Thursday, January 30, 2014

So, lately.

Snowmaggedon 2014 has gone on long enough.  Winter is such a bully, especially this year.  I hate cold, and dry skin, and hair that is constantly in some state of ion charge confusion and shoots away from head like I have electrocuted myself.


BUT, Saturday it is February.  And February is a short month (and we are going to Florida in the middle of it).  If we get through that it is March and then spring and sunshine and flip flops and all manner of glorious things are ours.  

So, lately.  

1.  American Idol
I've only watched one other season (the one with Steven Tyler because he is so funny).  But this year, oh this year, I am smitten.  Because of this man:

Harry Connick Jr.

Ya'll, I have had a crush on Harry since I first saw "Memphis Belle" (phenomenal movie by the way) when I was 8 and he sang "Danny Boy?


This man is amazing.  And I love what he has to say.  JLo is all passing out because she thinks people are adorable and Keith is moved by people's pentatonix and Christina Aguilera impressions evidently.  But Harry?  Harry speaks truth.  And he knows what's real and what's not.  Finally American Idol, you are getting it right.  If you could only replace Ryan Seacrest, you would have totally redeemed yourself.  

Also, this kid.  I know him.  Sweetest kid and so talented.  I hope this opens up doors for him!

2.  This movie:

Delta Force
This was my favorite movie as a kid.  Sound of Music was second, but this movie?  I cannot even begin to count the number of times my brother and I watched this.  I loved it.  It came on TV a couple nights ago and I haven't seen it in years and when Dave got home I told him about it.  And while I was telling him the storyline I started crying like a baby.  For real.  It's intense.  And evidently I exist in a state of mind that mimics most pregnant women because I can cry over just about anything.  There are some intense moments in this, including one scene where an American marine gets beaten and killed and it was when I was telling Dave about that that I started crying.  I can't handle some things.  And ended up turning this off before it got to that part.  But, we found this movie in the $3 movie bin at Walmart that weekend.  Score.

**Side note about me crying:  My husband is a trooper about it. Didn't even flinch when I started crying telling him about a movie.  I read the end of Allegiant during my lunch break at work and texted Dave to warn him that I had read it and hand't been able to cry yet (because oh my word, NOTHING will make you want to cry like that book.  If you read it and don't cry you are obviously Satan or a zombie).  Anyways, so sure enough I get home, stay in the kitchen baking and while cookies are in the oven I reread the ending of Allegiant over and over and sob for, no lie, about 20 minutes straight.  My sweet husband is not taken aback by the fact that I am prostrate in the floor of our kitchen in agony over a fictional story.  Instead he comes and gives me a big hug and tells me he is sorry that my book made me sad.  Really people, is he not super husband?  I think so. *

3.  Books!!!  Ah, so many good ones!  Read this:

Eleanor and Park

So, so good. I want to have daughters and have them date Park.  Such a cutie.  I die.

Grave Mercy
Liked this one too!  So different for a story; it had an interesting mix of religious/spiritual ideas to it.

And now, after a snow day off of work (!!), it is back to real life and duties and things that must get done!

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Closing Sunday

Do you ever start feeling sad on a Sunday evening because you know the weekend is coming to a close?  I do, and it makes me slightly panicky because I realize I only have a few hours to hold on to of sweet weekend goodness.

And so here we are, 7:30 on Sunday.  It's dark out (a bleak reminder of winter and it's nasty continued presence).  But, that's OK.  Tomorrow is the start of a new week.  Things are settling down at work, thank goodness.  And it's going to be a good week.  I am determined to get lots done because A) I have a lot of things on my list, and B) it makes me feel better to get things done.

The dining room is coming along.  I'm almost done sanding and then have to touch up trim and then prime one more time and then tape and finally, finally, I will be able to paint.  Sanding dust is coating everything in there now about 2 inches think because I and my new power sander have had an elicit affair in there and it created quite a mess (as all elicit affairs do).  We are plugging away at insulation in the garage ceiling (sidenote: fiber glass is incredibly itchy), and Dave is about half way or so done with the corner cabinet he's building for me.

