Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Scribbles and Scrambles ~ I Interrupt ...

...regular scheduled blogging to announce that I'll be an infrequent or absent blogger for a really long weekend.

But because I don't want you to go through any sort of withdrawal, I'm going to open myself up to public humiliation by sharing this link with you.

here and you'll go to a magic page with many, many short stories and devotionals I've written over the months and years since I began posting my "stuff" aka thoughts, words, drivel on the internet. Hopefully, you might see a progression of my "talent." All snarky and sarcastic comments are welcome. Feel free to talk about me while I'm gone. And while I'm away from the computer, I'll be cultivating memories that no doubt will end up here.

And here is a picture my daughter-in-law took of that amazing lightning storm a few weeks ago. Spooky-cool.

Behave. And have a fabulous, restful "weekend." I will.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Serials and Scenarios ~ The Healing Choice - Stoeker and Allen

My Thoughts:

I haven't had a chance to read The Healing Choice and the companion guidebook. I did page through and glanced at the chapters. Half the book is Brenda's (with comments from her husband Fred from The Every Man Series) story of time spent in a spiritual wilderness of grief. Susan tells her story of her own experience with betrayal in marriage.

Book Summary :

In the wake of betrayed intimacy, you may feel nauseated, angry, humiliated, desperate. Why am I not enough for him? Can our marriage be saved—and do I even want to try? Will this unbearable ache ever go away?

Amid the devastation that follows a spouse’s sexual disloyalty, you need to know that you are not alone. God walks alongside you, offering comfort and a promise to transform the pain of the present into hope for the future. In addition, there is a community of women who know firsthand the agony caused by a husband’s sexual compromises and who offer the compassion, strength, and biblical wisdom you need to make healthy decisions for yourself and your family.

The Healing Choice reveals the hope-filled stories of two such women, authors Brenda Stoeker and Susan Allen, who draw on their own experiences and those of many others to offer step-by-step advice for rediscovering intimacy with God and finding the support you need to move toward genuine spiritual and emotional restoration.

Their down-to-earth insights light the path toward help and healing for every woman who longs to move beyond the pain of broken trust and experience God’s promise of hope.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Happy Birthday, 17!

17 things I love about you....

Happy Birthday, Shibbie Baby.

You are 17...How did that happen?

17) You have a style all your own -- that's a good thing.

16) You make me laugh and... sometimes you mean to...: ).

15) You are creative -- very creative.

14) You take sweet pictures.

13) I have lots of pretty entertaining memories where you are in the starring role.

12) You are willing to work hard.

11) You have terrific focusing skills.

10) And fish-raising skills--in spite of the stupid "friends."

9) Your enthusiasm is contagious.

8) You have a sweet, sweet smile.

7) You are so good and kind and patient with little kids and older people.

6) Your obsession with Eileen's sugar cookies makes me laugh.

5) You still listen at church -- even though you don't always want to be there.

4) You apologize when you're wrong. Are are quick to forgive when I'm wrong.

3) You treat us with respect even though you don't always like our decisions.

2) You have so much potential -- no matter what you decide to do with your life, you'll succeed.

1) You are my little girl and I love you. I'm so glad you belong to me.

Happy Birthday 17!!!!!!

Friday, July 25, 2008

Serials and Scenarios ~ Patricia Hickman's Painted Dresses

Find out more information on Painted Dresses by clicking the book cover. Click here to read the first chapter. I love this new feature. I always know within the first chapter if I'm going to enjoy my time in an author's world. Here is my review. I didn't even contact Patricia for an interview. The past couple of weeks have been crazy-busy. Sorry, Dreggies.

My Review:

I recognize Gaylen and Delia. Unfortunately, that means there are families so touched by deep, dark secrets that members of those families become unable to function in a normal relationship. We all have those broken spots in our lives...can we swing in a circle and not bump into someone who is scarred?

Delia is flighty, rebellious and out of control. She peppers her surroundings with emotional buckshot. Gaylen spins like a toy top, bouncing and whirling elsewhere (anywhere) attempting to do what she knows is right. Her crippled past guarantees that those right things will fail.

This novel is a very gritty read. Not your traditional inspiring Christian fiction. If there are categories of Christian being sharing the hope and light of Christ and His power, the other showing how desperately hope, light and power are needed, Painted Dresses falls in the second category. You won't feel warm and fuzzy after reading it. You may find hope, it's not a hopeless read, but it is a very long look into lives of people who spend weeks and months grasping, gasping and trying to protect their view of themselves, regardless of the cost.

