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Taking a hiatus (officially)

6 May
God is good... All the time!

God is good… All the time!

I haven’t posted much on this blog, mostly because I have two others that I do post to (you can see my writing blog here, and the blog for my nonprofit here). I don’t think I’m going to delete the blog, because I may want to revisit it when life is a bit less hectic, or when I have wedding pictures, or something else fun. But without “making an end” or some kind of announcement or something, this blog feels like a loose end. So I’m going to officially take a hiatus, and cross this blog off my to-do list for awhile. Hasta la vista! And thanks for visiting.

 

The lost and found year – I need a makeover!

16 Oct

As I said in my last post, 2012 has been a bad year physically (although a great year in other aspects). One thing that has fallen by the wayside is my personal style. (Whatever that was before!) I have fallen back on my old standby hair cut, because of my eye surgery I haven’t been able to wear eye makeup (so why bother?!), and summer is always a bit of a fashion vacuum. Not to mention feeling out of shape and weird in my clothes. So I’ve decided I’m going to have a makeover. Since I’ve declared that the cataract is the end of my physical problems for 2012, and I’m 3 weeks out from that surgery now and things are returning to normal, why not?

I sent my husband and daughter a picture of a haircut that’s a good bit shorter, more layered, with long bangs (thanks to a couple of cowlicks, that’s the only kind I can have). They agreed at an alarming rate that it would look good – which made me wonder how bad my long layers and usual ponytails/buns really are! Part of me would really like to go all the way to pixie, but for 2 things. First, every time I’ve done it I’ve HATED it and immediately started growing it back, mostly because it’s actually a lot harder to take care of than longer hair and you have to do something to it every day. (Okay, some of you do something to your hair every day, I know. I don’t. That’s what ponytail holders are for!) And second, I’ve made my family and my hair stylist promise to do an intervention should I mention cutting my hair short, so I wouldn’t get away with it anyway.

This is what I’m going for (although I don’t anticipate it being in my eye all the time!). Shoulder length, with long, side-swiped bangs. I am panicking a bit at the problems I”ll face in my convertible, exercising, and on the boat, since it won’t all go in a ponytail… But it’s not a makeover if you just do the same thing, right? And she looks pretty perky about it…

There’s a better view. The actress’s face shape is similar to mine, her hair color and texture are similar to mine… Theoretically, this is a slam dunk, right? (Just nod… This is a question along the lines of “does this make my butt look big.”)

I also can start wearing makeup again. I’m down to one drop of 2 meds just once a day, so I no longer would be washing the makeup into my not-quite-healed eye. I’ve thrown away all my old makeup to make sure I don’t bring any bacteria into the situation. If I can get my act together in the mornings, I could actually look… well… pulled together. And since it’s fall, that’s a whole lot easier than a month or two ago! (Is it just me, or is summer in the South cause for completely giving up on fashion?)

So next time you see me (after Thursday), watch out! I’ll probably look just like this gal. Okay, that’s a stretch. But hopefully I won’t look like a tired soccer mom. Which, since I hate soccer, is a sad thing. Just think, every day in November, I will be participating in NaNoWriMo looking like a pulled together fashionista. Probably.

Life can be pretty crazy

18 Jul

We have always had a crazy life. When I tell people the things that have happened to us, good and bad, most don’t believe it. Some people think we’re “lucky” and some think we’ve been pretty unlucky, and I guess, in human terms, both are true. But I operate on Kingdom terms, and what I see when I look back is a long and winding road that’s gotten me to this point. Some of that road goes through dark, treacherous, scary valleys, and some up along high, sun filled peaks. But it’s all the same road, and I don’t really see any of it as better or worse than the rest. The times that were really awful were probably more valuable in terms of my walk and where I am now than the times that were great, although the latter certainly has better memories!

I say all this because right now things are pretty crazy, in a good way. My first novel was published this week, and I got two dozen copies delivered today. That’s pretty freaking amazing, to be honest. That novel came from a crazy idea called NaNoWriMo, which I’ve written about before. It is not only my first published book, it’s the first novel I ever wrote. And since November of 2011 I’ve written three novels and a screenplay, and will be writing my fourth starting August 1. My second novel will be published in September.

