Friday, November 30, 2007

Serials and Scenarios - Around the World in 80 Dates

Christa Ann Banister - reviewer turned novelist dropped by the Dregs for a visit. Like what you see -- visit her website.

My Review:

Around the World in 80 Dates is adorable. The description above does not do the book justice. Christa Ann Banister has a perfect chick-lit voice and is not afraid to use it. Classic, name brands, coffee shops, ice cream binges, girlfriends, guys and drama.

Chick-lit fans need to check it out. Those with a love of quirk need to check it out. Great descriptive writing through the eyes of sarcastic-witted Sydney as her life unfolds in the classic "what else can go wrong" format, with wacky inserted omniscient peeks into the lives of her inner circle.

A spiritual message that will encourage patient twenty-and-thirty- something ladies-in-waiting. I will caution the more sensitive readers...if you have any issues with alcohol, dating, or movie choices for Christians, consider yourself forewarned that you may disagree with some of Sydney and company entertainment choices.

This is one of the more fun reads I've invested time in this year. I will definitely look forward to more from Christa Ann Banister. I'd also love to have a cup of coffee with her the next time I visit Mall of America.

The Interview:

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

There’s several books written by Sophie Kinsella in her “Shopaholic” series. Beyond her obvious love of shoes, purses, etc., I feel like I can relate to the “Shopaholic” protagonist Becky Bloomwood. She’s got a distinct voice and sometimes her best intentions would often turn into a huge misunderstanding, something that’s happened to me on occasion. Plus, I’ve also shared her secret hope (especially in my college years) that my VISA bill would magically disappear along my balance.

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

I’d ask Princess Diana what she was thinking about just before she passed away—her last thoughts.

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

I wouldn’t say that I have any strange rituals. But if I don’t have my lead line or paragraph just right, I can’t move on to the rest of the text. They’d also encourage you in school to just write and edit later, but I have to edit as I go along.

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

In Pride & Prejudice, I think it would be interesting to see what Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth would be like on a date. So I’d have Jane Austen add a section that gave readers a glimpse into their lives before the walk into the sunset.

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

I love how Hemmingway describes Paris in A Moveable Feast through the meals he eats, the walks he takes, the people he meets. It’s better than any travel writer any day…

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.

I don’t care so much about writing a bestseller, although I won’t lie, that would certainly be a nice perk. But I want whatever I write, whether it’s chick-lit, non-fiction, a devotional, to be the highest quality I’m able of achieving. And if it’s chick-lit, I want them to be able to relate to the character, get a good laugh and maybe even learn something about him/herself in the process.

What period of history intrigues you the most?

I think it would’ve been cool to have been around in the Beatles’ hey day in the 1960s.

What makes you feel alive?

My faith makes me feel alive because I know that life actually has a purpose, and I know true hope. Enjoying the sunshine and a cup of coffee with my husband on a leisurely morning with my husband definitely makes me feel alive. Seeing something like the Rocky Mountains or the ocean always has that effect on me, too.

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

If you’re referring to a book, a particular book makes its way to my heart vis å vie a compelling story. For me, a good sense humor is instantly captivating. Or a well-written account of an underdog who makes his/her way to the top. A story of someone who’s battled adversity—all these things make a book appealing to me. Characterization is really important—if a character is written well, I will definitely enjoy the book and will read it more than once.

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

I’ll pretend this very long trip is a road trip from Saint Paul to northern California, say San Francisco. Since we’re going to California, one of my husband and I’s favorite places, I have to bring my husband along. We’d just pack whatever books we are reading at the moment (he’ll probably be reading theology or philosophy, I’ll be reading who knows what) and the iPod. I know, I know, that’s cheating. But that’s the only way we’ll have everything from Coldplay to Keane to The Beatles to Bob Dylan all in one handy place. As for food, we’d bring things that wouldn’t go bad very quickly—smoked turkey and pepperjack sandwiches, Sun Chips, granold bars, Dasani water and Reese’s peanut butter cups for when we need our chocolate fix.

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 have an insatiable travel bug, so there’s about a billion places I want to go—just ask my husband. But the top destinations at the moment are Italy, France and the Greek Islands.

Favorite season and why?

I love Fall. The leaves turn such gorgeous colors up here in Minnesota, and that means it’s time to get out the sweaters, which I love wearing. Plus, fall brings all kinds of exciting things like football (Go Packers!), Thanksgiving, pumpkin spice lattes at Starbucks and is also the perfect time for me to make my favorite chili recipe! Yum!

Favorite book setting and why?

I guess it just depends on the story. But I do love my fair share books that are set in London.

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

It’s been such an honor to receive so many amazing reviews for Around the World in 80 Dates. But I love it most when people say they can relate to the characters. To me, that’s the highest compliment.

What criticism has cut the deepest and why?

I’ve been really fortunate not to have a criticism that has cut very deep. I’ve definitely had my share of red marks on things I’ve written over the years, but that only helps sharpen my skills. I’ve always believed that every writer needs a good editor, and that definitely includes me.

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

Make the most of it! Maybe I’d travel somewhere I’d always wanted to with my husband, Will. I’d also make sure I spent the majority of the time with family and good friends. Aside from that, I guess it wouldn’t really matter.

What is your favorite word?

Oh there’s so many…maybe epiphany. I’ll say epiphany.

What word annoys you more than any other?

I have a whole list of them—pus, bunion, lubricate. Ok, there’s a few for starters.

Superhero you most admire and why?

I wouldn’t say there are any superheroes I admire. I like superhero movies, but no character really stands out from the rest in terms of my admiration.

Super power you’d love to borrow for awhile?

From time to time, I think it would be cool to have the ability to clone myself. Maybe the clone could write my CD reviews for the day while I took a nap. Or better yet a vacation. Now that would be fun.

Favorite chore

I’m assuming you mean a household chore, so I’ll go with vacuuming.

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

I would never skydive because I’m sure I’d forget to pull the parachute at the crucial moment, and I’m not too eager to splat on the ground. I’m not a big fan of needles either, so shots aren’t my favorite thing, either.

Grammatical pet peeve…sound off.

Using the wrong form of there, their or they’re. Especially when people use they’re when something belongs to someone else. They’re=they are. Their=possession. There=location. ‘Nuff said.

Societal pet peeve…sound off.

Rudeness, and about anything to do with driving. Can people please try using those turn signals? Or how about speeding up when you’re merging into the freeway. Yeah, that would make the world a better place…better drivers.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Scribble and Scrambles - Just a Few Post-Thanksgiving Hints...

