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.