We went grocery shopping today and I succumbed to a "commercial made me buy this" purchase and bought these:

Oh. My. Word.  These are so good.  I made a dinner out of them and Greek Yogurt, which was a fantastic pairing and which probably explains why I am hungry and need a snack, because that is dinner for a toddler and not for an adult.  But it was so good.  And as my husband wasn't here to make sure I eat a real dinner, it is what I had.  Get some of these.  If by some chance you don't like them (which means you have faulty taste buds or a neurological condition) then send what you don't eat to me.  You can message me for my address.

And for now, I am off to get a snack and revel in what is left of the weekend.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

In which I keep getting stuck

I am working on a new story and ya'll, it is killing me.  

I've been reading a lot of author blogs in the past few months and have learned that most writers love either the drafting phase or the editing phase.  

And I think I am discovering that I love the editing phase.  I love taking a chunky first draft full of inconsistent scenes and poorly developed characters and confusing plot holes and put it together.  Add stuff.  Delete stuff.  Combine stuff.  I think editing is easier for me too because it usually isn't until I am 60-80% done with a story that I actually realize what it's about.  

How's that for crazy?  No linear thought here. I start, I write, I get to the end and suddenly realize "this is what this is about".  And then I have to go make the first 3/4 of the book match the last bit of it.  But I love it.  I like taking a skeleton and making it into a story.  

Drafting though.  Ah, that is an entirely different beast of a thing.  It sucks.

Because I have bits of characters and dialogue and things that happen but they don't make sense.  Inevitably, I end up having more questions raised with what I write than I answer.  Not good.

I really like this story I am currently working on, but I keep getting stuck.  And I have to force myself to just sit down, look at the screen, and write something.  Even if it's horrid.  Even if it's not what I want to happen.  Even if I don't know what I want to happen.  I simply must get something down on paper.  Because at least when all that bad "This isn't what I want!" writing becomes a *somewhat* complete draft, I will at least have something I can work with.  It's this "create something out of absolutely nothing" phase that throws me for a loop.  And it usually leaves me confused and stuck with facial expressions that look like these:

"What am I doing?  Why is there a cyborg in my historical fiction story?  Should I name the cyborg Clyde?"

"Words, words, write some words....what are some words I can write?  What should happen here?  Does x happen here or y?  Is there a z?  I don't know!"

"How the heck did I come up with this?"

Drafting to me  is enormous.  I think of it as Thanksgiving dinner.  Imagine someone shows up the day of Thanksgiving and says "make Thanksgiving dinner".  And you don't have A SINGLE THING in your pantry or fridge.  Not a stick of butter.  Not a can of beans or a pack of Ramen.  Nothing.  Nada.  This is drafting and outlining to me.  Starting from nothing and trying to make a feast.  Are you nuts?

Ah, but editing.  That is like someone coming to your house on Thanksgiving and saying "make Thanksgiving dinner" but they have already bought all the ingredients.  And even though you are still overwhelmed by all there is to do (because making a draft into a story is hard, hard, work and often overwhelming), at least the ingredients are there and you don't have to go to Kroger and throw elbows with all the people who have forgotten to buy cranberry sauce.  

Hard, but doable.  More doable at least for me.

I am about half way through or so this first draft *and "first draft" is such a misnomer.  The first draft of my first story was really about the 8th or so draft of that book.*  I am anxious to just have the darn thing written so that I can go through it and work with it.  Because, true to my evident pattern, I am just starting to know these characters I am writing about and know what I want the story to be about.  I just want words on paper for now so that I have something to work with.  

In the meantime, I need to just do the thing.  Write something.  Anything.  I have given myself a January 31st deadline to be done with the first of the first drafts.  Which is a little insane.  But let's see what I can do with it...

Sunday, January 12, 2014

On my bookshelf: love this trilogy

First of all, what's with all the YA trilogies?  In the olden days, you bought a book and the book was the entire story.  Not so much these days.  But lately I have been reading fantastic trilogies, so I guess I can't complain.

Last week I read Fire and Thorns trilogy by Rae Carson.  The beauty of these too is that all three have been written so I was able to check all three out of the library at once and read them back to back.  Which, in my opinion, is the only way to read a series.  None of this 'waiting for the third book to be published' mess which has been the literary theme of my past year.