I've always dreamed of writing for Martha Stewart's Living....

You think this article might make the cut?

uhhh. Don't try these at home. And if you do, don't sue me.

Don't Throw That Out:
Uses for Leftover Thanksgiving Yummies.

After a week of eating home-grown sage stuffing and organic cranberry compote you may need a culinary break. But the good news is that none of the food needs to go to waste. If you are very creative, you too, can sleep guilt free tonight, bothered only by the residual reflux from your Thanksgiving gorging.

If you live in one of the cooler regions of the world you may discover that air seeps in around tiny cracks. This is where stuffing and mashed potatoes come in handy. By now they are likely the consistency of paste (yes, the kind you used to eat in kindergarten). Simply get out your spackle knife from your color-coordinated tool chest, scrape the right amount into the offending crack and voila!; money in your pocket and toasty toes.

One note. You will want to scrape this out before the spring thaw.

Are you getting low on toothpaste? Simple. Carve out your pumpkin pie filling (no, don't toss that shell) and mix it with equal parts of baking soda. Your smile will be festive through the remaining days of the holiday celebrations.

Looking for creative and inexpensive decorations? Simple. Get waxed paper and clear off a countertop. Now, melt the remainder of the cranberries. Then simply "paint" holiday shapes onto the waxed paper, I suggest Christmas balls, candy canes, Santa hats and gumdrops. Let your art dry completely and instant "earth friendly" window clings.

We can't leave out the turkey, can we? By now you've probably exhausted any edible use for turkey including pancakes and ravioli. Not all uses! Shred the remainders into a bowl. Now in an additional bowl pull together a simple pancake recipe. Mix in the turkey dregs and enough additional flour to create a cookie dough texture. Now, roll it into balls and smash onto a greased cookie sheet. Sprinkle the "cookies" with garlic salt. Bake them at 350 for 25 minutes. Let them cool and you have just turned into Fido's fairy godmother. Keep away from humans. Turkey addicts may smell the cookies baking and line up for the next serving of turkey, but these are for Fido.

Finally, I know you've been wondering about that soggy pie shell. Wonder no more. Sprinkle it will cinnamon, sugar, a hint of nutmeg, butter and crushed nuts.Bake at 350 until browned. Let cool and crush. Scoop ice cream into bowls, drizzle with caramel sauce mixed with a little leftover egg nog and top with pie crust crumbles.

Happy Holidays -- next month I'll tell you what you can do with the gross of candy canes you got at the post-Christmas clearance.

Serials and Scenarios - Christmas Books #1

I have several Christmas books that I'm reviewing. Some of you may be looking for just such a thing. I'm going to drop in with a book review and Amazon link periodically throughout the next couple of weeks. My goal is to read every book I've committed to read and review for 2007 in 2007. I see the end in sight.

I suppose I'll post a few times a day on really crazy days. Join me. I plan to actually create a Top Ten (suppose I can narrow it down to ten? oy vey!) list of my very favorite books of 2007. Look for that over the change of year.

Since Advent in right around the corner. Here's a review of a devotional book for the Advent season. Click on the book cover should this interest you.

I'm not organized enough to participate in advent. But I like the idea. I'm all for anything that can help me to focus on Jesus and His blessings in my life and the reordering of my priorities in this busy season. If you actually participate in Advent devotions and are looking for a devotional series,you might want to look into The Miraculous Journey: Anticipating God in the Christmas Season.

I don't think think this study is appropriate for families with young children because of the subjects and vocabulary, so if you are looking for family friendly, you might want to look elsewhere. Need material for your personal study, for older children who are ready for meaty discussions on what Christ in us means and how we should respond to His birth in 2007, or small group study, keep reading.

Denomination detail: The prayer within the chapters, prior to the daily journaling section, is the same liturgical prayer. Theologically, there could be a conflict in that Bullis twice mentions receiving the Holy Spirit upon baptism. If neither of these are issues for you, keep reading.

According to a Google search Advent 2007 begins on December 2nd.

Marty Bullis has provided a slightly different slant than what I've seen in other Advent materials. His focus is less on the baby Jesus and more on the man and the God. Taking each of the twenty-eight days and tackling passages from the four gospels, Bullis gives thoughtful reflections regarding our response to Christ's coming. He covers Jesus and His relationships with His F/fathers, the time of His wilderness testing, the political climate of the day, Jesus' family tree and our humanity, among other topics.

To get even more out of this study, and it has elements of study because Bullis is obviously a teacher as he uses tools to teach and help the reader understand, commit to digging further into the Bible to enhance the short lessons. I didn't begin to grow in the Word until I began to read it. For years I fell into the trap of reading pretty words written about God's Word, but failed to read His Word on my own.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Serials and Scenarios - Jeffrey Overstreet Colorized Part 2

Jeffrey Overstreet visited in September and answered the first eight questions here. (and then scroll down a bit)

My review of Auralia's Colors (and a bonus from Tina F.) are here.

If you haven't looked into Auralia yet, click on the book cover for more info or here for Jeffrey's website.

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

I’d write a story in which I didn’t have to censor the ugly details about evil, or censor the details about the source of redemption. The Scriptures are full of gory details about sin, and that has something to do with why the glory of redemption shines out so boldly in its pages. But there are quite a few people out there who are so afraid of offending people that they fail to engage with the reality of sin. Thus blunt the power of a redemptive story.

I would also write a story that celebrates the sensual details of creation. God made the world into a sensual, beautiful place, and he made men and women into sensual beautiful creatures. Many artists are too afraid to portray that beauty for fear that it will offend people. That results in “safe,” bland, sanitized art… art that fails to shake us and transform us.

Let me tell you a story: I know a Christian writer who compared his central character, a virtuous young woman, to another famous character — that virtuous youngster in the beloved book called Heidi. In a rather amusing, blunt fashion, he described his character as being “Heidi with breasts.” When he read it to me, we both had a good chuckle. But he was then told by his editor that he had to delete the reference to “breasts” because it might be offensive to the readers. So he ended up with… what? A woman without breasts? How frightened we’ve become — we cannot even mention parts of the human form for fear that somebody somewhere might have an inappropriate thought. What other good and proper things must we pretend are non-existent simply because somebody somewhere might respond badly? Should we outlaw chocolate chip cookies because somebody with an eating disorder might consume too many of them? This is not the way to respect and celebrate the good things God has made.

