Friday, September 28, 2007

Scribble and Scrambles - Here's Lookin at You, Kid

I’m a big fan of non-verbal expression.

Since I have a house full of creatures, let me start there. Guilty dogs…you’ve seen it, you’ve probably caused it by catching them in the act of “Bad Dog!” behavior. Suddenly, a guilty dog becomes absorbed in staring at a spot far away from the eyes of the lecturing human. The tail tucks, the ears curl inward.

My friend shared the story of her dog who thought she got away with raiding the garbage can and eating a container of Cool Whip. Little did the perky pup know that her black muzzle betrayed her crime, and once her error was pointed out all the fun flew out of the moment.

Here’s another animal moment: peppy little Feral Will loves the crabby calico. We enjoy the displays of affection offered and rebuffed. Picture Pepe Le Pew and his casual yet obsessive pursuit of a lovely female, and then picture the lovely female running frantically from him, and you’ve got a good idea of which I speak. Then add the sudden stop, turn and bristle of a cat “that’s had enough thank-you-very-much!” Ears back, mouth open in a Joker-style grimace, tail four times its natural size and a sideways tip-toe skitter.

But my favorite non-verbals are people expressions. These are the ones I collect and hang onto in my memory banks.

Squeezed-tight eyes, hand over chest, other hand fanning face, laughter.

Open mouth, dropped jaw, a twitch of a smile …and mental gears creaking as a response is formulated.

Dawning understanding -- when mental and emotional light bulbs flick on, lighting eyes and dark corners of a room.

Long blinks, lolling head, deep-breathing, stretches, with the occasional jerk to stay awake.

And my all time favorite. The one Rob gave me as we parted this morning. I’d said something witty and turned to look back at him. He grinned, and the twinkle in his eye told me that -- yep, not only does he get me -- He likes me.

Now that’s what I’m talking about.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Scribbles and Scrambles - Waving

My favorite matter how brightly the sun shines or how dry the skies are...involve waves.

When we've been to the ocean, I've not curled up on the beach with a book to catch rays, or loved the excursions into cute shops as much as I've longed to wander the beach.

The wet sand squishing between my toes and my footprints trailing behind me, marking where I've been, intersected by shore birds -- ahhh -- just thinking about it relaxes me and I can almost hear the surf pounding... No, that's actually my computer fan.

But the lake does the same thing to my soul. Even though I prefer the sand between my toes (okay, I won't EVEN walk through seaweed or water green enough I can't see what lurks beneath -- I'm trying to make a point here. ) and the expanse of monochromatic greys to blue, I am content with the deep green of the lake.

I've decided it's the waves and the expansiveness of the body of water that do it for me.

I think they remind me of God. Maybe even my future with Him. He talks about oceans, quite a bit, actually. And a vast field of untameable, tumultous, full-of-life-water reminds me of how very tiny I am.

I'm okay with that. I can be tiny when my Creator is so huge that He created the seas, and set boundaries for them, and buries my sins in their depths. Yeah, I'm really okay with that.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Serials and Scenarios - Remembered

The Christian Fiction Blog Alliance is touring Tamera Alexander's Remembered.

Click on the book cover to visit Amazon and here to visit Tamera's website.

And now for the review...

Remembered follows along the same path forged by Rekindled and Revealed. Readers of the Fountain Creek Chronicles should not be disappointed with Remembered's very different story. Familiar characters return adding to the tale for those who've read the series.

Romance lovers, historical fans and those who look for solid, realistic, inspirational fiction will find much to like in Tamera Alexander's third novel.

Veronique Girard travels from France to Fountain Creek...against her wishes. Forced by an emotional request from her dying mother and a city in turmoil, she leaves to seek her long-lost father.

She finds far more than she bargained for. And more than she'd hoped for in this easy to read, sweet story.

Tamera has the dregs questions...come back Friday for the answers.

Scribble and Scrambles - Creature Update

Feral Will


Lily and Lola

Our monster puppies are growing. Of course I don't have updated pictures at the moment, this was snapped a month ago. They may have doubled in size since then. For sure, they have tripled in size since they dropped into our lives.

Feral Will delights in teasing the puppies which makes for a load of fun trying to keep him from being enthusiastically stomped in return.
This morning, as the puppy owner and I prayed, I wondered if the gift of tongues had anointed her. All of a sudden, while she was praying for the details of our day, she grew more vocal than normal, uttering words in stage whispers and growls. But it turns out she was simply multitaskingly disciplining wrestling puppies who were curious about the coffee mugs on the table and Feral Will who played hide and seek, unfairly and with cruel intentions.
Oh, yeah, there's a whole lot more life in the house lately.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Serials and Scenarios - Laura Benedict - Isabella Moon

Laura Benedict is a new ABA author debuting today with her novel Isabella Moon.

It's so hard for me to turn down an opportunity to review a good book, and to ask nosy questions.

So, here we go.

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

I do everything else, first! Actually, I make sure the hummingbird feeders are filled (in season) because they’re right outside my office window and give me something fun to watch when I’m thinking. Then I get online and read the gossip on Page Six. Then I do email and MySpace for about ½ an hour. Then I’m ready to settle down and write.

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

I would really like to know the name of the narrator/heroine in “Rebecca.” That really bugs me—I felt like du Maurier was being coy. I confess that the first time I read the novel, I didn’t realize until I was halfway through that I didn’t know it!

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

Cornflower blue—Good. Russet—Bad. Cornflower blue!

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

Purple cow. I like cows. Isn’t that like an image from an old commercial or something? Maybe an ice cream drink? The thought makes me smile.

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

Jane Eyre’s view of the ruins of Thornfield when she returns to Edward Rochester. Either in the novel or the Olivier film.

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.

Non-fiction. I would tell everyone else how to raise their kids! Or, I would just republish the Bible.

What period of history intrigues you the most?

There isn’t a period that doesn’t intrigue me. But I would only want to live in a time with reliable dentistry!

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 think a writer has to write as though there were no barriers. All the best writing has that quality.

What makes you feel alive?

Jumping on the trampoline with my eight year-old!

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

I am the world’s softest touch. Therefore I avoid all dog movies, Lifetime dramas and “Chicken Soup” books because I would just cry and cry. Really, though, heartfelt truth does it best.

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

I’m never without food. My husband jokes that even when we travel he can say, “Oh, I’m hungry for a ham sandwich with cheese and mustard. No, no mustard.” And I say, “I have that!” When I travel for work, I always pack cashews, water (darn the TSA—have to buy airport water!), chocolate, an apple, mints, and Goldfish crackers. I also take my ipod with Chopin and Diana Krall and Johnny Cash. Books? Whatever I’m currently reading-often friends’ books. One Person? My husband!

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.

Wow! So many possibilities! Scotland’s at the top of my list right now.

If we’re talking childhood, probably my grandmother’s house in Cincinnati.

Favorite season and why?

