Tuesday, December 1, 2009
My interest has been piqued this year concerning the real story behind the Charles Dickens classic novel, A Christmas Carol. I conducted a bit of research and found that the “ghost story of Christmas” was born out of Dickens humiliating stint as a child factory-worker following his father’s imprisonment for unpaid debt. Dickens was from a higher class than the other workers and became the recipient of their degrading jeers. This period allowed Dickens to see first hand the horrible conditions the people of London faced on a daily basis but the part that caused him to suffer the most emotional damage was the plight of the children of the poor. He decided to publish a political pamphlet about the difficulties of the poor man’s child, but decided against it. This pamphlet would become, A Christmas Carol.
Over the years I’ve seen numerous cinematic depictions of A few of my favorites have been:
1979 An American Christmas Carol. Dickens’ Victorian London becomes America’s Great Depression. Mr Benjamin Slade (Scrooge) as played by Henry Winkler is the remaining owner of S&L Finance, after the death of his partner Jack Latham, (Marley). On Christmas Even Slade and his assistant, Thatcher make rounds repossessing goods from people unable to make their payments. After firing Thatcher, Slade is confronted by his dead partner and three spirits; all those he has repossessed from that day. As in the original story, the ‘Scrooge figure’ is confronted with the reaction to his future death and finally sees the true meaning of life, love and the Christmas spirit.
1983 Mickey’s Christmas Carol. Scrooge McDuck of course plays the part of Scrooge. Mickey Mouse plays the part of Bob Cratchit, and Goofy is the ghost of Jacob Marley. The ghosts respectively were: Past, Jiminy Cricket, Present, Willie the Giant, and Future, Pete the dog?
1988 Scrooged. This hilarious depiction of A Christmas Carol introduces Francis “Frank” Xavier Cross, a ruthless television executive, played by veteran actor, Bill Murray whose corporate climb has lost him the love of his life played by Karen Allen and his only brother James, played by Murray’s real brother John Murray. Bob Forsyth plays the part of Frank’s dead and decaying mentor who of course represents Jacob Marley. The ghosts are played by; Past, David Johansen/Buster Poindexter, Present, Carol Kane and the Ghost of Christmas Future was a television faced apparition with a body made of ghouls. One of the best parts of this film has to be the character of “Cratchit” played by Alfre Woodard as Frank’s assistant, Grace.
1992 The Muppet Christmas Carol. Michael Caine plays Scrooge in this Muppet depiction of the classic tale. Kermit and Miss Piggy play the parts of the Cratchit parents with their tiny frog son playing the part of Tiny Tim. The best part about this version is the delightful music that seems to stick with you long after the film is over.
Which brings me to my final pick and the sole reason for writing this blog in the first place…
2009 Disney’s A Christmas Carol. This animated, 3-D version stars the voices of Jim Carrey, Gary Oldman and Bob Hoskins to name a few. Carrey steals the show with his portrayal of Scrooge, young and old and the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Yet to Come. As you can see, I’ve seen my fare share of depictions of the story, not withholding the BORING ones starring George C. Scott and Patrick Stewart. (Please forgive me if these are your favorites.) But this version knocked my socks off. I’ve read several reviews from the “professionals,” some good, some bad. I’ll stick with the opinions of the four critics who saw the movie with me, a seventeen year old boy and girl, a nine year old boy and girl, and of course me, a woman of a certain age, tee hee. It was one of those movies where people clapped loudly at the ending, where tears were shed and hearts were touched. It stuck true to the original text…yes I checked. Sure someone had some fun with a bit of unnecessary cinematic magic in the form of a couple races through the streets and skies of London, but hey, you have to please the kids too. I would not, however, recommend this film for very young children as the scenes with the ghost of Jacob Marley were extremely frightening—even for me.
So in closing I will say, Disney’s animated portrayal of this classic novel has given me a forever appreciation of the genius of Charles Dickens. And I will add this comment; if you, or someone you know needs a touch of Christmas Spirit this year, take them to see this video and be blessed. And heed the words of Tiny Tim, “To remember upon Christmas Day, the One who made lame beggars walk, and blind men see. And God bless us, everyone!”
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
In sickness and in health. I said that phrase twenty-four years ago. I said it, and I meant it. My vow was never put to the test though…my beloved never got sick. That was my job. After all, I’m the one with the chronic disease. Sure there’s been the occasional cold and flu, but never have I had to put my husband’s health in the hands of another. Until…
October 25, 2009 in the wee hours of the morning. My husband developed all the classic symptoms of appendicitis. We headed for the hospital. A CT scan confirmed our suspicions…a surgeon was called in. Our kids came in to see their dad before the surgery. It was hard for them to see their father like that. My parents graciously took them to eat; a nice distraction.
Eight hours later…the surgeon arrived. My husband and I passed the time that Sunday afternoon watching football games to take our minds off of his impending surgery. I cringed at the thought of him being put under. I didn’t know anything about this man who would cut into my best friend, and why was it taking so long for him to get there? And then he showed up; athletic and handsome, dressed in his Houston Texans shirt. He’d been at the game. My husband would later comment on his concerns that the surgeon could have been drinking. Thank God I didn’t think of that!
One hour and fifteen minutes. “…May the Lord deal with me, be it ever so severely, if anything but death separates you and me." Ruth’s words in chapter 1, verse 17, uniquely describe the attitude of our twenty-four year marriage. We are BFF’s. For an hour and fifteen minutes I felt truly alone; even with my parents and two of my children by my side. That’s when God put His hand on my shoulder.
Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go. Joshua 1:9 Yes, I know Lord. I reached to put my hand to my shoulder when the doctor stepped into the waiting room.