10. What makes you feel alive?

Suffering and prayer. Suffering, because it confirms for me that the world is broken, and that the world was meant to be better. And prayer, because it is the proper response to suffering — I acknowledge that I am not capable of saving the world, and I open myself to the source of healing and restoration.

11. What books, music, people, and food would you take with you on a very long trip?

Books: The Scriptures and the writings of the saint in the early church, because the scriptures are full of truth, and the writings of the saints help me to avoid misinterpretation and to see that truth more fully. And then, J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings. Richard Adams’ Watership Down. Mark Helprin’s Winter’s Tale.

Music: Handel’s Messiah. The complete works of Johann Sebastian Bach. The complete catalogue of albums by Over the Rhine, U2, Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen, Sam Phillips, and The Innocence Mission. And the inspiring songs written by a dear, close friend — Nathan Partain.

Person? My wife, Anne. Of course.

Food: Well, if I’m going on a long trip, than I’m going from Seattle to Santa Fe, so I look forward to spicy New Mexican cuisine.

12. What’s your favorite season and why?

Autumn. It’s the most colorful season. And it’s stormy and dramatic, but not too cold. It sends me into the coffee shops to read and write, and into the movie theaters for the pre-Oscar-season rush of wonderful new films.

13. What criticism has cut the deepest and why?

The truth always cuts deepest. Once, someone responded to one of my film reviews and said, “You will be a better writer someday when you get over your sense of outrage.” That hurt. It hurt because it was true. I was responding to things that bothered my by writing with a tone of condemnation. It’s better, and more fruitful, to speak the truth in love… even if you’re criticizing.

I’d rather receive insightful, bold criticism of my work than any kind of praise. I’ve been blessed with teachers and editors who aren’t afraid to tell me when I’ve written something terrible. But they are able to express this to me in a way that conveys respect and love. When someone offers you criticism in love, they’re telling you that they care about you. But they’re also telling you that they value your work enough to look at it closely and respond.

14. Who’s the superhero you most admire and why?

I wrote a whole chapter in my book Through a Screen Darkly in which I celebrate my favorite heroes, and point out how many superheroes are really just self-centered. Check it out, and let’s talk!

15. What’s your grammatical pet peeve?

Here’s one that always bothers me: To reign is to rule. A rein is a tether.

So, you don’t “reign someone in” or “take the reigns.” And there’s no such thing as a “rein of terror.”
Thanks, Jeffrey!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Serials and Scenarios ~ for parents only

Teens in your life? This may be a resource you need.

My review:

If you are anything like me, you spend part of your parenting moments congratulating yourself for surviving and the rest of the time kicking yourself for failing.

Even though everyone told me to enjoy them while they're young, I wished away the whining, the diapers, the clinging and the neediness of the younger years. Shouldn't everything get easier as they get older? Doesn't a parent's alternate life as a person begin when the kids learn to drive?


I jumped on the opportunity to do this blog tour because I'm exhausted. My bag of parenting tricks is empty. I also never expected to feel this way,.I'm generally the one my friends come to when they've reached into the burlap sack of ideas and grab air.

I read for parents only within a two hour time frame, and closed the book still feeling exhausted, but a different kind of exhausted. I'm not alone. There is hope.

Rice and Feldhahn write from different perspectives, one a parent of small children, the other a seasoned parent of teens. They've discovered a handful of keys that parents aren't easily discovering in the heaps of emotion, puddles of drama and endless parental/teen miscommunication within their own homes.

A small book with chapters marked for easy readability, statistics and solid suggestions. I don't know that I can guarantee that reading this will make your life easier. But I found one thing to grasp a hold of that is going to get me to the next obstacle. Then I'll reread a few key points and see what else jumps out at me. That's worth $14.95 in my book.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Scribbles and Scrambles - Completely Lost in Translation.

The theme of my holiday weekend seemed to be translation error.

For starters, I finally watched Lost in Translation with Bill Murray. Note: read reviews if you are tempted to see it. I just posted mine at Amazon. It will appeal to a very specific people group...make sure you are within the group range or you may not like it.

And now for the story.

A family member who shall remain nameless (no, not Pat) recently discovered something new in our multilingual world.

To quote this person. " I just found out that hola meant hello."

To which one other unnamed family member shook her head and said "Hola!!"

By now you may know that my family rarely lets anything go. If there is humor in it, it will be milked. One of my childhood nicknames is completely politically incorrect or I'd share it with you. (Yes, this is probably why I am what I am!)

So, in light of this lovely family trait, this information was shared with two more family members at a small family gathering. "Hey, nameless-to-protect-face just found out that hola meant hello."

One of the tellees snickered and joined in. The other said. "What. What does that mean?"

In a quickie replay of Who's on First, the statement was repeated a few more times with the same response. Finally, exasperated, the tellee said. " I don't get it. What's a holameanthello?"

Good question.

So, when you are out and about tomorrow, watch for the holameanthellos.

And if you don't get this...consider it a translation error. Seems to be the theme.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Serials and Scenarios - Tricia Goyer's A Shadow of Treason

Hope your Thanksgiving was grand. Here's a book review if you are in the mood for a good historical.

Tricia Goyer continues the story of the Spanish Civil war and paints a picture of sorrow, pain, fear and hope. As in any war, the loss is considerable and the opportunities are endless for a chance to become a reluctant hero.

Sophie went to Spain to find true love and ended up finding real love while sacrificing for a greater cause. That cause, as often happens in conflict, becomes nebulous and hard to hold on to when faced with the belief and passion of the enemy.

Is Sophie helping the right side? Is either side right?

Powerful plot, deep characters, vivid writing -- if you like Goyer, you'll want to get a copy. If you like reading about obscure bits of history and overlooked wars check into this series.

Scribbles and Scrambles -- Post Thanksgiving Thanks

Thought I'd share a moment from our Thanksgiving.

Almost everyone is laughing. That's pretty much the way it was all evening. Families are a fabulous thing...all the warts, weirdness and wonder of it all.

Thanks, God, for my peeps.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving --- The Other Holiday

I'm Thankful Because....

Even though I'm prone to complaining about it -- my life is full. I'm rich -- in marriage, in family, in friendships and in interests. My life is peppered with satisfying conversation, deep inspiration and soul-touching love.

Laughter overflows in my life. Sure, not always. Sometimes I'm just crabby or I encounter contagious crabby people, but more often, I encounter quirk and the joy of life personified.

I have to tell this little story.

