taking a deep breath. Don't slap me.

I'll blame it on Monday. Yeah. That's it. Monday. The first Monday in December... after a month long challenge to pull words from my brain for NaNoWriMo. Good excuse.

I did it, by the way. I completed 50,000 words. I may finish the book. I like my characters. I like the story line.

Whew. I feel a little better.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Serials and Scenarios - R.K. aka Randy Mortenson's - Q & A - Landon Snow and the Island of Arcanum

What period of history intrigues you the most and why?

The Reformation--early 16th century. Thinking about Martin Luther in Germany...becoming a monk...everything in church was done in Latin, most people had no idea what was going on, yet they feared God, and the Church manipulated the people by abusing that fear. Indulgences, buying one's way into heaven. And thinking of Martin standing up to the Pope and princes knowing he might die for saying he would not recant his writings which said that God's grace was (gasp) free! And that all Christians are priests. And the Bible should be printed in the common language so that people could read it for themselves. Radical, revolutionary stuff.
So there's that--the Reformation--and then there's the '80s, which also intrigue me. The 1980s that is. What a decade. My formative years. Ferris Bueller and Martin Luther. Two influencers on my life.

Pick one ... Pink iguana, purple cow, periwinkle giraffe.

Which one and why? Can be negative or positive. Purple cow because it makes me think of grape milk. And what would that taste like? And would I like it or not?

Favorite turn of phrase or word picture in literature or movie.
"Houston, we have a problem." Ominous, awesome understatement.

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.)

Hmm. I don't know. Something gothic, maybe. Or an epic about King David set in modern times. Okay, a gothic epic about David composing his psalms while living in Manhattan. Look out for Saul!

What makes you feel most alive?

latte. And looking at my wife and daughter and son...together. While sipping a latte. Preferably from Caribou Coffee (come to Minnesota or North Dakota for this; it's better than Starbucks. And I like Starbucks.)

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

Both--the laughing tears, like when your child's being born and you're on emotional overload. Or when you're deeply sympathizing with someone and they say something to make you smile or laugh right through their pain. It feels good and hurts at the same time.

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.

Well, I've recently gotten out of the Navy and moved to North Dakota, and this is it. I don't feel like traveling at all right now. Honestly. I'm loving sitting here in the middle of farmland and prairie. In the last ten years I've lived on both U. S. coasts and in Okinawa, Japan and I've traveled to Hong Kong, Australia (twice), New Zealand, Malaysia (twice), Thailand (twice), Singapore (twice), South Korea (twice), the Philippines, Indonesia, Brunei, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Tokyo (4 times), Hawaii and Mexico. I've driven from San Diego to Minnesota and back and from San Diego to Florida and from Florida to North Dakota. I've stayed at least a night in Nashville, Indianapolis, Asheville, NC, Dallas, Yellowstone, near Las Vegas, Idaho, Georgia, Utah, Boston, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Seattle, Los Angeles, Oregon, Arizona, Louisiana, Aspen, Wisconsin, South Dakota...and I don't recall where else. If you ask me again in, say, another decade, I think I might want to visit Norway and Austria. And England. And go on an Alaska cruise.

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?..

"Buy, buy, buy!" he says.
"Sell, sell, sell!" she says.
Four months later, they call off their engagement and part ways. She gets out of the rat race and lives happily ever after.
He goes broke seeking to make his fortune in the stock market.

Love the answers, Randy! I think you might have something with David in Manhattan.
And you gotta love the mind that was influenced by Martin Luther and Ferris Bueller.

In case you didn't check out the book link or Randy's website here they are again.

Happy weekend, all. And remember, if anyone offers you the Norovirus - just say NO!

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Serials and Scenarios - Landon Snow and the Island of Arcanum R.K. Mortenson

Come back tomorrow for an interview with R.K. aka Randy.

Check out all the particulars....

Visit R.K.'s website:

My Review:

I've not read the first two Landon Snow adventures.

Several people have quoted clever descriptions and chunks of word weavings from the Auctor's Riddle so I was intrigued to read R.K. Mortenson's third novel.

The Island of Arcanum is a book we'd have chosen to read to our children. Enough suspense to keep a child on the edge of their seat without the nightmare factor. I see Landon Snow appealing to the 2nd to 5th grade set especially.

Mr. Mortenson tosses in enough earthy humor to get a giggle from the Captain Underpants crowd without overdoing it.

Though the Harry Potter series appealed to a huge market, and though well written, I blanched at the underlying mean-spiritedness of the characters. Landon Snow, however, cares about his sisters and his friends from past adventures which makes his adventure series a good alternative.

I didn't get to know Landon as well as I would've liked, and this might be because I haven't read book one or two.

Health Tidbit:
Should any of you be tempted to pick up any of the stomach virus strains around and about -- don't. I wasn't even tempted to blog about it. That's pretty bad. I've constructed some odd posts in strange situations...well, let's leave it at that.

Serials and Scenarios - R.K. Mortenson Landon Snow and the Island of Arcanum

Landon Snow Island of Arcanum

R.K. (Randy) Mortenson's website.

My Review:

I've not read the first two Landon Snow adventures.

Several people have quoted clever descriptions and chunks of word weavings from the Auctor's Riddle so I was intrigued to read R.K. Mortenson's third novel.

The Island of Arcanum is a book we'd have chosen to read to our children. Enough suspense to keep a child on the edge of their seat without the nightmare factor. I see Landon Snow appealing to the 2nd to 5th grade set especially.

Mr. Mortenson tosses in enough earthy humor to get a giggle from the Captain Underpants crowd without overdoing it.

Though the Harry Potter series appealed to a huge market, and though well written, I blanched at the underlying mean-spiritedness of the characters. Landon Snow, however, cares about his sisters and his friends from past adventures which makes his adventure series a good alternative.