Your husband did just fine. The words I’d waited to hear. Yes, it was a simple appendectomy, but to me it was a big deal. It was a measure of faith.
Thank you Father, for warning me what was to come with my husband’s health. Thank you for the surgeon who expertly performed the procedure. Thank you for the ER staff, the anesthesiologist, the funny medical student, the brilliant nursing staff. And thank you, Father for Your reassuring hand on my shoulder when I truly needed it.
Tuesday, November 3, 2009
“And Bezalel and Aholiab, and every gifted artisan in whom the Lord has put wisdom and understanding, to know how to do all manner of work for the service of the sanctuary, shall do according to all that the Lord has commanded.” Exodus 36:1
Following the golden calf fiasco at the base of Mt. Sinai, God commanded the Israelites to build a temple according to His plans. The temple would be expertly made by skilled builders. The adornments inside the temple were of the highest quality.
Was it pure dumb luck that the Israelite camp was filled to overflowing with expert crafts persons? No…God provided the wisdom and understanding to those who were willing to do the work. There were engravers, yarn spinners, designers, tapestry makers, jewel cutters, those who forged gold, silver and bronze. God abundantly blessed the Israelites with these and many other skills needed to get the job done.
Likewise, God gives each of us certain skills to use for His glory. That is why Paul said in Romans 12:6-8, “We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man's gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith. If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully.”
I believe God not only gives people spiritual gifts, but everyday skills too such as a beautiful singing voice, playing an instrument, sewing or create things from textiles, the ability to write… So whatever mad skill you may have, remember that it came from the Father. And never forget what 1 Corinthians 10:30 says, “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.
Thursday, October 15, 2009
In 1980 I donned my very first (and last) homecoming mum. What is a homecoming mum you ask? Well, it was only last week that I found out homecoming mums are almost exclusively a Texas tradition. Being the selfish, ‘we are the center-of-the-universe’ Texan that I am, I assumed everyone participated in the gaudy ritual that is…the homecoming mum.
This is Texas and size does matter—well in homecoming mums anyway! The bigger the better is the mantra for Deep South beauties. A pancake sized chrysanthemum, either real or fake attached to a cardboard backdrop makes up the base of the corsage. The mum can be enhanced with stuffed animals, the school mascot or even goal posts made from pipe cleaners. An explosion of ribbon in the school’s colors, reaching up to and beyond three feet in length hangs from the mum. The ribbons usually bear the wearers name and the name of her beau, or interest, or date in bright glitter letters. Trinkets such as footballs, music notes and the like are attached as well. A veritable floral monstrosity that when attached to your shirt, pulls the garment down to your belly button! I suppose that’s why some where their mums around their necks like a breastplate.
I tried unsuccessfully looking online to find the history of the homecoming mum, so I went to a source I knew would give me the answer I was looking for…my mom. According to Mom who began her high school career in the tiny town of Milano, Texas (just west of Bryan/College Station), no one in her school ever wore a mum (and Mom was a cheerleader, so she would know!) Mom finished high school in Houston, Texas at Sam Houston High. She remembered the drill team girls always wore matching yellow checked dresses on game day and on homecoming Friday, a small mum accompanied their ensemble. That all happened in the gay old year of 1955.
Say, since my young adult novel is set in Kerrville, Texas maybe I should have one of the characters receive one of those big beautiful bust bouquets! I could start a trend for the entire USA! And then again, maybe not.
Yes…that’s me on the left in the picture. I remember me and my best friend, Krista, proudly wearing our matching cable knit sweaters to the game and literally sweating through to our Columbia blue mum ribbons. In South Texas, fall might mean football, hayrides and bonfires, but it doesn’t always mean cool weather. What you can’t see in the picture is our matching baby blue corduroy jeans! So who was the handsome stranger that gave me my one and only homecoming mum? It wasn’t a stranger at all; it was my mom and dad. No, it doesn’t have to be a boyfriend who gives you a mum. It just has to be someone who loves you.
Monday, October 5, 2009
If I put off reading my Bible until later and later never came?
If I drifted off to sleep saying a prayer?
If I didn’t tell my neighbors about the Good News of Christ because they don’t speak the same language as me?
If I dropped my son off at See You At The Pole and sped away to an appointment instead of standing by his side and praying with him?
If I didn’t thank God for the countless prayers He’s answered?
If I didn’t remember daily that God sacrificed His Son for me?
If I had more eighties songs committed to memory than scripture?
If I became lax in the television programs I allowed my children to watch?
If I let the perfect opportunity to witness, get away?
If I didn’t give all He was encouraging me to give?
What kind of person would I be?
What kind of person are you?
Monday, September 28, 2009
Gennie Cooper longs for a Wild West adventure such as the ones Mae Winslow, experiences in the dime store novels Gennie reads. When the opportunity arises, Gennie jumps at the chance to board a train for Colorado in search of adventure before settling down with the drab banker in her future.
Her plans for a quick adventure are put on hold when Gennie is met with the challenge of taming the wild daughter of a widowed silver baron, Daniel Beck. Coerced into marrying Daniel to save her reputation, Gennie’s life is turned upside down in a Wild West adventure she will never forget!
I didn’t think I was a fan of westerns having read a few of Larry McMurtry’s offerings. But Kathleen Y’Barbo has the ability to weave a western that left me wanting to read more of Gennie Cooper’s story. Can you say…sequel?
This book had one of the best dun-dun-dunnnnnnn moments I’ve ever read. You know what I mean…something happens unexpectedly at the end of a chapter and you hear this sound in your head, DUN-DUN-DUNNNNNNNN!
