Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Serials and Scenarios - Germ

Hey kids. Germ is the focus of the water cooler discussion in Christian fiction this week. Germs and water coolers, doesn't sound like a good idea. Keep gets worse.

Robert aka Bob Liparulo even answered some of my questions. I'll shoot those into cyberspace on Friday.

Germ: The details.

Germ: The author link

Germ: The Review....

I anticipated the release, even itched, to get my hands on "Germ." I didn't read "Comes a Horseman" but followed comments and reviews of Liparo's first novel. I knew "Germ" would be a book that generated conversation.

Violence and gore is one of the charges leveled against "Comes a Horseman," " Germ" contains blood and guts, too. This isn't an easy read. The subject matter is rough. But the gore isn't gratuitous or sensational, its sharing a story that is very visual and sense oriented. So much so that if you can't do suspense or strong violence you may want to avoid it. I can't watch war movies because of what the death and violence do to my spirit, but I clipped through "Germ," so use that as a guide if you are squeamish.

Another topic of discussion that's come up is the "lack" of strong Christian threads throughout Liparolo's work. I have a few comments about that, too. There is no prayer printed on the last page, or extremely evangelical characters, but I found a realistic and positive protrayal of a Christian character that presented love and forgiveness within the pages of "Germ."

What do you want from your Christian fiction? If you are looking for a salvation plan based story, you probably won't be satisfied with the Christian content in "Germ." But if you like art that points out the differences between redeemed and unredeemed with the themes of love and redemption swirled throughout the story like subtle brush strokes adding light on a painting, you'll likely appreciate Liparulo's subtle touches.

As far as story goes. I can see why there is talk of a movie. I had actors picked out for most of the parts. This story is suspenseful, thrilling, twisty and edge of seat. A scenario so not farfetched that it hits a little too close to my comfort zone.

The book is also well written with some vivid and often beautiful descriptions (or vivid descriptions that just might curl your toes.)

"Germ" is a great read. I recommend it.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Scribbles and Scrambles - Window Surfing

I must confess I’m a little sad.

True, I’m sleeping tucked away in my new bedroom, safe and sound and bordered by my almost completely functional closet. True, the scaredy cat finally made an appearance. We feared she’d hide in a dark downstairs corner forever. This poor cat freaks when the floor squeaks, can you imagine her distress with all the power tools and the clunk of work boots overhead?

No, the touch of sadness is because of a new change in the landscape of construction.

The small hole in the wall is gone. For three days we had a special portal from old to new, and with a few bone-jarring cuts with a diamond blade super-cutter the whole wall fell. After the dust cleared (cough) my eldest daughter leaned toward me and whispered. “when we climbed through the window, it was like entering an alternate reality, like Narnia.”

Had I known Narnia lie on the other side of the window, I would’ve climbed through in my church clothes. Really.


But there was a wee bit of an accident to lighten the mood.

One of Rob’s friends came over to help with the wall dismantling. After the debris clean-up (cough) Rob brought in a small set of three steps. My husband, amazing builder/carpenter/hunk that he is has been doing quite a bit of recycling. Nice on two counts. 1) huge money savings. 2) takes the edge off new so it doesn’t feel cookie-cuttery.

Rob set the steps next to the wall and said “these are NOT attached, DON’T step on them.”

My mom and I and our buddy then stand around and chat about the openness of the room, Rob’s great work/ideas and blah, blah, blah. Apparently we ALL suffer from short-term memory loss because the buddy, whom I’ll call Joe_ stepped on the top step.

Mom and I watched in horrified silence as Joe_ hesitated and then surfed the set of stairs. In slow motion he shimmied while the steps bucked him off. He landed in three sections, feet, knee, hands.

All that lacked was sunshine and some Beach Boy’s music. (We had plenty of grit/sand.) (cough)


By now you all know that a good tumble kicks my funny bone into gear. But I’ve never seen Joe_ in a compromising situation such as this, and a man face down on the floor, no matter how gracefully he arrived there might not appreciate the background music of giggles.

In the silence, he pulled himself off the floor, then bent over double and laughed.

I don’t need to tell you what I did, after I asked him if he was okay of course.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Scribbles and Scrambles - Monday Jottings

Guess where I slept this weekend?

In my bed, in my new room!

Call me a Pollyanna, but I know that underneath all the bags and boxes lies a room of great beauty. And in spite of every inch of muscle in my entire body which screamed as I lay down to sleep the first night, I know I'll soon sleep like a baby. Even though I must now either exit into the cold Iowa winter to enter the downstairs or crawl through a hole in the wall eventually I will have a whole inner-connected house.