All, really. I would never want to live anywhere that I couldn’t experience them all fully during the year.

Favorite book setting and why?

England between the wars. I want to meet Bertie Wooster and Poirot!

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

My aunt told me how proud she was of me, and that my grandparents (now deceased) would love my work, too.

What criticism has cut the deepest and why?

Any unconstructive criticism is hurtful. I’ll leave it at that. I do my best to leave that sort of thing far behind me….

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

Pray. A lot. Hang out with my kids. Make sure they had clean laundry. Show my husband where we are in our finances. Go on a date with him. Tidy my office. Cry.

What is your favorite word?


What word annoys you more than any other?

Fart. (Did I mention I have an eight year-old?)

Superhero you most admire and why?

Robin. He had to take a lot of guff from Batman but still stood by him.

Super power you’d love to borrow for awhile?

I already have a super power. I have the ability to irritate critics at 1000 miles!

Favorite chore

Isn’t that an oxymoron? ; )
Actually, I’d have to go with filling the bird feeders. I feel like Mother Nature!

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

Bungee jumping, sky diving, running with scissors, any kind of skiing, butchering meat.

Grammatical pet peeve…sound off.

People who don’t know the difference between the words lie, lay, and laid. And those who misuse “I” and “me.”

Societal pet peeve…sound off.

Bad drivers.

Pick a Genre - Describe a kiss….


“Lisa, we have to consider the ramifications of this,” Robert said.

“What ramifications?” Lisa said. She lay back on the pillow. The moonlight highlighted the indentation her glasses had made on the bridge of her nose.

“Bodily contact is not the only thing we need to be considering.” He bent over to remove his socks. They were handsome pinstriped socks, given to him by his first wife. Her ashes still sat in the urn on the mantle in the library. He wondered if Lisa had noticed the urn, wondered what it contained. “There may be existential consequences. Consequences that may affect the way we respond to global climate change.”

“I understand, Robert,” Lisa said. “Really I do. Please come here.” She lifted her arms out to him as though she were a child looking for reassurance.

He came and sat down beside her, but would not rest in her arms.
When she touched his back he began to sob.

“Oh, Robert.” She sat up and stroked his hair and kissed his unshaven cheek, knowing that in the morning she would be gone, and would have to admit to her sister, once again, that she couldn’t make a margarita worth a damn.

And now for my review of Isabella Moon.

I've read and reviewed so many books this year, several of them run together in my mind. Isabella Moon will be one that sticks with me.

I'm going to warn all readers up front since a lot of the titles I review are from Christian publishing houses. Isabella Moon contains language, sex, drugs and supernatural elements that may offend. Use the same care you would when choosing to watch an R-rated movie.

Laura Benedict is a writer who does it all well. A fast-paced twisting plot blends with moments of crystal-clear sensory detail, some grisly, some beautiful and some a varying combination of both. Benedict is a sensual writer, so much so some of her images are burned in the back of my mind, not unlike those scents that pull me into a memory, or evoke strong emotion unexpectedly. One scene, in particular, is a work of art. Benedict uses fragility, poignancy and regret like some artists use oils or clay.

Each character is fleshed out uniquely though they are recognizable characters in small town America. Beyond some moments of voyeuristic embarrassment while reading these characters' lives, the only issue that bothered me was the occasional shift or lapse into omniscient point of view. And that's my issue, many love to know what's going on in more than one character's mind.

I didn't experience moments of terror as I was afraid I might based on the subject matter, instead I mourned, grieved and wanted to warn the characters as their lives intersected and permanently marked each other.

Those who love supernatural thrillers, mysteries and crime dramas will likely find much to like in Isabella Moon.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Serials and Scenarios - Let Them Eat Cake - Sandra Byrd

Sandra Byrd stopped by the Dregs to visit a bit. My review of "Let Them Eat Cake" appears at the end of her interview.

Click on the delicious book cover to learn more about "Cake."

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

I must wipe down my mayonnaise lids, get all the laundry perfect, clean the carpet along the edges of the stairs…yada yada. Mainly, I look for almost any chore to distract me from the pain of starting to write. Because it’s hard. But once you actually sit down in the chair and tell yourself that you’re not getting up till XX words are done, or you can’t call it a day till XX words are done, it’s motivation to get going.

I think some people believe that because writing is a creative endeavor that you have to wait for “The Muse” to arrive. But it’s like any other job. Some days you wanna go to work, and some days, you don’t. But you still have to show up!

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

Nothing in specific, but in general, I don’t like reads that don’t offer hope. They don’t have to be neatly wrapped up, and they do need to be realistic, but I don’t like despair, which is hopelessness. I want to close a book with hope.

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

How about magenta salmon with smoked brown alder salt grilled on a cedar plank. : )

What period of history intrigues you the most?

Tudor England. It has everything! Drama, great clothes, excitement, romance, faith struggles. It was a great time to be alive – if you could keep your head attached.

What makes you feel alive?

Living each day with a sense of adventure. And I’ll be real, some of those adventures are not very fun, but they do make me realize I’m alive and I am exhilarated when we come through them.

I have had some incredible highs in my life as well as some lows I could never have imagined and from which I thought I’d never crawl out. But all of that makes me realize – I’m not a hydroponic tomato living in a controlled environment – lots of water, fake sun, no dirt, picked green, ripened by a blow torch, unsatisfying. Instead I get to struggle against the hard earth like everyone else, have dirt and slugs as well as rain and a constant gardener, slowly ripened by the sun, natural, satisfying. How’s that for an extended metaphor of being alive?!

My review:

Cute escapist chick-lit with joie de vivre, plenty of sass and a few yummy recipes.

Lexi, at thirty, is suffering serious growing pains. The only thing she knows for sure is that she loves to bake, cook and surround herself in recipes. With a dead-end job that bores her to tears, parents with an empty nest that are forced to make room for their nestling, and a brother who excels in life and love, Lexi struggles with the reality of being a grown up.

Throw marginal Christianity, men, and hurting friends in the mix and Lexi spends much of her time attempting to repair emotional souffle.

Will she find the missing ingredients to life as she dreams it could be? Hmmm, you'll have to check it out.

Sensitivity warning...Lexi is a Christian who drinks socially.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Scribbles and Scrambles - New Keys, New Thoughts Part 2

I previously shared all about my lack of a writers conference this year.

Bottom came down to a no-brainer of a choice for me. A conference in Dallas would cost over a thousand dollars. A thousand dollars in the scheme of things is not horrific, nor would it be a waste of money. I'd get every dime's worth out of it.

But I made a deal with myself when I started writing, selling and spending money to grow as a writer -- if I don't have the money coming in, I'm not spending what I don't have.

I've sold a few things this year. I could've sold more had I pursued more opportunities. I taught a few local drama classes with a friend and we could teach another this fall. But I am struggling right now as to where my writing is going and what I'm supposed to be pursuing.