This is the first book I’ve read by Kathleen Y’Barbo which is kind of embarrassing since she’s a good friend of mine. Now I suppose I’ll have to read some of her other books like, The Fairweather Keys Series. If they’re half as good as The Confidential Life of Eugenia Cooper, then I should be pleasantly pleased.
You can find our more about Kathleen and watch the book trailer for Eugenia Cooper on her website, www.kathleenybarbo.com.
Friday, September 18, 2009
This week marked the passing of three more celebrities into eternity—Patrick Swayze, Henry Gibson and Mary Travers. Did you ever wonder how God comes up with which three people will forever be linked in history as dying in the same week?
Do you think there might be a formula, a process, a method?
Let’s examine the latest three entrants.
Patrick Swayze: born in Houston, TX, actor of stage and screen, (Dirty Dancing, The Outsiders, Ghost, Point Break) dancer extraordinaire
Henry Gibson: born in Germantown, PA, actor (Laugh In, Boston Legal), poet, voice-over actor
Mary Travers: born in Louisville, KY, iconic folk/protest singer (Puff the Magic Dragon, Blowing in the Wind, Lemon Tree, Leaving on a Jet Plane)
So the common denominator is (drum roll please) they were all the same age at death! No, while Mary and Henry were close at 72 and 73 respectively, Patrick, however, was only 57. That theory won’t work. Perhaps it was because they were all actors. No, I can’t find any evidence that Mary Travers did any serious acting. So what could it be other than their fame? But isn’t that the reason we pay attention to their deaths in the first place?
June was a landmark month for celebrity deaths, welcoming the likes of Farrah Fawcett and the King of Pop himself, Michael Jackson. The third celebrity, on the other hand, is a little sketchy. Both were only mildly famous, so I guess you can pick the celebrity you’ve actually heard of. On June 28, impressionist, Fred Travelina and pitchman, Billy Mays passed away. Yeah, like I said—choose your favorite. So what do these three…four celebrities have in common? They were all 80s icons, well, except for Billy Mays anyway. And Michael was popular through the 90s. No connection! Back to square one.
July marked the deaths of three American icons; Karl Malden, Walter Cronkite and Oscar Meyer, Jr. It’s simple to see what these three have in common…absolutely nothing. Except that they all three died really old and really rich.
August deaths welcomed the likes of electric guitar inventor, Les Paul into the fray. Following Les was American royalty, Ted Kennedy and third, Chanel, the worlds oldest living Dachshund. What do these three have in common you ask? Well, two are most certainly dogs, but where does that leave Les Paul?
Finally, there was another death in September, but this woman’s only celebrity claim was to be the oldest recognized living person, according to Guinness World Records. Gertrude Baines died September 11, at the ripe old age of ONE HUNDRED FIFTEEN! The reason I added this tidbit of information is because I had to laugh at the newspaper report stating Mrs. Baines died of a suspected heart attack. Come on! At 115 can’t you just say the poor woman died of natural causes for heaven’s sake?
So I wonder—when a celebrity dies, do other celebrities begin walking on eggshells? Hmm…
Saturday, September 12, 2009
"The Premier Christian Fiction Conference"
STANDING FIRM...MOVING FORWARD
"Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labor is not in vain in the Lord." 1 Corinthians 15:58 (KJV)
DENVER, COLORADO SEPTEMBER 17 - 20, 2009
Bestselling authors, publishing industry representatives, and newcomers to Christian fiction writing will gather in Denver at the American Christian Fiction Writer’s annual conference September 17-20 to compare notes, learn from each other, and encourage one another in the pursuit of publishing goals.
This year’s conference theme , Standing Firm…Moving Forward, will especially inspire the full range of talent and dreams in the ever-changing publishing world today.
This amazing conference will feature representatives from major publishing houses like B & H, Guideposts, Zondervan, Harvest House, Barbour, Steeple Hill, Summerside Press, Bethany House, Waterbrook Multnomah, Marcher Lord Press, Tyndale House, and Thomas Nelson, and top literary agents who will meet with writers and identify promising proposals from both new and veteran novelists. Conferees will have access to publishing panels, professional critiques, and customized workshops based on skills and interests.
The keynote speaker is New York Times bestselling author, Debbie Macomber, who has more than 100 million copies of her books in print worldwide.
Learn more about the American Christian Fiction Writer’s Conference by visiting www.acfw.com. Click on the left sidebar on Annual Conference.
Thursday, September 3, 2009
Monday, August 31, 2009
2. How long can a person serve as president of the United States?
3. How can a president serve ten years?
4. If something happens to President Obama, who takes office as president?
5. If something happens to the Vice President, who takes office as president?
6. If something happens to the Speaker of the House, who takes office as president?
7. If something happens to the President Pro Tem of the Senate, who takes office as president?
8. If something happens to the Secretary of State, who takes office as president?
9. If something happens to the Secretary of The Treasury, who takes office as president?
10. Name the succession of the office of president after the Secretary of The Treasury.
ANSWERS * ANSWERS * ANSWERS * ANSWERS * ANSWERS * ANSWERS * ANSWERS * ANSWERS * ANSWERS * ANSWERS * ANSWERS * ANSWERS * ANSWERS * ANSWERS * ANSWERS *
1. Franklin Delano Roosevelt served 12 years from March 1933 to April 1945.
2. The 22nd Amendment limited presidential terms to two, four year terms, totaling eight years.
3. A VP can serve up to two years of a previous president’s term and still be elected president two more times making a total of ten years.
