Thursday, November 30, 2006
I take comfort in that personally. But I also take comfort in another aspect of God as El Roi. Namely, that nothing is hidden from Him. When I'm confronted with a situation with a client that takes me outside what I know, I am so glad to know that He does know and can give me wisdom and insight regarding how to proceed.
Here's a neat webpage I found that explores God as El Roi.
What aspect of God amazes you this week?
9)The intellectual challenge: just about every day there is some question I have to answer that I've never thought about before.
8) Working with my peers at other firms: Most of them are consummate professionals who enjoy what they do and in turn make my job easier.
7) Clients: I have worked with several where over the course of a couple years, I have been able to work with them and be part of the process of watching them make choices that turn their lives around. That is so rewarding!
6) Using my legal knowledge to help fellow writers get the details right in their books.
5) Writing: articulating arguments in the most persuasive manner.
4) Researching questions and picking away until I find the answer.
3) Resolving problems for my clients. I love helping them find solutions or reach resolutions in what seem to be impossible situations for them.
2) My clients: Have I mentioned them already?
1) The "on" feeling I get when I'm in the middle of an oral argument. There is nothing like having to think on your feet and defend a position. Especially when you're never 100% certain what the other side will say.
Wednesday, November 29, 2006
We have read this book as a family, and I have to tell you, it's great. Abigail (6 years old) is engrossed in it. And the writing is descriptive and vibrant. It's been fun to see the plot unfold. I have no idea where he is going with it, but it has something to do with Noah's Ark. Hmm.
I gave me nephew (8 years old) the first book in the series for his birthday, and he loved it, too.
His writing reminds me of CS Lewis with the Chronicles of Narnia. It's definitely fantastical, but grips the imagination. If you haven't checked it out yet, I encourage you to read it.
I am an attorney. I am also an attorney. Hence, I should write legal thriller type books.
I've fought it. Tried to make myself somebody I'm not. You see, I hate being forced in a box. There is something in me that rebels against the idea that someone else can tell me what to do and make me do it.
So as I'm plotting and praying how to take my characters and the town I've created and change the plot (you see Hayden was already an attorney, now I just have to embrace that part of her -- Do I sound like Dr. Phil to anyone?), I'd like your help. Do you read legal fiction? Think James Scott Bell, John Grisham, Perri O'Shaunesy, etc. If so, why? What do you like about them? What keeps you coming back? And what makes you throw a book against the wall in frustration?
Now that I've come to see the light, I'm excited. I really am. I just have to find the what if scenario that works for my character -- and works for me as a writer.
Tuesday, November 28, 2006
Writers....Interrupted has several posts this week you should check out. Yesterday was the November edition of the blog carnival. It contains links to great writing posts around the blogosphere. And today Tina Forkner is the guest blogger with great insight on what happens after you get the call (with a contract). And it's a Tuesday, so I'm the guest blogger at Generation NeXt Parenting talking about putting Christ back in Christmas for our kids. Check it out and leave a comment about what you do with your families.
Today I got the background sheet to fill out for the cover of my book! Can you hear my shriek! It was so fun to start it and insert photos of the North Platte Canteen. I am really curious to see what the publisher comes up with for a cover. I have an image in my head but have no idea if it will match reality.
And I'm furiously working on the two follow-up proposals. I have personal goals to get one submitted this week, with the second submitted by December 15. Pray for me, please! I'll tell you more about them after I get them submitted.
Monday, November 27, 2006
Nebraska beat Colorado in a fun game Friday (well, fun if you're a Cornhusker), and is now ranked 18th. Woohoo! Here comes the Big 12 title game on Saturday. Maybe Nebraska really is coming back into the national picture.
I did a token amount of shopping on Black Friday. I was basically done with Christmas shopping -- I love to wrap up before the crowds get crazy. I've checked my list and have two people left!
Then there's decorating the tree. We did that last night. It's hard to get in the holdiay mood when it's sixty degrees outside. So after a walk to the park, Abigail and I baked Christmas cookies. Then we hauled out all the boxes of Christmas decorations. It's beginning to look alot Christmas.
Check out Generation NeXt Parenting tomorrow for my thoughts on how to keep Christ in Christmas!
Thursday, November 23, 2006
Ann Voskamp has a post at Christian Women Online blog with a challenge I plan to take. She challenges at this crazy time of the year to make a list of 1000 gifts. Not gifts we want to received. But gifts that God has already given us. This seems to go so well with the verse I've been thinking about all day: Colossians 4:2.