Our church put on a Thanksgiving dinner Sunday evening. I had provided 6 quarts of mashed potatoes. Another woman had provided a bit more. Her potatoes were served first so the majority of mine were left. The crock-pot had been set to warm so the creamy potatoey goodness remained warm.

I did not want to return home with 5 quarts of potatoes, so I strongly encouraged people to take some home. Everybody was stuffed to the eyeballs so it was a difficult "sell." One guy hesitated...ha,ha, I knew I had a taker. So I handed him a quart size zipper bag and told him to fill it up. I glanced over and noticed he had a little trouble. He grabbed his daughter and they filled the bag while he shook his head and squawked as she dropped hot potatoes on the back of his hand.

I told him to bring the bag into the kitchen to clean it up. He grinned at me. "Thanks a lot! That was fun. Did you set me up or what?"

By now I was laughing pretty hard. Did I mention that this guy used to own a bar/restaurant? "Sorry. I didn't know it was going to be that difficult."

Now we were both laughing. He washed his hands. "You're crazy."

"No. People think you need alcohol to have fun. Amateurs. Give me a bag of hot potatoes and I'll show you real fun."

Finally and most importantly, I'm thankful for God. He has saved me from myself. He has offered me truth instead of the lies I've believed. He's given me living water instead of the nasty pond scum I'd been drinking. He's taken my messes and fashioned them into something more beautiful than I ever thought possible. He's replaced my despair with hope, my emptiness with abundance, my fears with faith, and my death with life.

Have a blessed Thanksgiving. Eat well, laugh often and live every second.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Serials and Scenarios - Neta Jackson Yada Yada Yada

Neta Jackson spins tales that cross cultural and generational lines.

Time did not permit me to review the Yada Yada Prayer Group Gets Decked Out, but Neta was kind enough to share some thoughts, comments and quirk with the Dregs.

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

Ken McLaughlin from MY FRIEND FLICKA. As a kid, he represented all my fantasies--living on a horse ranch in Wyoming, always making mistakes or failing his father's expectations, longing for a colt of his own, living in his own fantasy world . . . and then seeing his dream come true. Flicka. That bit of sun on four wobbly legs . . . but I digress!

Or Anne of Green Gables. I totally identify with her imagination, her Pollyanna approach to troubles, and (hate to admit) her terrible temper (which I've outgrown, of course). I don't have red hair, but I did have curly hair which never behaved.

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

Not so strange, but . . . cat bed under my desk for the cat when Dave's around, but I let the cat lie all over my papers on top of the desk when he's out of the office.

And tea. Big mugs of black tea all day long with "cream and sugar" (i.e. soy milk and Splenda). For some reason the caffeine in tea doesn't bother me at all, not like coffee, but I need something hot and liquid to sip when I'm writing.

And more seriously, every time I finish ten chapters, I send them out to a select group of "readers" who give me feedback. They have saved my butt on more than one occasion--and give me good ideas, too.

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

The first time I ever read the real Romeo and Juliet Shakespeare play, the ending made me furious! If they had died sacrificially, one for the other, or for a noble cause, that would be one thing. But it was such a stupid chain of near misses and misunderstandings. Horrible. I like hope and redemption, or sacrificial love, even in the most tragic of stories.

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

Reminds me of a childhood ditty we used to say . . .

I've never seen a purple cow
I hope to never see one
But I can tell you any how
I'd rather see than BE one!

What period of history intrigues you the most?

Late 1800s . . . before cars and telephones, when everyone HAD to have a horse (grin) and people read books and got together for entertainment. This is also the period of colonization in Africa, India, etc. I'm fascinated to read those epics from the African or Indian point of view, the real thoughts and feelings behind the smiles of those being "colonized" by the "superior" British.

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'd love to write a dramatic play. I'd love the challenge of carrying the story primarily through dialog.

What makes you feel alive?

Dancing! I wish I knew how . . . sometimes I just turn up the music at home and dance anyway. I'm going to dance and dance and dance in heaven.

And knowing I'm loved by my husband.

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

Humor! Absolutely! I love to laugh. I love the truth wrapped in humor. I always tell young couples who are getting married: there will come times when you will feel like crying hysterically or laughing hysterically. Choose laughter.

Laughter also covers over a multitude of sins (read mistakes, boo boos, bad hair days). We take ourselves too seriously. We should humbly laugh at ourselves for the ridiculous but wonderful creatures God made us to be.

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

Bible, C.S. Lewis Narnia series, my husband Dave (or maybe Pam, my speaking partner, we already travel together a lot), fruit and chocolate.

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.

NEVER the North Pole. Way too cold. NEVER deep seas. I have a love/hate relationship with boats and water. NOPE deserted island. Too lonely. I need people.

Well, sure, the holy land. Also Africa (Malawi, Uganda, or South Africa).

I'd also love to travel all over the U.S. and/or Canada by train, with a sleeping car ticket. I LOVE traveling by train, but the sleeping car makes it even better. And the changes in U.S. landscape, from prairies to forests to jaw-dropping mountains . . . totally awesome.

Favorite season and why?

Fall. Absolutely. My favorite time of year for camping. I love the crisp warm/cool air, warm enough to enjoy hiking and biking, cool enough in evenings for campfires and good sleeping.
(I'm also an October baby of course.)

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

There are many but here are a few:

"I would really like to see the Yada Yada story continue. It is sorely needed as the racial and cultural divide in our country continues to widen. Your books have been instruments of healing."

"I have NEVER read a book, fiction or nonfiction, that has inspired me more to want to grow as a Christian."

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

Can't decide between (1) do what I'm doing right now, just a normal week of writing, meeting with my women's Bible study, loving my husband, calling my kids and grandkids . . .

OR . . . (2) dropping everything to visit everyone in my family (siblings, kids, grandkids), wrap them in my arms, tell them I love them, and tell them to follow Jesus, no matter what.

What is your favorite word?


What word annoys you more than any other?

I'm bored.

Superhero you most admire and why?

Forget Superheroes. There are plenty of REAL heroes to admire. People like Dr. M.L. King, Ben Carson, Amy Carmichael, Mary Slessor, Mary McLeod Bethune and zillions more authentic Christian heroes (you can read about them in the Trailblazer and Hero Tales books we wrote for young people). Then there's Esther and--one of my biblical favorites--Abigail.

Societal pet peeve…sound off.

