Friday, June 29, 2007

Scribbles and Scrambles ~ Not PETA Approved

My husband, Rob, likes to hunt. I don't understand this, but I don't really want to either. So we agree to disagree on this whole issue.

I create edible meals out of his "catches" and then I fix myself a bowl of Cheerios sans sugar. Two of our children eat game, one does not.

This week I created deer meatloaf and grilled deer steak.

Hunters call this venison.

I no longer call it fillet of Bambi's mother, and he no longer begs me to take just a tiny bite. Yes, good marriages are made of compromises such as this.

In addition to his deer-filled week, Rob's had a little hunting fun. Oh, it's not officially hunting season in Iowa. However, we have had some late night garbage can visitors, and Rob, being the very sensitive husband that he is, set a live trap. This is the kind that you bait, the creature enters and is unhurt by the shutting of the cage door. Then all good, responsible hunters drive the animal out of the city limits and set it free.

We are going on our third raccoon. Never, in the twelve years we've lived here have this problem.

No, it's not the same raccoon who returns "Homeward Bound" style.

The first one growled and "smiled" rather viciously whenever Rob neared the cage. The second lounged on it's back and poked and read a novel. When Rob opened the cage the raccoon had decided he kind of liked the lovely little box. I think he might be of the RVing genus.

Have a great weekend.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Serials and Scenarios - Jerome Teel's ~ The Divine Appointment

Click on the picture to see more about the Divine Appointment

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Scribbles and Scrambles - Oh Fabio-ulous

Sometimes situations get out of hand. Simple little oops and comments get blown into gigantic proportions and then they are committed to memories of those who like to remind you of the time…

A simple typo can turn a professional sounding typed minutes into… well…inappropriately amusing. Such as was just pointed out to me – the keeper and typer of the minutes -- after I dispensed the copies to the proper parties.

This underscores the importance of proofreading and editing because spell check doesn’t have issues with those of us who add another “s” to as.

One Christmas during our Christmas celebration at church a young lady read an engaging story. She did a great job until she misread shiny axes. Oh yes. Every Christmas since, some twisted individual has to mention shiny a - - es.

Another such situation arrived on my doorstep last Wednesday.

A couple of years ago I wanted to cheer someone up. So I wrote a little story.

The story required a bronzed and muscled hero to come to the aid of a diminished damsel. What does one call a hero in a humorized version of a white knight tale? Why, Fabio, of course. I suppose this name is copyrighted but at the time this little ha-ha moment wasn’t for mass consumption, just for a friend who needed chocolate and had already gone through all she had in the house. E-mail was her only hope of sanity. I had to work fast.

Since then, said friend asks for a Fabio installment whenever disaster strikes. She’s a writer. Can you imagine how often she faces serious rejection? Yeah. Our story is ten plus chapters and gets pretty complex at times. We’ve covered conferences, jealousy, Raoul the agent, rejection, rejection and rejection.

Said friend came to visit Wednesday. We heard a knock on the door and went to answer it. There, on the porch, a life-size, shirtless, smiled a sweaty cardboard Fabio in all his glory. A chorus of giggles came from the side of the house.

What would you do with a life-size sweaty Fabio?

He’s been on a few field trips this week.

Though not sturdy enough to hold clothes he does come in handy while beading necklaces and bracelets. We’ve christened a new family member Fabio Jr or Mini-Fabio. Twice he has startled a few half-asleep visitors. But now he just stands guard.

We do have a softball game tomorrow night. He’d probably make a great umpire.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Scribbles and Scrambles - Barren-Souled

Our Wednesday night children’s ministry led worship at church on a recent Sunday morning.

A couple of two-year-olds sang with off-key gusto that brought tears to my eyes. And a few four-year-olds treated us to a holy break-dance.

The tweeners, well, depends…the boys moved their mouths robotically and their arms in slow motion replay. The girls perked their way through the songs, belting out the lyrics with Annie enthusiasm.

And then I had an urge.

I’ve done this before and regret it.

I glanced behind me -- at the congregation, during the song “Undignified.”

One man scowled through downcast eyes, his jowls draped over his arms that crossed over his chest.

I’ll admit this song, which shares David’s moment of unbridled passion at the Ark of the Covenant’s entrance into Jerusalem, makes me uncomfortable.

Wild behavior, especially dancing, feels a little too out-of-control for my reformed Baptist heart.

But I’m working on that.

I’ve even been known to raise my hands – until someone conspiratorially whispered, “Great, another hand raiser. Glad I’m not alone.” in my ear. Which kind of took the worship out of it for me now that I knew someone else watched for something meant as an intimate gesture toward God…

I’ve begun to work on my heebie-jeebies with extreme worship. So I understand how this man, who is old school and very uncomfortable with music outside of tradition, might feel.

As I participated with hand motions and childlike worship, a thought tickled my brain. David’s wife, Michal, ended up barren until the day she died because of her attitude toward David. Did it also have to do with an attitude toward his worship style? And even more important...her attitude toward his God?

Is it possible that this man sits there with a frown because of his attitude toward worship and he suffers the barrenness of soul that comes with it?

We can’t expect to like all forms of music – please don’t ever twang at me. But can’t we embrace the truth of that worship? Aren’t most worship and/or Christian songs written as some sort of tribute to God, inspired by Him?

If the birds and their singing praise and glorify God, can’t I, a lousy sparrow, chirp out a few notes that might please Him as much as the songbird? If that’s my desire – to please Him.

After all Jesus said the very rocks would cry out if the worshippers were silenced. I don’t expect this to change anyone’s heart, open anyone’s mind. But I expect this discovery to maybe chip away at the pieces of barrenness in my own life. How about you? Harboring any barrenness?