4. Vice President, Joe Biden
5. Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi
6. President Pro Tem of the Senate, Robert C. Byrd (Yeah, the guy born in 1917 who was once a member of the KKK!)
7. Secretary of State, Hillary Rodham Clinton
8. Secretary of the Treasury, Timothy Geithner
9. Secretary of Defense, Attorney General, Secretary of Interior, Secretary of Agriculture, Secretary of Commerce, Secretary of Labor, Secretary of Health & Human Services, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, Secretary of Transportation, Secretary of Energy, Secretary of Education, Secretary of Veterans Affairs, Secretary of Homeland Security
If you correctly answered between 1 – 5 questions, CONGRATULATIONS, you are much smarter than me.
If you correctly answered between 6 – 10 questions, you are either a political science major or the Secretary of Homeland Security just waiting for 19 people to keel over so you can have your chance to be the President of The United States!
Thursday, August 20, 2009
My mother went to great lengths to ensure her best efforts were put forward in raising her three children. Not only did she consult the ancient manuscripts such as the Bible and Dr. Spock…she also went straight to the experts. We spent countless hours listening to specialists in the field of life experiences hence this blog entry:
What I Learned From Bill Cosby
-Monsters are real and should be avoided at any expense even if you have to cover the kitchen floor with
-Blankets can protect you from most common monsters
-Mom’s believe in monsters and will help to protect you, but not all dad’s do
-A snowball left in the refrigerator will usually be thrown away by your mom before it can be used for revenge
-Revenge seldom works out for good
-It’s okay to be friends with overweight people…they can really come in handy in certain sporting venues
-Don’t stand directly behind extremely frightened overweight people
-Everything you need to know as an adult you DON’T learn in kindergarten
-The only thing you do learn in kindergarten is how to say goodbye to your parents and basic bathroom skills…you know—like how many fingers to hold up if you’re going a number one or a number two
-Kindergarten teachers train children for adversity by giving them pencils as large as horses legs, paper that still has wood floating around in it and lukewarm curdly milk with dry crusty stick-in-your-throat graham crackers
-A child old enough to attend school does not need an afternoon nap
-The only person napping in a room full of kindergartens will be the teacher
-Going to bed at three in the afternoon does not make Santa Claus come any sooner
-Dentists are sadistic…that’s why they make you talk when your mouth is dead
-Don’t complicate childhood, it’s the only simple time of life
I can still remember sitting down in the living room and Mom putting the needle on those wonderful old 33 LP records that so uniquely shaped my young life. Thanks Mom for caring enough to give your children the best education we could afford. And thanks Mr. Cosby for teaching me the truly important things in life. And if you’ve never listened to the original stand up work of Bill Cosby…you’re missing out on one of the great CLEAN humor works of the past
Sunday, August 9, 2009
I’ve thoroughly enjoyed reading the “Love Finds You” series from Summerside Press. The second installment I’d like to review comes from an author friend of mine,
Belinda Bauer realizes her quaint home town of
In the end everyone ends up with the match God has planned for them despite Belinda’s attempts to join the hopelessly mismatched. Even Belinda who has vowed to stay single for the towns greater good finds herself falling for one of her own clients.
I would recommend Love Finds You In Poetry
Monday, August 3, 2009
I’ve heard people use the phrase, “touched by greatness.” After Thursday and Friday of last week I feel that the phrase could be applied to me.
Thursday night I was blessed to hear the great Cecil “Cec” Murphey speak to my writers group at Barnes And Noble in The Woodlands,
Even thought Cec only talked for a short time I feel like I gleaned a wealth of information. A couple things Cec said to the writers group that stuck with me are:
Never stop learning to write
Write from your heart
Everything we write is autobiographical—we write from who we are
Learn to be okay with the way you are
Explore who you are as a writer and you will get more in touch with the Father.
“I would rather be disliked for who I am
than admired for who I’m not.” Cec Murphey
Friday night I attended Meet The Christian Authors Night (MTCAN) in the Woodlands. Forty-five Christian authors converged on
I was blessed to have the opportunity to work Cec’s table at MTCAN. There I was with a multi-published author on the NYT bestseller list no less; my usual nervous self, fumbling to help this highly touted author. Cec however calmed my nerves immediately when he showed more concern about what I write and how he could advise me on my career than he was at selling his own books! Needless to say I was truly touched by this gifted, godly man.
I got tickled at Cec. He had graciously and eloquently spoken to several people in a row who had purchased his books and then leaned over to me and admitted he wasn’t very good at book signings! What a funny man.
Imagine the most energetic person you know and double it—that’s Cec Murphey. He claims to be able to finish most books in three to four months and I believe him. If you’ve never written a book then you have no idea how incredibly fast that is. My evening with Cec ended with him courteously thanking me for helping with his table and offering me a signed book from the ones left after the book signing. I’ll never forget my brush with fame when I was blessed to get to know the man behind the words…Cecil Murphey.
Thursday, July 23, 2009
Do bathrooms have feelings? I don’t know, but I couldn’t help thinking I knew what that old bathroom must be going through. After all, I underwent the same process only a few years before. The joy I felt for the now barren walls was dampened, knowing just how far the room had to sink before it got to this place. The room had become a burden, an eyesore, practically unusable. The very same condition that Jesus found me in the day His remodeling project began.
Sin is like that. It roots itself so deeply in your life that it begins to feel natural. It almost hurts to remove it. That’s how I imagined the poor bathroom felt, stripped down to bare studs and rafters in the span of a single afternoon.
I freely allowed sin into my life, and I wasn’t a willing candidate for its removal. Just like that pale pink and gray tile, I knew my sin was hideous, but I had grown accustomed to it over the years. After all, it was just ugly tile. It wasn’t hurting anyone. That’s where I was wrong.
Deep beneath the aging tile, a leak had formed and mold began to grow. What was once the bathroom’s strong wooden foundation had become a spongy, moldy mess. The damage couldn’t be seen from the outside; nevertheless, it was there. The carpenter would have to dig deeper.