I didn't get to know Landon as well as I would've liked, and this might be because I haven't read book one or two.

Come back tomorrow for Randy's interview.

And just for the record...if you have a chance to pick up the Rotovirus (aka the stomach flu) don't. It's a bad, bad thing.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Scribbles and Scrambles - The Circle of Trust

Twenty-five years ago today I walked down the aisle clutching my father's arm.

I had no business pledging my life-long love to the man who waited in the white tux at the end of that long aisle.

But that's what we do, isn't it? Marry when we have no idea what marriage means, make a baby when we don't realize that babies grow into teenagers.

If I had waited until I had a clue, fear would have eventually paralyzed me and I would have missed out on the waltz of my life.

Rob is my soul mate. But for so long we tried to poison each other and nearly succeeded. For some reason God intervened and held us together when all we wanted was to tear each other apart.

Thank you, God. Without Your glue my life would be tones of gray. The music of the soundtrack of my life without Rob would be elevator stylings at best.

Rob, today I tell the world (or my faithful and/or random readers) that I'd do it all over again. Wet behind the ears idealism has grown into a gut love. I promise to love you, honor you, respect you and forsaking all others pledge my life, my heart, my soul, my prayers to you until I take my last breath or hear the trumpet sound in the clouds.

If the trumpet sounds first, I hope we are close enough to grasp hands and take the wild ride together. If one of us breathes our last, I will treasure the memories we've made and the eternity we still have before us.

I am so glad I married you. I love you with all that I am, and so much more than when I walked toward you 25 years ago with my heart outstretched looking for the fulfillment of the promise of what God has delivered.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Scribbles and Scrambles - Greener Grass Futures

Okay, you know what a crazy month this has been for me. So I'm posting another piece I wrote for a column in an on-line writing magazine.

Hope your Thanksgiving was crammed with fun and great food. Hope you survived if you shopped til you dropped on Friday.

I'm sooooo close to my NaNoWriMo word're going to be proud of me. Now if I could just muster the guts to post a paragraph or two of what I've written. I actually like my story. I sure hope I'm not deluding myself. I'll have to let you know when I begin to edit. Yikes!

Greener Grass Futures.... (and yes, I know the season doesn't fit, but the random thought works with me today, okay?)

Slack-jawed, almost speechless, my daughter looked at me. “Wow, I think that’s the wisest thing you’ve ever said.”

It was my turn to be speechless. She’d actually heard me? We’d been discussing what ifs and why nots and if onlys. Wracking my brain, I tried to recreate the words that had flowed during lecture #17.I had said something that clicked. What was it?

Cleaned up for publication, here it is. “Don’t spend your time wishing for what you don’t have and aren’t ready to handle, because you’ll miss the great part of being right here, right now.” Sounds, great, I must have “borrowed” it from a wise sage.

I realized that I knew what I was talking about because I was talking about me. Isn’t that what we do? When I make more money, then…., finish my novel…., get a contract…., finish this season of my life… find an agent, then….

I worked for years in a creative part of a non-profit world. Yeah, I know an oxymoron. Organizing, teaching, training and throwing together events and newsletters kept me frazzled and occupied.

One day I looked at a calendar and realized that I’d wished away an upcoming family event while looking forward to a few weeks of rest before the next onslaught of activity.

I now work in an industry that is daily focused. I have 24 hour blocks again instead of chunks of time book ended by events.

Blurry snapshots of my life are not what I want. I’d rather have frozen moments embedded in my thoughts or brief snatches of mental videos.

Even though I want that first novel contract, and would love to be able to write full time without subsisting on mac and cheese, I’m content to do what I need to do to earn those rewards.

Learning the craft of writing has been a pleasant surprise. My mind wraps around my experiences or ideas and is challenged to form a series of words that can evoke emotions or understanding in those who read them. Writing slows my life down, forcing me look at the details of dailiness. Weaving mind pictures, flash freezing moments to cherish, has helped me to live.

Even now, my daughter and her friend clang, crash and laugh in the kitchen. I’m choosing to ignore the mess being created. Anything to keep my fragile web of sanity. The leaves shimmer and shimmy in the slight breeze outside my window. The vivid sky helps me overlook the 95 degree temp with 100% humidity. My husband wanders past, touches my arm and reads over my shoulder. As he rushes away before I can catch him to read the whole thing, I smile, noticing, that at 43 he’s still got it.

Right here, right now, that is where I am. I think I’m going to be okay with that. Of course I will, I have an excellent imagination.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Serials and Scenarios - Calm, Cool & Adjusted by Kristin Billerbeck

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone. Watch for signs of turkey overdose!

Here's a great book to read while you are flat on your back after holiday feasting.

Kristin's Website

My Review of Calm, Cool and Adjusted.

Poor Poppy!

She just wants to save the world -- one liver at a time. Poppy didn't take her vow to bring health and well-being to the masses lightly. But the obstacles she faces are bringing her down.

Unbelievers, scoffers and meddlers thwart her every move. Her father flakes out and does something totally unexpected.Dr. Frankenhunk, the handsome plastic surgeon next door, tries all of Poppy's patience and good will. He actually parks his spiffy sports car in front of her organic and peaceful side of their shared office space. The man has nerve; fortunately, she's there to point it out.

Even Lily and Morgan, her spa buddies, won't leave Poppy alone. They actually suggest conversation limits for certain social occasions. A completely maladjusted patient manages to confuse the situation even further.

What's a poor-green-goo-for-dinner loving, just-trying-to-make-everyone-healthy-chiropractor to do?

Everything you want Chick-Lit to be, served with a healthy dose of cleverness. Adorable, fluffy fun. I'd love to hang with Poppy. Well, maybe not for dinner.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Scribbles and Scrambles - Musical Epiphany

This is a feature I wrote that convicts me everytime I read it. It appeared on the TrueTunes website a few months ago.