I do like the uniqueness and adventure of the whole process. I suppose there is something to be said for ripping off a chunk of plastic and "voila!" exposing a perfect room.

But if that was the case, would I truly appreciate it?

And the story factor. What a tragedy it would be if my children couldn't reminisce and laugh about crawling, in their Sunday best, through the hole in the wall. Or how about the treasure maze from the kitchen to the unfinished stairs to half dry-walled painted walls to nearly-completed-except-for-the-pile-of-flooring living room opening into the piece-de-resistance - the perfect bedrooms?

On another note, I love cracking people up. Or maybe I just love easy laughers.

My day job gets a bit dry. We're talking medicine, x-rays, insurance and blah routine. My clinic is a far cry from Grey's Anatomy, though I could share some sentences that would curl your toes. Did you know that food is often used to describe bodily malfunctions? I'm sure watermelon flesh gives you a lovely visual.

But I digress. Today, I had a giggler. She made me feel like Jerry Seinfeld. This is the line that really got her going..... "Okay, you can step back and breathe now if you didn't breathe at okay. I hate it when I have to say, 'oh, honey, you're blue. In x-ray talk okay means you can breathe.'"

She laughed so hard I had to hold up on the second x-ray.

When you got it, you got it, what can I say.

And should you not agree with her assessment of my humor -- feel free NOT to comment.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Serials and Scenarios - Marilynn Griffith - Unleashed - Part 2

Marilynn stopped in for another visit and exposed another glimpse or two of her psyche.

So, Marilynn (now that I can spell your name correctly and think we'd have a fun time together) if you aren't busy Saturday night we have a ladies night planned at my church. Drop in if you'll be in Iowa. It's going to be the loud church on the edge of town. Can't miss it.

I interupt this interview for a quick news flash:
Construction update:
I've put some of my stuff in my new closet. No shelves or rods yet. My girls have carpet. This remodel thing is going to be behind me soon. My hubby is uber-wonderful.
I'll soon have a writing area to call my own. Others often call this "office space."

Red - Me - Blue - Marilynn

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

The Bible, a hymnal, Patti Labelle. and a full kitchen. She'd cover the music and the food, not to mention giving me some great hairdos. I'd need my mpe player and some running shoes. My huband's coming too, right? LOL

Where would you most like to travel ----- moon, north pole, deep seas, deserted island, the holy land or back to a place from your childhood, somewhere else? – and why.

I'd love to go to Nigeria and meet my father's family there. I've never been.

Favorite season and why?

Fall. Anyone who knows me will suck their teeth if they read this since I have a nervous breakdown like every October, but I love the leaves, the food, the holidays, all of it.

Favorite book setting and why?

Strangely enough, I love fictional settings like Middle Earth from Narnia. Southwest settings intrigue me. I love Ohio settings, probably because I was born there.

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

Having Sharon Ewell Foster and Lisa Samson endorse my first book meant the world to me. I respect both of them very much.

What criticism has cut the deepest and why?

Oh my, you're going there aren't you? My first and only Publisher's Weekly review was brutal. Too much deepening faith and resolved relationships. I was down for a bit and then my husband said, "You're made because you wrote a book with faith and resolution? Who are you trying to please?" Did I say he was a good catch?

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

Eat a lot of cookies and write really, really, fast. :)

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

Oh how I would love to have rituals. Instead, I have seven children. rituals go like this: run, hide, turn on computer, type furiously, ask if child banging at door is bleeding, wipe blood and remember rest of scene, hug child and scribble in notebook... You get the idea. Most of the rituals I'd like to have are in my books!

I went to bed early but woke up in the middle of the night thinking about that writing ritual question. The Lord brought to mind that although that is the way I wrote most of my books, in the past few months, I really don't write as much when my kids are home. I thought about Tangerine and Turquoise and in truth, my writing ritual went more like this: walk, drink water, read Bible, pray, tea, write a while, check email, run errands, edit, pick up kids, etc.

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

Kelly, kelly what are you doing ot me? LOL Let's see... If I could be any fiction character, it would have to be Stargirl from Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli. I would just love to be that perky for a few minutes. LOL

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

Oh my! Let's see, that would have to be my wonderful grandmother, Goldie B. Freeman. She went to be with the Lord in 1987. My question for her would be why she called me Mary Lynn all my life when my name was really Marilynn! LOL I didn't find out my real name until I was 19. I guess my mom was tired from the birth and forgot what she named me. :)

Thanks, Marilynn. It's been loads of fun.