I loved these!  They follow the story of Elisa, who as a God-stone (something 1 person every century is given).  She is destined for possible greatness if she can fulfill God's purpose for her.  The thing is, she doesn't know what that purpose is.  And a lot of bearers of the God stone died young, and many without doing anything seemingly great.  Elisa gets married off to the king of a country that is falling apart, and many seek her for her Godstone because they think she will be what saves them.

Lots of action and drama and romance.  But I also loved how it explored the issue of "God's purpose".  Throughout the series, many do things, both good and bad, under the provision of it being "God's will."  And Elisa has a hard time knowing what she is supposed to do and worrying that she is a failure.  The story is a really neat way to explore God's purpose and will without that being the overt storyline.  Which is ironic, because I can't tell if the author is a Christian or not.

If you like YA fantasy, I definitely recommend!  These I might have to own some day.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Bible Flannel board: Abram

So, I'm reading in Genesis.  And it's funny how when you read the Bible you learn things that totally screw up the idea you had as a kid about the story.  Case in point:  Abram.  I remember learning about Abram/Abraham in Sunday School.   Making an altar out of sugar cubes and little Abraham and Isaac figures from clothespins in Vacation Bible School (no theatrics to VBS for us old schoolers).

And I had this idea in my head of what Abram was like.  Mostly, he was old and gray.  And had a beard.  A meek, mild, old man.  This is how I pictured him:

And really, I think this is common.  If you Google "Abram", images like this will pop up. And they probably match the idea you have in your head.

So, I had this in my mind.  And then I get along to reading Genesis 14. *insert sound of mind exploding here*

So, in Genesis 14, Lot and Abram have separated.  Lot is living in Sodom, and Abram has settled and is allied with three brothers who live close to him.  So then there is this huge battle/war and some bad kings come and plunder Sodom, and while doing so, they take Lot and his family and his possessions as spoils of war.  Abram finds out.  And then it gets good.

13-16 A fugitive came and reported to Abram the Hebrew. Abram was living at the Oaks of Mamre the Amorite, brother of Eshcol and Aner. They were allies of Abram. When Abram heard that his nephew had been taken prisoner, he lined up his servants, all of them born in his household—there were 318 of them—and chased after the captors all the way to Dan. Abram and his men split into small groups and attacked by night. They chased them as far as Hobah, just north of Damascus. They recovered all the plunder along with nephew Lot and his possessions, including the women and the people.-Bible Gateway

Bam.  Image of Abram as old and mild completely destroyed.  The man takes 318 men and lays waste to the bad guys.  So now, the image of Abram you should have in your mind is this:

Thank you Gerard Butler.  I now have a more accurate picture of Abram, rising up with his little group of 300 men and doing damage.  

To go with this, I needed to dispel the image of Sarai as old and grey.  Because the Bible says in several places that Sarai was smokin' hot.  So in my mind, based on what Scripture says and to match Gerard, I think Sarai was more like this:

Or this--

Much more intriguing story to imagine, yes?  It's amazing how a visual idea of a story can affect it.  Like our "Jesus a a blue eyes gentle white guy" image.  For one, it's not accurate (I mean really, can't we find a Middle Eastern guy to play Jesus in our movies??).  Secondly, Jesus wasn't exactly a quiet little pushover.

I like imagining the stories as they likely would have been, and not how Sunday School flannel boards have taught us.  Abram was no quiet passive guy.  Sarai was not always old and wrinkled.  And there's so much more to their story than what we are told.  But what we are told is that Abram was a fierce warrior, and Sarai was drop dead gorgeous.  So now when you read about them, picture some hot chick and Gerard Butler.

You're welcome ;)

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Missing Pieces

So, I've been reading in Genesis.  I really cannot tell you how much I love Genesis.  I could read it in an endless loop and be blissfully happy.

And you know what I have noticed about Genesis?  There is so much that we're not told.

I was filling hubs' ear about this the other night as we went on an emergency run to the grocery store for ice cream (others were there clearing the shelves of bread and milk because it was supposed to snow the next day and we Tennesseans cannot brave cold weather and possible frozen precipitation without bread and milk enough to last a few weeks).  Anyways, while others loaded up on the ingredients for french toast, we grabbed vanilla ice cream.  And I was filling his ear with my questions.