I applaud Patricia Hickman's desire to open a closet door, and if you love fiction that goes to the dark place in a human's soul, you definitely need to read the first chapter. Those who've been there may find healing by opening up and peeking in.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Scribbles and Scrambles ~ Recipe...Chocolate-Chip Cookie Makeover

I spent some serious time looking up recipes last week and was inspired to do a bit of baking with a twist. Can you make a chocolate chip cookie that tastes great and might be good for you (or better....)? I think I found one. And the benefit of all the fiber is that if you gorge on the little buggers you will be sorry, sorry, sorry later so that's a serious deterrent to those who can't control themselves around chocolate chip cookies.

These even passed the family test. The salt/soda is half of the Tollhouse reci
pe, the sugar is decreased by 1/3 to 1/2 depending on how serious you are about packing your brown sugar. The fat is cut in half by replacing 1/2 a cup with a cup of flaxseed and decreasing the flour to one cup and adding one cup of oatmeal for extra fiber.

Chocolate-Oat-Walnut Yummos

1 stick (1/2 cup ) butter (don't use trans-fat product) (I plan to experiment with peanut or cashew butter)
1 and 1/3 cup brown sugar (not packed)
1/2 teasp baking soda
1/2 teasp salt

1 teasp vanilla
2 eggs
1 cup ground flaxseed
1 cup old-fashioned oats
1 cup flour (I used all-purpose, but next time will try oat)
1 cup chocolate chips (cocoa nibs or a 70% + dark chocolate bar -- chopped)
1 cup chopped walnuts

Soften butter (or use room temperature butter), add brown sugar and blend. Add baking soda and salt and stir. Mix-in vanilla and eggs, stir until completely blended and add the flour, flaxseed and oats and stir until completely mixed in. Finally toss and mix-in chocolate chips and nuts.

Drop by spoonfuls onto a greased baking sheet. Bake at 350 for 8 minutes (depending on your oven). Cool. These have a great nutty taste from the flaxseed and are soft and fluffy with a bit of crunch.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Serials and Scenarios ~ Try Darkness -- James Scott Bell

James Scott Bell visited the Dregs in November. Click here to read his entertaining interview and read my review of book one in the Tyler Buchanan series. (You'll need to scroll down after clicking.)

Visit Jim's website, and read the first two chapters of Try Darkness here.

My Review:

Try Darkness is one of the best legal thrillers I've read. Better, than Try Dying because Dying was melancholy and Ty's sarcastic bent was darker. In Try Darkness, Ty is more inclined to hope. He's still cynical but he's beyond the rough grief.

I love Ty and his quirky band of people. Sarcasm, bad guys, legal maneuvering and a hint of romance make this an entertaining read. The influence of those who love God and Ty's struggles with what he believes or doesn't believe make Try Darkness an honest and compelling yet inspirational read.

Murder, violence and evil are very present in the novel. Those who are very sensitive may struggle a bit. Legal thriller lovers, mystery lovers, folks who devour multi-dimensional characters and those looking for a great story will find much to like. Bell is a master. I am looking forward to what happens next in Ty's life. Based on where we left off in Try Darkness, it's going to be good.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Scribbles and Scrambles ~ Super Toe to the Rescue

In case you can't tell by the graphic picture, I have a purple toe. Yes, my ring toe (what else do you call it?) was the victim of a smash and bash today.

My sweet daughter, Ms. 21, broke her pinkie toe several weeks ago. It is healing nicely but still not a happy camper, or walker...definitely not kicker. She refers to it as her grape toe. Her story, she was in a rush and ran to get a phone and as she turned a corner, she made it, all but her pinkie.

You'd think a tiny little appendage wouldn't stop an entire human in their tracks. This one did.

Much babying, taping and icing later, she has managed to snag that little sucker only three or four more times. Not pretty.

She claims I could have been more sympathetic. Whatever.

So today, 21 and I took Lily and Lola out on the town. They went through the bank drive-thru and got a puppy treat and oohs and ahhs. Then we went to Petsmart and they got to pick out a toy to share, some "new baby" gifts for a new cousin and a big bag of treats. Fun. Fun. They spent a little time in the car with Grandma (me) while Mommy went into Best Buy (No dogs allowed. The nerve.) They got lunch leftovers and then we headed home.

For some strange reason the puppies, the 70-pound puppies scattered once they were out of the car. First to go potty. Good Girls! Then to sniff and walk the yard parameters.

I held several shopping bags and had my left foot up on the bottom concrete step, readying to go into the house when Lily walked toward me. She then executed some clumsy maneuver and fell. Down two steps. She landed squarely on my ring toe. Bam.

She immediately got up, shook it off and carried on with her doggie business.
Thank heavens my toe was there to break her fall.

Scribbles and Scrambles ~ Monday Hee, Hee

Some Mondays are only tolerable when you've got a friend along for the ride.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Super Cinema Saturday ~ Nim's Island

My Review:

I'm sitting on the fence. I liked Nim's Island because it feels a little bit like Holes. Hovering around the real and blending with fantasy and quirky visuals, this story is an exercise in imagination and is entertaining most of the time.