Now, for those of you who don’t really see things from a Kingdom perspective, you’re probably thinking, “What’s the big deal? You wrote a book, that’s great, clap clap clap, move on.” Well, these novels are the culmination – or, maybe, the beginning of the culmination, of many years of living by trusting God. By following him, in ways that don’t match up with traditional church Christianity. By obeying, even when it seemed crazy.

I don’t claim some mystical finger from heaven came and wrote the novels. But I also know that it makes absolutely no sense in the natural that I, having never written a novel in my life, having written nothing longer than a short story since the 6th grade, having published nothing, having had no ideas for a book, suddenly wrote 88,651 in 23 days in November of 2011. And it was good. I wrote 67k words of the sequel to that book in February and March, putting it aside to write a feature film screenplay in April. I completed 130 pages, which translates to a 2 hour plus movie, in 16 days. And it was good. I was in Uganda most of May, came back, and wrote 88,370 words of a historical romance in 26 days, having not even read romance. And it was good. Now I’m almost done with the sequel, it’s good, and I’m starting a new novel, full of ideas for a fantasy/dystopian novel. Another genre I don’t read.

So, whatever you might think of my sudden outpouring of creativity and good writing, I know where the inspiration came from. My Creator. And I know who gives me the ability to think and type so quickly. My Sustainer. Living a Kingdom life is a great thing, if you look back at that road and realize that all those valleys and peaks have gotten you to where you are now. And the cool thing about living a life full on for God? You’re not done until the day you die. I think that’s pretty amazing!

HOT summer days – what to do?!

1 Jul

OK, this heat is ridiculous. And this is coming from a Floridian. Seriously, 106 at 5:45pm? 103 at 6:50pm? No. Not acceptable.

So what to do besides sweat? That’s the question. (My husband is the smart one – he stayed in Beaufort, where it’s 10 degrees cooler and the water is still deliciously cool. I, on the other hand, needed to be in Raleigh for the weekend, and can’t get back there fast enough!) Here’s what we’ve done:

* Went to see “Brave” – it was really good! And Merida is so much like our red-headed friend Jess, not just in looks, that we laughed.

* Made key lime pie. Hey, it works in Florida!

* Made guacamole. Ditto.

* Closed off the sunroom. Emmy (the cat) has been meowing incessantly since I closed the door, but even with ac in there, it’s just too hot with all the glass. So the view today is from my living room!

* Stayed cool in dark rooms! I don’t know why it seems cooler with the lights out, but it does.

* Watched movies on tv. Although this wasn’t too successful. I bought “Wrath of the Titans” on iControl, and quit halfway through. It’s bad. As much as I love stuff about the Greek gods, it was just…bad.

* I Love Lucy marathon. ‘Nuff said.

Not exciting, I realize. But how excited can you get when it’s freaking 100+ degrees outside?? What are you doing to beat the heat?

 

My June Camp NaNoWriMo is DONE!

27 Jun

88,370 words, completed first draft. DONE DONE DONE. I’m pretty excited!

One of these things is not like the other. Oh wait, yes it is.

25 Jun

I have lately been very discouraged at the fiction that seems to be incredibly popular, esp with women of all ages. (And by all ages, I mean inappropriately young ages… which makes me annoyed and start yelling “what are their mothers thinking letting them read this crap?!”) But already I digress… Even a cursory exploration of the “Popular” tab on Pinterest will lead you to covers for the following books/series (I’m going to say books from now on, but I know that 3 of the 4 are series, so just live with it) and multiple comments about how great, fabulous, wonderful, best book ever, changed my life, etc.  And I honestly wonder if it’s a joke, but I’m afraid it’s not. Which is what makes me really discouraged, frustrated and sad. So here they are:

1. Redeeming Love

This is a Christian romance novel. I have read, on Pinterest, that it is “second only to the Bible.” I kid you not. Second only to the Bible. OK. I read this book when I was asked by an agent to write a Christian historical romance, because I’d never read one. My college age daughter had this, given to her by a friend who said how wonderful, fabuous, amazing it was. (For the record, I’m happy to report that she thought it was terrible.) She said, “I have this book you can read, but it’s really bad…” Well heck, it’s romance, I didn’t expect, well, a book second only to the Bible, so sure, why not. I read it in a day while visiting her, and she kept seeing my expression and saying, “I told you! And you can stop reading any time, it’s just the same thing over and over.”