Here's Marilynn's web addy again:

And the link to "If the Shoe Fits."

Have an excellent weekend, everyone.

I'll be packing and moving and hauling and tossing and HOPEFULLY sleeping at some point.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Serials and Scenarios - If the Shoe Fits

Apologies to Marilynn Griffith. I left out an "N" on my previous posts. This is the FIRST mistake I've ever made since becoming a blogger : ) and hopefully my last.

MarilynN has a new Chick Lit book. Check out the link.

And the Website:

And my review of "If the Shoe Fits."

If you like feet and Chick Lit I think you’ll enjoy “If the Shoe Fits.” Should you love Christian Chick Lit with sassy point of view character with lots of faith elements thrown in -- ditto. Toss around Sistah or girlfriend or have a love for shoes, fashion design or handsome and sometimes fawning men? Find a copy.

Interesting exercise to read the story of Jean in “Tangerine” and Chelle in “If the Shoe Fits” so close together. Marilynn Griffith’s stories contain deep spiritual themes of prayer, redemption, forgiveness, sin, grace and the power of Jesus.

Chelle is a little more sassy than “Tangerine” Jean, so sassy in fact, that she manages to Tae Bo her way through some challenging scenarios. As in “Tangerine” the spiritual aspects of Chelle’s story are deep, personal and a little challenging.

I like the fact that Chick Lit can stomp on my toes just a little and make me rethink some unhealthy attitudes. Pun intended, of course. I rate “If the Shoe Fits” high in quirk, character and entertainment. High marks in faith elements. Well-written though Chelle maybe explained a few emotional moments with too much clarity.

Chelle and Marilynn would be great girls to have around when life slaps upside the head and a good book or an appointment with Ben, Jerry or Mr. Baskins is needed.

Come back Friday for more comments and sass from MarilynN.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Scribbles and Scrambles - Unearthed Treasures

Remodeling Update:

My closet is done except for the hardware. My bedroom is done except for my closet.

I've been packing stuff so that I can move it to it's new home.

When I say stuff, I mean just that.

Why do I keep items I don't use?

Visualize three years of dust layered upon a black leather purse and an emerald green leather bag.

I've kept them: a) because they are leather. b) because something in my life might change and I may downsize my purse needs so my junk might fit into the sweet black tiny purse, or I'll buy the perfect outfit needing an emerald green leather bag.

I think not.

I scraped off the layer of fur and shoved them in a "going to Goodwill" sack so maybe they'll be of more use to someone than filtering fuzz from my airspace.

I cringe when I calculate how many dollars in junk I've donated to Goodwill in the past three or four months. Suppose this tells me a bargain isn't a bargain unless I need it? Or that need and want are miles apart in meaning?

I did unearth a treasure. A piece of antique lace that I found in my previous house. But why was it tucked away and hidden? No one can value the beauty of the treasure when it's buried away, especially when it's buried with things of no value.

Spiritual application? I think so.

Here's hoping you clean out some junk and find some treasure today.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Serials and Scenarios - Generation NeXt Parenting

Tricia Goyer not only writes fiction, she has a new parenting book fresh off the presses.

Here's my review.

"Generation NeXt" turned out to be an intriguing read for me. I am on the line between Boomers and GenXers. Different sources have placed me in each camp, so if I'm a GenXer, I'm an old one.

My review will be from the perspective of an old GenXer with a teenager and young adult children. At times, as I read "Generation NeXt" I felt exactly that, old, but then I'd turn a few pages and identify with exactly what Tricia had penned.

Had I read this book when my children were younger, I think I would have gained insight leading to freedom from some guilt baggage I lugged around for far too many years.

Tricia's "Generation NeXt Parenting" is an encouraging pat on the back with plenty of spiritual and practical challenges tossed in. She doesn't take traditional problems and toss out advice on how to handle it as much as she covers the holistic issues of parenting and Christlikeness.

If you are looking for another parenting book that has an index and multiple tips on how to handle potty training, you won't find much in "Generation NeXt." However, if you desire to dig to underlying motivations on your part and your children's behaviors, there is help offered here. Of course, a lot of the advice is what we who call ourselves "Christian" know because it's preached from the pulpit, radio and other books. But it bears repeating until we "get" it. Tricia gives practical ideas for how to get on track or back on track spiritually so that you can be the parent God calls you to be.