I liked the casting overall. Jodie Foster played the angst-ridden adventure novelist with the whole gamut of human emotion. Gerard Butler got to exercise his acting muscles as well.
I appreciated the ingenuity and attitude that Abigal Breslin as Nim Russo displays. A breath of fresh air when so many of our kids are bored even with all the technology and toys that money can buy.

The value of family and the importance of others in life is an underlying theme that strengthens the movie.

The negatives...well, there was really only one. I really struggled with not getting sucked into the story. I spent more time "yeah-right"ing than buying what was going on. The frantic pace of parts of the movie, the outlandish happenings and the blending with the real made it almost feel like a tall-tale that doesn't quite get beyond a middling-tale.

Parents of four to ten year-olds (depending on maturity level) will likely find Nim's Adventure to be a treat for the whole family. If my kids were younger, I'd probably purchase Nim's Island.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Scribbles and Scrambles ~ Happy Friday Dance....

You gotta admit this is pretty amusing. And it takes no effort on my part to present it and yours to watch it.

Win -- win, eh what?

Happy weekend.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Scribbles and Scrambles ~ Even More Adventures of Toad-Boy and Grasshopper

My final Grasshopper story involves fancy footwork. In our backyard stands a huge tree that has held several swings over the years. The favorite was wide enough to seat two. The kids discovered that they could drape themselves facedown over the seat and spin, twisting the swing tighter and tighter to create a nauseating thrill ride.

Hours of twirling toward hurling kept my life peaceful. If you are a mother you understand the value of childish, mindless activities that don't trigger ADHD or generally kill brain cells.

Grasshopper was tall enough that he could twist so tight and twirl so long we all began to watch his performances with awe. "Surely, this will be his last trip." "I can't believe he hasn't tossed his cookies." Among the comments from onlookers.

Then he added special footwork to his repertoire. To enhance the ultimate thrill, he rode it out to the end, using his feet to keep momentum and control. That day Tree Riverdance was born. If I want a laugh from my son, all I have to do is say, "Riverdance."

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Serials and Spoofarios ~ Shal Lowell

Here it is, Dregs readers. Don't say I didn't warn you. Day two "for my poor pregnant friend who's not dealing well with the heat."

The standard Dregs Questions and answers by Shal Lowell.

Bio: Shal Lowell is a writer, agent and is gorgeous. Enough said. Buy the book, You Don't Deserve Me, Loser.

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

Me. My book and I.

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.

As long as there are maids and room service and adoring men, it really doesn't matter.

Favorite book setting and why?

Mine. Duh!

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

At least a hundred people have told me that my book changed their lives.

(editorial note: mine, too. Please read yesterday's post....)

What criticism has cut the deepest and why?

Yeah. That's exactly what's going to happen if I get any criticism. Sure hope you are planning to write a good review.

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

Get revenge. Probably burn down my old high school.

What is your favorite word?

Shal is beautiful.

What word annoys you more than any other?


Superhero you most admire and why?

My inner strength and enlightenment.

Super power you'd love to borrow for awhile?

Beauty. Oh, wait, I don't need to borrow it. I own it.

Favorite chore

Ordering my maid around.

Grammatical pet peeve…sound off.

Stupid people who like, act like, they are the grammar police. Duh!

Societal pet peeve…sound off.

Pretty much anyone who ticks me off. Oh, I hate stupid questions, too. Notice I didn't answer very many of yours.

Creative Corner: Pick one and have fun with it.

Two middle-aged females talking animatedly. One wears a very short skirt, and she ought not to be……………. Give me a scene, dialogue, characterization, drama……

Hello! Liposuction. Or better yet, a new planet for ugly people.

It was a damp and dismal afternoon. (Yes, as in It was a dark and stormy night : ) )

And Jackson went outside to stalk me again. After being stalked by over a thousand men this month, I'd had it. I flung open the door and screamed, "LEAVE ME ALONE!" loudly and then I burst into tears. I hate that I inherited my sensitive nature from my mother.

Jackson put his hands up. "I'm sorry. I don't want to bug you but you've cast some sort of spell on me because of your great beauty. What can I do to make you mine?" He said pathetically and desperately.

"How much money do you have? Because without big bucks you won't even come close to this." Then I laughed and left him crying in my dust. Donald Trump doesn't even have enough money for me. And his hair...Jackson has okay hair. Maybe he needs to stalk Trump and then they'll morph into one creature with money and great hair that still won't be able to deserve me.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Serials and Spoofarios ~ You Don't Deserve Me, Loser ~ Reviewed

This spoof-e-view series is dedicated to a very pregnant friend who wants to live vicariously through mean-spirited reviews and bizarre interviews. She's moved from begging to weeping and I do not want her to try to bribe me with one of her children. My integrity can obviously be tweaked.