First, let me assure you that it is not second only to the Bible. It’s not even 2000th only to the Bible. It’s poorly written (by which I mean I felt zero emotional connection to this book except disgust until – literally – page 464 of the 465 pages), but the worst part is that it is graphically about child rape, child prostitution, and child trafficking. Oh and adult rape and adult prostitution. Now theoretically it’s the story of Hosea (from the Bible), who God told to marry a prostitute, and then keep going back to get her when she kept returning to prostitution. So I get the connection. But it’s graphically about those things, especially the child-sex part, and it is disgusting, disturbing, and wretched. And the fact that Michael Hosea (how’s that for a clever character name?) loves his former prostitute wife anyway, and the fact that he prays, does not in any way, shape or form make up for the grossness of the book. Not to mention that Michael is perfect. Absolutely perfect. And consequently not at all believable.

My daughter says that Redeeming Love proves that, these days, all you have to do to sell a book as Christian is put the word “God” or a prayer in there every couple of chapters. Because honestly, if you have any spiritual sensitivity at all, you won’t get past the first few chapters of this book before your spirit starts screaming “NO NO NO NO NO!” And then you have bad dreams. And get to work on purging it from your mind because it is doing actual harm to your spirit.

For full disclosure, I am a Christian. I watch R rated movies, drink scotch, think sex is an amazing gift from God, and live my life in freedom. So I’m in no way, shape or form a prude, a legalist, or “religious.”

2. The Hunger Games, etc.

I read these to see what all the hubub was about. I still don’t know. I read all three, and my take away was basically that it was disturbing, gross, graphic and completely lacking in likable, sypathetic characters (except 2, and they kill both of them off, so my point still stands). My teenage son didn’t want to read the books but he did want to see the movie, so I went with him (and I’m happy to report that he didn’t like it). I was horrified to find that there was much discussion online about the suitability of dropping off tweens to see this movie in groups. Um, what? Seriously? On what planet do we send an 11 year old with a group of friends to watch a bunch of people HER OWN AGE killing each other for sport? Did I miss the time warp back to ancient Rome? I had someone tell me it wasn’t violent… And I asked him what part of cyborg-ish engineered dogs eating someone alive, a teenager throwing a spear through a 12 year old’s stomach at close range, blood splashing all over the place as a dozen kids slash each other to pieces to get a backpack… which part of those (and many other equally lovely scenes) wasn’t violent? OK, fine, you want to go see it, go. If you insist on giving in to your tween’s demand to see it because “everyone else is”, then go WITH HER. Talk about it.

There is, at least, some redeeming value in these books if you can get past the gore, and that’s the anti-big government, anti-Hollywood expose. But those lessons aren’t worth the self absorbed characters, the complete lack of any spirituality at all (positive or negative), the ever increasing grossness of the ways the Capitol thinks of to kill people, and people think of to kill each other, and the sputter-to-a-stop-because-I’m-done-now ending.

3. Twilight

Badly written? Check. Absusive male? Check. Woman willing to do anything to make abusive man love her? Check.

What’s the deal with the glorification of rape these days? Since when have we decided that guys who are manipulative, creepy, stalkers are the kind we would do anything for. And since when is it ok to tell our precious daughters this? Would you actually say this to your daughter? If she came home and did a Bella, and gushed all about Edward and his creepy stalkerness, would you say, “Wow, he sounds great, and he’s rich!” I sincerely, truly, hope not. Really. Because it’s really pretty scary to think that this whole generation of young women are so in love with Edward, and think Bella is so lucky. Really.