Friday, June 22, 2007

Serials and Scenarios - Jill E. Nelson Runs Off

Jill Elizabeth Nelson takes time away from her life of crime to answer some questions.

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

Pink iguana. They’re cute, and to my surprise, pink is actually a good color for me. Besides, I’ve often wondered what the world would look like being that small and living so close to the ground. They eat leafy greens, fruits, and uncooked veggies, so I’d probably lose weight and be amazingly healthy. Also, I’d get to bask in the sun a lot.

What makes you feel alive?

Laughter. Something that’s genuinely funny without being crude, or gross, or mean. When I get to laughing so hard I can barely breathe, I start to sound like Muttley from those old Dastardly and Muttley cartoons. My family rolls their eyes and goes, “Here comes Muttley!” Then they laugh AT me, not WITH me. That’s fun, too.

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

Book: The Bible (duh!) and several novels from my To Be Read pile, which currently includes The Novelist by Angela Hunt and Full Tilt by Creston Mapes, among others.
Music: Whisper to the Wild Waters by Maire Brennan, Unveiled by Jean Watson, Odyssey by David Meece, and Overtaken by the Christ for the Nations worship team (You said this is a LONG trip. )
CDs: scripture teaching by Keith Moore
Person: My wonderful husband
Food: Dill pickle chips and sunflower seeds (not chocolate—yeah, I know that makes my femininity suspect, but I’m just a salty gal. Ask my wonderful husband!)

Favorite season and why?

Indian summer. In Minnesota, that means gorgeous colors on the trees and blue skies and balmy temperatures to enjoy them with. Oh, and few bugs because there’s already been a freeze.

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

A few months ago someone said they had to re-read my debut novel, Reluctant Burglar, because they couldn’t stand the wait until the release of Reluctant Runaway. She told me my book was destined to become dog-eared. I tell you, I sniffled out loud, because it is a rare compliment of the highest order to have someone RE-READ your book.


Pick a Genre - Describe a kiss….Suspense

From the man’s POV: Tony grasped her shoulders. “First off. Never—” he shook her—“and I mean never—” he shook her once more—“make yourself a target again.” He wrapped her so close he didn’t know if either of them could breathe. But breathing wasn’t important. Not at the moment. He lowered his head and his mouth trapped hers. (This is from Reluctant Burglar.)

From the woman’s POV: She grinned up at him, and he joined their lips. Gentle exploration deepened. She twined one arm around his neck, fingers playing in his springy hair. The other went around his back. His hands caressed her ribs, the side of one leg. A melting sensation flowed through her veins. (This is from Reluctant Runaway. And yes, this is a CBA novel. You’ll just have to read the book to find out where I go with this and why it has the blessing of my editor.)

Pick one of the “story starters” below and give us a sample of your voice.

Swirling leaves, riding the chill wind, danced up Leisel's airline hostess skirt.

The leaves weren’t the only things stirred by the breeze, which now carried the cloying scent of death.

If only she’d gone straight home from the airport instead of stopping at Tyler Park to clear her head. Why had she thought a walk in the fresh air would do her good? As if she didn’t have enough trouble, she’d found a dead body, for crying out loud.

Her throat burned, and she swallowed, hands fisting in the pockets of her cardigan. And why had she gotten carried away with the Christian duty drilled into her from childhood and called the cops and actually waited around for them? But she’d kept thinking about the poor man’s family, so she hadn’t done the smart thing, and now she was going to be in big trouble with—

“Miss?” A plain-clothes officer beckoned from the swarm of police and crime scene personnel buzzing around the shallow gulley where it lay.

He. Leisel forced her feet to move toward the officer. Not long ago, the body down there had been a living, breathing man. From the blond hair untouched by gray and the well-worn jeans, probably a student from the nearby university campus. But now it—he—was . . . Don’t think. Just answer questions and get out of here.

“Yes, Detective.” She stopped in front of the bushy-browed man.

Both brows went up and then snapped down as he studied a note pad where he’d already recorded her brief statement. He lifted his gaze to hers, blue eyes flat and cold. “You said you didn’t touch the body and only approached to within a few feet of it. Is that correct?”

Leisel stifled a sharp laugh. So the police called him it, too. Not inappropriate, after all, for a lump of clay minus the soul. “That’s right. I had no reason to check for a pulse. Not with the smell and the blood and the flies. . .” Stomach rolling, she stared at the toes of her loafers.

A big hand squeezed her shoulder. Leisel looked up. The detective’s blue eyes had softened.

“We’ve got your contact information if we have any more questions,” he said. “Let me round up a uniform to escort you to your car.”

Leisel shook her head. “Not necessary. I came here for a walk, and right now, that’s exactly what I need to do.”

“Suit yourself.” The officer shut his note pad, his gaze moving past her to activity beyond.

Hugging herself, Leisel hurried away up the path and didn’t look back. Bryce would kill her if she drew any more attention from the authorities. There was too much at stake—for both of them. Kill her? Bad turn of phrase, but he’d sure murder her with his eyes, his voice. She’d been a fool ever to let that man back into her life. But she was in too deep now. No way out.

Happy weekend, Dregites... Thanks a bunch, Jill.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Scribbles and Scrambles - Wanna Go On a Picnic?

Michelle, my little crazy Minnesota buddy, is driving to Iowa to see me.

I’ve promised her chocolate and French Press.

And the zoo (our infamous world renowned Omaha Henry Doorly Zoo), an art show, a few laughs and a little culture.

Since you all can’t be with us, here’s a recipe for what we’re eating at our zoo picnic.

Chicken Salad Sandwiches (I know mayo and picnics – they’ll be on ice!)
Diced Cooked Chicken Meat
Chopped pecans
Diced onions
Orzo or couscous pasta cooked to directions (sold in a small box in the pasta.)
Chopped red seedless grapes
Mix together according to taste and then add mayonnaise or Miracle Whip
Serve on whole grain bread with lettuce or not.