Women who are so into feminism that they berate a polite male who gives up his seat or opens the restaurant door or says "ladies first." I love strong women--but a woman truly comfortable with who she is can also appreciate small (and large) kindnesses.

Thanks, Neta, from one October fan to another.

Scribble and Scrambles - Hmmm...Worth Looking Into

My friend Bonnie sent this to me....worth looking into. I'll be checking it out.

As you reflect this Thanksgiving on all the ways God has blessed you this past year, please read on to learn how you can say thank you in a tangible way by helping those who will not feast on Thanksgiving Day. “About 25,000 people die each day from hunger or hunger-related causes, most of them children.”

You can make a difference by going to (the source of the previous quote). By playing their vocabulary building game, you can donate 10 grains of rice for every correct answer.

The Web site checks out at as being legit. They report: “On 7 October 2007, the first day of the site’s operations, only 830 grains were donated. As of 17 November 2007, the number of grains of rice given away amounts to 2,457,120,420.”

The game has 50 levels of difficulty. The Web site says it is rare for people to get above level 48.

May your celebration of Thanksgiving be blessed with the riches of family and friends and His presence.

Thanks, Bonnie.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Scribble and Scrambles - Oops...We May Have a Problem

While pondering what to post for the evening, I pick up some faint noise downstairs.

Okay, not faint, more like hard to miss. The sound of the pitter patter of eight paws belonging to 60 pound puppies thunders across the floor directly below me.
And the shrill instruction of the puppy handler.

"Ouch! Don't bite me. Go get the ball." Followed by the thud-dub of a tennis ball ricocheting across the room. "Feral. Get out of the way. They're going to trample you!"
Working on the skill of fetching, obviously. "Hey, Mom. You've got to see this. Feral is playing fetch with the girls."
If you've been following our zoo saga you'll know that Feral is the six pound kitten.
This bit of news only confirms what we've begun to suspect. Feral believes he is a puppy. This explains much.
But then the cat within shows itself. When I enter the room to look, he scampers away and runs back upstairs and then sits on the sofa and stares at the wall.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Scribbles and Scrambles - Thanksgiving Screeching

I would never have considered myself a precocious child. But through adult eyes, I'm afraid I must label myself truthfully. So, precocious I was.

I love music. In a weird spectator kind of way.

I took piano lessons for several years. Two, maybe, and quit with tears and whining and the horrible classic warning that I'd be sorry some day. Yes, I am sorry.

I think my problem is that I wanted to be able to play without the tedium of practice. In fourth grade I entered orchestra and my violin period.

Three months into my beginning violin book, my family requested that I play a little ditty during Thanksgiving dinner. This is how my grandma described it to my children. "Your mom stood, giggling, at the corner of the table while we all waited. Finally, your grandpa told her to step out of the room and play without having to look at us. The song finally began and went a lot like this. Screech, giggle, screech, giggle, giggle, giggle, screech."

It's probably a good thing for my children that I wasn't my mother. (If you figure that out...good for you...means your mind is thoroughly twisted...if you are scratching your head just move on. Trust me.)
For two years I tortured this fine music box and eventually produced music. My time ended when the new school I attended didn't have an orchestra.

A couple of years ago I decided to teach myself guitar. A friend and I got books and a video and had at it. We learned a few chords, had some fun, never played a song, then gave up.

Within months of that little project I visited a church that had a violinist. Why did I ever resist practicing and give it up? What a beautiful instrument.

I still had it. I decided I might remember something. I opened the case and the familiar scents washed over me. I lifted the glossy wood from the faux velvet, tightened the bow, set the violin between my shoulder and chin...and waited.

After all those years, I could still conjure the smell of resin but not one hint of what came next.

Recently, I purchased a how to play the violin book. If I begin practicing and relearning will it come back? Do I have what it takes? Could I give a repeat performance at Thanksgiving next year? I suppose I could eek out screech, giggle, screech, screech.

Have a melodic Monday as you prepare for Thanksgiving.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Serials and Scenarios - James Scott Bell - Tolls...Uhhh Tells

If you love a dry sense of humor, and references to current culture, you are in for a treat. Keep reading and enjoy the fun answers to the Dreg questions. James Scott Bell -- loads of fun. Thanks, Jim!

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

Phillip Marlowe, Raymond Chandler's private detective. Yes, he got beat up and abused from time to time, but he always had the right thing to say at the right time.

That's why I wrote the lead in Try Dying the way I did. I sort of get to be him through the writing.

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

I'd ask William Shakespeare if he ever used an eraser. It was said that what he wrote didn't get changed, by him or anyone else. I suspect he had a lot of crumpled paper around, with lines like, "What light through yonder window shines, peeps, gets in my eyes…breaks."

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

Starbucks. Sip. Sit. Type. Repeat.

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

I'd change the dog in The Call of the Wild and make it a lawyer who gets kidnapped and sent to the Yukon to pull a sled.

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

What's periwinkle?

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

From thirty feet away she looked like a lot of class. From ten feet away she looked like something made up to be seen from thirty feet away. – Raymond Chandler, The High Window

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.

Poetry. Remember Rod McKuen? I could write that in about ten minutes and sell a million copies. Now that's what I call a good return on an investment!

What period of history intrigues you the most?

1920's America. I wrote a novel called Glimpses of Paradise that takes place in Hollywood at the height of the silent movie era. It's a fascinating period when the country was trying to figure out who we were.

What makes you feel alive?


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

I'm a truth guy. I love the idea that some things are actually true and others are not and that our God given noodles can help us figure out which is which.

But then I like humor, too. Like Steven Wright, who once said he went into a restaurant that said it served breakfast, any time. So he ordered French Toast during the Renaissance.

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

I'd bring a Dickens, cool jazz, my wife and several cans of Trader Joe's Rosencrunch & Guildenpop clusters.

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.

Scotland, where my ancestors are from. I'd like to dress in a kilt and eat haggis and fight some English king.

Favorite book setting and why?

Los Angeles. My writer friends who are smarter set their books in Hawaii or Europe. They get nice tax write-offs for research. Me, I stick around the city I was born and raised in. I actually love my town.

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

I admit it, I do like it when people say "I couldn't put it down!" It means I'm doing job #1 as a novelist, which is to keep the readers flipping pages. If I don't do that, nothing else gets done, does it?

What criticism has cut the deepest and why?

I've always believed what one writer said, that criticism of your work is not personal, unless it's accompanied by a punch in the nose. I've only had one unfair review in my career, and it reflected much worse on the reviewer and publication. Also, the book was a bestseller.