Living with sin in our lives can have the same effect as that mold. Even though it may not be noticeable from the outside, left unchecked, sin will rot and destroy whomever it touches. Our Christian foundation will become as weak as that water-damaged wood. No matter how small or harmless our sins may seem, the results can be devastating.
Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me!
I cried out the words David wrote in Psalm 51:10 as my petition to the Lord. Just like the hand of the carpenter on that unsightly pink and gray wall, immediately my heart was stripped clean of all its guilty stains.
Do I miss the old bathroom? I must admit, some fond memories were created within those walls. After all, my babies took their first real bath in that old cast iron tub, but no, the time for change was long overdue. The ugly pink and gray tile flooding the walls and counter top has been replaced with beautiful cultured marble. The rotted wood and broken peeling floor tile is gone, and strong travetine tile stands in its place.
Do I miss what was stripped from my life? Not at all. Where there was sadness, I have unspeakable joy. Where there was insecurity, I have peace beyond measure. Where there was no caring for my neighbor, I have love in abundance.
How about you? Is there hidden damage beneath your exterior? Pick up the Book. Dial in to I John 1:9. The Master Carpenter will answer the call, and He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
I have found that “home improvement” can be tricky work. It’s not always best to “do it yourself.” Without professional help, I would have found myself in way over my head. The same thing can be said about self improvement. Had I not contacted the One who knows my “divine design,” the results would have been disastrous. Thank You, God that I can say, “as for me and “this old house,” we will serve the Lord.”
Saturday, June 27, 2009
If left to his own devices, my husband would watch every sport available on television. And in the event there wasn’t even a soccer game scheduled, he would watch re-runs of classic Super Bowl games.
Catch phrases come and go. Last year it was, “paradigms are shifting.” This year it’s “not so much.”
If my children had grown up watching The Three Stooges, would they have turned out as brilliant as they are? Sure explains a lot about how I turned out.
Transformers II is one recent movie that doesn’t portray our military as a bunch of idiots. Thank you Michael Bay and Stephen Spielberg.
The church youth leader made the parents write letters every day to my kids while they’re away at camp. One day I got lazy and sent them a sheet of paper with a big “R” on it. It’s a letter right.
Most people know more about what’s going on with their Facebook friends than their own kids. (I sure hope I’m not one of them.)
People who have never tried to get a book published have absolutely no idea how hard it actually is to get a book published. If you are a person with little patience; don’t try to get a book published
All of my favorite John Wayne movies are not westerns. All of my favorite Larry McMurtry books are not westerns. I really don’t have anything against westerns, but strangely I don’t care for country and western music.
A marching band in a parade always makes me cry. A girl holding the American flag while riding a horse during the National Anthem before the rodeo makes me cry. My husband thinks I cry at very strange things.
It’s really hard for people to understand or even believe someone who says they have a disease that they can’t physically see with their own eyes. Would people try to understand diabetics better if they had big “D” shaped whelps on their bodies?
The Disney cartoon, Phineas and Ferb makes me laugh way more than most comedy shows designed for adults. And I’m not embarrassed when my kids watch it with me.
People who feel they have to write a book should put that idea aside and learn the craft of writing before writing a single word.
Wednesday, June 10, 2009
I’ll start with my oldest, the apple of my eye, my firstborn, my magnum opus!
Up – He graduated #10 of 450 and was accepted to Texas A&M Engineering School
Down – He’ll be moving away from home in a couple months
Up – He received several thousand dollars in scholarship money
Down – The money will only pay about half his first semester
Up – One scholarship came equipped with a mentor
Down – I don’t think he actually exists
Next is my daughter, the princess of the universe, the most important woman in my life!
Up – She earned her letter jacket in band
Down – She didn’t make drum major
Up – She’s the new secretary/treasurer of the band
Down – I got rooked into the band booster treasurer position (kidding, not a downer, hee hee)
Finally, there’s my youngest, the one who makes me smile, my baby.
Up – He made all A’s and B’s this year in school
Down – He didn’t get recognized for his grades because of one poor conduct grade
Up – He graduating from second grade with flying colors
Down – He’s going into third grade and will have to take the dreaded TAKS test
I was wondering…what if King David treated his ups and downs with the same attitude as me. Up – Israel is protected by the army of God
Down – A really big giant has plans to crush anyone who challenges him
Up – I was anointed king over Judah
Down – I’ll never become king because crazy old king Saul is trying to kill me
But David handled his situation much different. The Bible says, David said to the Philistine, "You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the LORD Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day the LORD will hand you over to me, and I'll strike you down and cut off your head. Today I will give the carcasses of the Philistine army to the birds of the air and the beasts of the earth, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel. All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the LORD saves; for the battle is the LORD's, and he will give all of you into our hands."
Wow! Thank goodness King David didn’t share my attitude or the Bible might have turned out very different. His attitude should be a lesson to everyone facing the ups and downs life has to offer. Oh, and by the way, my list is purely tongue in cheek. As you can plainly see, the Lord has blessed me beyond measure.
Thursday, May 28, 2009
This most recent book is set in a town very near and dear to my heart, Humble, Texas. You see, I live about five miles from Humble. It is also the social hub of east Montgomery County. Heck, you can’t even see a picture show unless you go to Humble.
Main character, Trudie Abernathy agrees to a blind date set up by her sister, Lane. The date turns into a romance, just in time for Lane to decide she’s in love with the man, Mason. Trudie backs off from the relationship even though Mason is obviously falling in love with her.
One particular scene has Mason wooing Trudie at the boutique where she works. He figures out that he is being shunned by the woman of his dreams and vows to find out what has happened.