Musical Epiphany

Sweaty bodies and the scent of rain filled the sawdust strewn animal barn at the Christian music festival. After being chased by the blowing downpour to the lightning free indoor arena, musicians meandered onto the small stage.

A man with a small girl clasped to his chest stopped in front of a speaker just as one of the guitarists struck a few intense warm-up cords. The toddler jerked and burst into tears. The man looked down, covered the child's ears, and like a salmon swimming upstream, headed toward the back of the huge audience. I huffed, relieved to see that he had "gotten a clue" and decided to put the child's best interest before his desire to be in front of the stage.

Two women behind my family carried on a loud conversation, oblivious to the people who stared at them. Well, actually they bellowed to hear each other over the band. Frustration flooded through me. A child in front of us whined, and his mother told him to stop. He carried on and she finally gave him what he wanted. Then the father and mother engaged in a heated argument over parenting styles. She lost, turned to the white clothed child and chastised him for being dirty.

I leaned over to my daughter and suggested that I should direct them to the parenting information table in the lobby.

As the concert began, the man and the toddler headed back to the stage. He'd draped a blanket over her head, and I shook mine.

I soon focused on the stage as great rock music filled the animal barn. The singer shared parts and pieces of his musical heritage. He'd grown up in the church and had spent a lot of his life going through the motions musically. He didn't understand why the church lacked the overwhelming emotion of the brokenhearted street performers who grabbed his heart. After all, shouldn't Christians be the most grateful, broken-hearted people in the world? Believers are delivered from despair and death by the victory won by Christ, the lover of their souls.

On his journey to find the passion missing in the church, the singer found his voice, capturing the words of God in rock and blues styles of music. The notes of his "signature piece" poured out, and a conversation I'd taken part in months earlier came to mind. A musically talented friend of ours, frustrated with his standstill in the music business, brought up the song the man on the stage sang. The conversation had gone down a negative road. My husband and I had listened to our friend's "expertise" and agreed with him. We didn't "care for" the style of the song.

Pierced, I listened to the music with my heart instead of my mind.

"Who am I?" I thought as the truth of the song and the reality of worship as it was meant to be, swirled around me. My focus was wrong. My attitudes were wrong, so very, very wrong.

How easily I make snap judgments or "discernments." Me, sitting in judgment of the family with the dirty, misbehaving children, the conversationalists, the musicians and the man with the blanket clad child – the man, who now stood with one arm raised to heaven.

God tweaked my heart painfully. How could I pick apart the sacrificial offering of a fellow servant, being a simple servant myself? What difference does it make if I prefer one musical style over another? If a song is written to praise God, using some of God's own words or feelings that wash over the author as God reveals Himself, that song belongs to God. It becomes as sacred as prayer.

I can't redeem anyone's past, or see into anyone's future. Nor can I touch someone's soul without God's heart beating in my own. How could I know if the risk to a child's ears was more or less important than being in the arms of a man who loved her? Maybe God will use the love of music to grasp hold of her heart. Maybe music will be the special connection between the two of them as she grows into a young woman.

God can intervene and heal relationships and maybe the family struggle we witnessed will be eased because of their experience at the concert. A song, whether I like the beat or the words, may grasp a heart that is wandering away from God. A song, sung with a heart that beats with the powerful love of God could accomplish exactly what God desires.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Scribbles and Scrambles - Why I Write...

At the end of October I promised to post even more random and strange things since I would be up to my eyebrows in words for my self-imposed NaNoWriMo deadline. I currently have 33,000 words of the 50,000 required and I don't hate the story. This is good.

Anyhoo, an internet writing group/loop posed the following question: How do you explain your compulsion to write to non-writing friends and family?

My answer:

I drool and act edgy until my husband suggests I put in a little writing time.

No. I use the hunting analogy.

My husband is an avid deer hunter. When the season rolls around, he starts rack shopping, even if the freezer's full. One year we drove by a perfect Christmas card scene. Huge puffy snowflakes swirled in the air and danced in front of a brilliant moon. Trees glistened with icy glitter and a massive buck stood in the midst of it all. I was awed into silence.

My husband expelled a breath, and then said. "I wish I had my gun."

I need to write like he is driven to clomp through icy streams, sit in trees in negative temperatures, and shoot Bambi.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Serials and Scenarios - Scoop - Rene Gutteridge - Part 2

Rene Gutteridge picked and answered some of my random questions. I tell ya, she's cute. The questions are red, the answers blue.

Pink iguana, purple cow, periwinkle giraffe. Which one and why?

Purple cow. Love the color and a good steak.

Two middle-aged females talking animatedly. One wears a very short skirt, and she ought not to be……………. Give me a scene, dialogue, characterization, drama……

Gosh, I kind of like your sentence: One wears a very short skirt and she ought not to be. Kind of says everything there is to say!

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

"It is a fair, even-handed, noble adjustment of things, that while there is infection in disease and sorrow, there is nothing in the world so irresistibly contagious as laughter and good-humour." -- A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens

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 suppose I would write as many movies as I could. I love writing novels but I also love screenwriting.

What makes you feel alive?

A good night's sleep; knowing God has used me in some way; watching my children succeed at what they're trying; star gazing; a cold winter day with a fire, hot cocoa, and my loved ones with me.

How does something worm its way into your heart? Through tears, truth, humor, etc.....?

Humor. If it can make me laugh then it can make me cry, but the reverse is not true. It is much harder to make me laugh, so if you do it, especially if it's wrapped in truth, then you've won my heart.

Favorite book setting and why?

I love the setting of A Christmas Carol, so much so that I actually have a huge collection of the Department 56 village called Dickens Village. It has everything from that world he so vividly described. Though it was a wretched time, he somehow makes me want to be there.