Readers, today, I make an exception to my normal rule of thumb. My mother raised me with Thumper's mother's admonition. "If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all." Nice in theory, but then I entered the world of 'words for sale' and the land of critique groups. Book reviews were the next step. I've learned the art of Samurai Wordfare, but I've always hesitated to get mean. After all, taste in literature (or toilet paper for that matter) is extremely subjective. So, I've made a point to not say anything at all if I can't at least say something positive, too. Until today. Today, I'm jamming Thumper's mother on a spit and slathering her in barbecue sauce. (Figuratively, of course.)

You Don't Deserve Me, Loser
Shal Lowell
Spoofara Publishing under the Gaga Growth Publishing Giant

Let me start by expressing my relief that I can spare you, dear, innocent reader from the travesty I'm about to dissect. I took one for the team and let me tell you, the nightmares are still bone-chilling, though the incessant chattering of my teeth and the weeping have subsided to a tolerable level. If you can't believe the book "You Don't Deserve Me, Loser" is as awful as I lay out in this review, come back tomorrow. Ms. Lowell answered the questions which totally confirmed my decision to be brutal in this review.

I've read hundreds of books. I have yet to encounter one that even comes close to "Deserve" which is a bizarre meld of chick-lit, lad-lit (yes, you are reading this correctly) horror and self-help with an underlying sense of responsibility shirking on the part of the author.

Often, I've scanned reviews of books that I've read and I wondered if the reviewer was talking about the same book I reviewed. Huge facts are twisted or overlooked and completely taken from left field and then these issues become ranting points. That said, I did read this book, every horrid, slimy and hideous word. During the final five chapters I made a friend call me so I was forced to give her updates on where I was in the book and what I was reading about so I'd be accountable to finish. She is no longer my friend. I'm afraid I pushed her over the edge.

The only positive I can see in this tome is that it's under 250 pages. However, given the choice to undergo serious dental work without painkillers of any kind every day for a month sounds more appealing than rereading "Deserve."

Ms. Shal Lowell's career as a supermodel turned life coach has been summed up in "Deserve." Her voice is unique which is very, very good because it is similar to a pouting two-year-old post a temper tantrum that included fire, body fluids and screeches that reach a decibel that could steal the hearing in the range equal to that of a nuclear blast. Ms. Lowell's vocabulary is slightly beyond preschool. The overall experience of her book is somewhere between the hazy hovering on the edge of wakefulness after a horrific nightmare and a very, very bad LSD flashback. In her collection of random "helpful hints," chick-lit style shopping excursions, lad-lit drinking bashes and parent/government/the man blaming, she slides in snippets of poetry.

Warning. Reading this sample may cause nausea and shortness of breath. You may want to check with your doctor first.

Your lips.
I hate them. The jiggle when I yell at you and you start to cry baby. CRY!
The dried spit crust at the corners when you yammer.
Most of all I hate your words.
You tell me about YOUR day.
YOUR DAY?!? Whatever.
Listen to ME!
I hate your lips.

Some books reach literary Nirvana in that they become nearly seamless. A mesh of characters, word-smithery, scenes that steal the breath of the reader and transport them to another time or another place. Themes that shine brightly like a brilliant sun peeking through leaves on a breezy day, casting an ever-changing trail of light for the reader to follow. Now those are books. Books that make me want to be a better person.

"You Don't Deserve Me, Loser" made me want to be a better mole. Why? Because moles can't see to read.

Finally, I need to suggest what type of reader would appreciate "Deserve." I do believe that everyone is entitled to their own opinion and our constitution grants us the right to share said opinion. I propose that Ms. Lowell's book would best serve society by making it a mandatory read in all prisons. I promise that if this was to be the case, re-offenders would be no more.

There are no links. I don't want you to accidentally click on something that could possibly ruin your life.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Super Cinema Saturday ~ Mad Money

My Review:

If you can get beyond the totally amoral characters who let justified/rationalized greed run rampant within their lives, you might enjoy this movie. Especially if you are a fan of Diane Keaton, Queen Latifah, Katie Holmes and/or Ted Danson.

Mad Money is kind of a girlfriend/chick-lit version of Oceans Eleven without all the skill and slickness. The characters pull off the impossible, but it helps that the head of the "bank" is a complete idiot (think single-minded focus stapler guy from Office Space.)

There is clever dialog and there are some fun moments. The movie carries a quirky charm and the actors seem to have a great time with their parts and interaction.

If you can't suspend disbelief you might not want to go there. But if you don't mind a few sexual innuendos, some expletives and the whole moral "why not take it, it's just sitting there?" thought process, you might enjoy the quirky humor.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Serials and Scenarios ~ Tom Morrisey

Thanks, Tom.