In that verse we are admonished to devote ourselves to prayer, with watchfulness and thankfulness. We can pray -- even with desperation -- but guard our hearts to maintain a thankful attitude. Wow! I know when my attitude slips, everything else seems to disappear or spiral out of control with it.
So I challenge you to accept Ann's challenge. Start making a list of the blessings in your life. From the small to the large. Meditate on God's goodness, His awesome power, His long arm. Don't limit God, but celebrate Him as you choose to think about and thank Him for the many gifts He has given you.
Here's the start of my list:
- My husband: only God could bring a girl from Nebraska and a guy from Indiana together in Colorado.
- My children: they stretch me and delight me all at the same time.
- Mason, our dog and my contributor :-)
- My first writing contract: God is so good!
- A sister who loves me even though we are extremely different.
- A brother who loves me even when he avoids my calls cause he knows what I'm going to say.
- A brother who loves me even when... well, he doesn't have a choice!
- Spouses for my siblings who love God.
- Nieces and nephews, and more of them every year.
- Parents who have always supported me....
What's on your list?
Wednesday, November 22, 2006
Whatever one believes -- or doesn't -- it's impossible to ignore that the world would be a lesser place without those who have been divinely inspired. What Wilberforce did with his own considerable resources and a talent for oratory, Anschutz -- and others who are motivated by their faith -- are attempting to do through the medium of their day.
Those crazy Christians. What will they think of next?
And I urge you to take a moment to read her piece. It is very well done, and reminds us once again of how much we have to be thankful for. It also tells about another film releasing in the spring. I am thankful for the rash of wholesome, well-done movies. I hope to see Facing the Giants this weekend.
The day after Thanksgiving is usually a day I race around to snatch up bargains. It's also usually the last day I willing choose to shop for Christmas presents. The crowds simply take the pleasure out of shopping for me after that. I'm not sure when that happened. Maybe around the time I had a baby or a baby and a toddler. It just takes some of the fun out of the hunt when you're trying to push a cart or stroller through aisles. And shopping in stores without carts? Impossible!
Today I learned that there's actually an International Buy Nothing Day. (Here's an article on it.) I guess anti-consumerism groups have dubbed the day after Thanksgiving as a day to abstain from purchasing. Interesting. Also strikes me as pushing a stone up a hill only to have it roll back down on you.
This year I may abstain. But only because I'd rather sleep, or write, or spend the time with my family.
Tuesday, November 21, 2006
Then today the article that caught my eye focused on the University of Indianapolis being chosen to be the hub for analyzing surveillance camera footage after terrorist attacks or large crimes. Hundreds of law enforcement officers will also be trained at the University of Indianapolis each year in video analysis. Experts in my own backyard. I love it!
Monday, November 20, 2006
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Kristin Billerbeck was born in Redwood City, California. She went to San Jose State University and majored in Advertising, then worked at the Fairmont Hotel in PR, a small ad agency as an account exec, and then,she was thrust into the exciting world of shopping mall marketing. She got married, had four kids, and started writing romance novels until she found her passion: Chick Lit.
ABOUT THE BOOK:
Calm, Cool, and Adjusted is the third book in the Spa Girls Novels.
Billerbeck did a great job with the characterization of Poppy, a quirky Christian chiropractor who is a health nut. I'm talking real NUT. She is so obsessed with health that she forgets about living. When she finally realizes that she is over the edge obsessed, she doesn't know how to stop herself.
Best friends since Johnny Depp wore scissors for hands, "The Spa Girls" live very separate lives, but stay in touch with routine visits to California's Spa Del Mar.
The third novel in the Spa Girls Series focuses on Silicon Valley chiropractor Poppy Clayton, who is as calm, cool and adjusted as they come. Or is she? Known for her bad fashion sense, a love for all things natural and the inability to get a second date, Poppy is beginning to wonder if she might be misaligned herself. Her route to self discovery will be an unnatural one - a plastic surgeon, a dilapidated house in Santa Cruz, a flirtatious client, and a blind date from the dark side.
It's all enough to send a girl - and her gal pals - running for the comfort zone of their spa.
This week the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance is hosting Kristin Billerbeck's latest book Calm, Cool & Adjusted, the third ad final installment in the Spa Girls series. And the great thing about this book is that you don't have to have read the prior two books (though you'll love them if you do) to fully appreciate this one.
Kristin is one of my favorite Chick Lit authors. Her characters are young women approaching thirty who are ready to move on to more.