I learned far more from "Generation NeXt" than I thought I would. Tricia peppers her thoughts with those from other struggling parents and facts regarding the unique building blocks GenXer's have been given.

I thought of several friends who have younger children who could benefit from this book and intend to get a copy to them.

Here's the Amazon link to Tricia's book with access to other reviews etc.

Happy Weekend, one and all.

I look forward to giving a remodeling update soon. My hands are currently curled into little claws from clutching paintbrushes, hammers and screwdrivers. But my oh my, does my hubby do nice work.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Serials and Scenarios - Tricia Goyer - Spills It! Pt 1

A peek inside the mind of Tricia Goyer.... Next month part 2....

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

Periwinkle giraffe . . . I like the way it rolls off my tongue!"

Where would you most like to travel ex. moon, north pole, deep seas, deserted island, the holy land or back to a place from your childhood, somewhere else? – Why?

I would love to go to Hawaii with my husband and relax on the beach. Sigh.

Favorite book setting. Why?

I was going to say anything World War II . . . but I also love anything European. Both is best.

What period of history intrigues you the most?

World War II, including the decade before and after. I have four published novels about this time period. Next month, my first book in The Spanish Civil War releases. It takes place just prior to WWII and it part of three book series.

This was a time of heroes rising to a challenge, and it inspires me to see what ordinary people can accomplish when rising to a call!

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

Ohhh . . . I love the beginning of Sound of Music. It's as if God swoops down and notices a women dancing in the mountains and forgetting all the world's cares.. I often think of that scene . . . be reminded that God swoops down to look upon me with joy.

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

Bible, coffee, sister Lesley, and peanut butter . . . it goes with everything--bread, apples, spoons.

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

Open my house to all my extended family and talk, laugh, and soak in their smiles.

If you missed the links to Arms of Deliverance and Tricia's website - here they are.

You can read chapter 1 on Tricia's blog:

Back tomorrow with a review of Tricia's Generation NeXt Parenting.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Serials and Scenarios - Arms of Deliverance

Tomorrow I'll have a few words from Tricia to share with you. And on Friday I'll share my thoughts on her non-fiction Generation NeXt Parenting. Tricia is multi-faceted. In the meantime, check out the details of her latest fiction. (Do read her first chapter, available on her website.)

Arms of Deliverance - the info :

Arms of Deliverance -- the first chapter -- go to Tricia's blog:

Arms of Deliverance -- the review.

I'm impressed.

Not only has Tricia Goyer crafted a fine novel with an intriguing series of story lines, she didn't bore me to tears with the technical scenes in the plane.

I can't imagine how many hours of research she invested to write this story. She writes from the point of view of a high ranking Nazi officer, two women reporters driven by different desires, and a young Jewish girl who is given her freedom because she passes for Aryan, yet finds herself in another sort of prison.

Unfortunately, I didn't get to know the characters as well I prefer to know them, but this is just a technical and personal issue. The plot makes up for any lingering sadness over incomplete bonding with the characters.

The later chapters are very plot driven, and I wanted Tricia to slow down, but again, I tend to dig in to meaty characters.

I was pleased with the final chapter in the book. Deep and rich, it sewed all the loose ends in place leaving me hopeful and satisfied.

I'll be reading more of Tricia's books.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Serials and Scenarios - Book Reviews Inside Out or My Views on Reviews

I’ve dipped my toes into the lake of book reviews and am now ankle deep. Let me share some thoughts.

For starters, there are some excellent writers putting out some excellent books. I’ve said this before, but if you haven’t tried Christian fiction for several years, you may want to do some investigating. If you are concerned about finances, see what’s available at your public library. Many libraries have a budget for new books and will buy requested books, or they will do an inner library loan and borrow it from another library. Most authors would love to have you request their book(s) at the library.

I always try to slant my reviews on a positive note but some of the books I’ve read I wouldn’t have finished because they just weren’t my cup of tea. Amazon lets me rate a book 1-5, with 5 being the best. I’ve read many 4.5’s but only give them 4 because 5, to me is as close to perfect as it gets. I would probably not review a 2 on Amazon because I would struggle with finding redeeming things to say.

My taste differs considerably from many of you. Powerful writing, the kind that paints pictures and draws me to a wistful state makes me weak in the knees. Humor is huge for me, if I laugh, I can overlook other smaller issues, and clever or twisted humor is the very best (go figure). Pain also grabs my heart, as does suspense when it forces my heart into my throat. I like to learn but not with long pages of technical or historical facts but with the characters by experiencing what they encounter.