I've consistently sold some devotionals to a couple of teen markets. That's nice. Especially when I think that my thoughts can possibly help someone dealing with some yucky life junk. I love blogging and reviewing...but that's not a source of income. However, I did get a paying gig out of it and I've gotten some really amazing books.

At this point in the year, I could pay airfare or hotel or the conference fee but not all three.

Well, the hotel doesn't actually count since it posted a picture of me with "Do Not Let This Woman In!" emblazoned with black Sharpie across my forehead. Dallas parks must be mild and accomodating this time of year. My flying buddies from MN aren't going though, so the park might get lonely.

And as much as I'd love to meet up with others I see once a year or never, I just can't justify going.

So, I gathered my recent, hard-earned windfall and went in on a sweet Sony laptop with my hubby. Amazing deal and a rebate.

Now. All I need is to figure out what I'm supposed to be writing!!! And I'll hope that maybe the Dallas hotel situation dies down so I can go next year.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Scribbles and Scrambles - New Keys, New Thoughts Part 1

I'm not going to a writers conference this year.

This makes me sad on about forty-seven levels.

When I'm at a writers conference I can truly be me.

Okay, not around any editors or agents.

But around other writers. My peeps.

Even though I get an occasional wild-eyed look from other writers, I still feel in my element, understood, even...dare I say, accepted.

This is why I'm NOT going.

No, smarty-pants, I haven't been banned from Dallas.

I don't have a book to pitch.

I wrote one during the NaNoWriMo contest. I submitted it to a contest at ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers) and I didn't get a great response.

This doesn't surprise me. I wrote a story, but I didn't pump my blood, sweat or tears into it. Nor did I study the genre. Not only did I not study, I don't read the genre. The overall results of the comments and scores I received put me solidly in a C+ range and I don't know that I care to go for the A with this particular story.

I'm co-writing a humorous cozy mystery with one of my best friends. She gets me. I love what she writes very well, and that she thinks I'm funny.

But this story was pitched last year and the proposal still simmers on an editor's back-burner. We both plan to finish, but life has gotten in the way, and the novel still needs some serious surgery.

Based on last year's conference behavior, I know what my focus would friends. Not that this isn't a great thing. Networking is necessary.

But as beneficial as the classes and teachers have been for my writing craft...I need to focus on putting that into practice.

So, I'll tell you what I did instead. Later.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Scribbles and Scrambles - Talk Like a Pirate Day --- And All The Tea in China

Can I sleep tonight without giving a hearty nod to National Talk Like a Pirate Day? Argh! I think not!

If'n you like rollicking pirate adventures, and ya know me do...hare's one more link for the clickin.

All the Tea in China... sounds like a book for landlubbering wenches. But the pirate scene warmed me up like two-week old grog puddin and put a pillaging gleam in me eye.

If''n ya aren't a yellow-belly, go check it out. Argh!

Go on. Whaterya waitin for?

Serials and Scenarios - The Ex-Files

Victoria Christopher Murray's latest release, The Ex-Files is appearing on the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance this week.

Click on Victoria's name and/or on the book cover to visit sites with more info.

My Review

I haven't read a racier Christian novel this year. Spicy, embarrassingly so, in some spots. But also gritty in consequences and pain. Almost feels like the voyeuristic blush I get when reading Song of Solomon, or some of "those" passages in the prophets.

Four characters each face the end of a relationship -- a mistress, and three wives. All relationships are devastated by sinful choices and are full of the fallout of consequence. Each of the four women handles her situation in a unique way or blend of dysfunction. One grows icy cold, another gives up, a third comes out fighting. In the end we see some healing and growth that comes from internal surgery brought about through the characters pain.

The storytelling is fabulous. Some passive writing is the major mechanical flaw but the story certainly overcomes this minor issue.

The Ex-Files made me squirm and judge and then fall under conviction. I think those of us who've been in the church for a long time will be more horrified at these "Christian" ladies behaviors because they are so obviously blatant in their choices. But after we've been steeped in religion, our sins tend to be more subtle, becoming attitudes or whispers. The Ex-File reminded me that these "lesser sins" also need to be put under Christ's Lordship and forgiven as they are indeed ugly sins.

You may not be ready to read this book. Don't give it to Grandma for Christmas without checking out a few pages yourself. Certainly don't leave it lying around for a bored twelve-year-old.

Please don't overlook or discount the lessons in this book of parables. The outloud sins of the characters and the lavish grace of Jesus's forgiveness may call some who struggle deeply with sin strongholds into giving those patterns to Christ. Prodigals may benefit, older teens (very mature – this is PG-13+) may benefit from seeing the internal, emotional consequences of the drama lifestyle.

If you're looking for gritty and edgy Christian fiction – you might want to look into The Ex-Files.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Serials and Scenarios - The Betrayed - Lisa Bergren

Click on the book covers to visit the Amazon page, or Lisa's pic to visit her website.

The Betrayed (Book 2 in the Gifted Series)

I love this series.

Intrigue, passion, hope, heart, history.

If you love great stories, tight writing and church history teamed with romance, fantasy, suspense and mystery, you've got to get this series. If you loved DaVinci Code, Rivers' The Mark of the Lion, Bright and Cavanaugh's Great Awakenings you'll find much to like in The Gifted series.

As far as flaws, they are tiny. Three very similar names of major players confused me at the beginning, but once I figured it out, it didn't hinder my enjoyment. Bergren does a small amount of telling and some passive writing, but to tighten this series up any further would have made the story almost too tense.

Those who will not read speculative Biblical fiction may not like this series. It is based on a "lost" letter. Bergren does not twist doctrine or attempt to rewrite Scripture, she just adds a story line happening centuries after the Bible, as we know it, was fully formed. What if the gifts of the Spirit landed on individuals who then were drawn together in a group and called to fulfill a path chosen by God? Good question and the amazing story playing out in just such a scenario.

The Betrayed is a powerfully written, gut-wrenching tale. As the characters agonize and struggle with the Gift that each has been given, and the responsibility that comes with it, I couldn't help but think of Job's wife's counsel. "Curse God and die."

The characters are brought to that point, the one where all they have left is the struggle between believing God is who He says He is, and finding a shortcut out of their pain. Each character is three dimensionally formed and believable as they accept, in degrees and layers, God's calling and their expected obedience.

The spiritual warfare aspect of the book is powerful as well, classic good versus evil, but with the good showing weakness and insecurity and evil showing raw magnetism.

The Begotten (Book 1 in the Gifted Series)

A meaty read full of intrigue, brave men, the power of God as He works through His people, and fictionalized history.

Based on the reality of a "missing" letter written by the Apostle Paul, the author, Lisa Bergren, has woven a series based on the powerful gifting of Christ's disciples in different ways. Victorious gifts to bring wholeness and healing to God's trodden down church. What might happen when spiritual wholeness is revealed to people who've lost the possibility of intimacy with God through mere religion?