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

The highest compliment for me is when someone sees the truth and believes it because of something they've read of mine. That is the greatest triumph. A close second is when someone writes me to tell me how much one of my books made them laugh. I love to know people are laughing, especially when life isn't easy for them at the moment.

What criticism has cut the deepest and why?

I have a really rough time with someone questioning my spirituality because of something that they've read in one of my books...or, as has been the case, questioning it before they even read one of my books.

Thanks for playing along, Rene.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Serials and Scenarios - Scoop - Rene Gutteridge - Part 1

Rene Gutteridge is adorable. I had the opportunity to sit in two of her classes at the conference I attended in Dallas in September. Not only does she share tons of helpful information, she's a giggle a minute.

I do have the distinction of being one of the only people ever kicked out of her comedy class...but that's another story. Okay. I didn't get kicked out. Michelle and I left BECAUSE Michelle got such a horrid case of the giggles we became a distraction. You know how you just can't take some people out in public. Michelle is NOT one of those, but I think I wore off on her as the weekend progressed. She was punchy when we entered the classroom, and she progressed to one heartbeat away from scream laughing over a flying mint. Go figure. Anyhow, I
missed Rene's great comedy workshop - I'll have to see if I can't tape Michelle to a wall next time Rene offers it.

Come back tomorrow for some great answers to questions I asked Rene.
For those of you keeping track...I have now penned/typed 25,000 words for NaNoWriMo. (the crowds go wild) Thanks.

Go check out Scoop:

And Rene:

My Review:

Scoop is the first novel I've read by multi-published author Rene Gutteridge.

I will be reading more.

For starters, how can I not like a book containing a woman with a clown phobia? This is not a main plot point, but it's a hint at the quirkiness that weaves through the story of Hayden Hazard.

Told from several viewpoints, one of them a charming, hunky news reporter, this story gets behind the scenes of a news station.

The plot moves rapidly, and the characters are charming. A hint of chick-lit flair with moderate romance, it also contains a bit of suspenseful mystery, and is sprinkled throughout with humor.

I love Rene's series idea -- the Occupational Hazards. A family of clowns scrambling for different lives after the untimely and mysterious death of Mom and Dad Hazard leaves the bunch of near adults orphaned, and a big entertainment company requesting to purchase the famous Hazard clown empire.

Faith plays a huge part within the story. Hayden believes in public prayer even when her frazzled boss demands otherwise.

This is a fun read. However, if you are a homeschooler or have been homeschooled, and you don't find this a subject to take lightly and with humor, you could get offended.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Serials and Scenarios - Cubicle Next Door - Siri Mitchell - Day 3

Hey guys,

My e-mail and Blogger don't communicate very well. Hmmm. Don't know what that means. But I've been given a different link for The Cubicle Next Door, the one I gave you on Wednesday is not the correct one. Apparently the cyber monkies messed it up enroute. And well, with my limited knowledge of all things technical, those monkies don't have to work too hard to confuse me. Do cyber-monkies resemble flying monkies from the Wizard of Oz? Shudder. Do they eat cookies?

Anyway, this should take you there....

If you haven't been snooping around and checking out Cubicle I really need to wonder why.
Now get over there and check it out.

Oh, Happy Friday, and have a great weekend.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Serials and Scenarios - Oops - The Cubicle Next Door - Siri Mitchell

I gave you a wrong link to Amazon's link to The Cubicle Next Door. I'm sorry. Let's chalk it up to flakiness.">The Cubicle Next Door

If you haven't been there yet, what are you waiting for? Go.

Serials and Scenarios - Siri Speaks! The Cubicle Next Door - Part 2

Because I want to get to know the authors I read I ask them sometimes bizarre and sometimes deep questions.

Siri Mitchell played along and below are the things I needed to know and the stuff you probably never realized you needed to know, too.

If you missed the review of Cubicle and her website/Amazon links scroll down to yesterday's post.

Thanks, Siri.

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…..
Well, they’ve got to be Americans, because the French have better sense. If they’re in a restaurant, they’re there to eat. And the Japanese have better manners. These people are totally annoying! I don’t care what I hear. Be in the moment, people! If it’s that important, go back to work. Or break up and find another boyfriend/girlfriend because they’re just not that into you.

What makes you feel most alive?
Fall. I love the colors of autumn leaves and the crisp air. One of my favorite poems is James Whitcomb Riley’s When the Frost is on the Punkin:
It pretty much says it all. I used to be able to recite it, but it’s been awhile…

Book, music, person, food you would take with you on a very long trip.
I’d take Claudia Mair Burney in the process of writing another book so that I could read over her shoulder as she typed. It’s fall, so I’m into Harmonia Mundi’s popular French dances of the 16th century. Those medieval/renaissance flutes, pipes, and drums are the soundtrack of the season for me. As for food? As many pints of Ben & Jerry’s Phish Food as I could fit into a climate-controlled suitcase.

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.
Paris. I can hear my thoughts in Paris and I’ve been inspired to more than one book when I’ve been there…three and counting…

Which compliment related to your writing has meant the most and why?
I’ve had several readers comment that my words have made them think about their faith. If my words can inspire someone to think about their faith, then I feel like I’ve done my work. As Christians, most of the time we’re not taught to think, we’re taught to listen and then regurgitate. The problem with knowing ‘what’ without knowing ‘why’ is that faith grows no roots. The person who thinks about their faith and why they believe what they do is the person who owns their faith.

What criticism has cut the deepest and why?
I actually like criticism because it helps me build better books. I have several readers that write me each time they’ve read one of my books and tell me what they didn’t like. I look forward to receiving their e-mails because they don’t attack me personally and they’ve spent a lot of time thinking not only about what they didn’t like but why they didn’t like it. I’ve learned valuable things from them about writing. I try to make every book better than the last and I learn with every book I write.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Serials and Scenarios - The Cubicle Next Door - Part 1

Siri Mitchell is our focus today and tomorrow. I've added her to my list of favorites after reading:

My Review: The Cubicle Next Door

Strong-shelled activist -- jello-jiggler filled heroine meets her worst nightmare.