In general, sweet romance novels make me gag. But if it’s twisty, funny or edgy I can fall in love with romance. Sci-fi is not on the top of the list of books I like to read. Comic-book style writing, where the action is so non-stop that I never get to know the character or care that an assassin approaches, leaves me cold. Christian platitudes tossed in, or use of dialogue to explain things to the reader by using characters who wouldn’t have that conversation in real life bugs me. Anything that becomes author intrusion like a repeated pet phrase, or telling, or passive writing pulls me out of the story.

Peace Like a River sucked me in and drove me to the next word, thought, phrase and page. It didn’t let go of my heart until the story finished and I released a satisfied sigh. I compare other books to that reading experience. If I put a book down with wistfulness at the ending of a poignant read, the book is a 4+ working toward a 5. If the story is good, but I find myself distracted by mechanics I’m going to give it a 3+ working toward a 4.

High points are awarded for quirk. With a healthy dose of humor I will overlook several author mechanical issues or negatives because the novel becomes so fun to read.

Now you know a little bit more about the way my mind works. Scared?

Monday, January 15, 2007

Serials and Scenarios - Authors Inside Out - Expounded

Now that I’ve bothered several authors for interviews I see a pattern.

You, my dear readers, may give me a hearty “Duh!” but has that ever stopped me from being transparent, real or ditzy? I think not.

What I've discovered is that the voice of the author seems to come through loud, clear and unique in the little exercise of answering my random questions.

I find this cool on several levels.

Level one - a sentence isn't just a noun and verb combo in the hands of a writer. Give a writer a sentence or three nouns to include and expand into a paragraph and you are going to get everything from artistic prose that sums life up in a nutshell and leaves behind wisps of longing, to a sci-fi blend of weirdness that might leave your hair standing on end, and/or a hearty guffaw.

Level two - you get a feel for what kind of prose you'll read if you pick up the book written by said author. With Ray Blackston we got a whole lot of quirk, an area in which he excels. In the next few weeks I'll introduce Robert Liparulo and his paragraph. Whew. Light on the quirk, heavy on the "Oh my!"

Level three - the authors are unique individuals with specific gifts and talents with information that they communicate on such an intimate level that some people are going to get them, love them and devour their books. Others are going to suppress yawns and move on and connect elsewhere. This excites me because it's a reminder that we are fearfully and wonderfully made and that we are one-of-a-kind.

Level four - authors are humans. Most aren't arrogant and unapproachable, just the opposite. They want to hear that their words (which cost them sweat and maybe even some tears) touched other people's lives.

Level five - each of the authors I've "spoken" to are very, very nice. And I think the common denominator might just be Jesus. I love getting to know other believers. It's so good for us to mingle.

Tomorrow, I think I'll talk about book reviews in general. I'll see what falls out when I shake my head, hopefully it will manage to be coherent.

Have a Happy Monday

Friday, January 12, 2007

Serials and Scenarios - A Peek Into the Mind of Ray Blackston

Here you go, guys. I know you've been waiting for this. Ray came through, big-time. A peek inside the mind that created "A Pagan's Nightmare."

As per usual - Red = Q's, Blue = A's.

Thanks for taking time out of your busy schedule, Ray.

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.)

Ah, great question. I would love to try my hand at screenplays, possibly an adaptation of either my latest novel, A Pagan’s Nightmare, or my first, Flabbergasted, which is a comic look at singleness in the South.

What makes you feel alive?

Falling in love, hiking in the Outback, having a personal relationship with God, and using my creativity to entertain people are the first four that come to mind. Oh, and a well-struck golf shot.
I’m getting hooked on the sport.

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

All of the above. The teary kind are the probably the most vivid and memorable, the truthful kind more character-building, and the humorous kind the most likely to be included in my novels.

What period of history intrigues you the most?

The period when Jesus walked the earth ranks highest—being there to witness God in the flesh, not to mention all those miracles, would have intrigued me to the nth degree. (I was going to say the early 1900’s, but the cheesy dialogue in Titanic ruined it for me.)

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

Most any line from Forrest Gump!

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

Rand McNally Road Atlas, 80’s Hits, Chris, and dark chocolate.

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

Purple cow—ever since childhood I’ve craved a cold glass of grape-flavored milk.

Favorite book setting. Why?

Probably the last eighty pages of Flabbergasted, when Jay and Allie are down in the Ecuadorian jungle and working in the orphanage. That rainforest setting, coupled with the budding romance, has a kind of resonance for me.