One flaw I discovered that made the following of the story slightly difficult was similar names of three moderate to major characters. Additionally, those who want authentic language with their historical fiction may be slightly disappointed. However, I discovered the modern feel of the storytelling with occasional historical term or word usage made the story easier to follow.

The Begotten is set in Italy in 1339, a dark time for the church. Martin Luther's rise to return God's Word to the people happened within the next two centuries. The 1339 church kept the faithful separated from God's Word.

If you start on The Begotten, you'd better have The Betrayed ready to dive into because you won't want to stop.

The Begotten has the feel of Francine River's Mark of the Lion trilogy. History buffs and those, like me, who need a little fiction to make history come alive should enjoy The Begotten. I would imagine fans of The DaVinci Code and the movie Luther would get much from this series as well.

And a few words from Lisa...

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

Vito, my comic relief character in this dense, dramatic Gifted trilogy. I always love the sidekick guy who makes me laugh in movies—Vito is that guy, here. He keeps the others from always being so darn serious, all the time. And he’s remarkably good with a sword. I think it would be cool if I was remarkably good with a sword. Who knows when that might come in handy?!

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

Sigh. I probably would have written an ending for the love affair in The Bridge. I wanted it to be more of a God/man love story than a man/woman love story, and thought I’d given enough hints to readers that the man/woman would obviously end up happy-ever-after, but half my readers were mad at me for not putting it on-stage. Life’s too short to deal with reader-wrath.

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

“The story of your life is the story of a long and brutal assault on your heart by the one who knows what you could be and fears it.” –John Eldredge, Waking the Dead

This quote gives me a chill (and a thrill) every time I read it. It reminds me that (a) we have to be aware that we live within a world at war and we are God’s front line and (b) that Satan wants nothing more from us than to FORGET this central truth.

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

Climbing Mt. Everest. In fact, climbing anything over 11,000 feet is probably over my limit, but those Mt. Everest people are insane. I don’t even admire them…what’s to admire? Oxygen tanks? Passing dead, frozen bodies no one wants to haul down and bury? Ick.

Grammatical pet peeve…sound off.

Me/myself/I mixups…Please, everyone, you can learn this one! There is a propensity for everyone to use “I” now just because they think “me” is generally wrong and they don’t want to sound foolish. So they say things like “Would you care to go to the movies with Lisa and I?” (That should be “Lisa and me.”) Just test the phrase in another format in your head to “hear” the correct version. Ex. Would you care to go to the movies with me? You wouldn’t say: “Would you care to go to the movies with I?” See how wrong that sounds?! That’s how you tell!

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

She loved the sound of Portland’s rain, sliding down the plate-glass windows and gurgling down the gutters outside. As a little girl, time spent in her grandfather’s library had filled her mind and heart with a million memories of half-light, dulled by a thick layer of clouds outside, the chill of rain and the warmth of a fire in the library hearth. When she closed her eyes, she could see the clouds of smoke surrounding her grandfather as he bent over a book, puffing away at a pipe like he was a train engine chewing through the coal. She could almost smell the sweet odor of it…

But her grandfather was dead and gone, never to smoke a pipe again. And he’d left her this--some sort of antique box that appeared impossible to open--as the key to her legacy. Why did he always have to make things so difficult?

Monday, September 17, 2007

Serials and Scenarios - M L Tyndall - Pirate Dates and Other Pirate Dirt

Mary Lu Tyndall's The Restitution released September 4th. Mary Lu agreed to answer my deepest, darkest most secret pirate curiosities.

Enjoy...uh...maybe enjoy is a little about "Argh, jest read it already!"

Thanks Mary Lu...this was fun.

I love to read good, gritty pirate talk. One of my favorite phrases from the book "Pirate Parenting" is "me cat kittened in me mouth"…What is your favorite pirate (real or made-up) phrase?

My favorite real pirate phrase is Dance the Hempen Jig –which means to hang for pirating. (I know, sorry. I have an odd sense of humor.)

The most atrocious and disgusting pirate behavior is (family friendly of course)
(mine would be the teeth of lack thereof – shudder)

Well, as you can imagine, pirates had quite a few disgusting behaviors, personal hygiene definitely among them. You might also say that their language and morals were quite lacking as well. But by far, the most atrocious behavior I have come across was they way they punished members of their own crew. A serious offense, such as trying to take more than their share of the plunder, would ofttimes sentence the offender to a ritual called keelhauling. Without being too graphic, the man was tied to a rope that looped beneath the vessel, then thrown overboard and dragged under the “keel” of the ship. I’ll stop there, short of telling you what that did to him. Yikes!

Describe a pirate's dream date.

First a lovely meal of Salmagundi—a favorite pirate dinner (a stew of chopped beef, fish, turtle, chicken, eggs, anchovies, onions, grapes, herring, cabbage, seasoned with salt and vinegar. Yummy!) by candlelight sittin’ over a barrel on the poop deck of the ship.
A swig of Rum (to be shared with lady fair, only if she has all her teeth an’ smiles at ye real pretty)
Bring out the boys with their fiddles, and dance a jig across the main deck to lewd pirate ballads.
A swig of Rum (to be shared with lady fair if she still hasn’t fainted from the stench of ye)
Show the lady yer treasure and allow her to count the pieces of eight from the chest. (This be sure to get her in the mood for love!)
A swig of Rum (Dependin’ on how much rum ye’s got left, ye may or may not want to be sharin’ anymore with the lady)
Chase the fair lady around the deck fer a kiss (If ye can’t catch her, shoot her)
A swig of Rum (no more sharin’)
Find a worthwhile target. (A Spanish ship, British ship, Dutch Ship, French ship…well, any ship, really) and fire yer cannons an’ blow it to smithereens
Finish off the Rum
Pass out on the deck and lady fair has to find her own way off the ship and back home.

Which "real life" pirate (or legend I suppose) would you have most like to have met? And why?

I would have to say, the pirate, Stede Bonnet, also known as the gentleman pirate. He was a well educated man who had a successful plantation on Barbados, and one day, he gave it all up, bought a ship and became a pirate. Later captured at Charles Town, SC, he was imprisoned in the provost marshal’s house, where he dressed up like a lady and escaped. Unfortunately, he was recaptured only 14 days later and despite his pleadings for mercy—in addition to many appeals from the ladies of Charles Town—he was hung for piracy. His reasons for becoming a pirate? Only God knows, but Bonnet did confess that he found great “discomforts in the married state”. I also tend to think he was just bored. He had achieved all there was to achieve for a man of his breeding and education and found the rest of his days spanning out before him in mindless tedium. But, I’ll wager he was a pretty interesting guy to talk to. (But, then again, I like to talk to unusual people)

Detail your favorite pirate activity, custom or superstition

My favorite Pirate superstition has to be the Flying Dutchman. Even though the Disney Pirate movies have only recently made it popular, the tale has been around since 17th century. The Flying Dutchman is a ghost ship that can never return to port and is doomed to sail the seas forever. Seen from afar, she appears to glow with a ghostly light. If you sail close enough, her crew will try to send messages to people long since dead. A sighting of this ship is a foreshadow of doom. The story goes that it was once captained by a Dutchman Bernard Fokke who made a pact with the devil as he encountered a storm trying to round the Cape of Good Hope. According to other versions, some horrible crime took place on board, and the crew was infected with the plague and not permitted to anchor at any port so as not to spread the disease. Since then, the ship and its crew are doomed to sail forever, never putting in to shore.