Like this:

We know from Scripture that the Trinity has existed together since before Creation.  And the NT refers to Jesus as the word of God.  So when God said "let there be light" or trees or animals or land or whatever, did he just say it and Jesus was the one who actually made it?  God speaks, Jesus does.  Was it like that?  Or more a collaboration?

Did they have fun with it?  Did they die laughing when they made a possum? (Because really, who wouldn't?) What about the weird glow in the dark fish that exist at the bottom of the ocean?  Did they make those last because they had to warm up their creative juices before they got to stuff that was just that weird?  Why so many beetles????  Does Jesus have an odd fascination with them?  Which one of them came up with snow, and tornadoes, and palm trees?

How many kids did Adam and Eve have?  We know their kids intermarried, because hello, who else would they have married, so they must have had a good bundle of them.  And since they lived so much longer than we did, did that mean that Eve was fertile until she was 400 or something?

Did Adam have a belly button?  He didn't need one...but did he have one?

Abraham's family didn't worship God but he did.  HOW DID HE KNOW??  What was it that made him acknowledge God as Lord?

I mean really, I cannot wait to go to heaven.  One, because Jesus is there (obviously).  But also because I am dying to know all these missing parts of the story.

 I am working on a couple novels right now and there is SO MUCH MORE to the story than what I have put down on paper.  So many scenes and events and words and moments exist just in my head and did not make it down on paper.

And I wonder about the parts that God and Jesus hold in their minds but which are not Scripture.  Because there are some pretty special, sacred scenes to my own stories that I have kept to myself and did not write down, and I wonder what parts they kept just for themselves.  I want to see the whole story.  We get so little of the story on the pages of Scripture.  I want to know what Mary felt as Jesus' mother and I want to know the struggles Peter dealt with.  Did Mary and Martha get along?  Did the woman at the well ever find a man that she settled down with?  Did Rahab have a hard time being accepted into the nation of Israel?  Did women scorn her because of her past?  How did her husband pursue her (that is so a story I am dying to know!).

God created the world.

He said 'Let there be Light'.

Do see the story behind those sentences?  It just amazes me, because as vast and weighty as Scripture is, it is merely the slightest taste of all that is there.  Like the little browned fried bits you get in your french fries that nobody eats because hello, you have french fries to eat!  I love the words God has given us.  And my little story loving heart cannot wait to see the rest.  All the deleted scenes.  All the unspoken words.

How blessed are we that God has given us so much, and that He still has things hidden away.  Endless surprises and untold goodness.  For now we see as in a mirror, darkly...I cannot wait to know it all.

Friday, January 3, 2014

On my bookshelf

So lately I have read the following:

"Where'd You Go, Bernadette?" by Maria Semple.

This was so fun.  It's a story about a lady who goes missing and her daughter's quest to find her.  Though really (despite this being the description you read on the book jacket) it's so much more than that.   It's about how a person can lose herself and find herself.  On abandoning dreams and finding them again.  I loved this.  It was so fun and quirky.  I want Bernadette to be a real person and I want to drive with her in Knoxville traffic and rant about the bad drivers together.  Loved it.

Counting by 7s by Holly Goldberg Sloan

Oh man.  One of the best books I've read all year and one of my top 3 middle grade books EVER.  This is story about Willow, who is a genius and who finds it comforting to count by 7s.  Willow's adoptive parents suddenly die in a car crash and this book is about the people that surround Willow afterward.  I loved this.  It speaks of relationships where we don't expect them, and how people help us mend, and how you can find family in the most unusual places.  Endearing, quirky, beautiful.  Loved, loved, loved it.

Defianceby CJ Redwine (also Deception which is book #2)

Loved these.  Especially the second one, Deception.  These are dystopian, which I didn't really know until book 2 (I kindof suspected in book one, but the author doesn't spell it out which I loved.  I love an author who creates a reality and doesn't feel the need to explain it all like you're reading a newspaper.  The world was flawlessly set up in these books in my opinion).  It's a story about a girl Rachel and her quest to find her father.  She ends up being paired with Logan, her father's apprentice who she once confessed love to and who did not return her affections.  I loved the story.  I loved Rachel's transformation, and Logan's.  His story I really attached to because he has been orphaned and outcast and is starting to find his own worth.  Great stories.  Cannot wait for the third!