In Calm, Cool & Adjusted, Poppy Clayton is losing her spa girls. One is married with a baby on the way and the other has a wedding date set. Feeling a bit like the girl who is always the bridesmaid, Poppy delights in the fact that she is different. As a chiropractor and alternative medicine guru, she focuses all her time and attention on making people well, whether or not they want to hear about her cures. At the same time her spa girls think she's taking it to a new extreme and are concerned about her.
They give her an ultimatum: find a normal date for the wedding and its showers or they will find one for her. Poppy is beautiful but doesn't see it, so rarely makes it past the first date with a guy. There's always something wrong with them, whether liver function or personality. Poppy takes the challenge on...and picks the cosmetic surgeon who's office is next door to hers. Sparks fly everytime they are together. Add in a patient who might want to be more and a set-up courtesy of her spa girls, and Poppy feels like her non-existent love life is spiraling out of control.
Then there's her father who has suddenly left her the run down childhood home.
I found myself laughing (like I expect in one of Kristin's books) but also cringing as a point would hit close to home. This is a great book that I highly recommend to you the next time your looking for a chick lit with heart.
Kristin is guest blogging today at Camy Tang's Loft. Check it out.
Friday, November 17, 2006
Thursday, November 16, 2006
The book focuses on Hayden Hazard and the impact she has on her colleagues as a Christian, former homeschooler in a newsroom. I have to admit I cringed when I first saw she had been homeschooled. I ducked and waited for all the tired, old stereotypes to fly. But Rene didn't rely on them. Instead, she painted Hayden as a young woman who was comfortable in her own skin, had a gut-level faith that flowed from her naturally (even as it made her colleagues uncomfortable), and had a basic level of common sense and wisdom that much of the world misses these days. Collective sigh of relief.
One interesting handling of Hayden as the focal character is that only the first and last chapters were in Hayden's point of view. The rest were told from various colleagues points of view. There's Gilda, the slightly long in the tooth anchor; Ray, the aggressive, hiding his light Christian reporter; Hugo, the pill popping executive producer; you get the idea. The story picks up as sweeps week descends on the station with the main anchor AWOL, Hayden suddenly sitting in her chair, a sewage plant exploding, and much more. Add Ray's desire to date Hayden and it makes for quite a mix. The characters were interesting, but almost stereotypes yet it worked in this comedy.
If you're looking for a funny read, I think you'll enjoy this book by Rene. If you're looking for suspense, ala her Storm series, this one isn't for you.
Wednesday, November 15, 2006
The Christian Fiction Blog Alliance is hosting Scoop by Rene Gutteridge this week. I have been reading and enjoying this book this week. I'll post a review tomorrow. I've decided it is a book that is hard to slide into a genre. I've enjoyed reading it, but it's not suspense, it's not romance, it's not women's fiction. I think it slides into comedy, but it's not straight comedy. It's just a really enjoyable read. But come back tomorrow for more complete thoughts.
Tuesday, November 14, 2006
Last night the kids and I watched part of Dreamer again. If you haven't seen this film with Kurt Russell and Dakota Fanning, I encourage you to rent it.
When I first saw it this spring, I was struck by the way the film is a classic example of story arcs and black moments. Just when things begin to look up, another calamity or roadblock falls on the family at the core of the movie.
Spoiler Alert: if you have not watched the movie, stop reading and go rent it immediately!
First, we get a picture of a family that is down on its luck and a bit dysfunctional because of dead dreams. They live on the only horse farm that doesn't have horses. Kale, Dakota Fanning's character, forces her dad to take her to the race track with him where she has the time of her life...until the horse is injured in a race. Then Dad loses his job while refusing to let the horse be killed. Then they get the horse healed, and are ready to breed her. Boom -- there' s no money to pay for the selected stallion, even though his fee has been slashed. They find the money, then BOOM, she's infertile. Now what? They find out she can run again after she takes off with Kale on her back. Maybe we can race her? She wins a claimer race, surely no one will claim a horse who's broken her cannonbone. BOOM, she's purchased. Somehow they get her back.... You get the picture.
The story is masterfully told with peaks and valleys, building steadily to the ultimate peak and valley. And all packaged in a delightful film that my daughter and I can enjoy together.
So what movie has gripped you lately?
As an aside, the Dreamer website has some interesting family activities you can download. One contains faith and family activities. Another is a theological discussion guide created by Fuller Theological Seminary.
