Friday, December 30, 2011
Tuesday, December 20, 2011
I celebrate the Christmas that remembers the birth of Jesus, who I believe to be God and man joined in flesh.
But that isn't why 'Happy Holidays' bothers me. I don't expect a stranger to see me and say, "You look like a Christian. Enjoy remembering the birth of Jesus!"
'Happy Holidays' bothers me because it has become a neutral paint in our culture, a grey-area greeting. Jewish? Buddhist? Christian? Atheist? 'Happy Holidays' makes us all feel equally non-unique.
But the thing is, there is no grey area at this time of the year. Either you're celebrating a very specific holiday, or you're not. Most people do. And whatever it is, it has a name, traditions, cultural ties and it means something special to us.
Some people don't celebrate a specific holiday. But it doesn't make them a mean person, so they may choose to say "Happy Holidays" when they wish someone well. And that is the only time when that phrase is used correctly.
So why does everyone else have to use a seasonal greeting that doesn't represent their beliefs? Because we as a society have become so afraid of offending someone with a "Happy Hanukkah," "Merry Christmas," or "Happy Kwanzaa," that we've changed our language. We use generic words at a very personal time of the year so that no one gets upset at our difference in beliefs.
(Image courtesy of PostSecret)
I don't know about anyone else, but nothing magical happens to me in December that makes me forget that not everyone shares my beliefs.
You and I are different. It's very unlikely that our beliefs are identical. And that's okay.
I know some of you can wish someone else a heart-felt "Happy Holidays." And if that's you, then by all means, keep on doing what you're doing. But if you celebrate Kwanzaa, Hanukkah, Christmas or something else, start wishing people that. At best, you'll spark a great conversation with someone different from yourself. At worst, you'll upset someone. And if the latter happens, that's okay. Odds are that if someone gets angry because you didn't wish them the right holiday, they already make their lives tougher than it is.
Monday, December 19, 2011
In other news, I've got a few interesting blog posts boiling in my head. Expect those sometime.
Probably sometime after I delete every "I wuv you so much!!!!!" post from my wall. Elch.
*EDIT* Wow, I was an air-headed, vain, little snob at 18.
**EDIT** I'm deleting most of the posts that I'm finding. Including this one, "not throwing away pictures, poems or presents. She is not erasing memories. She is cherishing the past, respecting the future."
Sunday, November 27, 2011
I’m only 23, but sometimes I worry about the younger generation. The average teenager sends over 100 text messages every day. Most of them use abbreviations so much that it creates a language filled with three letter words. The only single letter words in the English language are ‘A’ and ‘I’. When I receive a text filled with single letters and numbers that replace words…. I want to send them back to elementary school English class.
Never mind trying to get teens to read a book. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard a teenager squeal about a movie series and how they “Can wait to find out how it ends!” Meanwhile, they seem unaware that the movie they loved was based off a novel series. I can’t help but wonder why they haven’t read the books.
The Hunger Games is a series like that. By the end of March, you can bet there will be scads of teens excited for the second movie, eager to find out what happens next, but not willing to pick up a book. And I’ll hopelessly hang my head. Authors no longer face the challenge of keeping their reader out of other books and in theirs. They have to keep them away from the TV, computer, movie theater, game console and cell phone. It’s a daunting task. Most of the time, at least.
I was grocery shopping a few days ago when I overheard a daughter talking with her father. She looked about 15 years old. They were talking about the upcoming Hunger Games movie. “Please, Dad? I want to read it.” “Why? I thought they were making it into a movie.” “I know, but I want to read it.”
I was so happy to hear a young person excited about a book that I almost stopped to thank her. I hope there are more kids out there who also value reading books and knowing the difference between to, two and too.
Maybe these kids aren’t as bad as I thought.
Monday, November 14, 2011
Friday, November 4, 2011
Wednesday, November 2, 2011
A childish primal human predilection for pleasure and novelty which can never be excised from the soul.
Sunday, October 30, 2011
Yeah... I printed out a procrastinator award and taped it above my desk.
Friday, October 21, 2011
Sunday, October 16, 2011
Saturday- Day 1
Landed in Acapulco. Got our rental car. Looked for hotel. No luck. Got stuck in traffic for two hours while the gas light was on E. Parked in Wal-Mart's loading dock. Went inside. Got pesos at the ATM. Discovered English isn't as common here as the internet made it sound. Car got trapped in loading dock. Gate finally opened. Got gas with new pesos. Drove back to car rental to ask for a map. Found the hotel. Credit card declined b/c we're in Mexico. Called CC company to sort it out, was charged a $100 for a minute and a half phone call. Haggled them into putting the hotel onto the debit card. Staff was not, and still isn't, pleased with us. Got to room. Walked a mile downhill to the hotel restaurant. Host told us Matt had to wear slacks, not shorts. Matt called a hotel jeep, rode up to the room, changed, and returned. We're both exhausted and grumpy at this point. Ate the most pretentious dinner of my life. Didn't know if prices were in dollars or pesos. Stressed about money. Tried to look happy when they took our picture. Went back to room in another hotel jeep. Found out a peso is 1/12 of a dollar. Found out the $100 phone call was only $8. Set a budget. No longer stressed about money. Enjoyed the view of the bay. Saw a cat. Saw a chupacabra. Cuddled in bed. Went to sleep.