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

Type faster.

(A line I lift, unapologetically, from Isaac Asimov)

What is your favorite word?


What phrase annoys you more than any other?

"I could care less," which of course means the precise opposite of what the speaker intends.

Superhero you most admire and why?

Hercules. I used to love the Steve Reeves Hercules movies. The guy was so cool and ripped. I always wanted to be able to lift a boulder and throw it on a ship.

Favorite chore

Making my wife coffee in the morning.

Anything you’d do but don’t because of fear of pain?

Fighting Chuck Norris.

Societal pet peeve…sound off.

Phone ear pieces. It gives people the illusion they are the sun and everything and everyone else orbits around them.


Pick a Genre - Describe a kiss….


He bent down. His lips got close to hers. Closer. A shot rang out. She didn't hear it. Closer, closer…


She pulled a gun and pointed it at him. "Kiss me or die."


It was a soft torrent, a Tsunami of lips and moonbeams, of oceans and desire, of Fabio dreams and pirate fantasies. In other words, a pretty good kiss.


He kissed me. I guess. If you could call that flapping yapper of his a kisser. He actually talked while he kissed! I decided then and there never to date a ventriloquist again. I was the dummy!


She stood there, amazed, rooted, seeing the grain of the wood of the barn clapboards, paint jawed away by sleet and driven sand, the unconcerned swallows darting and reappearing with insects clasped in their beaks looking like mustaches, the wind-ripped sky, the blank windows of the house, the old glass casting blue swirled reflections at her, his lips edging, even, in the first moment, feeling the wet press of his mouth against hers and hearing the bright sound of blood spurting.

(With apologies to Annie Proulx)


In his onyx-walled room in the occupation tower, Hulann -- a naoili -- disassociated his overmind from his organic regulating brain and allowed Paoo to contact his oral regulators.

(With apologies to early Dean Koontz)

Happy weekend one and all!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Scribbles and Scrambles - More Pet Poetry

Why oh why is your tongue in my ear?
At two a.m.?
Why do you need me
When I'm walking down the stairs?
If I call you, you stare
As if I am mute.
Then you turn your back.
But while I sleep, or read
or eat. Or work or try to walk through a room
you bat or purr or meow or pose.
A better name for a cat -- a not? Or a won't?
Feral gave me some three a.m inspiration. I've changed times in the poem -- poetic license and all that.
Is Kim the only one with good holiday memories? I expect a few more. I'm working on mine. It will involve music perchance.
And tomorrow...James Scott Bell - you really won't want to miss his answers...

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Serials and Scenarios - Try Dying

Looking for more twisty fiction? Click on the book cover and check out James Scott Bell's latest. Visit him here. And keep reading for my review. He gave me great answers to the question dregs...come back Friday for those.

My Review:

James Scott Bell is a best-selling and sought after teaching author because he writes great stories.

Case in point -- Try Dying.

Grieving lawyer, Ty Buchanan, is hit with information about the recent death of his fiancee which twists the tragic, freak accident into something sinister.

Ty obsessively grabs hold of what may or may not be true and then systematically unravels his life with his desire to find out what really happened.

Not only is Try Dying suspenseful, twisted and well-written, Ty is a sarcastic character who is believable, compelling, and likable.

Love Bell? You know you want it. Love suspenseful page-turners or legal thrillers? You might want to look into James Scott Bell. If you are a Grisham fan and haven't discovered Bell yet, Try Dying would be a good starting point.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Serials and Scenarios - Tamara Leigh Splits Hairs and Splitting Harriet Reviewed

Harriet Bissett, spunky, buttoned up, way up former prodigal may come by her sassy personality naturally through the connection with her creator. Read Tamara Leigh's answers to the dregs questions. Keep reading for a review. Click on the book cover or here to learn more about this fun read.

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

Hmm. Keeping in mind that what may look strange to others makes complete sense to the “strange” one, I would have to say that my laptop-toting trips to Starbucks have a bit of ritual attached to them. It goes something like this:
Ah, Decaf Venti Extra-Hot Caramel Macchiato. My favorite! Take a sip—ooh that’s hot—now set it BEHIND the laptop. That’s right, wide arc and set it BEHIND. Back to writing. Tap, tap, tap, tap, tap. Well-deserved break. Reach, wide arc back toward the mouth, sip, wide arc and set it BEHIND the laptop Behind!
I know it looks odd—people do stare—but if you’ve ever knocked a drink onto your laptop and even a slight amount of liquid has poured out through that little drink hole, you’ll understand. Sticky keys was not the worst of my disaster. The screen blotched from one corner and spread upwards. Not a pretty sight—nor the repair bill!

What period of history intrigues you the most?

I’m not much of a history buff, but there is one time period that captures my imagination —the medieval ages. My first seven published books were set between the eleventh and fifteenth centuries and I loved poking around and dabbling in the details and events that drove that period of time.

Favorite season and why?

That’s a toss up between spring and fall. After a cold winter, spring with its warming weather and new growth makes me feel alive. After a hot summer, fall with its cooling weather and beautiful colors makes me feel restful and content.

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

Now that’s a familiar question. When our family seems to get in a rut, my husband often poses that question in an attempt to jumpstart us. My answer is always the same—spend every possible moment with my loved ones (no matter how crazy they make me).

What word annoys you more than any other?

Two words—“literally” and “honestly”. Is “literally” really necessary in exchanging everyday information? If you tell me that you “literally” went to bed early last night, you don’t really think I’m going to believe you’re exaggerating, do you? And unless you have a reputation for being a liar, I don’t need to be told that you “honestly” don’t like broccoli. But what annoys me the most is when I hear those words pop out of my own mouth—they’re catching, you know!

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

The first that comes to mind is Elizabeth Bennett of PRIDE AND PREJUDICE. Why? For one, unlike Elizabeth, I’m only spunky and quick-witted on paper. For two—which should really be one—Mr. Darcy!

Favorite chore.

None of the above—though I do keep a neat (as opposed to deeply cleaned) house.

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

Pink iguana. Hmm. No, you can pretty them up with pink, but they’re still creepy creatures. Purple cow. Maybe. Does it give purple milk? Periwinkle giraffe (she consults dictionary). No, that would look exceedingly odd out on the savanna. So I guess purple cow it is. Uh, is this like an inkblot test? Roschardt?