And here's my take on the book:

Of the two Legacy of the King's Pirates novels I've read, The Restitution is my favorite. I think it could work well as a stand alone, so even if you haven't read the first two in the series, you can find a great story in The Restitution.

M L Tyndall knows her pirates. Unfortunately, she shares a little too much in the smell department, but, alas, I'm sure being there was worse.

Captain Carlton shaped nicely from a creep (book 2) into a roguish and attractive man. Isabel softened into a woman I could grow to like.

The story moved at a fast clip - probably about 40-50 knots- and there were a few unexpected squalls. Last but not least, romance, hoped for and unexpected alike, flourished under star lit skies.

If you love pirate adventure, adventure in any format, romance, pirates or just fun stories you should find much to like in The Restitution.
Get yer grubby mitts on a copy.
And for the morbidly curious in the group. Keelhauling defined.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Scribble and Scrambles - Feral Will of The Sharpened Teeth

I was recently inspired to pen a poem.
I think it is up there with "Die, Cricket, Die" with less violence.

Well...maybe not.

This poem rhymes...kind of.

I've entitled it...Feral Will of the Sharpened Teeth

I'm being bitten
By a kitten
Wearing taloned mittens.

I'm being gnawed
By a clawed

Yes. It's short, lame and to the point.

And you were expecting...?

In case you don't know the story of Feral Will. Let me share.

Late one recent afternoon the puppies bee-lined toward something fascinating. Their body language prompted us to investigate the reason for much enthusiasm, and there, holding his own, with a Halloween cat pose, stood a teeny kitten.

Of course we saved him, whisking him into the newly formed Klepfer Kitten Foster Care Program. However, over the days of waiting for the few people we asked to adopt him to accept or decline our offer, he began to grow on us. And most importantly, Rob.

Rob didn't care for the name chosen by the household females. Feral Will originally answered to Q-Tip. Full black save for a white-tipped tail, we felt it appropriate.

But with the realization that we could keep him and armed with the goal of a man pleasing name change we struggled through several possibilities. Finally, we decided to use his less than wonderful arrival and add a twist. Acceptance of the truth and a tribute to the Piglet's great-grandfather (Trespassers Will) and an actor appearing in two of our favorite movies.

Now, that dear readers, is creativity through the sieve of twisted minds.
Would now be an appropriate time to tell you that the picture is a body-double? Feral Will was unavailable for a picture at this time.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Scribbles and Scrambles - Let Your Voice Be Heard and Maybe Win a Free Book!

Thought I'd pass this along. Bethany House is offering a chance to win one of several recent book titles for a few minutes of your time. Click above and share your opinions on a new book's cover.

If you are interested in the science and art of book covers, visit Novel Journey.

I'm not sure what tomorrow's blog post will bring. We'll see what shakes loose tonight.

Have a good one.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Serials and Scenarios - Life, Libby and the Pursuit of Happiness

Here's a fun Chick-Lit to curl up with now that days are getting shorter and the air is getting that fallish nip. (This is the best time to live in Iowa where our seasons are changeable, often mixed up, but different.)

Click to visit Hope.

My Review:

There have to be subgenres in Chick-Lit.

If so, Libby would straddle career and dismal love life lit.

Libby is an engaging voice. Angst riddled as are most Chick-Lit heroines. With first person Chick-Lit you get all of it, the good, the bad and the ugly.

Libby is far more likeable than several other characters I've met between the covers of novels. She's sarcastic and has a dry delivery. If you try to avoid snide, she hovers on that edge, so you may not like her. I happen to love sarcasm.

There is tad too much predictibility in Libby's life. But I guess that is somewhat realistic. After all, sometimes I'm the last one to see it because I'm so close to it.

I struggled with a few "yeah right" moments of coincidence. But then again, this is not the mystery genre.

Overall, I can easily recommend this book to those who love clever escapist reads.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Scribbles and Scrambles - You Do Not Want to be a Spider In My House

We've got a bit of a spider problem.

I think the spiders are blissfully unaware of this fact, though.

Rob, being the sensitive pet lover that he is, being protective of the puppies and kitten by not spraying Spider-Be-Gone as per usual this time of year.

In case there is a People for the Ethical Treatment of Spiders...PETS...let me assure you that I know the value of these fine fellows. Without spiders we'd walk around with mosquito welts and our plants would be sad shadows of what they could be (in someone else's yard, my yard is not plant friendly, nor my home. But I digress.)

Spiders are welcome to visit the great outdoors at my home at any time.

However, they aren't content with this scenario.

Because the spiders have realized we are Spider-Be-Gone free, therefore, spider friendly, they are CREEPing in by the droves.

I may be exaggerating when I say droves. When factoring in the icky factor of the spider thing...droves would be around six. Yes. Six spiders.

Encountered spiders. Shudder.

One very brave spider fought back early Friday morning. I stepped out of the shower and there he lurked. I attempted to quickly dispatch him and he resisted, jumping toward me. Twice. Finally, I trapped him and let my brave daughter do the default dirty deed.

Yesterday, I opened one bathroom door wide and something dark caught my attention. Right below the bottom hinge an image, gray but clear.

It was a mark.

Had a super spider left a calling card? A threat? A statement not unlike the horse head?

No. After a little turned out not to be a calling card. But simply a poor choice in hiding places.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Scribble and Scrambles - Hitchcock Moment Part 2

I'm sure you'll remember the moment in which I slid back the shower curtain to reveal "the face."

The moment the lights went out in South Dakota...well...let's just say a few things went through my mind.

First. Annoyance. Did someone actually come into this public bathroom, hear running water and shut off the lights? No way!

Second. Realization of utter and complete silence save the running water and my increasingly deep breaths.

Third. Remembrance of moments of movie horror. The monster or sharpened-hook wielding, maniac always strikes directly after or during a moment of complete and utter silence.

Fourth. AUGH! SERIAL KILLER IN THE BATHROOM!!!!!!!!!!!!!! And I'm all ALONE!

Fifth. Hey was that lightning? And hail?

Sixth. I've got a wooden door and a nifty little latch. Hatchet man is going to have to make some noise to get through it. And I know some serious self-defense moves.

Seventh. That is lightning, hail, thunder and impressive rain.

Eighth. Ha. No Norman Bates after all.