An office mate opens a door on the deepest dream Jackie owns, one she didn't even know she had.

Possibly the sweetest book I've read all year. A Cinderella scene involving little old ladies is laugh out loud til a tear comes to your eyes funny. A visit to the theatre is heart thumpingly tender.

If you like sweet, fun, flirty coupled with deep characterization and creative writing - you couldn't ask for anything more.

Those who prefer solid, structured genre formulas, or strict adherence to grammar and punctuation rules may feel frustrated. If you detest chick-lit style you may not be able to appreciate the charm of this great read.

I will grab a copy of "Kissing Adrian" because if it's anything like "Cubicle" I don't want to miss it.

Come back tomorrow for a peek into the inner workings of her mind. If you can't wait, here's her website:

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Scribbles and Scrambles - Random Celebrations

I’m going to be random this month. Remember NaNoWriMo?

Number of words update…(drum roll, please) I have 11, 064 words out of 50,000 done.
This is a cause for celebration for me, myself and I. You can join me if you’d like. Okay. One, two, three… “Whoo-hoo!”

Another cause for celebration…baby tree-frog turns one today. Yay – Baby Jack. Happy Birthday. I went to his shindig on Saturday. He is technically walking, but the sticky pads on his tree-frog toes are giving him trouble.

So, clever little boy that he is, he’s taken to using toys as makeshift walkers. Jet-propelled walkers. The little bugger flies.

He had Nanny and company running away just to save toes and any other appendages that might be in the road. The cat and dog population scatters when they hear the pitter-patter rumble of an upcoming Jack attack.

Tomorrow and Thursday come back for a fun interview and book review.

Now, I need to get back to writing.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Scribbles and Scrambles - Ironed Out

I wrote this a few days ago. I felt it wouldn't be appropriate to post today because
a) I didn't actually iron today.
b) The dryer has been replaced with a lovely used model that works.

But after last night - when the switch on the "new" dryer failed to fire... well, what do they say? "All's fair in laundry and war."

There's a blog post in the dryer failure. I'm sure I overtaxed it, but there seems to be a theme. A couple weeks ago my starter on my car died, last night, and (spooky music) the first deceased dryer had an ignition issue, too. I'll have to think this over.

My first day NaNoWriMo-ing netted 2,065 words. Yay. I'm a blip on the map.

I ironed today.

This is because the dryer has decided to take a little time off.

I’m not an ironer. I hate to admit this to the entire world, but I’m so opposed to ironing that I practice creative drying.

When the drier works this is easy. I half dry items and then drape them just so. I’ve even been known to rewet something and smooth it out by hand.

When the dryer is on hiatus, this doesn’t work so well, and I get to break out the iron.

The shirt I wanted to wear this morning reclined at the bottom of a pile of “can be worn one more time before washing” garments. A spritz of perfume freshened it, but the wrinkles had become one with the fabric.

As I ironed, I realized I don’t quite hate it as much as I thought. Strange. But in light of the piles of dirty clothes waiting for a miracle dryer fix, the pile of “one more time” garments, and the ones that have been draped to air dry, it was freeing to actually iron something and have it look so nice.

Kind of like I smoothed some of the wrinkles out of my life.

But then I pinched my finger while putting away the board and tripped over the pile of dirties and lost all those nice thoughts.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Scribbles and Scrambles - Music to My Ears.

In honor of the upcoming fall holidays my van has developed a new style of vocalization.

Nothing serious I hope. I believe there is a piece of paper or fabric caught in my blower fan.

At random times, a shriek that could wake the dead sounds from the passenger side of the vehicle. Creepy by day and hair-raisingly eerie by night.

I’m glad I don’t believe in the possibility of zombies.

If there was such a thing, it would sound just like my van.

Other random trips around town find the fan clucking and gobbling like a turkey.

Both scintillating stylings add another element of fun while on the road.

Heavy metal music, for me, births homicidal thoughts. Trust me when I say that screaming zombies or turkey crescendos do the same when I encounter an illegal left hand turner or tailgater.

I suppose I should offer my van to Hollywood in case they need some really great turkey and/or zombie noises.

So here goes. If any of you are looking for some realistic, yet fresh and new, zombie or turkey voices, let me know. For a small fee, you too could enjoy authentic sounds for the fall holidays.

Suppose I could get the van to backfire “Ho,Ho,Ho?”

Monday, October 30, 2006

Scribbles and Scrambles - The Visitor

Thanks for all your excellent name ideas. I will percolate these over and over in my brain until I just randomly choose one. Though a couple of you suggested Kelly as a great character name…I agree…though I’m afraid in my caffeine induced catatonic moments while producing word after word to meet a self-imposed deadline – the use of the name Kelly in my manuscript could cause severe confusion resulting in brain damage. (don’t say it) Can you believe that the previous sentence did not receive a grammar tag from Word? Wow.

When I begin to post snippets of my story…you’ll see what name I decide to choose. Or I may ramble in a moment of angst…and beg for more ideas. Who knows. Maybe I’ll even change my quirky coffee loving character into a man. Fortunately NaNoWriMo doesn’t require good writing, just words.

Because Halloween is tomorrow…I have a gruesome, little snippet to share…I can’t resist.

This disgusting and revolting gift idea is brought to you by my cat. Her given name is Blackie, but I’m going to have it legally changed to Hannibal.

Don’t read this if you are eating.

Trust me.