4. 50 Shades of Grey

And this is my biggest concern. Because this crap is insanely popular, supposedly women all over the country want their husbands to be like Christian Grey, and the sex is “rejuvinating” marriages. OK, do you get that this is BDSM? And not, actually, consensual BDSM, because Ana says Christian “hits” and “beats” her, and she’s always trying to find a way to get away from him. He is a seriously, and I mean seriously, creepy stalker. For goodness sake, he buys kidnapping supplies from Ana the first time he comes to her work! He threatens to rape her in public, multiple times. He gets mad when people call her – get that, not when she calls people, but when they, outside of her control, call her. He controls her food. He keeps showing up at places he has no business knowing about, and taking control of her. The things he wants to do to her… OK, if you’re into BDSM, that’s your thing. I don’t get it, but if it’s safe and consensual, whatever. In 50 Shades of Grey, it is neither. You keep expecting him to just kill her and get it over with. He is a creepy, sick, bad, bad person. And yet, THIS is apparently the kind of relationship that millions of women around the country want with their husbands. I feel like I’ve been dropped into an alternative universe.

A couple of major issue, but more minor than the above, are that the book is really badly written and it is plagarized, for all intents and purposes. E.L. James used to post fan fiction using the name Snowqueens Icedragon. She posted the 50 Shades stuff as Twilight fan fiction, using the Twilight characters. Then she changed the names and published it as “original”. Why the heck she hasn’t been sued by Stephanie Meyer or her publisher, I have no idea. Fan fic is fine. Lots of people enjoy it, and most fan fic writers are doing it because they love the characters and know them well. But you can’t publish fan fiction as original work. It’s just not done. It’s not ethical, and theoretically it’s not legal.

So there’s my rant. But it’s not just that all of these (except The Hunger Games, I’ll give Suzanne Collins that) are badly written. That doesn’t effect me, my own ability to write or craft a tale, or to publish. But it does effect my ability to live in this society. It makes me question my fellow human beings and what in the heck is going on when these kinds of books, with these kinds of stories and these kinds of themes are the ones making millions. I am all for capitalism. Go make millions! That’s wonderful. But millions on this crap… wow. That’s really all I can say. Wow.

 

Summer with Camp NaNoWriMo!

7 Jun

Yes, folks, I’m back at the writing. It would probably be awesome if I enjoyed exercise in these intense bursts as much as I enjoy writing this way, but alas… My fitness level is way below my “completed projects” level!

Logo

Camp NaNo is going on in June and August. It’s the same as the November “big event” except much smaller, meaning you still write 50,000 words in 30 days, but there aren’t a quarter of a million people plus doing the same thing around the world. There is one forum on the regular NaNo boards for Camp, with many threads, but it’s not nearly as interactive with your fellow WriMos as November. And there’s a Camp NaNo website, where you can find the other 5 in your cabin and post on a message board, update your word count, get pep talk emails, etc.

I LOVE doing the November NaNo because of the comeraderie, and the fact that there are many, many people in my age group and genre(s), and you really get a lot of actual conversation. What I find with Camp is that there are a lot of teens and early twenties, and most in the fantasy/scifi genre. Which is fine, I love seeing what everyone’s doing, but it’s not the same level of interaction and life experience sharing. BUT (big but here, no intentional pun on my second sentence of the post), I really do well with the 30 day sprint format, and really enjoy it.

This time around I’m writing a Christian Civil War era romance. Yeah, I know, go figure! For those of you who know me, you know that I’m not a chick flick watcher, nor a romance novel reader. However, I do enjoy history, and my November NaNo novel was about 1/3 set in the 1680s. The romance part is a little more difficult, although I can do it – it just isn’t what comes naturally. The Christian part is great, being able to fully express my beliefs and my view of our personal relationship with our Father.

So so far so good! I’m at 20,830 words before writing today, and with the pouring rain here in the Sunshine State, I will aim to at least cross 25,000 by the end of the day. My young couple has eloped, and my main male character has volunteered for the 1st South Carolina Infantry, which is going to give him a lot of excitement over the next 20,000 words or so. My main female character is forlorn but leaning on God. The War is about to start. Sounds exciting, huh?!