Monday, November 13, 2006
A postscript to the election in Broward County -- yes, that Broward County. Seems someone mailed in an absentee ballot with a collection of stamps on it. One of those happened to be an inverted Jenny. Problem was that by the time people figured out it might be valuable (in the range of $200,000 uncancelled, $20,000-100,000 cancelled), the ballot envelope was in a sealed box that by law can't be opened for twenty-two months.
The kicker -- the envelope didn't have a name on it, so the vote wasn't counted.
Click here to go to the USAToday story.
Saturday, November 11, 2006
--Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest, October 10.
Just imagine what would happen in our lives if we applied this principle. Faith step by faith step God will continue to reveal layers of Himself to us.
Friday, November 10, 2006
"Last week, I stocked groceries in Freedom, Alabama. This week, I live in Nashville, Tennessee about to take the stage at the famous Bluebird Café.
Sounds fantastic, doesn’t it? Only one problem. I’m terrified to sing in front of people.
But after twenty-five years of being ruled by fear, hiding from my dream, I confronted my limited reality and left home. Forget the hometown hunk who wants to make me queen of his doublewide. Forget Momma’s doubt-inspiring tirade. I can make it in Music City… Can’t I?
God put the longing to write songs in my heart. If He’s for me, who can be against me? Not even my own fear can overshadow His love. So, I gathered my old guitar, my notebook full of songs and packed up my 㥍 Chevy pickup. Look out NashVegas, the next hit songwriter is coming to town.
With the help of my cousin, and a few new friends, especially handsome contractor, Lee Rivers, my dream finds the light of day. As I face my first night at the Bluebird Café, I realize…
I might just do what comes naturally. Look for the nearest exit, and run!"
Robin Rae McAfee is the main character in this story. She is surrounded by a cast of family and friends who love her even with her phobia that may kill her dream before it sees the light of day. One day she decides it's time to give her dream wings and see if she will soar or fall. Either way she refuses to live with regrets of what might have happened.
This book is a delightful read. I laughed out loud in many places even as my heart ached for Robin in others. Her journey to her dream is not a straight road; instead, twists, turns and do-overs plague the journey. And she learns her past is more intimately connected to her present than she understood. Through it all she reaches an understanding with her mother about her pursuit of her dream and allows herself to fall in love with a man who supports her dream.
The book is written from Robin's point of view in a fresh voice. The descriptions and turns of phrases had me laughing out loud. I also enjoyed the glimpse into the music industry, and Robin's very real reactions to bumping into folks like Keith Urban.
As I read the book I could imagine myself curled up on the couch with Robin, her cousin, and friend watching movies, listening to Robin at open mike nights, or sipping a cafe mocha with her. Her struggles and triumphs reminded me of my experiences, and as I read the page I was more committed to chasing my dreams -- even though the success of Robin's dream isn't assured.
This book was so much fun that I can't wait to read Rachel's other chick lit/romance novels.
"Between HERE and the PAST there lies a place...a place of longing for> what has been rather than hoping for what could be..."
The copy continues, but that sentence sums up the feel of the book. I would classify it as women's fiction (though I think men would enjoy it, too, if they like Nicholas Sparks) that examines the challenge of a love lived completely but lost colliding with the possibility of new love.
Violette is an artist who lives life with passion and joy. When we first meet her she's headed to work on a mural and seems completely in love with Dr. Christian Roch. Both have loved and lost, and now they are exploring love with each other. Violette seems completely engaged in her new relationship, but we learn she's trapped in between not wanting to let go of what she had with Saul and embracing what she could have with Christian. Christian is equally unsure of how committed Violette is to discovering if there is a "them". Christian brings her lunch at work and finds her lying on the floor.
The rest of the story weaves intricately between Violette's past and Christian's questions about their future. The one hiccup I had with the book occurred when I didn't pay attention to the date headings at the beginning of each chapter. Once I figured out the interplay between the two story lines, I rushed through the chapters because I was so eager to get back to each story.
There is an honest interplay of the issues and choices we each face. Will we choose to live in the past that we know and can predict, or will we step into the unknown of the future with hope and faith that it can be as good as -- though different than -- the past.
I recommend this book to you.
Thursday, November 09, 2006
What really surprised me is some companies are adapting to this change. Some have parent days or send the parents letters explaining junior's new job. To learn more, click here.
What is one thing you wish each woman in the United States understood about herself? (Nothing like starting easy, huh)
Oh, I love this question. I wish we understood we have a destiny in the universe, in this hour in history, to become the women God wants and needs us to be. Most of us have been trained to be Wannabe Men and the universe is void of the women we need to be. And, if we're not Wannabe Men, we're women not pursing all God has for us.