And if you want some serious killer brownies…use a mix, fix according to package, pop the batter into the pan as directed. Sprinkle broken heath bars (they sell bags of crushed by the chocolate chips) over the top along with mini-semi-sweet choc chips. (about a ½ 12 ounce bag of each for a 9 x 13 pan) Bake at the lower end of instructed time so they are gooey – do not overbake.

Dang good.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Serials and Scenarios - Reluctant Runaway

Click on the picture to go visit the Reluctant Runaway Amazon page.

Visit Jill's website...

Come back Friday for Jill's Q & A....

My Review:

Part action packed who-done-what and part romantic suspense, I found myself sucked into Reluctant Runaway. I didn't meet the crime fighting duo of Desi and Tony in the Reluctant Burglar but Nelson did a great job at sharing enough details of the first book without oversharing and intruding on the story at hand.

Several amusing scenes interspersed with cliffhangers made the read roller coasty. Forgiveness is a huge spiritual theme as is discernment and the danger of tiny shifts in the Gospel message.

If you enjoyed book one in the series, you're going to want to get your hands on Reluctant Runaway as soon as possible. If you like romantic suspense, strong female leads and sassy talk -- you'll likely enjoy this novel.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Scribbles and Scrambles - Not the Cutest Parent Anymore

I’ve been usurped. I’ve had to hand over my wand and crown.

I’m not the cutest parent in our house anymore. Rob is.

Because of technology.

Oh, I’m sure I’ll get it back because they love to laugh at me when I’m disciplining them. But for now, I’m feeling the sting of lost position.

For Father’s Day Rob received an I-Pod Shuffle. Now that little buggar is cute. (the I-Pod, well…Rob’s pretty cute, too) It’s the size of a book of matches. Do people still carry those? And it holds 248 songs. Our song diva (who boasts 3,000+ songs on her own I-Pod – the queen mother-sized one) loaded Rob’s tiny little music source, taught him how to use it and sent him on his way. But because he’s not up on the whole techie lingo, he’s cute.

So just because in our day we hefted music around on our shoulders, he gets to be cute. Just because we couldn’t afford a bomb box in the day and had to rely on really loud car stereos…he’s cute.

But I have to admit those dangly white cords and the head bobbing thing is pretty attractive. And I suppose he’ll let me borrow it every once in awhile. After all, I do know how to recharge it.

Hopefully they won’t ever get him a blue tooth phone.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Serials and Scenarios - Sharon Hinck'sThe Restorer

Happy Monday. Hope all the fathers out there had a happy Father's Day. I'm posting a book review today, with an mini-terview with the author. Fantasy and Sci-Fi readers (or those of you who like good and entertaining stories) click on the book cover for more info.

My Review

A peculiar and refreshing blend of the feel of Dekker’s Black, Red and White, Stephen Lawhead’s The Song of Albion series and chick-lit – the Restorer is a fantasy read that twists and turns, convicts and concerns, delights and despairs.

I’m not a sci-fi or fantasy fan because I struggle with the bizarre details of alternate realities. I have enough trouble with my own reality, thank you very much. But Hinck has woven a fascinating story.

As Susan’s life in an alternate universe progressed, the story grew stronger and more poignant. I was transfixed by the writing and the drama of the moments as Susan, beset by a series of crises, rose to her calling. The Restorer, the story, grew into its own just like Susan the pouty housewife grew into her role. The ending, a bit rushed, especially after the rich story telling that preceded it, was the major struggle I had with the novel and the main reason I’m giving The Restorer a 4 instead of a 4 ½.

I asked Sharon Hinck to share some dregs and this is what she gave me.

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

Father Tim in the Jan Karon “Mitford” books, because he is gently sharing God’s grace to everyone around him and doesn’t even know it. He is always available for God’s interruptions, and loves and appreciates even the quirkiest of folks around him.

Aragorn from Tolkien’s “Lord of the Rings” because people think he’s just a Ranger, but he’s so much more.

Anne (of Green Gables) by L.M. Montgomery – especially in “Anne’s House of Dreams” and other later stories when Anne is a wife and mom. Because she saw beauty, wrote, and loved well.

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

Sky blue on a good day – looking into things eternal, translucent, imbued with sunlight.

Deep gray on the bad days – matte, heavy, lifeless, and heading toward midnight.

I aspire to be the copper crayon – shiny, with earthy tone, impurities burned away, and able to reflect and sparkle

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

Purple Cow. Because it reminds me of how my mom always recited poems and ditties to me while pushing me on the swings when I was three or four. “I never met a purple cow. I never hope to see one. But I can tell you anyhow, I’d rather see than be one.”

Favorite chore

Weeding the garden. Something to spiritual and visceral about tugging away the thistles and quackgrass so the vegetables aren’t choked. (Although I hate bugs and creepy-crawlies, so I’m always getting startled by beetles infesting the strawberries, or dive-bombed by wasps, or turning over a leaf and finding a green worm that needs to be squished, or even having a toad jump out of bush beans and scare me – that part I don’t like).

Thanks, Sharon. Nice of you to drop by.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Serials and Scenarios - Nuggets from Nikki Arana

Here's Nikki. Creative answers to the standard dregs... enjoy.

What crayon in the box describes you on a good day?

Did you know there are 120 colors in the biggest box of Crayola crayons? Out of those, I think I would choose Wild Blue Yonder. That color was added in 2003! I consider it a good day when my mind is out in the wild blue yonder. That’s were I often find story ideas, plot twists, and unusual characters. It always means a good day of writing.

Bad day?

That would have to be Tumbleweed. That was added in 1993, by the way. A bad day is when I can’t focus and just randomly roll around a beige day, getting nothing done.

Which one do you aspire to be?