Hannibal delivered a gift bright and early Saturday morning. This particular cat burns the candle at both ends (once, actually, she did singe her tail on a candle but that’s not what I mean). I mean she lives two active lives, one indoors, and one out.

One day last year, my husband, Rob opened the front door and let her in. She meowed. The meow, unusual in it’s muffled and passion concerned us. I said “sounds like she’s got something in her mouth.” At which point she opened said mouth and a live mouse scurried under the cabinet.

Yes. Our cat is a wonderful huntress. Apparently she wanted to add a little excitement to her normal boring inside life. A little exercise perchance? A comment on the food we serve? Who knows.

Back to Saturday. I open the door, extend my toe to step onto the porch and recoil.

Staring at me is a mouse face. Not a mouse, just its face. Silence of the Lambs style. This is a movie I cannot ever see. A friend told me all about it and I had nightmares. So imagine how I felt when a part of it landed on my porch. (Pun intended of course)

Off to the lower left of the face lay the mouse behind, complete with tail and one foot.

Twelve inches away is another foot and some truly unmentionable items.

I’ve been sharing this story since Saturday. Rob corrects me each time I do. “It’s not the mouse face, it’s the whole mouse head.” I suppose that’s the hunter in him.

When spying the mouse staring at me with its sightless eyes I didn’t even have the urge to bend closer to see if its face was still attached to the head. My bad.

Here’s hoping your cat doesn’t love you enough to bring you gifts, doggie bags, or new toys.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Scribbles and Scrambles - Beware the Ides of November

Insanity is my middle name. Okay, it’s actually Sue, but for the purpose of illustration today, it’s Insanity.

It has a nice ring, I think. But we’ve already established I’m insane.

Not only have I taken on two classes to teach on top of the other November happenings, I have decided to do NaNoWriMo again.

Last year I finished well, won a certificate of completion which I framed in a nice, red 8x10.

NaNoWriMo is National Novel Writing Month. In the month of November many foolish and/or driven people set out to conquer a novel.

My posts on Scrambled Dregs will no doubt take an interesting slant as I reel from the sheer number of words and hours spent typing them.

I’d like to ask you, my dear readers, to throw out a name worthy of my heroine.

She’s in her twenties, quirky, loves kids and coffee. Give it a shot. If I choose your suggestion I will award you with an autographed copy should any ever see the light of day.

If anything good flows from my fingers onto the screen, I may share a few scenes with you. Why not, it seems like something an insane person might do.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Serials and Scenarios – Jerome Teel - The Election

Jerome Teel’s “The Election” is our book of focus for this week’s Christian Fiction Blog Alliance Blog Tour. I haven’t read either of Mr. Teel’s books, so I asked him a few questions.

Check out his book… “The Election”

And his website

And now get to know the man behind the book – in Scrambled Dreg fashion.

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.)

[Jerome Teel] Probably exactly what I'm writing now. I'm a lawyer who enjoys politics. So the ideas come easy. The discipline to write is difficult and finding time even more so. I'm still learning the craft of writing but I enjoy storytelling. Jesus Christ used parables to teach and I think Christian fiction is an excellent mode to utilize to convey a message.

What makes you feel alive?

[Jerome Teel] Spending time with my wife and children. We have a very busy life with multi-faceted children. Although at times it can be very exhausting, I wouldn't miss it for the world.

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? Why?

[Jerome Teel] I've never been to Europe and hope to go there some day. I enjoy the mountains and the beach, and would like to spend weeks traveling through the Caribbean.

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

[Jerome Teel] The people who e-mail or call and say something like, "I couldn't put The Election down. The dirty clothes piled up; the dishes went unwashed; and I stayed up until 3:00 a.m. just trying to finish it."

What criticism has cut the deepest and why?

[Jerome Teel] Honestly I'm so new at this that I really haven't had a lot of criticism. I'm sure it is coming as more and more (hopefully) people read my work. The only criticism I've had -- if you can call it criticism -- were rejections from publishers. But I don't really consider that criticism. I saw it more of a business decision than a commentary on my work.

Unidentifiable antique, the scent of pipe tobacco and the drizzle of rain – make a scene.

[Jerome Teel] Joe McClatchy ran his hand along the wooden edge of the desk. It was old, he knew. But how old he wasn't certain. The mahogany wood was smooth and recently polished. The knee well went all the way through and there were drawers on both sides. The top of the desk was laden with leather. He had never seen anything like it. He spun slowly and absorbed the entire room. The ceiling was tall and the walls were dark and rich. The carpet beneath his feet was thick and soft. The furniture both elegant and purposeful. It was a room befitting the office of the Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court.

Joe was both intimidated and excited. He had worked hard and long hours at Harvard Law School for an opportunity to serve as a law clerk to the chief justice and he was confident he had earned the position. He inhaled deeply and enjoyed the scent that remained in the room from Chief Justice Williams' pipe. Joe's grandfather smoked a pipe and Joe tried to determine the type of Justice Williams' tobacco from the fragrance. Was it Virginian?

Joe returned to the front of the antique desk and peered over it at the drizzle that pelted against the window behind the desk.

"So you're Joe McClatchy?" he heard a deep voice behind him speak. He pivoted and found Chief Justice Williams standing in the doorway. He was taller than Joe imagined and his presence filled the room. It was as if every object in the office rose to attention and Joe even found himself standing more upright. He pressed his red and navy tie with his hand and buttoned the top button of his suit coat.

"Yes, sir," Joe replied. "I was just admiring your antique partners' desk. It appears to be from the early eighteen hundreds."

"You have an impressive eye, Mr. McClatchy," Justice Williams said. He moved further into the room and circled behind the desk. He, too, ran his hand along the smooth wooden edge. "It is quite an important piece of furniture in the history of our country. Many decisions by my predecessors were written on this desk."

Joe gazed again at the desk and it took on a different significance. It no longer was just a beautiful piece of furniture. He now realized he was looking at a part of American history.