Sunday- Day 2
Woke up. Breakfast came in our little breakfast box. Ate outside. Drank the included wine. Got a little woozy. Fed the stray cat. Named her Devi. Matt went swimming. The pool was cold. Got showered. Drove to town. Ran a red light we're not sure was red. Cops pulled us over. Cop started to give us a ticket, then he asked how much money was in our wallet. Matt- “A thousand pesos.” Cop- “Okay, thousand pesos make this go away. No ticket for thousand pesos.” Not sure if we bribed him or if he blackmailed/robbed us. Drove around town. Saw a lot of advertisements for strip clubs. Saw one strip club advertising “Strep Tease”. Saw a lot of local cops. Watched our speed and the lights carefully. Went to different Wal-Mart for the ATM. (Wal-Mart is our safety zone) Matt didn't have his debit card. Went back up to the hotel for it. Matt found it... in his wallet all along. Went back to Wal-Mart. Got pesos. Had lunch at VIPS, a Mexican Denny's. Back to Wal-Mart. Bought food and supplies for the hotel room. Went back to the hotel, unloaded car. Took a siesta. Ate dinner in room. Hung out in the room and alcove. Did some reading. Went to bed.
Monday- Day 3
Got up. No wine with breakfast. :( New cat came by, named her Fela. Devi showed up later and hung out all afternoon. Sunbathed on the chaise. Swam in the pool. Got room service for lunch. Meh. Overpriced. Siesta. Showered. Went to town. Got stuck in traffic. Traffic was from a bunch of SWAT looking, AK47 carrying, black mask wearing, federal cops, pulling over trucks. Extremely intimidating. Did not make eye contact. Parked the car at Wal-Mart. (See a theme developing here?) Walked around town. Bought Gabrielle a gift at Senor Frogs. We miss her. Walked around town. Got close to the beach, but it's surrounded by buildings and roped off. Walked back towards the car. Got hot. Stopped at a restaurant to eat. The staff gawked at me. Matt stared them down. (Though previously unmentioned, this is also a reoccurring theme of the trip) Pretty good seafood. Paid and left. Saw more SWAT looking federal cops pull over another truck. Still intimidated. Made it back to the car. Bought a few more things in Wal-Mart. Went back to the hotel. Ate some pistache and sat outside. Enjoyed the view. Came inside, went to bed.
Tuesday Day 4-
Woke up. Ate breakfast. Fed Devi and Fela. Got in the car to drive to hotel's private beach. Found said "beach" about an hour later. Most beautiful place here yet. Sunbathed. Swam in salt water. Matt got burned. Went back to room. Showered. Went to town. Ate dinner at Planet Hollwood, Matt had never been. Came back. Read some more Wise Man's Fear. Smiled a lot. Went to bed.
Monday, October 10, 2011
Thursday, October 6, 2011
Tuesday, October 4, 2011
Tuesday, September 27, 2011
The tiny plane rose higher and higher into the sky. I hunched over on the floor, sandwiched between the pilot and small door. My instructor, Dennis, sat in front of me. Only the pilot had a seat. Too late to go back now.
I pressed a finger to my carotid artery. My heart pumped stronger, but no faster, than usual. I fought the urge to fiddle with the chest straps on my harness. Are these tight enough? I looked at the pack on Dennis’ back. I check my altitude bracelet. The needle danced at 9,000 feet.
Dennis turned around. He joined our harnesses so that my back touched his chest. He checked a bunch of clasps I couldn’t identify. His right hand extended over my shoulder and gave me goggles. “Are you ready to jump out of a fully functioning airplane?”
I’m not sure if I nodded or said yes. Whatever it was, it wasn’t a ‘No’.
He twisted the handle, and the plane door popped open. At that height, there’s almost no way to conceive how fast you’re going. I remembered the instructions he gave me on the ground. He’ll put his right foot onto the step. My right foot goes outside his. Then I’ll move my left foot onto the step. He’ll pull back on my head and count into my ear. Then we’ll jump. While in freefall, I only need to let my arms and legs relax. He’ll do the rest.
I moved closer to the doorway. Something in my body railed against this. In that moment, I knew I should be afraid of falling. I laughed in my head. That’s why I’m here! And the fear was gone. I looked down and saw his right foot on the step. I guided my foot to the place it should be. Or I tried. The wind was so strong that it blows my whole leg around like a flag. I don’t remember how my left foot ended up outside of the plane. Neither of them ever touched the step.