I aspire to be that crayon in the box that was often found to be just the color needed, that never broke under the pressure of the user’s hand, and when the box of crayons was put away for the very last time, it was the crayon that was completely used up.

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

Okay, this was a toughie. I closed my eyes and found a periwinkle giraffe waiting there! Yep, there he was, beneath a cloudless silver sky where the sun glittered instead of glowed. He was standing next to a huge white pony that had a chartreuse mane and tail. They were looking into a massive leafy tree at a vermillion chipmunk. And the leaves of the tree swayed in time to the music in the air. Oomp-pah-pah, oomp-pa-pa.

And why did you pick that one?

As you probably noticed, I didn’t pick him, he picked me. I think this is something many writers experience when they create fiction. The characters find you and tell you their story.

If you were assured of writing a best seller, what genre would it be? Give us a sliver of information, a characteristic or glimpse of a scene.

It would be women’s fiction. Through the use of story, it would call the American Christian church to reach out and support the Muslims in the United States who accept Christ as their Savior. Muslims who convert to Christianity often pay with their lives. There is a need for safe houses to shelter them as they start their lives anew as followers of Christ. I believe God is looking for willing hearts. Christians who will offer their homes to give the Muslim Background Believers safety.

Glimpse of a scene: “You should be at home caring for your brothers and sisters.” Her uncle’s face darkened. “Why have you shamed us? You know these Christians are infidels.” He stepped closer to her, his voice rising. “Look at yourself. Look how you’re dressed. Out here exposing yourself to the eyes of men.”

These were the lies of the enemy and they no longer had power over her. Sabirah stood her ground and held his gaze. “I found Jesus and true peace.”

His eyes widened with rage as he slapped her. “You shame your father. Disgrace your family. You disgrace Islam.”

His words came out a curse. Then he grabbed her wrist and the muzzle of a gun suddenly moved toward her face.

The certainty of death sucked her breath from her lungs.

“You must die to restore your family’s honor. It is my duty before Allah.”
He jerked her to her knees. “Allahu akbar.”

She felt the cold metal mouth of the gun press into her scalp and asphalt cut into her legs. “Jesus is my Savior—”

The pressure on the top of her head exploded into a million shards of light as the rush of a mighty wind encircled her, drawing her from her body, gathering her with dominion and power to eternity and the presence of the Father. Leaving but an empty shell in the hands of her accuser.

As the things of the world fell away, there, in the expanse between life and death, she saw a legion of angels sweeping over the face of the earth, empowered by the Spirit of God, seeking a willing heart. Just one Believer willing to be used. To be a vessel for the covenant of God and provide safety to His people.

The shadow of an angel’s wing fell across the moon, dimming it. One willing heart, for the safety of God’s people.

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 would still write fiction from a Christian worldview. But there would be main characters who seek God, but never find Him, find God and then forsake Him, fall in love with the wrong people and marry them. Books that tell the stories of people who never find His peace. Books that challenge the reader to understand why.

What makes you feel alive?

This is easy. Walking down a tree-lined street, late in the afternoon, with a crisp October breeze at my back, and the promise of morning frost in the air.

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

This is actually something I have thought about from time to time. I am very clear that the convictions of my heart come about by the revelation of truth. I first am drawn to something. A person, a story idea, an issue. Then as I think about it I seek God for direction. It is during that time that His Spirit will touch my spirit, and I will see a truth about the matter. The wounding in a person’s heart, the spiritual parallel woven through a slice of life, or the biblical principles that define an issue. Then that nugget of truth inspires me and takes me on a journey where I engage the revelation through speaking, writing, or living my life.

Favorite season and why?

As you might have guessed from a previous answer, my favorite season is fall. I absolutely love the fall colors, that frosty bite in the wind, and the reminder that warm, cozy winter evenings will follow . . . which will be spent with my husband. He’s my best friend and closest confidant.

Societal pet peeve…sound off.

I really, really dislike business cocktail parties, or any of those little business-related gatherings such as take place at conventions, where you must mix with people you don’t know, chitchat about things that have zero meaning in your life, and pretend the whole thing is fascinating. I’d rather eat dirt. Throw me into a philosophical conversation about politics, religion, or the meaning of life among a bunch of people who are passionate about the subject and speak their mind. Now that’s what I call a fun evening!

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

When people let you know that you have made a difference in their lives, that you indeed have been used by God through your writing . . . well, there’s nothing like it. It makes all the sacrifice worthwhile. I received the following from a reader who had read my Regalo Grande Series.

“Your books helped me to intercede for my family during this difficult battle. Your openness about interceding and trusting in God inspired me beyond words and called me to higher level of prayer, praise, and worship unto God. The character, Maclovia, once said in the book that she sought the face of God before seeking His hands. Those words spoke to my spirit and opened my eyes to a new relationship with God. Sam's death is my first experience with losing someone close to me.

I am sure you knew God would use your books to inspire others but, I hope you realize that God used them to do much more for me. I believe God intentionally brought your books into my life exactly when I needed them. I am very thankful for your willingness to be used by God and to be directed by His Holy Spirit in your writings.”

What is your favorite word?

Alchemy. It means “any magical power or process of transmuting a common substance, usually of little value, into a substance of great value.” I was writing a scene about what is revealed when we die. What understandings do we have that we will never have on this earth? I wanted to mention the understanding that we are truly forgiven. But how does that happen? How does our asking actually cause the thing to be done? What is that process called? I settled on the word alchemy. The words came out this way in In the Shade of the Jacaranda:

Instantly, she understood the mysteries of life. Eternal truths. The alchemy of forgiveness. The resurrecting power of love. Above her the sky opened like a scroll, revealing a Kingdom . . .

Have a great weekend, Dreggers. And thanks, Nikki. It's been fun.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Scribbles and Scrambles - Word Wars and BBQ

Don't try this at home.