“So, something happened between the time I dropped you off last night and the time you arrived here this morning. And being a great lover of mysteries, I intend to find out what it is.” He turned and strode to the door. “And in the meantime, prepare yourself, Miss Abernathy.”
She blinked. “For what?”
Mason cocked an eyebrow. “To be romanced.”
Trudie picked up a sheet of paper off the counter and fanned her face.
“Are your cheeks tingling again?” He opened the front door.
“Good.” And on that note, Mason grinned and walked out the front door of Bloomers Boutique.
LOVE FINDS YOU IN HUMBLE TEXAS made me finally realize what it is I love so much about Anita Higman’s writing. Her books remind me of my two favorite Larry McMurtry novels, TERMS OF ENDEARMENT and THE EVENING STAR!
Perhaps it’s because all the books I’ve mentioned, including these two McMurtry novels are set in places very close to my heart. And after all, who wouldn’t adore walking the streets of Humble or Houston in another person’s skin and mind. Maybe I just love Higman and McMurtry’s strong female main characters and the self-made male characters who try to tame them. Hmm, interesting thought. I would recommend this book to anyone looking for a good read and a very satisfying happily ever after.
Friday, May 15, 2009
I tell you though, things got pretty touchy around here for a while. When my eight year old son learned on the news that the pig-demic started in Mexico, he openly blamed everyone of Hispanic descent for his field trip cancellation.
My little boy isn’t the only one suffering because of overreaction to the pork product plague. I’ve had two different writer’s groups cancel events due to the pig bug, and my older two children had their school trip cancelled in honor of the Porky Pig virus too.
So what does the Bible say about over-reacting? Here’s a good one: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” Philippians 4:6 Wow! It’s really true; God does know how to handle everything!
I’m relatively sure there is no Swine Flu Avenger coming to eradicate hog hay fever. There’s likewise as much chance the human race will unexpectedly give up worrying about things like soo-ey sickness. We can, however, listen to the One who holds our future in His hands and turn to Him when things like the boars head bug rears its ugly snout!
Saturday, May 9, 2009
Clay is an editor in Boston, trying to recover from a devastating divorce. The demon, Lucian, gives a beautiful account of the Biblical story from his own point of view. Lucian’s story begins at pre-creation and ends at the resurrection. The fantastic thing about hearing the story as the demon saw it unfold is how passionate he is to relate it to clueless Clay who thinks the Bible stories from his youth were just that—stories.
There are so many incredible aspects of this book that it’s hard to know which part to talk about. But one thing that struck me was when Clay asked the demon whether or not he was going to hell. One scene in particular has Lucian explaining the outcome of a works based life. Lucian says.
“If you insist on being judged by the merit of your works, El will honor that. I’ve seen it many times. But what I haven’t seen is anyone who measured up. Maybe you’ll be the first, hmm?”
Wow! Demon is a MUST read for sinner and saint alike. But you have to ask yourself, is it worth spending twelve, fifteen bucks for a book you’re going to finish in one maybe two days because you can’t put it down! Just kidding, Demon is well worth the money.
DEMON A MEMOIR is the first novel by Tosca Lee, a former Mrs. Nebraska and Smith College graduate. I briefly met Tosca at a book signing on my recent trip to Mount Hermon, CA. I asked her to autograph the book for my husband, Dan. She signed the book then told me, “Since the book is about a man who becomes obsessed with a demon, I wrote, Dan how does your story end?” Oooooh! This FIRST book was so very well written, (a Christy Award Nominee) I will surely buy Tosca’s second novel, “Havah, The Story of Eve.”
Wednesday, April 29, 2009
Here’s a link to an article about “Buy Indie Day” from the people at Indiebound.org. http://www.indiebound.org/articles/paige/buy-indie-day
Where will you shop for your “Buy Indie Day” book? I already have a place in mind; it’s called Ladybug Childrens Books and Homeschool Supply in Kingwood, Texas. I’ve never been in this shop, but found out it’s owned by an old friend from church. I found this website, so if you can’t make it out to her store, it looks like she has an awesome online collection to choose from. http://stores.homestead.com/LadybugChildrensBooks/StoreFront.bok
Here are a few suggestions for independent bookstores in the Houston area:
Brazos Bookstore http://www.brazosbookstore.com/
Murder By the Book http://www.murderbooks.com/
Out Of Print Bookstore http://www.outofprintbookstore.com/
Long-Lost Friends New/Used Books http://www.llfbooks.com/
Now get out there this Friday and buy some books! Happy reading everyone!
Bookstore Photo by Paul McRae: http://www.flickr.com/photos/pmcd9/
Sunday, April 26, 2009
“When the keepers of the house tremble, (hands) and the strong men stoop, (legs) when the grinders cease because they are few, (teeth) and those looking through the windows grow dim; (eyes) when the doors to the street are closed (ears) and the sound of grinding fades; (speech) when men rise up at the sound of birds, (sleeplessness) but all their songs grow faint; (hearing) when men are afraid of heights and of dangers in the streets; (old age phobias) when the almond tree blossoms (white hair) and the grasshopper drags himself along and desire no longer is stirred (weakness). Then man goes to his eternal home and mourners go about the streets.” Ecclesiastes 12:3-5
I accompanied my parent’s Sunday school class to an assisted living home to perform for the residents. My amazing father and mother, who are quite possibly older than some of the residents, organized the entire event. Along with their classmates they sang some old songs; “Let Me Call You Sweetheart,” “For Me And My Gal,” “When Irish Eyes Are Smiling,” and “It Is No Secret.”