Did I expect to laugh out loud at some of these answers after reading his great, deep Wind River? No. Nice of him to share a lighter side.

If you haven't read chapter one of Wind River, do it. Click on his face to visit his website, and scroll down for my review.

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

One of my fiction characters? Probably Beck Easton, because he has it so totally together and I so totally do not. Plus the Beckster's younger than me.

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

I would like to ask James Madison why he put those two extra commas in the Second Amendment. Ever read it? It makes sense without the first and third commas, but with them, it's gobbledegook.

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

Well, it always irritates the neighbors when I get up at sunrise to kill the goat. Actually, my only ritual is time; I have to write early in the day, well before sunrise, because the only thing worse than the phone ringing while you're writing is thinking that the phone might ring. And at five AM, it ain't gonna.

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

In The Departed, Jack Nicholson, playing a mobster, executes a woman gangland style, then leans over her and observes, "She fell funny."

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 would like it to be an Amish romance involving a Navy SEAL team preventing a corporate takeover in the end-times. That way it would contain the five story elements I see most often at writers conferences, and it would vindicate all those would-be novelists.

What period of history intrigues you the most?

World War II, because it was the great adventure of my father's life. I've visited some of the islands he was stationed on in the Pacific, and those have always been very powerful experiences.

What makes you feel alive?

High speeds and loud noises. Which is probably why I love my Harley.

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

When my wife is involved, it's through silence. As soon as she clams up, that's my cue to ruminate. Also, I think I'm like most people in that I can make myself impervious to reports of just about anything -- war, famine, natural disaster -- until you put a human face on it.

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

In my day-to-day life I am editor at large for a scuba magazine, so I take very long trips all the time. The one book I always take with is the Bible (there actually are a few hotels that the Gideons haven't gotten to yet). Music and food are whatever is waiting for me at the destination; that's part of the adventure. And the person is my wife; I don't get to travel with her nearly enough. The yes really are the window of the soul, and when you see eyes full of sorrow or pain, it's impossible not to respond.

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.

My brother is traveling -- like right now -- to Ireland, where my family is from. As long as he doesn't encounter anybody we owe money to, I'd like to go there sometime. So far, all I've done with Ireland is fly over it on the way to England.

Favorite season and why?

Winter. But you have to understand that I live in Florida, and winter is the dry season and the season with the truly mild temperatures that most parts of the world associate with late spring. It's the best time to do anything here (except go to the beach; that can be a bit chilly). And besides, when it's winter in Florida, you can remember what it's like when it's winter just about anyplace else, and get this smug, superior feeling.

Favorite book setting and why?

When I set Dark Fathom in Bermuda, the people there just sort of adopted me. I was traveling alone on research, but never ate a meal by myself. I'm currently working on a book set in Key West, and I've gotten much the same reaction there.

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

Elmore Leonard was very kind to me the morning after he read my first novel. Unfortunately, I was never able to use his quote as an endorsement, because what he said is. "Hey, Tom, this is pretty good s**t..."

What criticism has cut the deepest and why?

I hate it when they rave about the book and then qualify it with "readers of Christian suspense will enjoy it." As if Christian readers aren't at grade level or something. A lot of Christian fiction today is more than ready for prime time, and I, for one, would like to be reviewed in the secular press without the qualifier.

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

I would start working on a short story, rather than a novel.

What is your favorite word?

"Finished." Unless it applies to my earning potential, my marriage or my credit rating.

What word annoys you more than any other?

"Nigger," because it is a word of pure hatred. And I think back on two people who were very kind to me as a young writer -- Gwendolyn Brooks and James Baldwin -- and I know in my heart of hearts that they each had that word thrown at them more than once by white-bread Midwesterners like me.... Wow. That they would turn around and pay attention to my writing, and invest their time in me, was one of my first lessons in the elemental principle of grace.

Super power you'd love to borrow for awhile?

I dunno. Is there a superhero who doesn't have to sleep?

Favorite chore

Isn't that an oxymoron?

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

If you have even a passing knowledge of my avocations, you know that this question absolutely does not apply to me.

Grammatical pet peeve…sound off.

"Employee's only behind counter." Employee's only what?

Societal pet peeve…sound off.

People using those Nextel phones with the walky-talky feature: the kind that make that irritating "Cherr-URP!" after every transmission. I know -- I just alienated every reader who is also a Nextel customer, but really ... it's 2008. If you don't want to call 'em, just text 'em, and spare the rest of us the cell-yell and the sound effects.