Thought I'd share some links and fun I received via e-mail.

Thou art a beslubbering bat-fowling lewdster.

That'll stop them in their tracks.

A war of wit or words, can never be won with simple, overused one syllable epitaphs. Below are two similar and highly entertaining sights wherein or whereupon you can gather more creative words for your wit arsenal.

Yes, it's true. You soon will be able to leave a wake of speechless opponents.

And should you be exiled. Well, here is a device to make that exile easier. You are on your own for procuring victuals.

(who says all e-mail forwards are lame?) (Okay, but you have to admit to -- ha-ha-lamety.)

FREE BBQ Grills!

It's time to get ready for that all important cooking technique---outdoor grilling!

I have just found out that there are several stores where you can get a FREE Bar-B-Q Grill!
You can get a free BBQ grill from any of the following stores:

Home Depot
Big Lots
Sam's Club
Trader Joe's

I especially like the higher rack - which can be used for keeping things warm!

Just make sure to get a metal one...the plastic ones don't do so well. (I melted 3 of them.) Ya'll enjoy now!!

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Serials and Scenarios - As I Have Loved You

Check out "As I Have Loved You" by clicking on the book cover.

Visit Nikki.

I'll post Nikki's interview on Friday.

My Review of "As I Have Loved You."

This is not your traditional Christian fiction.

As I Have Loved You feels a whole lot more like the lives of the complicated believers I rub shoulders with, and dare I say, live with.

Leigh is prickly, edgy, judgmental and her motivation seems so right. After all, she only wants what's best for her son, Jeff.

Jeff, an untried lover of the down-trodden, trained to be compassionate and loving by a mom who sacrificed much for him.

Characters who screw up, love the Lord with pitiful and pathetic offerings and rotten motivations, Leigh and Jeff are a really good example of American Christianity. The good, the bad and the ugly.

Needless to say, but I will anyway, this book may not sit well with you. It's not escapism, it's realism. Written well and with a twist or two, it is heartbreakingly frustrating. Not the sitcom crash and recovery in 20 minute model of storytelling. If you can't read about a Christian who sins and lives to seek forgiveness and is left with scars but is drenched in grace, don't pick it up.

But if you are seeking a story that will challenge you, one infused with reconcilation, forgiveness, grace and heartbreak, pick up a copy.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Serials and Scenarios - Rachel Hauck Belts It Out

Come on in and sit a spell with Rachel as she shares her answers on the Dregs.

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

RH: Maybe this is a kid thing, but I always identified with Laura Ingalls Wilder. Her life seemed so interesting, and at times very hard, but their family stayed close and endured. I love the romance of the prairie life.

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

RH: I’d ask Solomon why he let himself be drawn away from God by his wives when he saw and knew the wisdom and power of God.

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

RH: I started to say I don’t have any, but YIKES I do. I have to check all my emails, blogs and blog subscriptions. It’s a routine like those who get their coffee and read email in the morning before starting work.

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

RH: Periwinkle giraffe. I love periwinkle. And it would be cool to be as tall and as graceful as a giraffe.

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

RH: Wow, this could become a book! I’ll pick two, though. I loved a line in Marian Keyes book, The Other Side of The Story. She’s writing about a character’s disappointment. This is my paraphrase. I can’t find the exact place in the book, I’ve looked! “It was like dying, seeing he transcendent beauty of the Divine and being told it’s not your time and you had to go back.”

I love the true concept of transcendent beauty of the Divine.

As for movies. I have several. From It’s A Wonderful Life. “We’ll wait for ya, baby.”

From Back To The Future. “This song’s in B, watch me for the changes and try to keep up.”

From Houseguest. “Good, fine and healthy. Baby, you it. BAM! Know what I’m saying?”

From my own writing.

Sweet Caroline, Mar ’08 Thomas Nelson. “Worse than dying? Never having lived.”

Lost In NashVegas, Nov ’06 Thomas Nelson. “How did the hounds of Freedom keep that bone buried?”

If you were assured of writing a best-seller, what genre would it be? Give us a sliver of information, a characteristic or glimpse of a scene.

RH: I’d write a best selling chick lit about a woman achieving her dreams. She’s overcome her jealousy of others to walk in the life God’s given her and learn to find her value in His love for her, not her success in the world.

Then, of course, all kinds of fun stuff happens to her. She meets the man of her dreams. Her rejected manuscript sells to a large NY publisher, and her divorced parents remarry. I don’t know. Something like that. Funny, of course, beautifully written.

What period of history intrigues you the most?

RH: Early 1900s. I love the Teddy Roosevelt era. Hey, maybe that will be my best seller.

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.)

RH: If there were no barriers, screenplays (movies.) But I really do love writing fiction. Absolutely.

What makes you feel alive?

RH: Two hours of prayer and worship with others. Finishing a manuscript. Helping others with their writing. Holding a newly published book in my hands. Holding a baby. Kissing my nieces and nephews. Telling someone Jesus loves them, and they get it!

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

RH: Truth or humor. I’m not easily moved by emotion or plays on my emotion. I’m skeptical. I’m moved by truth, by people who genuinely work hard to overcome.

And I love to laugh.

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

RH: I’d take my husband and a pile of books from family epics to chick lit. Diet Coke, fruit and chips. And the music of Misty Edwards, some ‘70s and ‘80s oldies but goodies. And country music playing on the radio.

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.

RH: Definitely NOT the moon. Space travel has no appeal to me. I think I’d like to travel to a childhood city or town, then out west. I love the west.

Favorite season and why?

RH: There is absolutely NOTHING like spring in Florida. I’ve traveled the world in all kinds of seasons. Spring in Florida is amazing.

Favorite book setting and why?