Ninth. Hope the water holds up so I can rinse.

Hope you enjoyed your visit to my little nightmare.

And yes, it was a storm that took the lights, and no, I didn't run out of water, and no one turned up missing though one of the campers looked suspiciously like Norman's mother.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Serials and Scenarios - Camy Confesses

Camy Tang stopped in for a visit.... I'm mixing things up color-wise -- you'll understand as you read her comments. : )

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

Anne Elliot from Persuasion by Jane Austen. I love that book. I read it once every few months. Anne has made mistakes in the past, but she holds firm to her principles and morals, and strives to live correctly despite the new disappointments in her life. She’s never preachy or self-righteous, and she gets her man in the end. And that love letter at the end is so passionate, it always makes me tear up (although, granted, I cry pretty easily).

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

I am a tactile creator—meaning, when I do right brain creative stuff, I like tactile things as my brain works. Unfortunately, that means I eat when I’m writing.

To prevent the over-the-chair-spillage of my thighs, I picked up knitting. So, I knit a little (get the brain juices flowing), then write a little, then when I hit a roadblock I knit some more until I can put my knitting down and write more. It looks very strange, but it works for me.

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

Pink! Bad day? Pink! Which one do you aspire to be? Pink pink pink pink pink!

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

PINK! Because I loooooove pink. It’s a rebellion thing—my mother doesn’t like pink, she associates it with Barbie, so I never wore it when I was living at home. But recently I have come to realize that I love pink, and so now I wear and buy pink with abandon. I am reveling in my pinkness.

The iguana I could do without.

What period of history intrigues you the most?

Regency! I love reading Regency romances. Something about the elegance of the times, the sense of rebellion for a woman who marries for love instead of status or money, the political atmosphere with the Napoleonic War in the background—fodder for great romance!

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.)

A six-part fantasy series. I’m totally not kidding—I wrote one book (it really sucks) and have the entire plot for a second (which isn’t as bad).

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

Through romance! My favorite books are romances: novels by Jane Austen, Betty Neels, Grace Livingston Hill, Norma Lee Clark, Mary Ann Gibbs. The happy ending always warms me and inspires me to think positively, to love my husband, to love God most of all.

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

Book—whatever I happen to have as an ebook on my PDA, since I can’t bring as many books as I’d like in my suitcase. LOL
Music—audiobooks. Jane Austen, naturally, but also whatever strikes my fancy.
Person—preferably my husband, Captain Caffeine, but since I mostly travel to writer events, I’m usually flying solo.
Food—my mom makes these peanut butter rice crispy cranberry energy bars that are FABULOUS. They’re just the right size and I can pack them in my bag for a quick treat when I get hungry while at the airport or on a plane.

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.

The Holy Land—I want to see the places my Jesus walked. That would be so cool.

What is your favorite word?

NO. LOL I’m a rebel at heart.

Thanks for the colorful visit, Camy! Happy weekend, all.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Scribble and Scrambles - Hitchcock Moment

The family plus a few others went to South Dakota for the weekend. A huge Christian music festival -- LifeLight -- called to us and we answered that call. Leeland, Toby Mac, Tait, Jars of Clay, Chris Tomlin, Casting Pearls, Big Daddy Weave need I go on?

Because we hover around "cheap" on the spendthrift meter, we camped.

The KOA Camp was a nice little place with pool and two shower rooms. Packed full of concert-goers and folks taking advantage of a three day weekend, we had to be creative in slipping in showers.

Sunday morning I woke with the sun, or one of the rumbling semis across the road. Since I was up, I thought I'd try my luck with an empty shower.

The silent campground told me I’d probably not be waiting in line. This was confirmed as I crunched through the gravel under the silvery, cloudy sky and entered the empty shower room.

Now -- I must tell you I'm a fan of Hitchcock -- to a point. Most of his stuff doesn't scare me. I actually laughed during Rear Window when poor Jimmy Stewart takes a tumble. I've seen Vertigo, North by Northwest, The Trouble With Harry, Saboteur, Rebecca, and To Catch A Thief. But I've drawn the line at two of his movies. I saw a portion of The Birds as a child and was never the same. And my mother swears that Psycho kept her out of a shower for months, so I've made it a point to never watch it.

You think I digress...I do not. So, while the sun crept into the shimmery gray sky, I entered the shower. The empty room echoed, but I remained undisturbed.

While lathering my hair, I heard a loud clang. Assuming it was one of the trucks loading or unloading, I rinsed.

And then the lights went out.

To be continued...

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Serials and Scenarios - Sushi for One

Click on the cover to go to Amazon.

Camy is having a big contest at her website.

Come back Friday for an interview with Camy. And visit Novel Journey to find out even more about her and sushi.

My Review:

I always feel a little nervous when I crack open a book written by someone I know, someone I've bantered and traded wise cracks with, and someone I really like as a person.

What if I don't like the book?

What will I say?

Fortunately, Sushi for One, will not leave me scrambling to be gentle yet truthful. Camy Tang is adorable, funny and sweet, and those qualities come through loud and clear in Sushi for One.

I love the cultural feel with unfamiliar language, customs, scents and tastes. I'm a big fan of Amy Tan and am currently reading Memoirs of a Geisha. Tang takes the culture and adds a sassy Americanized spin with Lex, her thirty-year-old heroine. Lex is obsessed with volleyball, and though I don't even come close to caring about that sport, I didn't get pulled away from the story or annoyed with the many references either. The Chick-Lit third person feel of the story created intimacy with Lex and made it easy to cheer her on.

Spiritually, Tang tossed in some very real-life situations exploring religion vs. authentic Christianity. The drama of dating dilemmas and Lex’s various girlfriends/cousins and the resulting relationships brought loads of "yuck" moments and chuckles. In the end, I felt certain that Lex was on the road to recovery in many different ways.

I recommend Sushi for One to those who love cultural reads, Chick-Lit, and light, fun humor packed with truth.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Serials and Scenarios - Jeffrey Overstreet Colorized Pt 1

Jeffrey Overstreet's Auralia's Colors releases today, Sept 4, 2007.

I will finish his interview and review Auralia in November. But I want to share part one of his interview today. I thought I might review the book, too. But this is not a quick read because I've found myself stopping to savor some delicious writing. So, I look forward to offering a full review in November. In the meantime, lovers of language, of different worlds and compelling stories may want to click on the cover and read more about Auralia's Colors.

Visit Jeffrey's website.

1. Which fiction character would you most like to be?

We need characters who show us how to change the world through quiet, humble, faithful service. I’m inspired by Colonel Christopher Brandon in Austen’s Sense and Sensibility. The saintly Alyosha of The Brothers Karamozov. They’re both principled fellows who aren’t doing what they do to achieve glory or avenge some terrible wrong.