Dennis spoke and counted. Then we fell, twisted and flipped in the air. My body was not relaxed and concave. I had pulled a ‘Superman’; my legs and arms were stiffer than a sheet of plywood. I felt his ankles wrap around mine and yank them back. We steadied out. His hands gripped my biceps and cracked them into the proper position. I felt something snap on my left shoulder. My arm had come out of socket and he pushed it back in.
The rest of the flight was smooth. At 6,000 feet, I pulled my own parachute. We landed to the cheers of friends. It wasn’t like the drop on a rollercoaster, but it was definitely fun.
My right foot reminds me of when God asks something of us and we obey without commitment. On the ground, Dennis said “I have a vested interest in your safety. We’re strapped together with one parachute. I want to live. You’re going to be fine.” It put my mind at ease. I knew I didn’t really have to try very hard. Dennis would fix it. When we obey God’s original call to action but do not follow it through with the actions He requires of us, we’re bound to get hurt. It is important to put your right foot onto the step, but a lack of commitment will have you in an uncontrolled freefall and your endeavor will not bear fruit.
Sunday, September 25, 2011
My brain is too tired to recount my full day, so I'll leave you with this. If I ever become a James Bond girl, my name will Candy. Caramel Candy.
Friday, September 23, 2011
I ate lunch with a publisher/editor I really like and other writers who proudly wave their geek flags. Geeks are the best. Where else is "That's so weird!" a giant compliment? Geekland, that's where.
I also had my first chapter critique today. It went really well. My criticizer (I'm not positive that's the word I want) made two assumptions about me based on my work. One, that I was a college grad and two, that this manuscript was not my first writing project. Neither of these are true, and it was pretty awesome to hear from someone in the publishing world.
The following is her evaluation sheet. :)
She complimented my synopsis. I had never written one before, and all my research had outlined was a required length that varied from two paragraphs up to five pages. It needed a few more things, but since this was my first attempt, I'm proud of what I accomplished.
I could actually bask in this. Even the low point, "Most of the dialogue is flawless," is awesome. I've never had a single class on dialogue, and I know it's not nearly as strong as my action writing. She told me the tension I build is fantastic and at some point she got chills, even though this isn't her usual genre. Even you could see me right now, I might actually be glowing with happiness.
It wouldn't be fair if I posted all the things that were great about my first chapter, and then excluded the weaker points. I've done a decent job forcing myself out of passive voice, but there's always room to improve. My progress is even showing in my longhand. I'm honestly surprised with how much trouble I have conveying emotions to my readers. Relating to people is not something I struggle with in real life. It baffles me a little that I can lack that strength in my writing.
That was my day! Overall, it was excellent. Tomorrow I have class on dialogue. I can't tell you how much I'm looking forward to that. I also have a mentor appointment lined up as well as an agent appointment. No, I'm not pitching Demon. Not yet. The appointment was part of the conference fee. I'm confident my manuscript will be strong enough for publication this time next year. I figured I may as well sit down with an agent and ask some questions that will benefit me when the time is right.
The conference has been great so far. I even met a few gals who live in Bettendorf! Imagine that! Right now, I want to finish my homework, soak my feet in hot water, and get to bed!
Thursday, September 22, 2011
And those pants turn sheer when wet. Luckily, the rain was nearly nothing. After I registered, I looked out the window and the drizzle had turned into a downpour. So I was stuck there and didn't know anyone. Thankfully I had my Kindle in that giant bag.
My day turned brighter after that. I started meeting people, mostly women who were dying to know where I had gotten my shoes and/or earrings. I honestly got at least thirty compliments on my shoes today. I hope ACFW has an award for best heels. I would totally win that.
I also had a publisher comment on them. He then stated that running in them would be impossible. I said I could hit a brisk jog, which he then invited me to demonstrate. And I did. That's right. Not even a full day into the conference and I'm making some very unforgettable first impressions by running across a room in 5 inch stilettos.
I also attended a class called "A Kiss is NOT Just a Kiss." I didn't realize that this was a class for Christian romance writers. The advice was helpful to an extent. The principles can apply with some tweaking, sort of how a vaccination is a watered-down virus. A fiction novel just isn't going to have the same stylized passion scenes as a romance novel. Though, at some point I had to restrain my laughter. Apparently a wife's neglige strap slipping off her shoulder is considered very risque and using words like throb simply will not fly.
Tomorrow I have my critique at 3pm. I'm very excited to get feedback and learn how I can improve.
This sign was hanging in my booth. "No tinkers taken in." Pat Rothfuss would not approve.
At the end of my meal, the waitress brought me a complimentary cheesecake in a jar. Too adorable.