RH: I loved the Nashville setting of my NashVegas books. And the South Carolina lowcountry of the book I’m writing now.

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

RH: Often people tell me how alive and real the characters seem. Many have said it feels like I’m writing directly to them. So, I love that the readers connect with the characters.

What criticism has cut the deepest and why?

RH: I had a review of my first novel, a category romance, and the person, not used to reading Christian fiction wrote, and I quote, “the writing sucked.” That was pretty harsh.

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

RH: Write that best seller, and fast!

What is your favorite word?

RH: Cake. Cake, cake, cake. Isn’t it an interesting word? Has such a weird sound.

What word annoys you more than any other?

RH: More of a phrase. “As well.” Seriously, can we ban it? No one says, “also” or “too” any more.

“We’re going the movies, as well.”
“It’s going to be rainy today, as well.”

Ack! It annoys me.

Superhero you most admire and why?

RH: I’m going with my own superhero, Jesus. No one, not even Superman, saved the world like this God/man did.

Super power you’d love to borrow for awhile?

RH: Jesus ability to love his enemies. While being nailed to a cross, He cried out, “Father, forgive them!”

I’d be like, “Father, do to them 10 times what they did to me!”

So, yeah, love!

Favorite chore

RH: I like doing dishes. It’s therapeutic for me.

Grammatical pet peeve…sound off.

RH: Too, many, commas. LOL

Societal pet peeve…sound off.

RH: So many live by their emotions. Make decisions by how they feel. While feelings and emotions are real and valid, they are not always fact or truth. Truth needs compassion. Compassion needs truth.

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

RH: Rain splattered against the window. Pipe smoke rose from the tray on the light stand. In the corner, an old quilt covered a tall, misshaped object. Every now and then, it hissed.

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……

RH: Jane hooked her hand through the strap, fighting to stand upright on the train ride into the city.

“I tell you, he’s crazy, Suze. Hasn’t called me I a week.” Jane checks the faces around her. Thank goodness, no one she knows. Mam always said she talked too loud.

Suze leans her face close. “I told you. Dump him.”

Jane tugs at the hem of her skirt. “But I told you, I love him.”

“No you don’t.” Suze twist her lips. “You just think you do.”

About to answer, Jane yelps. A hand touched her leg. She whirls around and stares right into the moon crater eyes of the most handsome man she’s ever seen,

He grins. “Sorry, miss, I had to tug on your skirt. Your blue knickers were showing.”

Hope you enjoyed a little Rachel sass, Dregites!

Thanks again, Rachel!

Monday, June 11, 2007

Serials and Scenarios - Diva NashVega

Happy Monday. This week I'm bringing you two reviews and two wild and crazy author interviews. Prepare to have your brain expanded.

Click on the book cover and visit Diva's page at Amazon. Or visit Rachel at her blog.

Rachel Hauck's interview will be appearing tomorrow.

My Review:

Diva NashVegas is a well-written dual first person point of view novel that made me laugh, tear up, and speed read.

Hauck writes tight prose and great characters.

I wasn't sure I'd like this book based on the premise. A spoiled superstar diva and her sad story. Self-proclaimed divas put my annoyance-alert sensors on high.

Seriously, I don't care for selfish people and high drama gets old real fast.

I ended up being very pleasantly surprised.

Aubrie pulled at my heartstrings. Should any of us actually feel sorry for the rich and famous? But I did. And then the male character who did her wrong -- boo hiss -- I ended up feeling compassion for him, too.

Not only did Hauck try an unusual point of view change up, she actually tosses in a few "inappropriate" words and shows the heroine in a not so great moral light. I applaud the reality factor of Diva. Both Hauck and Thomas Nelson have pushed the edgy envelope.

The Christian fiction I've read lately is a long way from prarie romance. Should you prefer the innocence of the prairie breezes, you might not want to pick up Diva NashVegas. But if you're looking for a good novel that tells a good story and might just convict you, or remind you, or even give you a glimpse of the light, I suggest 'Diva."

Friday, June 08, 2007

Serials and Scenarios - Tribulation House

Click on book to go to Amazon page.

My Review:

I didn’t get my copy of Tribulation House until after the blog tour several weeks ago. Since I’ve now got a copy in my hands, I’m going to share my review.

Chris Well is truly a creative writer. In his hands words, grammar and punctuation take on artistic and unusual configurations. Unless you are a phobic regarding proper book-stylings, this is a good thing.

Unique blends of POV are woven throughout. Well obviously knows writing rules and then he transcends them.

Not only is Tribulation House a wild and crazy read like you might imagine from the premise. It is touching and spiritually and emotionally challenging. Well is similar in style to Ray Blackston and a newcomer, Geoffrey Wood, using humorous situations to penetrate and weave a story that will stick with the reader.

I’m giving Tribulation House 4.5 stars.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Scribbles and Scrambles - Pat and Polly

Pat has a fowl history.

A certain fowl, one which lives in the spare bedroom at Pat's house, would like to write the final chapter.

Pat and Phyllis aka Mom and Dad purchased a parrot many years ago. I'm not sure how they found said parrot. It's a little sketchy to buy a used parrot -- but this was the situation. Mom sucumbed to parrot ownership because of compassion, Pat, well, I'd guess it was the challenge.

Sonny had a checkered past involving violent outbursts and bird temper tantrums. His name was the first thing changed, as his given name was reflective of the not-so-pleasant parrot personality.

Sonny is a one woman bird. Unfortunately, his woman is married to Pat. This weird triangle has not eased over the years. Oh, the males in the house have grown to respect one another, but it's a cold war.

Sonny doesn't get out of the cage often. He prefers the solitude and long distance relationships. He's a little bit of a control freak. His woman lets strangers into the home, or family members, even Pat -- and these situations cause Sonny's deep issues to stir.