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

The POISONWOOD BIBLE comes to mind, probably because I took it to the beach with me this summer (I know…not exactly “beach” reading). The story was powerful and life-impacting, the characters unique and almost real enough to touch. However, I thought there was enough story and emotion in the sisters’ childhood/adolescent years to bring the tale to an earlier end. Though their adult lives were interesting, I don’t believe they significantly added much to the story.

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

Let’s start with “person”. That would be my husband. He makes me laugh and makes me feel loved. Music? Probably Enya. Her music is so relaxing. Too, should I need some time alone while I’m on this very long trip, the strains of Enya have a strange effect on my husband that makes him seek peace and solitude elsewhere. Book? I’m a writer, so my “book” of choice would be a huge notebook. Food? I know Caramel Macchiatos aren’t considered food, but they have lots of milk in them. And milk equals protein…

My Review:

I've never had more fun with church politics and upheaval. Did I say fun? Yes. Anyone looking for an entertaining and possibly convicting story needs to look into Splitting Harriet. This read contains a quirky grouping of characters, play dates for cats, and internal angst centered around a church. Harriet, a one woman crusade, attempts to keep her church family intact while keeping her carefully controlled life under wraps.

A fair amount of romance, some inner generational girlfriend fun, and loads of twists and confusion make Splitting Harriet a quick and snappy read.

The twist on the usual chick-lit is realistic and the not so flattering revelation of the humanity that explodes in church inner workings and leadership is too.

I ended up enjoying my time with Harri, and was glad that things weren't so neatly sewn up that we don't have a reason to revisit her life down the road.

Chick-lit lovers, quirky character collectors and those who take church politics a little too seriously might want to look further into Harriet.

Thanks, Tamara. I loved meeting both you and Harri.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Serials and Scenarios - Lisa Samson and Hollywood Nobody

Lisa Samson dropped by the Dregs to have some wacky fun. Her character Scotty may have influenced some of her never know. Keep reading for a review of Hollywood Nobody. Click on Lisa's name and/or the book cover for more information on Hollywood Nobody and Lisa's other great novels. I tend to love deep thinkers with a quirky side and Lisa qualifies. Enjoy.

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

Nick Carroway from The Great Gatsby seems like a fine character to be because you get to hobnob with the wealthy, but you don’t have to act so stupid!

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

My ritual is that I have no ritual, no schedule, no set strategy. I wing it every day. It’s great because it keeps the guilt complex healthy and I forget things all the time thereby digging myself into holes. Overall, I’d say it’s a fantastic strategy.

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

I’d make Club Sandwich a little less personal. I’d do this because real life is cluttered, and that doesn’t make good fiction.

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

Good day? Magenta. It’s hot and cool at one and the same time. Bad day? Timberwolf. My daughter told me this. It’s light gray, by the way. Also Screamin’ Green when I’m mad. I think, however, I’d like to be Cornflower, that annoying, clearish blue that always clumped a bit when you dragged it across the paper. (Just kidding.)

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

Periwinkle giraffe. Long necks are sexy.

What makes you feel alive?

Sitting around a table of great food, with friends, family and wonderful conversation.

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

I’d take my daughter Ty, some Kurt Vonnegut, the Vince Guaraldi Trio, and a bag of Starbursts.

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

Well, given who I’d travel with, I think we’d go to NYC at various points in the 40’s, 50’s and 60’s.

Favorite season and why?

Autumn. I love the break in the weather, getting to wear sweaters and drink hot drinks without anybody looking at you like you’re crazy. (I drink hot drinks all year round.) The smell and the color of the leaves. It also feels like a chance to start over again, until New Year’s rolls around.

Favorite book setting and why?

On the Road, by Jack Kerouac. See answer to travel question above.

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

“Your book saved my life.” A reader was on the brink of suicide when she read one of my novels and decide to try again. I cried and cried.

What criticism has cut the deepest and why?

Oh my gosh! A review of The Church Ladies on The woman was so mean. Compared my writing to a kindergartner smearing around fingerpaints. Years later, I look back now and I can see how it’s filled with sour grapes, but I still hear her voice over my shoulder telling me, Lisa, “You’re no wordsmith.”

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

I’d take a portion of my savings, rent out a beach house and invite anybody who wants to come, to come. (Boy, you’d sure find out who your friends were too, if they weren’t willing to shift their plans! Ha!)

What is your favorite word?

Two words: heavy cream

What word annoys you more than any other?

Three words: Internal Revenue Service

Superhero you most admire and why?

Batman. Because he’s not inherently a superhero. He has to rely on gadgets and smarts, and he has a very interesting back story!

Super power you’d love to borrow for awhile?

I’d like to be able to teleport. I’d be all over the world all the time!

Favorite chore


Grammatical pet peeve…sound off.

When people say, “She don’t like it.” Don’t instead of doesn’t makes me want to scream.

Societal pet peeve…sound off.

All the entertainment industry’s awards shows. For cryin’ out loud! How many of these things do they need? Isn’t a bazillion dollars, fame and the Oscars enough?


Pick any of the following and have fun with it.

Chick-Lit meets Dr. Seuss

Purse. Purse. Purse. Purse.
Shoes. Shoes. Shoes. Shoes.
Andie loves her purse and shoes.
Over rent, these she does choose.
(Conveniently, the landlord never shows to claim
A portion of her paycheck.)

Chocolate too. Oh dear, oh dear.
Chocolate calories on her rear.
Chocolate, chocolate in her desk
Chocolate, chocolate makes a mess.
(On her clean white shirt
Ten minutes before a presentation. Naturally.)

And then the men, the men, the men.
Sexy, hunky, lovely men,
Gorgeous men who make her dream.
Men who leave her gobbling up ice cream.
(Alone in her apartment, on her couch,
In her “fat pants.”)

My Review:

Full of opinion on Hollywood happenings and trapped in a nomadic edge-of-Hollywood lifestyle by her mother, Scotty really has no other outlet than to secretly blog her insider facts and opinions. Self-schooled and mature enough to be the adult when her mom can't hack it, Scotty spends her days turning activities into units and projects for higher learning and her nights wondering if she will be awakened at three a.m. and told that they are moving on.

Scotty's thoughts are years beyond her biological age because she has such an atypical life, yet there is an innocence and insecurity that pops up when life gets ubercrazy. With a cynical and world-weary voice delivered through teen angst and confusion, Scotty burrowed into my heart. A twist at the end will make me grab the next installment.

No empty preaching here. Just a girl who's wondering what the point is? What's truth? What is life supposed to be anyway?