I arrived in St. Louis and checked into the hotel. I knew my room was a King parlor suite, but I didn't expect to have an entire living room. The view isn't too shabby either.
That was taken out of my living room window.
After settling in, I drove out to West County Mall. H&M taunted me with sweaters that were too boxy and dresses that were far too short. Oh well. I got a few cute accessories which will polish off my conference outfits nicely.
Today I'll check in at the ACFW booth. I originally planned to go to the aquarium this morning, but I think I might come back to the room and do some writing. Seems like a good way to start a Fiction Writers conference. :)
Tuesday, September 13, 2011
Saturday, September 10, 2011
Thursday, September 1, 2011
Saturday, August 27, 2011
Tuesday, August 23, 2011
Daemar, the sole survivor of an attack on his village, has waited five years for someone to find him. He’s waited for someone like himself, someone who has horns and possesses powers even magic can’t explain. Daemar is a Demon, and he’s desperate.
When he’s rescued by a convict on the run, Titus, Daemar is faced with a terrible choice. He can stay hidden, ignore his debt, shame his race, and let Titus die. Or he can honor Titus’ terms and lead him to safety, but be passed over by any Demons looking for survivors.
The next morning, still undecided, Daemar runs into Titus’ pursuer. After an exchange, Daemar makes his choice. He’ll help Titus’ escape and return home as soon as he can.
Daemar and Titus run. They quickly meet a woman named Vi, whose beauty equals her mysterious past. Together they steal, bribe, deceive, and discover terrible truths. Daemar vows to avenge the deaths of his people, but is he capable of murder? Will he rise to be the man within, or will the darkest parts of his soul prevail and unleash the feared Demon?
Saturday, August 20, 2011
It’s been coming up a lot lately, and I can’t let the topic die. Especially since YA/Fantasy authors seem to love them so much.
All good books have a promising premise and interesting, fallible characters. However, if you pick up a novel that starts with a prologue, nine times out of ten it’s a sure sign of several things.
When you’re writing a story, you always start at the beginning. Problem is, a prologue isn’t the beginning. Chapter One is the beginning. Nearly every prologue can be summarized as one or more of the following—
The Background Prologue. “20 years ago, in a land far, far away…” This is almost always the story of the main character’s (here forth MC) birth or some other event they don’t remember. It can also be used to give you the background information on an important item or battle. Was the Chassis of Invulnerability lost after the blood bath battle of Garfendurst? Of course it was. And you can find that battle, the Chassis and flat, doomed-to-die characters in the prologue. This author knows that the beginning starts in Chapter One, they’re just convinced you’re too stupid to figure anything out unless they spoon feed it to you. This novel will be predictable. Love will conquer. Nearly no one will die.
The Most Tragic Event in MC’s Life Prologue. “The day everything changed.” Think of the worst thing that has ever happened to you. Think of the event that has most fundamentally changed who you are. I’ll give you a minute. Got it? Now imagine you told that full story to everyone you met. It was the first thing out of your mouth to the bank teller, your new boss, the grocery cashier. Not a pretty picture, is it? It’s the same with a MC. We need to care about this person before we’re willing to listen to the ugliest parts of their past. The author with a Most Tragic Event prologue thinks you won’t find the MC’s unexplained fears intriguing, you’ll just be confused and give up. They have deprived you of a meaningful connection to the MC.
My Character has Emotions. Emotions! See how Emotional He/She is Prologue?!“He sighed and looked longingly at the couple holding hands on the park bench.” It’s a given with every novel that there will be a hero, a heroine and they will fall in love. There will be reasons why their love is forbidden or isn’t working out. It will all be very over-dramatic and not at all heart wrenching. For the rest of this book, you will read the difficulties of this love. He likes Coke, she likes Pepsi. He’s moving three hours away. Some jerk (who is so obviously inferior to our hero that if the heroine can’t spot Jerk’s flaws, maybe she doesn’t deserve hero to begin with) is also courting her. This novel is going to be full of things like “I love you,” he said lovingly. Or, “I’m so mad at you!” she yelled angrily. If you don’t stop reading this novel, your eyes will eventually begin to bleed.
Overall, if a novel has a prologue, the author has essentially vomited on your face. Wipe and ignore at your own risk.
Saturday, August 6, 2011
Thursday, August 4, 2011
In July, I was called and selected for jury duty. The defense attorney asked us relevant questions and irrelevant ones, such as “Who’s your favorite comedian?” and “If you could live anywhere, where would you go?” The latter caught me off guard, and I tried to think of where I would move; only I couldn’t. When I recounted this to my husband, he was just as shocked as I was. Iowa has muggy summers and bitter cold winters, two things I don’t do well in. But we have a toddler, the school system here is amazing, we love our church and our friends are like family.
If I could live anywhere, I’d live right here.