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

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

Jim, of the stale-macaroni-and-cheese breath. Jim, who wore only black shirts and colored the frayed cuffs with pungent Magic Marker when they got too old. Jim, who thought scintillating conversation was telling you about how he cut himself shaving, and then showing you the little red-dotted squares of tissue stuck to his throat, just to prove he wasn't making it up. Jim, who seemed proud of the fact that he owned neither comb nor hairbrush. Jim, who asked on their first (and only) date how she felt about -- his words precisely -- "tongue kissing."

Alex stood in the doorway of the bathroom and collected her thoughts. As long as the water in the tub was really, really cold, having a dead senator in there might not be all that bad, after all.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Serials and Scenarios ~ Wind River

Tom Morrisey will be back tomorrow with his unique take on the Dregs menu. You won't want to miss it. And as far as not wanting to miss something goes...please, please, please, for the love of good literature, go here to read the first chapter of Wind River.

Click on the book cover to find out more book info and here to visit Tom's website.

My Review:

Tom Morrisey enticed me with beautiful prose that opened a window into an unknown-to-me wilderness. With wordsmithing magic, Morrisey teased my mind -- flicking facts, thoughts and tension onto the periphery, then slipping out of sight until I was poised, waiting, tensing for the next cast. I was hooked early, but instead of fighting like the cutthroats, I surrendered to this novel.

I knew, from the first scene, the foreboding shadows of finality and frailty and perfect snapshot moments dissolving into tarnished reality, that something awful would befall the characters that I had already begun to love. Anything else will spoil the story web that Morrisey weaves, except to say that though there is a sense of foreboding, there is a stronger, underlying hope.

It is a rare gift Mr. Morrisey possesses -- the ability to weave a tense plot, the clarity to write a scene that can be devoured with all five senses, and the heart to create characters that clutch at the reader's soul.

If you are not reading Tom Morrisey and you love literary novels, you need to get Wind River regardless of your stance on Christian Fiction. Book lovers need to investigate Morrisey's novels. Those looking for a man's man read need to look no further. Fans of Lief Enger, W. Dale Cramer and Charles Martin should find much to like in Wind River.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Serials and Scenarios ~ Kristen Heitzmann Recalls

I love the personalities that are revealed through the Dregs questions. Hmmm. Some treat it like a meme others bite off a chunk and run with it in the creative corner. Guess you'll have to keep reading to see what Kristen is offering up. Click on Kristen's pic to visit her website, scroll down for more info about The Edge of Recall. Thanks, Kristen.

What makes you feel alive?

I feel alive in nature. Although I’m not your typical outdoorsy person, small doses of beauty are essential to me. Running water, even the trickling creek on the mountain path behind my house, the doe that birthed twin fawns in the scrub oak beside my patio, springy moss on a rock, periwinkle butterflies and hummingbirds, stars and rainbows. I get giddy in a stand of aspen.

Grammatical pet peeve…sound off.

Lie vs. lay—it’s just not that difficult people. Lay requires a direct object. You cannot lay down unless you lay yourself down.


Pick any of the following and have fun with it.

Pick a Genre - Describe a kiss….

Her lips were warm and red and just a little tacky like the blood pooling under her head.


With one arm hooked through the helicopter’s rope, the other clamping her to his chest, he hollered “Don’t look down,” and kissed the mouth she opened to scream.

His mouth was hard and firm like the chest and arms that told her this was a man who took what he wanted.

Slipping out of one more mushy lip lock, I have to say, if you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to kiss a hundred frogs that don’t turn into princes, just ask me.

The dry brush of her lips ushered winter into his life like the fall of a last brittle leaf.

She waited for his lips to fully materialize, then clamped them with a kiss that would make her galaxy worth revisiting.

Under the stern eye of her maidenly aunt, she tipped her cheek to receive the brief warmth of his lips.

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

Tucked into the stone seat of the narrow arched window, Giselle chewed the fraying end of her purple scarf. The tome across her knees weighed as much as she did wet with her frizzy hair matted down and dripping. She turned the page, regretting only that she’d die of old age before she ever got through it.

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

As it was, her appetite might never return. And if Jim caught a whiff—bad metaphor—of what she was onto, he’d be all over it. And her.

The leaves weren't the only things stirred up by the breeze which now carried the cloying scent of death.
If it had even a smidgen of a brain, and she hadn’t been sucking down her morning perk, the massacre might not have occurred. As it was, the leaves behind her wheel were now matted with gore and fur, and she could not, would not take the blame.

I'm not so interested in boxers or briefs. I'm just looking for a good man to fill them. Heck, I find a good man and he can wear banana peels as far as I'm concerned.

Fig leaves have a sort of stigma that takes the fun out, but I’ve always fancied those palm fans myself. At my current weight, in all honesty, it would have to be a very, very deserted island.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Scribbles and Scrambles ~ More Adventures of Toad-Boy and Grasshopper

My favorite Grasshopper story happened on the day Rob and I met him.