But most of the time, heroes are portrayed as men who employ violence to avenge some terrible wrong. You’ll find that I’ve lost my patience with stories like that if you read my reviews at If I have to sit through one more story that boils down to a gladiator or a braveheart with sword in hand questing to avenge his wife’s death, I’m going to scream.

Okay, here’s an unlikely role model: Growing up, I felt a kinship with Kermit the Frog.

No, I don’t mean to say that I felt like a puppet. But think about it. Think about Kermit’s story in The Muppet Movie. Kermit started in the middle of nowhere (a swamp), developed a lively imagination, and followed his dream. Because he had a beautiful dream, others were inspired to help him achieve it. And then, when that dream came true (against all odds), it happened because of the contributions of many people. He didn’t get there by himself.

Sure, I had the idea for a story called Auralia’s Colors — but that was inspired by something my wife said. And I wrote it down because my teachers, all through elementary school and high school, encouraged me to become a writer. The story was critiqued and edited by people who cared. Ultimately, it was published through the efforts of two agents and a publisher who believed in me. Auralia’s Colors is the fruit of a loving, caring community.

Finally, I want to spotlight on a character who has been overlooked in literature. Michael Ende, who wrote The Neverending Story, also wrote an inspiring fairy tale called Momo that is, in my opinion, more powerful and meaningful today than it was when it was written. That’s all I’m going to say: You’ll have to look up Momo to discover what I’m talking about. That character had a huge influence on the story of Auralia’s Colors. I wish I had a little bit of Momo’s power — she can change the world around her by merely listening to her neighbors.

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

This is a spur-of-the-moment response. And it’s probably a selfish answer.

When I wrote Through a Screen Darkly, I discovered that the best part of the experience was talking it over with readers all over the world. I’ve talked it over with sixteen-year-olds and with professors who use it in their classrooms. I’ve talked it over with Christians and atheists. Americans and people on the other side of the world. So many great conversations.

I really enjoyed writing Auralia’s Colors, and I love sharing the story with people. And I’d love to talk with readers about Auralia’s Colors too. So I’d probably ask Oprah Winfrey if she’d be willing to read the book and have dinner to talk it over. If she liked it and featured the book on her program, that would give me an opportunity to share the story with millions of readers. That’s like winning the lottery, but hey — it doesn’t hurt to dream big. You never know. Somebody might bring that dream to Oprah’s attention. And she might get curious. She values the imagination and artistic inspiration, so she just might go for it.

3. Do you have any rituals that you practice when you write?

I read poetry before I sit down to write fiction. I love Jane Hirschfield, Scott Cairns, Luci Shaw, Ranier Maria Rilke, W.H. Auden. John Milton… and the subtle and provocative poetry that my wife Anne composes.

Poetry slows me down, helps me concentrate on the music and power of words. I write better when I’m not in a hurry. I write my first drafts with a pen and a notebook. That helps in making me pay attention and work at every word on the page.

I also spend a lot of time walking on the beach along the Washington or Oregon coastline. Or hiking in the deserts around Santa Fe, New Mexico. I tend to find inspiration there.

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

Hmmm. I can’t quite wrap my head around that question. But I will say that when I was a kid, I wanted the Big Box of 64 Crayons. I wanted all of the colors. If you asked me what my favorite Crayon is, I’d have to say… my favorite is the one that’s missing.

Auralia’s Colors is about a girl who gathers all of the colors from the world around her and weaves them into revelatory, world-changing expressions of her imagination. Because she is so attentive to the world around her, she discovers colors that no one has ever seen before. And I watched that revelation have a strange effect on the characters.

5. What’s your favorite turn of phrase or word picture, in literature or movie?

I love the scene in William Shakespeare’s Hamlet when Hamlet decides to reveal the truth of a matter by exposing people to a work of art. “The play’s the thing to catch the conscience of the king.”

And when Hamlet’s murderous uncle sees the truth of his own evils presented to him in a play, he cannot pretend his innocence any longer. He stands up and shouts, “Give me some light!”

We should strive for that kind of revelation in art — not the kind that preaches a message, because that chases people away, but the kind the shows such a piercing, unsettling truth that people are caught off-guard and transformed by what they see.

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

When I read The Golden Compass, I thought it was the most enthralling fantasy I’d read since The Lord of the Rings. But then the sequels broke my heart. It took this character I loved, a curious adventurer named Lyra, and led her to the belief that there is no such thing as a benevolent God. The whole story was just a setup to slam the gospel. The trilogy becomes a bitter condemnation of Christ and those who love him. I wanted to break into that world and save Lyra and her blind guides from such ignorance and deception.

Many people have condemned the Harry Potter stories, saying that J.K. Rowling’s stories will lead young readers into practicing witchcraft. I don’t believe that at all. I have yet to meet a child who’s been ruined by fairy tales, but I’ve met many who have learned good lessons from them. Magic in the realm of make-believe is a symbol, a way of describing spiritual mysteries. Tolkien and Lewis understood that. But Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy, on the other hand, seems to be designed as a deliberate attack on Christian faith, and it betrays his ignorance of what that faith entails, and the nature of the God who inspires such faith.

When I look at the world, I’m not at all inspired by the idea of placing hope in humankind. In spite of occasional highlights of humility and virtue, we’ve clearly demonstrated that we will abuse whatever powers we obtain. For me, the most inspiring figures in history were moved to incredible acts of service through their humble faith in a higher authority — one that is sovereign, benevolent, and generous. I don’t believe in the fascistic, cruel god that Pullman associates with Christianity, but rather the God of Christ, who is full of grace and liberating truth.

I think of that great poem by William Butler Yeats: The falcon cannot hear the falconer; Things fall apart; the center cannot hold… That’s what happens in the world when we stray too far from our Creator. Auralia’s Colors was, for me, a memorable, life-changing journey. I started writing it in 1996, and I spend the better part of a decade living in that world, because it helped me rediscover the mysterious design of the world around me. And that made me even more curious about the Designer, and how his grace overwhelms our foolishness.

7. If you were assured of writing a best-seller, what genre would it be?

If I knew that my next book would be a bestseller, I’d write a book of poetry. If we could make a book of poetry into a best-seller, perhaps people would rediscover the power and beauty of language. Maybe they’d stop reading just to find out “what happens next” and discover what is happening right now, in these words, at this moment.

Unfortunately, most readers don’t have the patience for poetry, so they don’t understand how it works, and they miss out on what it reveals.

8. What period of history intrigues you the most?

The period before this solar system existed. And then, a close second… the period after the end of this world. Think about those mysteries, and all kinds of important questions will spring up.

But when it comes to literature, I enjoy reading about medieval times — or fantasy stories set in worlds that resemble the Middle Ages — because civilization was still closely integrated with nature during that time. Nature lends itself to metaphor and symbol far more readily and eloquently than the things humankind makes. Stories about human invention tend to be discouraging stories about our failures and the corrupting nature of power. But stories that lead characters to discover things in the midst of mountains, rivers, caves, canyons, fire, ice, and storm — these stories often give us a sense of awe and wonder. That’s good for the soul.