The audience was comprised of mostly women and a few men, all in different stages of lucidity. I noticed a sign on the facility stating they were ‘memory care specialists.’ The locked doors to the outside world told me what that meant.
As I stood to the side waiting for my queue to go on “stage” I notice a woman sitting alone. She didn’t look at the performers or acknowledge my attempts to make eye contact with her. But when those old songs began playing I saw her lips start to move—she new every word. The music touched her. Our visit blessed someone.
Solomon goes on in that same chapter to encourage us to remember God even in our old age before it is too late. My precious parents are doing just that. They honor God by giving their time to better the lives of those less fortunate than themselves. Why do Mom and Dad do it? Because they want those forgotten in the nursing home to know these lyrics:
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
9. Things to remember while at conference. Keep your hands open to God; maintain a teachable spirit; pace yourself, it’s a process. Mona Hodgson, Author
8. Three most important things to teens today. Friends, friends, friends. Robert Irvin, Acquisitions Editor, Standard Publishing
7. There is no one best way to write a novel. But to get published you need, content, craft and connections. Randal Ingermanson, Author, Mentor, Genius
6. To the postmodern generation, everything is gray, there is no black and white. Jesse Florea, Acquisitions Editor, Focus on the Family
5. Editor appointments at writer’s conferences are like speed dating. You must be prepared and confident. Tell me what the story is about. Don’t hand me your one-sheet and expect me to read it while you stare at the part in my hair. Know who your audience is and have questions ready to ask me. Sue Brower, Senior Acquisitions Editor, Zondervan
4. I’ll critique anything you bring me, fiction, nonfiction, zombie erotica. James Scott Bell, Author
3. Yes, the children’s market is slow right now, but did you know there are more children now than all the baby boomers put together. Those kids are going to read our books. Christine Tangvald, Author, Speaker
2. Love the idea of a dog rescue mystery…but it doesn’t really fit with what I’m doing. But it looks clever and fun! Keep at it! Shannon Marchese, Editor, WaterBrook Publishing
1. Thank You, God for writing the all time best seller. Anonymous, heard during prayer time
Thursday, April 16, 2009
What is it about the stage that draws me in like a moth to a flame? Is it the chance to become someone or something else? Is it the love for your character you feel from of the audience—or the hatred? Is it the opportunity to be the center of attention? Perhaps.
Yes, I was Frosty the Snowman in the first grade play. I was on top of the world as the seven year old goddess of the cafetorium stage. Imagine my disappointment when the following year I was relegated to chorus member; made to wear a felt skirt and Mickey Mouse ears. I don’t remember any plays after that. You can only make it to the ranks of Frosty once in a lifetime.
My daughter has adopted my flare for acting as well. She was, after all, chosen to play the starring role of Big Bertha Lee in her first grade play, “Three Nanny Goats Gruff.” And yes, her performance was positively stunning.
I’ve had some interesting roles in recent years. There was Nanna in “The Plane Truth About Christmas,” where I played a rapping grandma. That was fun. I performed another rap number in the children’s play starring Hans Bronson. I concocted my own version of Mini Pearl complete with a gingham dress and a price tag hanging from my hat. One of the most fun roles was playing the parts of Fibber McGee and Molly with my husband. He’s a great actor too.
So how do you relate something of God to the ignoble art of acting? Well, let’s see. The ability to act is surely a gift from the Almighty. Just as we have received gifts such as singing or public speaking, acting is equally a gift from God. And there are many actors in the Bible as well. Take a look at Abraham and Sarah, their brother/sister act was so convincing a king believed them. Well, I guess that was actually lying, not acting.
In closing, I don’t think acting is looked down on by God unless the performance is a promotion of evil or if the role causes you to do something Biblically incorrect. Therefore go thou and act…be a clown, or even Frosty the Snowman should the chance come along. Or in my son’s case, go nuts…be the peanut!
Wednesday, April 8, 2009
For those of you who’ve never heard of Mount Hermon, the conference center itself is nestled in the small town of Mount Hermon, or Felton, California, about forty minutes south of San Jose. The encampment is surrounded by towering Sequoias and magnificent foliage. And because it is on a “mountain” and located on such a large plot of land, you find yourself doing quite a bit of walking—and hiking. Did I mention that my cabin was at the bottom of one of those mountains? But I digress.
Mount Hermon was a veritable treasure trove of editors, agents, publicists and even the rare published Christian author. I had the pleasure to meet Sue Brower, Acquisitions Editor for Zondervan, and Bob Irvin, Acquisitions Editor for Standard Publishing as well as Vicki Crumpton, Executive Editor for Revell, and Jesse Florea, Clubhouse Editor for Focus On The Family. I also met with Rachel Zurakowski, agent for Books & Such Literary Agency and had lunch with agents, Jonathan Clements of the Nashville Agency and Natasha Kern, founder of Natasha Kern Agency. Good feedback was received on my work from Shannon Hill Marchese of WaterBrook Publishing and author, Randy Ingermanson. Let’s see… I also met and took classes from a few famous Christian authors: Mona Hodgson, Curt Iles, Anita Higman, Brandilyn Collins, John Olson, DiAnn Mills, Mary DeMuth and Tosca Lee.
One great part of the conference was guest speaker, Bill Butterworth, author and speaker extraordinaire. The man had us literally aching from laughing so hard at his wonderful stories on raising five children, his own childhood and his career as a speaker to dozens of NFL football teams. Another wonderful thing about the conference is the man who has been the emcee for the past 33 years, Dave Talbot. As a concert pianist, Dave led worship at the conference with music played on a grand piano and an impressive old organ—you know the ones with lots of knobs and buttons.