Scotty's story crosses age barriers. Teens and adults alike will find themselves sucked into Hollywood Nobody.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Scribble and Scrambles - Is Time Flying or is it Just Me?

November 11th.

Wasn't it just August?

Before I begin blabbing and blathering about time, let me throw out a "Thank You!" to all of America's armed service members past and present.

I am not ignorant of the "gift" of time won by you and your sacrifices.

Thank you.

Now, back to my blather.

Thanksgiving is breathing down our necks, and when that happens Christmas is just around the corner. Part of me delights in the family and togetherness of these holidays. But part of me never "feels" ready.

Now that the stores cleaned out Halloween on the first of November and replaced it with Christmas I feel rushed.

We even saw a Salvation Army bell ringer the other day. Wow.

I can hear the tick-tick-tick of the stopwatch (or the ring, ring, ring of the bell).

So much to do and times a wasting.

Help me out here. Share a memory of your most laid back and relaxing holiday ever.

I'll see what I can come up with.

This week is full of book reviews and interviews. So fiction lovers, make sure you check in every day. James Scott Bell gave me some superb responses. If you are a fan, you must come back on Friday for his interview. Lisa Samson and Tamera Leigh were loads of fun to "talk" to also.

And I'll share a holiday memory sometime this week.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Serials and Scenarios - Liparulo Drops...uh Falls In

If you've read my review of Deadfall, you know I'm a big fan of Robert Liparulo. Bob gave us loads of fun answers to the 2nd version of the Dregs Questions. Enjoy. Oh, and James Byron Huggins, thanks for encouraging/pestering Bob!!!

If you could write in another language, which language would you choose? Why?

At first, I was going to say something like Tartessian, a dead language that looks like a child’s sketch of a floor plan. But considering my heritage, and that my youngest son— who’s really into his heritage right now would kill me if I didn’t say this—I chose Italian. Plus, it’s a poetic language. I speak a little, but can’t write a lick—or una leccatura, if you will. Arrivederci.

Flora and fauna or meat and potatoes? Why?

Meat and potatoes, definitely. Flora and fauna is way to formal. “Meat and potatoes” makes me hungry for my favorite steak place in Colorado Springs (Steaksmith to anyone within a thousand miles—definitely worth the trip). “Flora and fauna” makes me want to run, kicking and screaming, from a university amphitheater. Are there any wrong answers in this? Any right ones?

Favorite ice cream or candy bar.

Ice cream from Cold Stone: Cheese cake with graham cracker crust and raspberries mixed in. Oh man, we may have to finish this later...

Rename any object - make it Latinized or practical or sci-fi it up.

Diaper = poopini (although that does sound a bit like food)... Can you tell I have a two-year-old?

No fair looking these up. Make up or guess a definition for one of the following words. Use it in a sentence, or a scene. Found at

I know a lot of these because I was a rare football-playing nerd in high school. I thought reading the dictionary was the height of cool. No one else did, which made it even cooler. Anyway, I’ll pick one I don’t know.

chary \CHAIR-ee\, adjective:

This one kind-of fits “Deadfall.” It’s someone who died in a fire (the original pronunciation \CHAR-ee\ was last as the word came from Europe through the Caribbean): “We don’t don’t know who the victim was, because it was chary.” Ask any pathologist or fireman.

Favorite cartoonist?

Chuck Asay, the political cartoonist for The Gazette in Colorado Springs. The guy’s brilliant and often gets his cartoons syndicated.

Favorite Blog or Website?

Not counting my own? OK, then... Drudge. Where he comes up with the crazy news he does, I’ll never know. The best example of truth being a whole lot stranger than fiction.

If you could only own three books, which ones would you own?

I Am Legend
C.S. Lewis’ The Weight of Glory

Best backdrop for a kiss. Give us a peek.

Big Beach, Maui (which isn’t big at all—but incredibly beautiful). After a long day digging in the sand, basking on towels, playing in the surf, the kids have already gone over the berm to the car. My wife Jodi and I are watching the red red sunset as the sun dips below the watery horizon. Somewhere in the distance, the soundtrack to Last of the Mohicans (“Elk Hunt,” to be exact) comes drifting to us. I turn to her... fade to black.

A mix up on the traditional --- Pick one and give us some words: Or come up with your own odd mix and surprise us….
Give a premise/tagline, character name, first line from a romantic suspense set in a convent or monastery.

Can I borrow from Emberto Eco? I won’t, but here goes: “Brother Francisco sniffed the air—redolent with the fragrance of his secret love’s favorite perfume—but when he pulled back the heavy wall tapestry, expecting a kiss, he received instead business end of a quill through his wildly beating heart.” (Not sure if that’s exactly what you asked for, but artists have to improvise, right?)

Give a premise/tagline, character name, first line from a romance set in a sewage processing plant.

Oh, don’t tempt me.

Share a moment when you realized that you really are a writer.

I was 18, way late on my car payments to my Dad. He was about to repossess it (really). The day before I was supposed to pay up or hand him the keys, a sizable check for a short story I sold came in the mail. At dinner the next day, the family was sullen (me too), waiting for the boom to drop. My Dad frowned and held out his palm for the keys. I counted out hundred dollar bills into instead. It was a sweet moment. My writing saved my car.

What did you say right before you received "that" look? (no help here – you can pick any "that" look you want – funny, serious, oh no.)

“We’re getting married.” We married relatively young. My father (again) was used to my making rash decisions. He gave me his “you gotta be kidding, but I know you’re not, and there’s nothing I can say or do that will change anything” look. So he said, “Pass the salt.” Then he got my look.

Favorite mindrot/mindless pursuit.

Horror movies, the sillier, the scarier, the better. Not necessarily the slasher pics, but the “Don’t go upstairs, you idiot!” kind.

Which book of the Bible fascinates or touches you most?

Proverbs. I can never get enough of that advice. Every time I read it, something jumps out that completely new and revolutionary, but I know I’ve read it a thousand times before.

If money/responsibilities were no object what would you do with one day?

Spend it with my family, preferably at the beach. We’d Jetski all day, picnic there, wear ourselves out.

Share one quote or comment that has changed your life.

“Get it on the page.”--the Christian novelist James Byron Huggins, telling me ten years ago to stop talking about the novels I would write someday and “get it on the page.” He repeated that phrase to me every time we spoke—about once a week—until I signed my first contract years later. Everyone needs a friend like that.

Happy weekend, everyone. Thanks, Bob!!!!!!!!!!