I think Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings films were popular for a lot of reasons, but one of the most compelling was this: Moviegoers rediscovered the grandeur of the natural world through that fabulous imagery of New Zealand. It was like going on vacation to a place of unspoiled natural beauty. And I believe that nature is one of God’s most powerful languages through which he reveals himself. Maybe that’s why I like to write fantasy. It makes me concentrate on the natural world, and I start discovering the spiritual mysteries incarnate there.

To be continued....

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Serials and Scenarios - Angela Hunt Being Natural

I had a great opportunity to interview Angela Hunt for an article. I had so much extra information I'd thought I'd share it with you. Angela was so nice. I mean nice. I stumbled over my words and tripped in my grammar, and embarrassed myself at least three times and she acted as if she hadn't even noticed. I even mis-titled her book. And she just quietly fixed it and stayed silent. Yeah, I'd like to be just like her when I grow up.

Go to NovelReviews to see my review of Doesn't She Look Natural? and/or click on the cover above to go to Amazon.

You have written in several genres. I personally have read Uncharted which I found to be spooky and thought provokingly important, The Novelist which twisted and turned and made me cry, The Tale of Three Trees which my family dramatically read for a Christmas program several years ago and which still has a huge place in my heart. You've also written Biblical/historical fiction, women's fiction and non-fiction. Doesn't She Look Natural? seems to be teetering on the edge of Chick-Lit. Which genre is your favorite? And why?

I really don't have a favorite genre, and I don't think about genre as I write. I focus on the story and tell it as it needs to be told, then leave it to my publisher to try to "shelve" it in the proper place. Yes, sometimes it is a challenge!

What else do you do with your "spare" time (ha, besides take masters/doctorate level theology classes ­ oh my!)?

Spare time? (Laughing.) Actually, my favorite way to unwind after a long day at the desk is to pop a movie into the DVD player. I love story, and movies are a great way to get a complete story in a couple of hours.

If you weren't a writer ­ what would you do with your time?

If I weren't a writer, I'd probably be in law school. I love research and debate.

According to your website, you originally sought a musical degree. Do you still sing? Do you have a favorite musician(s)?

I like all kinds of music, ranging from opera to country. I love Emma Krauss, Rene Fleming, and Sarah Brightman. I don't sing very often these days because I'm too busy with writing-related travel or work. I sing to my dogs, though.

Any authors or books you love to recommend?

I love to recommend ALL Christian novelists because they are my brothers and sisters in Christ and they are doing such fine work. Whatever genre you like to read in, you can find a Christian equivalent today. I think it's important for writers to realize that characters have more than emotional and physical aspects--they have spiritual aspects, too, and those need to be recognized and developed.

What are your spiritual gifts?

Teaching and administration. I have a gift for telling people what to do. I have to work at not being bossy.

How do they present themselves within your writing?

The administration helps me organize my time and my material. The teaching comes out in my books even though I realize that people don't pick up novels to learn something; they read to be entertained. But people usually learn something while they're being entertained in my books. I know I learn a lot in the writing process.

You've won numerous awards and honors including a Christy and have a movie based on one of your works and a few more optioned. You are a sought after speaker. What one honor has meant the most to you?

The Christy was special because it was the award's first year and I was so completely flabbergasted when they called my name. But while awards are a nice affirmation, I don't think much about them from day to day. The awards I'm working for are those that will be presented at the Bema Seat, also known as the Judgment Seat of Christ. The things I've done will be tested as to my motivation--did I do them for Christ's glory, or to further my own reputation? The earthly rewards won't matter a whit there, but the Lord will judge the intent of my heart more than the works of my hands (1 Cor. 3:12-15).

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

Whenever someone writes to tell me that one of my books has caused them to draw closer to Jesus, that's the highest affirmation I could receive.

What criticism has cut the deepest and why?

Being misunderstood is always hard to bear . . . I've had people put my books down without ever really grasping my intent or message. Then I remind myself that Jesus was misunderstood, too.

What attribute of God do you find the most appealing? Do you see this as a theme in your works? How?

For the last several years I've been focusing on the sovereignty of God . .. and I've been amazed at how many believers don't really have a grasp of its implications. When we completely rest in the knowledge that God is in control of everything that touches us--good and bad--we are freed from fear and uncertainty. I used to think that I could somehow mess up God's perfect plan for me. Now I understand that even the rough times--even my mistakes--are part of God's plan to mold my character. He knows me intimately, better than I know myself, and he knows when I am going to mess up. So he uses those times to teach me, discipline me, and mold me into what he wants me to be. My characters are always discovering this truth, as I am. It's a multi-faceted gem.

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

Because I live with two 200-pound dogs . . . I think I'd ask Noah about how he handled the manure problem on the ark.

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

I'm not sure I have any . . . Other than doing everything BUT writing until about one o'clock, then I get serious. For instance, I'm typing the answers to these questions at 1:04 p.m., and I have yet to get started on my daily assignment!

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

Most romantic scene EVER: from The Last of the Mohicans. When Cora is looking at Hawkeye and she says, "What are you looking at, sir?" and he says, "I'm looking at you, miss."
Be still, my beating heart!

What period of history intrigues you the most?

All of them! People are always interesting, no matter when they lived.

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

Animals do it for me. Mammals--I'm not so wild about insects--can touch my heart quicker than almost anything.

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 been to the Holy Land, so next on my to-travel list is Italy. I would love to visit Rome and set another book there. Maybe a historical in the time of the gladiators . . .

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

I'd finish my WIP! And teach my husband how to use the computer so he could pay the bills. (I'm a pragmatic person . . .)

What is your favorite word?

Today? Brouhaha. Just saying it makes me laugh.

What word annoys you more than any other?

Today? Fluffy.

Superhero you most admire and why?

One of my novelist friends--and I'm not going to give her name, because she would be embarrassed--but whenever I wonder what to do in a given situation, I think about what she would do. She's dedicated to her work, to Jesus, and she doesn't worry about promotion, marketing, etc. She simply does her best work and leaves everything else in the Lord's hands. I so admire that.

Super power you'd love to borrow for awhile?

A photographic memory would be SO useful . . .
Societal pet peeve sound off.

I would really LOVE it if people would stand about two feel back from the conveyor belt when luggage comes off an airplane.That way we could step forward and swing suitcases off the belt without taking out a few innocent toddlers and other bystanders.

Do you have a current passion for any ministries or issues you'd like to share with our readers?

I have a strong passion for pro-life issues. The cheapening of human life in this country is a travesty, and I believe we must continue to teach that men and women are created in the image of God. That is a foundational truth that has been ignored in the last few years, to our detriment. When the most innocent among us--the unborn--are no longer protected, it won't be long until none of us are guaranteed legal protection.

Thanks, Angela. You were so sweet to work with.