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

Ya know, sometimes reviewers just “get it,” and they write blurbs that really help
an author’s confidence. This was the case in 2003, when Flabbergasted released. Two of these blurbs stand out, so I’ll include both here:

“Blackston’s imaginative first novel is sometimes brutally honest but always refreshingly funny.”
— Library Journal in naming Flabbergasted to its Best Fiction List for 2003

“If you only read one novel this summer, let this be it!”
— Crossings Book Club, which featured Flabbergasted as a main selection

What criticism has cut the deepest and why?

Ya know, sometimes reviewers just don’t get it, and one of them told a lie about my third novel (third book in the Flabbergasted trilogy) which is titled Lost in Rooville. I’m fine with honest critique, but to bend the truth to make a point does not sit well with me. Especially when the reviewer is supposedly a Christian.

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

Hug my family, kiss my girlfriend, and write my “one week memoir,” tentatively titled Moonwalking on Streets of Gold.

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?

All night she had avoided eye contact with her boyfriend. She reached for the appetizer -- which were coconut-glazed shrimp--but hesitated. She eyed the shrimp with suspicion. “Honey,” she said, with a bat of her lashes, “were these shrimp grown in a shrimp farm, or were did they die a tortuous death in some fisherman’s net?”

He gulped three of the morsels and shrugged. “Who cares? And since when do you sympathize about the particulars of a shrimp’s life?”

Summoning courage, she wiped her mouth and blurted, “Since I met Jacques, the French environmentalist.”

And with that she stood and bolted out of the restaurant.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Scribbles and Scrambles - Flinging Checkers

Wouldn't Flinging Checkers be a great band name?

On Monday I brought up some melancholy thoughts about change, especially the sadness of missing faces within the church and broken relationships. Janet blogged about this on Wednesday and I realize I have a few more things to say.

We are born with the notion that the world revolves around us. When I open my eyes or make a noise there’d better be someone there to meet my needs. Life has to beat reality into us and selfishness out. Some find gentle adults who teach the truth…that we are simply one of six billion…important but no more so than the others. Others have adults who brutalize and lie, bringing confusion into the mix of pain and selfishness. The rest, most of us, fall into some degree of the middling.

We plant our learned lessons deep and impart them through the filters of our dysfunction.

It’s a miracle that any of us connect with one another on any level.

Assuming that you are a believer and follower of Jesus—read on and ponder.

We need to stop and remember that God created unique DNA for all six billion earth inhabitants and the billions who’ve walked before us. We need to look to the God who creates one-of-a-kind snowflakes. Then let’s put that information into our quirk-o-meters and decide that none of us is going to be identical to the others. I can’t read your mind, nor should I expect you to read mind. I’ll love movies, music, books, colors and food that you may detest. One will prefer worship served formal, another prefers worship with dance. God reached my soul with a question, Martin Luther’s with a scripture, one of my favorite Bible study teacher’s with an event, and thousands of others with thousands of different and unique ways.

Of course we won’t all agree on the wall colors in the church or the Biblical length of hems. A church is made up of clueless, lucky-to-have-found-the-truth “accidents” with in-your-face stinking baggage through mature scholars who’ve repacked their baggage into appropriate church attending attaches, and everything in between.

We all have something to teach and much to learn.

What would happen in our churches if the believers in Jesus Christ actually embraced Gal 2:20 – (my paraphrase) I’m dead and I’ve given Christ my body to complete His tasks and goals? Or if we realized that crawling on the altar (Romans 12:1-2) meant not operating out of our needs/wants but considering others needs/wants as equal and God’s wants as paramount. Am I suggesting that we let go of God’s call to holiness? Nope. Am I saying that anything goes; anything can be taught as truth? No. Of course not. But why can’t we hang onto the truth with our whole heart, soul, mind and strength and yet love our neighbors as ourselves?

Consider others as more important than yourself and don’t injure the one for whom Christ died (more paraphrases - Phip 2:3, Rom 14:15, 1 Cor 8:11.) When you stop to evaluate how you’ve been let down, mistreated or ignored, run to Him with those issues and then obey Him.

Are you considering bowing out of a relationship because the other person won’t meet your needs or read your mind? Are you a spiritual checker flinger? You know, like when you were a kid and were playing checkers with someone and they asked a question you didn’t like or said something you didn’t want to hear, or cheated, did you rip the checker board off the table, scatter checkers as evidence of your ire, pack it up and take it home?

Stop, please, and pray before you act. Really pray.