He rode home on the bus with Jordan aka Toad-Boy and said maybe three words all afternoon. Those words were pulled from him via painstaking verbal surgery. He did mutter "Ummmm." quite a bit without being questioned now that I remember. It could be that he was communicating all along.

I made dinner while the boys busied themselves in Toad-Boy's workshop -- a dark, dank corner in the basement that doubled as his science lab and hydroponic garden. Or maybe they played with Lego toys or built electronic devices. Their friendship spanned all of those pursuits and more, much, much more. I am certain that this period was pre-treetop camping.

I called the boys to dinner and the four of us gathered around the table. Grasshopper ate like one, but remained silent except for the Ummm's whenever Rob or I asked a question or offered a remark in his direction.

In a quiet moment Grasshopper lifted his glass of milk to his lips and hesitated.

A low, squeaky rumble sounded below the table -- a low, squeaky, LONG rumble. Painfully long and Grasshopper turned a shade of maroon and began scoping out the room for an escape all the while moving nothing but his eyes.

Fortunately, we are a family that has been corrupted by the belief that gas passing can be cheap entertainment, even at the kitchen table. Toad-Boy broke the ice and we all cracked. Grasshopper remained frozen for a few more seconds then joined in.

Twelve years later, we still occasionally lift, kind of a toast of honor, a glass of milk to our lips, move our eyes rapidly from side to side, hum a few bars of ummm, and then laugh.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Serials and Scenarios ~ The Edge of Recall

CFBA is touring Kristen Heitzmann's The Edge of Recall. You can read the first chapter here. You can also visit Kristen's website.

And now for my review. (Kristen has the Dregs ?'s, so we should hear from her soon.)

My Review:

This fascinating story centers around dreams, repression and fears. Symbolic of life, physical and eternal, the labyrinth is the playing field in a game of cat and mouse. Tessa, a prickly, wounded soul and Smith, a man who repeatedly wounds her, are pulled into an unwanted contest pitting them against the unknown, each other and those whom they trust.

Psychological aspects come into play often making the story feel frantic at times. I did have to suspend a healthy amount of disbelief and accept the neat sewing up of events in the end, but overall, the details made the trip an entertaining, suspenseful one.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Super Cinema Saturday ~ Indy, Crystal Skulls and Loads of Adventure

Indy's back...and knees...and other aches and pains. You gotta admire a man willing to revisit a success in such a sacrificial way. It was easy to cheer him on even though the action had slowed a bit.

Dry, droll and to-the-point, the older, wiser and classic Indy takes on the Russians, the feds and a mushroom cloud.

Within this flick are unbelievable scenes...just as I expected. You have to be willing to go along for the ride and enjoy it. If you plan to take a notebook to record the moments you have to suspend disbelief, then don't go.

Indy also delivers creepy crawlies and moldering corpses. A whole lot of bad guys guarantee the wild car chases and crashes. Indy has slowed down but he can still kick some serious bad guy rear end.

Youthful foolishness and posturing is delivered by Mutt, Indy's new and not necessarily welcomed sidekick. But Indy has grown up and is ready to teach. Besides some of the miraculous saves, I didn't buy some of the too easily mended relationships, but other than that, this was a great, entertaining summer flick.
(Children sensitive to creepies and things that bump in the night should probably not see Indy.)

Friday, July 04, 2008

Serials and Scenarios ~ Love Starts with Elle

Rachel Hauck has visited the Dregs before. My review of her new book follows. If you want to peruse her interview and my review of Sweet Caroline, click here and scroll down.

My Review:

Rachel Hauck is solidly on my favorite authors list after I finished Love Starts with Elle. Hauck tells a good story, creates lovable characters and doesn't shy away from grit and reality. On top of all those great qualities, she brings a deep sense of spirituality into the lives of her story inhabitants. Subjects like forgiveness, grace and living breathing relationships with God are layered into her prose adding a depth to her novels.

Love Starts with Elle picks up where Sweet Caroline leaves off. With a cast of previously introduced characters and a sweet spot in low country, the reader gets to experience Elle's little corner of Beaufort. Having found love after her Operation Wedding quest's amusing results in Caroline, Elle is ready to meet the world head-on with her man by her side. Along the way she discovers that God has plans for her that she could never have believed or even dreamed.

Hauck doesn't shy away from death and sorrow. Her characters grieve believably, and then grow through it. Elle is not lightweight but it contains elements of romance and humor as well as the heavier subjects. I did find myself thinking like a critic on occasion, but then after reading further and after dashing tears from my cheeks three or four times I decided I didn't care one bit, the story sucked me in. Hauck fans will want to check out Elle. If you aren't a Hauck fan, you might want to work on that.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Scribbles and Scrambles ~ Thanks and God Bless You.