On quiet days when stress is at a minimum Sonny gets a taste of freedom. Generally, this taste ignites some hunger for a piece of Pat. A hunting game of sorts has developed between man and bird. Pat's voice is all that's needed to ruffle Sonny's feathers, and Pat has the adolescent need to speak to Sonny when he is on one of his walkabouts. You've heard the phrase "them's fightin words" well, there is such a thing.

Several man vs. bird skirmishes occur during these moments. Mom says she can predict who'll win. When Pat is fully dressed his jean clad legs prove a fine defense. But oh the joy of Sonny when he catches Pat unaware. A man in his BVD's is no match for a parrot with an attitude.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Serials and Scenarios - These Boots Weren't Made for Walking

Click on the book cover and go visit the Amazon page.

Hopefully, we'll be back on Friday with an interview.

My Review:

Believe it or not, this is the first Melody Carlson book I've ever read. My youngest daughter loves her teen color series, but not only have I never picked one of those up, I've not grabbed one of her adult books either.

Cassie, the first person pure chick-lit protagonist, is both amusing and cynical. Already a positive in my book. Much mention of shoewear and clothing designers guarantees that chick-lit purists will find much to like in this novel. No spa, but there is a fitness center and an active social climate. The passel of girlfriends is also present with the twist being that one of the biggest social thorn's in Cassie's side ends up being very closely related.

Several attractive men walk in and out of the picture.

As Christian label chick-lit, and because teens who've read her material may want to pick up These Boots Weren't Made for Walking - I want to warn those who may struggle with Christians drinking alcohol -- this read is likely to be an issue for you. If you aren't stumbled by Christians who drink without getting drunk, and you love chick-lit, you'll find this charming and fun.

Scribbles and Scrambles - Drama, Drama, Drama

Because of the risk of offending one or more of my faithful readers, I tremble as I type.

You see, I’m going to say a few things that may cause balking, gagging, retching or straining in some certain effusive and entertaining friends.

Even though I’ve taught a drama class or two. Even though I took a bit part in a high school play and turned my character into a scene stealer…I am not a thespian at heart.

Oh, I can play a thespian. But I am not one.

That said, I transported my child to a drama club meeting last night. She invited me to stay. Oh, the roil and boil of emotions unleashed within. Rapid-fire scenes flashed through my mind. My acting debut, the laughs, the applause. Then the scene in which I played an extra during a training video…the one where on-lookers were supposed to view a scene with horror. The director stopped everything with “Cut! Hey, you in the brown, stop smiling, this is a serious scene.” Of course my friend had to nudge me and point at my brown sweater before I realized that he was talking to me. Oops. My Bad. Then my thoughts jumped to Saturday Night Live’s Jon Lovitz, actor extraordinaire shouting, “I was only acting!”

I shook my head, sadly. “No thanks, but have fun.”

What does one do at a drama club meeting?

Do they all share stories and the one who elicits the most enthusiastic response wins? I don’t think I want to know.

I’m pretty sure I’d rather be in an invisible box with 150 mimes than in a drama club meeting.

Hey. I was only acting!

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Scribbles and Scrambles - The Walk

My modified family took a walk last week.

Our oldest, a son, grew up and got married.

But we are still five, we've just added another female to take his place. Not the same.
She smells much better. But I digress.

Smell -- have you ever noticed that smells are huge memory triggers?

We walked through a park that is designated as a "wild prairie" and the "wild flowers" and/or weeds as some call them are about mid-thigh high. (If you are 5'2" like certain individuals who choose to remain nameless.) Not that we actually walked through them -- Iowa is known for chiggers -- if you don't know what those are, be grateful.

As we walked through the patch I was instantly transported back to my bean-walking days. Bean-walking -- oh my -- I don't know that it gets any better than that. A person wakes before dawn to get a good start. Water jugs, filled with tepid water at the end of endless rows of moist green leaves, dirt and bugs, the only reward for a job well done. Literally, bean-walking is a stroll through a bean-field ridding it of weeds. Good times. Oh, and a laborer got a whole $2.75 an hour when I had the privilege.

Next, after the girls squealed past us on their roller blades, we hit a stand of pine trees, and I mentally revisited Colorado. The sharp pine bouquet eclipsed the bean-field earthiness and bloomed into a mountain setting. I thought of many early mornings I've spent in Colorado. Stepping out the cabin door and sucking in the beauty of the awakening mountain sense-fest as the sun creeps over the range.

Then the squealing of the girls and the rumble of their skates across the bridge snapped me back to reality. And reality is a pretty nice place to be, too.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Serials and Scenarios - Nicole's Weavings

Nicole had a little fun with this Q & A. So did I.

She went crazy in the creative corner. I dare you to read her off-the-cuff short stories and not want to read her novels...

Thanks, Nicole.

Can't wait to read what you're cooking up next.

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

Hmmm. That would be Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz or Alice in Alice in Wonderland because their imaginative worlds come to life for them. I feel a bit like that, being a writer.

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

I write whenever the inspiration strikes, which may be at interesting times—in the
shower (I get some really creative ideas in there), while driving, etc. My ideas usually start out as scribbles on scraps of paper and receipts. I’ve also learned to write with The Wiggles and Teletubbies playing in the next room.

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

On a good day? Smooth Sailing Blue. On a bad day? Orange Frazzle. I aspire to be Peace of the Lord White.

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

I have one sitting in my cow collection right now, so I have to go with Purple Cow. My mother decided I needed to collect things in college, and she started sending me droves of cows. Voila, I have a collection.

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

As a Southerner, I think it says it all when in Gone with the Wind, Rhett Butler says, “Frankly my dear, I don’t give a diddly.” Oh, wait. That’s the Christian fiction version : )

What makes you feel alive?