My worst enemy haunted me. Constant anger bubbled inside of me. She controlled me until God reminded me that He loved her too. Letting God take that burden of hatred freed me to follow a much better master, Him. But it hurt that He asked me to stop hating her, that He expected me to be kind, to be the bigger person because she had done nothing but steal from me. Now I’m glad He loves her because she needs Him. I understand that He loves me enough He doesn’t want me to bathe in the acid bath of selfishness and self-pity.

Jesus really does want us all to get along or He wouldn’t have called us to unity. And He doesn’t call us to do what is impossible for Him to do through us. Ask Him how you can help repair the damage you’ve done to relationships you’ve had, and then follow His instructions. What an excellent start to a new year.Tomorrow, I promise to put the quirk back on. Really. Ray’s dropping by…

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Serials and Scenarios - A Pagan's Nightmare

A Pagan's Nightmare -

Ray Blackston's Web Abode -

The Review -

Ray Blackston has crafted a skewed and entertaining novel in "A Pagan's Nightmare."

Some day, I'd like to meet this man -- Ray, not Larry, or Lanny, or Ned. Well, maybe I'd like to meet them, too.

This story within a story is both rich in humor and surprising in it's spiritual depth. may experience deep crunching sensations accompanied by sharp pain in your toes as you read. Ray hits a little too close to home when he paints some unflattering yet realistic pictures of "the sky is falling" theology.

If you like your Christian fiction without pablum or platitude - this is your book. If you want a fun read and you can laugh at yourself or if you are wearing steel-toed boots, give it a shot.

If you want by-the-rules Christian fiction, you may find yourself frustrated, but do try to get beyond that, this is a mind-twistingly good read.

Thanks, Ray.

Interview - Friday.....

Ray is pondering my questions as we speak. Come back Friday for a serving of the inner Ray.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Scribbles and Scrambles - Insulation and Change

My bio/description says I love change. I do…to an extent.

For example, I two-stepped on the inside (only because I’m too clumsy to master the two-step on the outside) when I spied my newly installed toilet and vanity cabinet in my still not-quite-ready-for-the-troops upstair’s bathroom.

I also willingly changed my plans to help Rob shoot insulation into the attic. This brings me to a bunny trail. Rob tells people he married me because I passed the drywall test. This lovely test requires the testee to stand on a ladder, arms raised, holding a piece of drywall in place for the tester while he nails or screws it to the ceiling. Apparently, Rob was impressed with my quick thinking when I added my head to my hands and made an easier on the arms triangle brace.

I did turn the tables on him, though. I think I’ve mentioned the gales of giggles I succumb to when lifting heavy furniture. That doesn’t happen with drywall, I’m serious and helpful with drywall. Ha. He thought I’d be useful with all heavy lifting.

Shooting insulation was no laughing matter either, unless you like to snork insulation debris into your nostrils. (Which I don’t recommend.) Though I’m sure you could Google for an insulation snorting party near you. Never try it with fiberglass!

Oh, back to the topic, change. The kind of change I don’t like is broken relationships. Okay…I know most people don’t ENJOY bad relationships, but I’m talking about the kind that isn’t REALLY bad, but where someone pulls away and floats off into the sunset. This seems to happen a lot in churches.

Sigh. I wish we could all just get along.

I miss the ones who’ve floated away. I think they took a little bit of my heart with them.

Okay – done with change, well, kind of. Thanks for your comments about Marilyn Griffith’s fun interview.

Wednesday through Friday is the blog tour for A Pagan’s Nightmare by Ray Blackston. Ray’s book is quite the adventure, so I’m anxiously awaiting his interview answers. I’ll post my review on Wednesday.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Serials and Scenarios - Marilyn Griffith - Inside Out

Marilyn Griffith dropped by late last night and answered all sorts of questions. Here's a few for your perusal. I'll post the rest later - she has another book coming out soon. If you can't wait, I'm open to bribes.

I think I'll invite Marilyn to my next slumber party. I think we could have all sorts of fun.

My Q's are red, her A's are blue.

Pick one…..

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

Pink iguana. Positve? she's pink. Negative. She's an iguana. "Nough said.

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

"Good morn-ting!" (Madea, Tyler Perry's Family Reunion) I said every morning for about a month after I saw that movie.

What period of history intrigues you the most?

Oh goodie, one I can answer! The period from about 1852 to 1870 would top the list. I read a lot of slave narratives and civil war accounts from both sides of the war. Next after that would probably be the 1020's.

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.) are going to get me into so much trouble now! LOL An big, thick, science fiction epic. Yeah, I know. That's why there are rules and barriers.