Yes Mount Hermon is over and in its wake; much was left imprinted on my heart. I can truly say I took much away from the conference. There are the publishing connections, a deeper publishing knowledge, friendships, a closer walk with my Lord, and last but not least…astute familiarity with leg muscles I never knew existed.
Sunday, March 15, 2009
1. To make timid; fill with fear.
2. To overawe or cow, through the force of personality or superior display of wealth, talent, etc.
3. To force into or deter from some action by inducing fear.
4. The feeling you get when sending your manuscript to Randy Ingermanson for a group critique session at the Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference in April.
Have you seen this guy’s website? Check it out. Then go write a book…because you’ll know everything you ever needed to know! http://www.advancedfictionwriting.com/index.php
Monday, March 2, 2009
Now this is young adult Christian fantasy done right. Kale Alerion, a young slave girl from the town River Away, is on her way to be trained in The Hall when two of Paladin’s servants whisk her away on a quest to find the Meech dragon egg. She is thrown into a world of adventure and otherworldly intrigue. Along the way Kale finds she has gifts she knew nothing about. She also receives a first time glimpse at her own faith.
Meeting Wulder, the Supreme Being in the story and Paladin, the embodiment of Wulder, Kale finds out the tales she heard in the tavern she worked in, aren’t really tales at all. Through the quest for the mysterious Meech egg, Kale learns that there is a big difference in being a slave and becoming a servant.
The book is definitely written for an older audience—middle grade and up due to its length and difficult verbiage. I had to explain some of the concepts on a more basic level for my eight-year-old to understand. Overall, Ms. Paul did a wonderful job in marrying the fantasy concepts of the book to the Christian faith in a way that wasn’t disrespectful in the least. I would highly recommend this book to any parent searching for a Christian alternative to secular fantasy books.
I can’t wait to read the sequel book in the DragonKeeper Chronicles…Dragonquest!
Wednesday, February 11, 2009
The funny thing about it is Casey has been grooming herself as a great debater since she learned to speak with perfect “Grammar Blue Book” skills at the age of twelve months. I kid you not, people would stop me in the grocery store to comment on my child’s advanced use of the English language. Oh, did I mention these people were usually pointing out the fact that she was practicing her skills on complete strangers. She probably would have been abducted years ago, but no one can take that much talking.
Having mastered verbal communication at such an early age has resulted in a teen who speaks with the rapidity of an auctioneer. Her grandfather teases her by attempting to adjust the ‘speed’ on his hearing aid in order to understand her. I wonder if Casey will use speed to her advantage against unwary debate opponents.
Anyway, back to the topic. Casey is already showing great promise in her first two competitive debates. Unfortunately she lost all three rounds in her first attempt. But that’s understandable since she had only a week and a half to prepare having joined late. And I don’t know who picks the topics for debates, but personally, I would never pick something like ‘the pros and cons of government bailouts.’ Casey could have won hands down if the topic were something to the effect of…who’s Twilight Team is hotter, Team Edward Cullen or Team Jacob Black?
In her second competition, Casey managed to win one, tie one and lose one! Now that’s progress…you go girl! I knew all that talking was eventually going to turn out to be good for something. Who knows, she may be the next Sandra Day O’Connor. Casey A. O’Hare, hmmm that does have a nice ring to it.
Monday, January 26, 2009
“Another Stab at Life” is the first book in the Volstead Manor Series from Heartsong Presents Mysteries. Here’s the back cover copy:
Bailey Walker has just lost everything—her family, her job, and her home. She has nowhere to go except the dilapidated mansion she’s just inherited from her granny Minna. Unfortunately, Bailey discovers that the house has a history as shadowy as its hidden passages and finds the neighborhood overflowing with some rather quirky folks—as well as one particularly appealing bachelor. Bailey feels like she’s trapped inside the pages of a gothic novel but with a comedic twist. In order to honor her grandmother’s wishes and stay at Volstead Manor, Bailey must unravel a string of mysteries and secrets, which all seem determined to stay happily ever buried!
Ohh how titillating! The book is a real page turner and really keeps you guessing who or what is behind the treachery going on inside Volstead Manor. On the other hand, I still had some questions after the book ended. Perhaps those questions will be answered in book two, “Another Hour To Kill.”
The book was very interesting to me since it took place in Houston, Texas where I grew up. It also intrigued me that the book is loosely based on the Volstead Act of 1920. The Act, also known as “National Prohibition Act,” prohibited the sale or manufacture of alcoholic beverages.
I would highly recommend that you run out and pick up a copy of “Another Stab at Life.” I guarantee you will fall in love with the main character, Bailey Walker. By the way, that Anita Higman really has a talent for describing a woman’s inner…innermost…desires? There’s a steamy kissing scene in the chapter titled ‘Ten Cats Thrown into a Doghouse” that caused me to take a really deep breath after I read it!
If you would like to learn more about Anita Higman you can check out her website http://www.anitahigman.com/. I'm sure she would love for you to stop by.
Thursday, January 1, 2009
Christmas is over; the tinsel’s all down,
Melancholy letdown creeps all around.
The walls stark and bare; no more pine in the room,
My house is as dreary as my sprit of gloom.
I proclaimed “I hate Christmas,” the shopping, the expense,
Now I miss the festive hubbub, the joyous nonsense.
My jeans no longer button; a tire sits round my waist,
Oh the glorious food I couldn’t resist but to taste.
Some presents brought pleasure, disappointment, a tear,
Sure to be forgotten by this time next year.
The Christ child is swaddled in peanuts of white,
Somber I ponder Him this silent night.
Thankful for perfect gifts from His Father of love,
My talents, my happiness all come from above.
Yes, Christmas is over, but Christ is still king,
And throughout the New Year His praises I’ll sing.