Justice Williams settled into the leather chair behind the desk and smiled at Joe. "But you were wrong about it's age," he said. "It's from the seventeenth century. It's first owner wasn't a supreme court justice because there wasn't a supreme court yet. Would you like to know who was the first person to own it?"

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Scribbles and Scrambles - Mt SitzMark - The End

The October sky is a perfect shade of blue.
Sunshine bathes the hills and jewel-toned leaves glow in ambers and scarlets. Beautiful.

This makes it difficult to pull my mind back to the cold, white winter long ago when I still felt a bit of a thrill when choosing to do dangerous and foolish things.

I’m choosing not to look out the window, and I’m thinking about what today might have in common with that day in Steamboat Springs.

The brilliant sun. Yes. That’s it. Intense sunlight playing off the glittering whiteness (except for that unfortunate blue “bottom” acre at bunny hill.)

Snow blindness. Good times.

I’m going to blame my aunts’ loss of sanity on snow blindness.
I’m sure the condition impacts the mind.
This is the only reason I can imagine why they would take me, Miss Remedial-Ski-School-Flunkie-No-Can-Do-the-Snowplow-to-Save-Her-Life, to the top of the mountain.

“We have the perfect run for you.”

Boy was it.
Glistening snow, sloping gradually through the pines, marked with a sign labeled “intermediate.”

“Uh. I flunked snowplow. I’ll hurtle to my death and likely take you with me. You understand that, right?”

In my family we laugh in the face of danger. “Ha! What better way to learn the snowplow. Shall we push you, or do you want to start on your own?”

So, go I did. Shwoosh, thud, slide -- at least down the steepest part. It seemed safer than the hurtle option.

As the trail lost the steepness, I eventually stood, and believe it or not, I snowplowed.

The rest of the day and week blurs in comparison to that shining moment when I became a skier.

Even the rescue snowmobile incident is forgotten in comparison to the glory of conquering. Sigh.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Serials and Scenarios - Karen Kingsbury - Like Dandelion Dust

A momentary rest from the ski saga.
Hope you can make it through the weekend without knowing where I ended up.

Karen Kingsbury is this week’s author of interest.

I haven’t read her new book “Like Dandelion Dust” but I like the title. I’d give it a 8.2 out of 10, but I’m fond of alliteration (must be the poet in me – ha).

I’ve read one Karen Kingsbury novel – “A Time to Dance.” A well-written, heart-wrenching novel that stayed with me for quite awhile.

My daughter developed a love/hate relationship with “One Tuesday Morning.” When whimpering floats from the living room it's a good sign my daughter is reading Karen. Karen should take this as a compliment since my daughter chooses titles carefully.

Visit Amazon for reviews of “Like Dandelion Dust”

and Karen’s Website to get to know her and the rest of her books.

Have a great weekend.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Scribbles and Scrambles - Mt SitzMark - Part 3

Snow-magnified brightness burst into the hotel room. Disoriented, I jumped out of bed. The painful reality of squealing calves reminded me of where I was and what I had spent the entire previous day doing. Or not doing -- the snowplow.

Today I would hit the beginner hill. The one on the side of the mountain. There I would practice all that I had been unable to master with Viktor the wonder-instructor’s careful instruction.

I limped to the hotel draperies and the crooked crack of light. Maybe I’d feel better with an eyeful of a majestic mountain. I pulled the curtain sideways and faced my destiny.

Unfortunately, the intense light had awoken the aunts. One hopped up and stood beside me. This was not good, because the landscape before us would be something I would never live down.

She screeched, alerting the other aunt of the opportunity for fun. There, in blue and white starkness, lie the evidence of my day spent in ski-bunny-school or Beginning Skiing and Repeat Beginning Skiing for the Inept and Pathetic (RBSIP).

I’d worn dark denim jeans power sprayed with waterproofing protection. As my jeans got wet, they bled. And they bled all over the hill. Every square foot contained a bright blue sitzmark, and there were a lot of square feet. This answered the mystery as to why my long underwear had turned a nice shade of chambray.

After a jolly giggle-fest, my aunts were ready to tackle the mountain. Hello! Someone should’ve taken the colorful snowpatch as a sign I wasn’t quite ready for a mountain. I slid on my blue long underwear and dressed to meet my fate.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Scribbles and Scrambles - Mt SitzMark - Part 2

I couldn’t post yesterday. I had to work extra hours and at a desk that terrified and tortured me. I learned much, like how much I appreciate my co-worker who knows who to call to find a hidden medical document that was needed ten minutes ago. (background violin music)

But I’m back at my desk today -- where I’m able to leave when my job is done, and write during breaks.

Now we’ll return to the ski-slopes, or in my case, we could probably call it a bump. Okay a sloping bump -- when at 14, I attended ski school with four-year-olds.

Those four-year-olds are quick learners.
Some finished the morning class and whizzed off to the advanced hills. I spent two sessions…Beginning Skiing and Repeat Beginning Skiing for the Inept and Pathetic. (RBSIP)

One of our first lessons, after how to stand in skis was how to navigate the small leg grabby ski lift. After many failed attempts, I just referred to it as the skier drag.

I must confess a positive happening, though. After an hour of falling and rolling around in the nice thick blanket of snow, I did become numb enough that the pain level dropped drastically.

Snowplowing basics seemed to be the biggest frustration for my ski instructor Viktor (not real name to protect innocent German ski instructors) (maybe he wasn’t German, he may have been Transylvanian). Viktor may have been the world’s greatest snowplower and snowplow teacher but my rebellious legs only snowplowed when they should have been doing something else.