Watching my children share their chicken nuggets (it doesn’t happen very often), painting when it turns out well, writing when the words flow out effortlessly, singing a really cool song at church (we have a great band) and connecting with God. Oh, and finding new gray hairs. Wait, no. That just makes me feel old.

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

I’m a sucker for sentimental commercials. I may be tough as nails in daily life, but show me a cute little boy with a hoppy toad on TV, and I’m all tears.

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

I’d have to take my kids because I’d miss them too much, so let’s make that a very short trip, okay? And my husband should come along because he’s lots of fun.

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

I’ve always dreamed to going to Greece to view the ancient ruins. I’d also love to see the Egyptian pyramids for myself. But if possible, I’d like to travel back in time to see my parents together when I was a child. That way, I’d have all my facts straight and have the truth instead of my childhood being some far-off fairytale that I put too much time and energy into mourning. Oh, wait. Let’s just save that tidbit for my next book, shall we?

Favorite season and why?

Spring. You know, flowers blooming, birds singing. getting into shorts again. Oh, wait, let’s make that winter.

Favorite book setting and why?

Not sure why but every now and then, I find myself in the common area in Harry Potter’s dorm room in front of that fire. Anyone else do that too? Anyone? Anyone?

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

My next book, Trouble the Water (coming in Feb 2008), is inspired very loosely by my deceased aunt Bonnie. My mother read the book and said, “Well, you captured her. The way she thought, everything.” That was my biggest complement because I realized the power of words then. I was able to bring my mother’s best friend back for just a short while.

What criticism has cut the deepest and why?

I think sometimes readers forget that as novelists, we are writing fiction. The comment that stings the most is from a reader who just doesn’t “get” my writing, yet takes it a step further and assumes that any and all opinions of my characters must be my own. I’ve been surprised at how judgmental a few people can be and how quickly some can question the faith or intention of a writer. This ain’t non-fiction folks. Just wait for the memoir : )

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

I’d gather all my loved ones and spend every second with them. Not even sleeping. And I’d try to memorize every single thing about them and tell each person exactly what they mean to me and how much I love them. I’d also read my Bible and pray to God, mostly that my family would be alright without me.

What is your favorite word?


What word annoys you more than any other?

Uggh, I hate to even write it –“butt”. Can I say that here? Can’t stand the word. It seems so crude and crass. I much prefer “tushie” or “rear” or “behind”.

Favorite chore

Is this a trick question?

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

I’ve always thought skateboarding looks like tons of fun, but I really prefer my un-skinned knees. Funny how we get so attached to our bodies as we get older.

Grammatical pet peeve…sound off.

“Where’s it at?”
Excuse me? It’s not “at” anywhere.

Societal pet peeve…sound off.

Credit card companies preying on college students.

Describe something you can see, hear, taste or feel without telling us what the item is.

It crinkles in his two-year-old hands, and he giggles. He pops it in his mouth, and I tell him no. He puts it on his face and looks at me through it, but I tell him it’s dangerous. He takes both arms and waves it up and down, causing it to fill up with air. I really should have put that in the trash…

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……

“Well, I’ll be. Do you see that, Martha?”

The tennis court empties and a slender blonde wiggles into the clubhouse past two white rocking chairs.

“What, her? Hmmph. Ever since she dumped her husband and lost twenty pounds, she thinks she can flaunt that hiney any-which-where she pleases.”

Miss Meredith shifts uncomfortably in her seat, stealing a glance at her friend’s wrinkled knees. She obviously doesn’t get it. “Well now, she is young, and…firm…” Meredith coughs, “and perhaps, someone her age can get away with it.” She glances again at her friend and catches her eye.

“What, exactly, are you trying to say, Meredith Billingsby?” Martha’s eyes narrow, framed by sharp crow’s feet.

“I’m not implying any…oh, for heaven’s sake, Martha, you know and I know you’re too old for that dad-gum skirt you’re wearing! Can’t you see it?”

“I…what?!” Martha’s eyes glass over and her mouth crinkles up into a dried apple.

“Oh honey, don’t do that. Don’t do that,” says Meredith, touching her friend’s orange freckled arm. “Not that you don’t have the legs for it…’cause you do! You do. It’s just that, well, when a woman reaches a certain age…”

“Just how old do you think I am…” Martha says through pursed lips.

“Oh, I don’t know. About my age, right? Give or take a few years? I just turned sixty-seven.”

“Sixty-seven! Meredith! I’m only forty-two! Do I really look that old?!” She whines and clutches the arms of her rocker, nearly crushing them.

Oh heavens to Betsy, Martha thinks, hanging her head low and wondering why she ever opened her mouth. Didn't Mama tell me to keep it shut? "Uh, maybe you should just wear some more sunscreen? Here, sugar. I keep some in my bag." Meredith smiles demurely and hands it to her, then slathers some more on her own face, pulling her hat down over her ears…just in case.

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

Jim, with his whining, wheezing, and that smell! Yet she’d kiss Jim full on the lips if she could avoid what she was seeing now.

Alex closed the shower curtain and sat down on the commode. All I wanted was some peace and quiet, she thought. The office had been a madhouse since the allegations of the senator’s affairs. And she’d done her best to spin it all—quite successfully, she thought. It was some of her best work.

“But why my bathtub?” she said to the corpse, lying there with a frozen silly grin. “Truly, George? Did you have to do this to me?”

She’d never had an affair with the senator. That’s the last thing she wanted. He was a bumbling old coot in her opinion, and she’d fended him off at every advance. Yet here he was, naked in tepid water, with his “little buddy” (as he so often referred to it) finally put to rest.

Alex pulled the shower curtain open again and a rubber ducky plopped down into the water. She stared at the ripples floating out over the senator’s chest and wished that ducky could just figure out how to spin….

Thanks again, Nicole. And happy weekend one and all...