Thanks to those who shed blood, sweat and tears for America and her freedom....

And to the God Who shed it ALL just so some might choose His hard-won freedom and decide to follow Him.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

I'm sharing a story from a forwarded e-mail because it cracked me up.

And since a long weekend is right around the corner, a long weekend that screams for swimming and frolicking on sandy beaches, I felt it was great timing. Warning, this contains an anatomical term that may not be considered family friendly...

The Bathing Suit

When I was a child in the 1950s the bathing suit for the mature figure was boned, trussed and reinforced, not so much sewn as engineered. They were built to hold back and uplift and they did a good job.

Today's stretch fabrics are designed for the prepubescent girl with a figure carved from a potato chip.

The mature woman has a choice-she can either go up front to the maternity department and try on a floral suit with a skirt, coming away looking like a hippopotamus who escaped from Disney's Fantasia or she can wander around every run of the mill department store trying to make a sensible choice from what amounts to a designer range of florescent rubber bands.

What choice did I have? I wandered around, made my sensible choice and entered the chamber of horrors known as the fitting room.

The first thing I noticed was the extraordinary tensile strength of the stretch material. The Lycra used in bathing costumes was developed, I believe, by NASA to launch small rockets from a slingshot, which give the added bonus that if you manage to actually lever yourself into one, you are protected from shark attacks as any shark taking a swipe at your passing midriff would immediately suffer whiplash.

I fought my way into the bathing suit, but as I twanged the shoulder strap in place, I gasped in horror - my boobs had disappeared! Eventually, I found one boob cowering under my left armpit. It took a while to find the other. At last I located it flattened beside my seventh rib..

The problem is that modern bathing suits have no bra cups. The mature woman is meant to wear her boobs spread across her chest like a speed bump. I realigned my speed bump and lurched toward the mirror to take a full view assessment. The bathing suit fit all right, but unfortunately it only fit those bits of me willing to stay inside it. The rest of me oozed out rebelliously from top, bottom, and sides. I looked like a lump of play dough wearing undersized cling wrap.

As I tried to work out where all those extra bits had come from, the prepubescent sales girl popped her head through the curtain, 'Oh, there you are,' she said, admiring the bathing suit.

I replied that I wasn't so sure and asked what else she had to show me. I tried on a cream crinkled one that made me look like a lump of masking tape, and a floral two piece which gave the appearance of an oversized napkin in a serving ring.

I struggled into a pair of leopard skin bathers with ragged frills and came out looking like Tarzan's Jane, pregnant with triplets and having a rough day.

I tried on a black number with a midriff and looked like a jellyfish in mourning.

I tried on a bright pink pair with such a high cut leg I thought I would have to wax my eyebrows to wear them.

Finally, I found a suit that fit...a two-piece affair with a shorts style bottom and a loose blouse-type top.

It was cheap, comfortable, and bulge-friendly, so I bought it. My ridiculous search had a successful outcome, I figured.
When I got home, I found a label which read -- 'Material might become transparent in water.'

So, if you happen to be on the beach or near any other body of water this year and I'm there too .. I'll be the one
in cut off jeans and a t-shirt!

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Scribbles and Scrambles ~ Adventures of Toad-Boy and Grasshopper Part 1

I'm going to visit more male-child moments. I can afford to do this because unlike Kim and a few others who will remain nameless, I don't have any boys smearing dirt on my walls and inhaling refrigerator contents.

Nor do I have a teenage male who feels it's his life call to drive me to the psych ward (in all uses of the word.)

That said. Come enjoy a slightly sanitized walk down memory lane.

Boyish pursuits at my house included, but did not limit themselves to, wrestling matches between Jordan whom I'll call Toad-Boy and his buddy whom I'll refer to as Grasshopper. (No, not as in the infamous Kung Fu reference, but as in appearance.)

Let's just say the boy's appendages were twice as long as necessary for his body and his body was really slow in catching up with them.

I rarely spend $35 on a vase.

I dare say I've done it just one time.

In case you haven't figured it out, this particular incident involves said $35 vase.

I'd been gone for a spell, probably dropping big bucks at the grocery store to feed Toad-Boy and Grasshopper.

When I returned I noticed 4 things. Eyeballs. Guilty dog-type eyeballs.

You know what that looks like -- flitting eye contact, a whole lot of white showing and a slightly off-center tilt to the area where "the incident" occurred.

"What's up?" I asked with a sigh. I knew. But I was hoping for a different answer.

Rapid-fire small talk erupted from the boys. Random hints were dropped. Finally, I couldn't stand it anymore.

"Is it broken?"

Oh well. One less thing to dust and a lesson learned. After all, $35 can buy a whole bag of groceries to feed those growing boys.