Poor Viktor passed me at the end of the day. All the little ones (now expert skiers after a few short hours) skied off with their tanned parents, I waited, the last to be picked up. Viktor stopped his nervous pacing when he spied my aunts on the horizon. He smiled, shook hands, and bid me good luck. I’m sure he bee-lined immediately to one of the cozy bars in Steamboat.

We headed to the hotel room to warm up and get dressed for dinner. My aunts quizzed me and laughed when I told them of my spectacular crashes and up hill draggings.

My tomato red legs finally calmed to a nice pink and the tingling ebbed.

We scarfed a great Mexican meal, and headed back to the room for an early bedtime. The next day would be my first attempt to ski the mountain. My dreams were fitful. But full of youthful foolishness, I looked forward to redeeming myself the next morning. I would snowplow – even if it killed me.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Scribbles and Scrambles - Mt Sitzmark - Part 1

“They” say writers should read newspapers to glean ideas for stories and articles. Beyond the whole “they” conversation we could launch, I must share what I gleaned yesterday while reading the Sunday World Herald.

Truth is stranger than fiction. I’ve heard it said by a famous “they” – and I believe it. But the tidbit I’m sharing is not fictionalized at the moment, so brace yourself for cold, hard facts.

Yesterday, in the column written by the genius Mensa chick (yes, I read it) I discovered the word “sitzmark” means “a mark or hollow made in the snow by a skier’s backward fall.”

Ha. I’ve never heard this word, yet I identify with it.

My aunts took me on lots of great Colorado vacations when I was but a wee little lass. One year we skied in Steamboat Springs. (The town may remember me.)

At 14, I imagined myself pretty cool and able to accept the challenge of downhill skiing. Instead of ski pants, we purchased a pair of slightly oversized jeans and waterproofed them with 47 cans of Scotchguard, in case I fell. (disclaimer – the number of cans may be a slight exaggeration.)

This was in the day when denim didn’t undergo coolifying processes that affect color and fabric stiffness.

Day one in Steamboat dawned beautiful and bright. We dressed in our ski bunny finery and donned sunglasses. Fittings for boots and skies took a while.

My aunts had mastered flying down the side of a mountain and they stared with longing at the intermediate hill. At the school of non-initiates, they dropped me like a used tissue, and gracefully swished toward the ski lift.

I suppose my instructor was an amazing beefcake of a guy. This I don’t remember. “They” say that ski instructors are hunks so I’m sure he was. He may even have been European. For the purpose of illustration I’ll call him Instructor Hunky Sitz (and make him German).

Though I’ve forgotten Instructor Hunky Sitz, other things were burned into my brain.

To be continued…

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Serials and Scenarios - Violette Between - Alison Strobel

“Violette Between” is the new Alison Strobel release. Since I haven’t read it, and I hate neglecting to give you something to chew on, I’ve asked Alison some questions.

Check out her answers, personality, book and website.

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

When I first submitted my manuscript to the folks at Waterbrook, one of them said something about me being a Christian counterpart to Douglas Coupland. They had no way of knowing, of course, that Douglas Coupland is one of my top 5 favorite authors ever! So when I heard that, I really swooned. :)

What criticism has cut the deepest and why?

Luckily my books have been pretty well received and there hasn't been a lot of criticism--at least not any that was any big deal. However,Publishers Weekly said (in their opening sentence, too, which I didn't think was a very kind way to start!) that "Worlds Collide" was "overly long." If only they'd seen the original, which was 20,000 words (nearly 100 pages!) thicker! I went through that thing countless times, looking for stuff I could remove, and I felt in the end that it all had to be there. So to have someone tell me that some of it was superfluous--well, that really ticked me off.

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

Through beauty. Beautiful things get to me--they either break my heart (even if they're good!) or they move me deeply.

What makes you feel most alive?

When I'm speaking to a group, like teaching or presenting. I love public speaking. :)

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

If by barriers you mean things like my own inability to do them, I'd say write profound yet accessible fiction that moves people to reevaluate their view of the world and God. I don't want to just entertain; I don't want to write fluff. I want my books to move people and really affect them.

Take this recipe and write a scene - unidentifiable antique, the scent of pipe tobacco and the drizzle of rain.

The tap of rain on the row house's dingy windowpanes echoed the drum of the professor's fingers on his desk. His eyes were locked on thec urious object, yet his gaze seemed empty, as though his mind's eye were staring at something entirely different. The small box which had contained the object now lay forgotten on top of a pile of fading magazines, one of many such piles that cluttered the warped wood floor and made the spacious Victorian flat feel as cramped as the servant's quarters. The tick of the grandfather clock in the corner was lost under the sound of Glasgow's winter rain, and when it chimed the hour the professor jumped from his reverie. Shaking his head at the time lost in thought, he pulled his favorite pipe from the top drawer of the massive cherry desk and packed it with his most fragrant tobacco.Only the pungent scent of the smoke would be able to clear his head enough for him to focus properly.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Scribbles and Scrambles - Do Frogs Fly?

In honor of Nanny’s birthday, I’ll take another quick trip to Nannyland.

Tree Frog, aka 11 month old baby boy, is a romantic little bugger. He purchased a dozen red roses and a small frog memento for his second favorite woman in the whole wide world. Okay, maybe second place is tied, but only for peacekeeping purposes.

Tree Frog is his new nickname, adopted this weekend after the parental units of said amphibian baby read the blog and realized, yes indeed, they have a little sticky-fingered climber under their roof.

This weekend he learned to use those finger pads to escape from his walker, and master the steps.

Monday, Nanny turned around after setting him on the floor post diaper change to discover he’d, with lightning speed, climbed the bed and hovered inches away from the opposite corner. She caught him as he prepared to jump.

Tree frog buddy, not birdie.

We’ll have a birthday party for Nanny tomorrow so I’ll be away from Blogger, and I’ll post a fun minterview on Thursday.

Who knows what Friday may bring, anyone have any requests?