What makes you feel alive?

Another freebie. My husband's beard against my face, baby toes and kid hugs, good music, great food, friends who love me even when I zone out and forget to call them, pretty flowers... You get the ideas. I'm pretty simple.

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

All of the above. Those three are my favorite trilogy. I try to infuse some of each into my books. How did you know?

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

An exploding eggplant. It's probably what I looked like, but hey, if you can't be a frizzy vegetable every now and again, what's the point in living? And living is important. More important than my currently untamed man. If I don't get this book back into my boss's library before she notices...

"Cherise! Where have you been? And what's wrong with your hair. And that outfit? It's horrid. Warm colors, honey. Warm. Colors. Didn't we have this talk after the electric blue incident?"

Too late. "I had to make a run. An errand--"

The book, a hardback copy of Maya Angelou's I Know why the Caged Bird Sings, slipped out of my bag and hit the floor. I guess I squeezed it too hard and managed to turn it upside down. Did I say that my boss makes me nervous.

My employer's face turned a blotchy red. In spots.

"Tell me that isn't to replace my autographed copy I've been looking for. Tell me..." She slid to the floor in a dead faint.

So much for living...

Man, I got carried away with that one. LOL Thanks for the fun, Kelly!
Thank you, Marilyn. Great insight into the inner you!

In case you missed the links yesterday:


Marilyn's Website -

Happy Weekend!

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Serials and Scenarios - Tangerine by Marilyn Griffith

Marilyn Griffith has an excellent last name. My maiden name.

She also inspires awe. I caught a workshop she taught at the Nashville ACFW conference. The woman is organized and made me want to be also. She seems to flourish even though being a mother of many. Check her out. Hopefully I'll post some interview Q's and A's tomorrow.

Tangerine -

Marilyn's Webpage.

Tangerine Reviewed....

Love the title. I’m sure Marilyn Griffith was going for the snap of color. But tangerine the fruit also sums up Jean, the main female character. Jean demonstrated a whole lot of sweet and mushy but her bitter/tangy skin stood in the way throughout the majority of the book.

Griffith’s third novel in the “Shades of Style” series diverse blend of characters reminded me of the Yada-Yada Prayer Group.

Both unique and common drama struggles pepper “Tangerine.” Faith is not buried, hinted at or hidden in “Tangerine.” Marilyn weaves belief throughout the lives of the characters to the point where the prayer meetings and conversations felt déjà vu realistic.

For those of you who wish Christian fiction might relax some of the standards that often make characters pious, perfect and pasty you might find “Tangerine” as real, as well, life. Struggles such as sexuality, forgiveness and prison life permeate the novel. Overcoming those issues through the grace of Jesus and the friendship of other believers is the strength of this read.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Scribbles and Scrambles - I Quit!

Tomorrow I’ll be reviewing Marilyn Griffith’s “Tangerine.” Sweet with a slight bite. Easy to peel, digest, etc. etc.

Today I’m going to confess a bad attitude. Again!

What the who, is there a nasty attitude virus going around? If so I keep catching it.

I may have a cure, though. No, not the one where I throw the sheets over my head and refuse to get out of bed, though that sounds like it might do the trick especially if I could talk a family member into SILENTLY delivering French Press and chocolates.

But since that’s as likely to happen as me winning the lottery without purchasing a ticket I’ll just share my deeper thoughts.

This virus has been brewing for awhile. It flared on Sunday.

Rob and I discussed it on the way home from church. I’m not sure which of us is the carrier and which caught it, but we both spent a large chunk of worship time focused on other PEOPLE.

Ah-ha! The main symptom of said virus.

While focused on other people I was unable to really worship the Creator of the world, the King of kings and Lord of lords because, while He had my whole heart, my mind was distracted. I say He had my whole heart because I wasn’t watching the others in the service to mock them or judge them. My intentions were good, concern that they were unable to worship because they struggle with the type of songs that we were singing.

What? Yeah. That’s what I thought once I realized what I was doing. Then I put on another sour attitude because their struggle put me in a bad place. Grumble, grumble.

I need to readjust my view.

So here I go. Lord, people are going to disappoint me and hurt me and frustrate the life out of me if my focus is there, on them. Help me to hear Your voice, keep my eyes on Your path and my feet lined up with my eyes. Do Your will in my life. And here they are, (insert name(s)) now You take care of them. I quit.

Ahhh, I feel better. I think I might crank up the stereo and sing on the way home.

See you tomorrow.