I say to each women find your dream, find God's destiny for you and run like the wind toward it.
You and your husband are active in youth and prayer ministry. How does that impact or influence the books you write?
Tony recently handed over the youth ministry to a younger man. After 20 years. But it was a God thing. He's now doing foundational teachings and actually started an outreach in the worst part of town.
We do the prayer and worship ministry still. Youth ministry impacts my writing because being around teens keeps me young and up to date with pop culture. Important factor for chick lit.
Being involved in prayer and worship impacts my heart and changes how I see God and myself. My confidence increases. My hope increases. If anything, it provides a foundational emotional stability.
I feel the more I stand in His presence, the more His fragrance is on me and what I write.
Wow! I love that. I want His fragrance all over my writing, too. Now for some easy questions: What's one book you keep returning to over and over again? Why? What makes it a repeat read?
I don't reread many books. But, I've read the Little House books a dozen times. I love Laura Ingalls Wilder. She captures life so purely and from a time we've forgotten as a nation.
Hmmm. I'm discovering I'm unique in the way I love to return to favorite books like old friends. How did you get the idea for Lost in NashVegas? (Fabulous cover, by the way.)
My agent gets full credit, right down to making the heroine a songwriter. She called me one day with an idea - redneck chick lit - and it took me awhile, but I came up with Robin Rae McAfee. I thought, "What if your secret desire is to be a songwriter but your greatest fear is to sing in front of people?" And a story was born.
How would you describe the book? Chick Lit, Romance, a Rachel Hauck original?
I'll go with Rachel Hauck original. I call it Chickmance.
How can we pray for you at this stage in your writing and ministry?
Always pray for wisdom, creative, endurance, and the ability to write as well as I possibly can. A few downloads from God wouldn't hurt either.
I just finished the book. Check back tomorrow for my review.
Wednesday, November 08, 2006
The good news is that 7 new states joined 20 others in passing state constitutional amendments to protect traditional marriage. Despite massive and often deceptive campaigning by gay activists, in 7 of the 8 states where marriage amendments were on the ballot, they passed in most cases by comfortable majorities. Those seven states and their approximate percentage of approval being reported today are:
Idaho - 63 percent
South Carolina - 71 percent
Tennessee - 80 percent
Virginia - 56 percent
Wisconsin - 59 percent
South Dakota - 51 percent
Colorado - 55 percent
Arizona now becomes the only state which has so far failed to pass a constitutional protection for traditional marriage, although the measure failed by a very narrow margin, being reported today as only 51%.
With the results of this election, 27 state constitutions now protect traditional marriage. In addition to the 7 listed above, they are Alabama, Alaska Arkansas, Georgia, Hawaii, Kentucky, Kansas, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Texas, and Utah.
South Dakota Abortion Ban
The news was not as good for the ground breaking South Dakota vote on banning abortion. In a hard fought struggle, that initiative failed by approximately 55 percent. If passed, this initiative would have provided an immediate ban on all abortion in South Dakota in the event that Roe v. Wade is overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court and the abortion question is returned to state legislatures.
Missouri Stem Cell Ban
In Missouri, a hard fought battle was waged over a stem cell initiative. The measure passed by a very narrow margin, estimated today at only 51%. Certain types of embryonic stem cell research and cloning will now be permitted in Missouri. Pro life activists had opposed this measure because of the destruction of human life and the lack of positive results for current research using embryonic stem cells. Adult stems cells, which do not require the destruction of the embryo, have so far should much more promise in research efforts to provide important cures and medical treatment
And HUGE congratulations to my friend Adrian Smith who will be the new Congressman from Nebraska's third district. The early results had me biting my ever shortening nails, but he ended up winning by almost ten points. While the rest of the results weren't what I'd hoped last night, I've got a new commitment to get back into politics locally. We'll see what happens.
Tuesday, November 07, 2006
Last night I finished the debut novel from Tasha Alexander, And Only to Deceive. You won't find her book in the Christian bookstores, but I found nothing offensive or tasteless in it. Instead, it was an enjoyable read set in late Victorian England. It's styled as a suspense, but really reads more like a mystery with a heavy emphasis on ancient Greek art. So if you're looking for a book that's a bit different from the standard, I think you'll enjoy this one. You can read an excerpt from the book here.
Monday, November 06, 2006
This will also be the first time that the revised Court, with its new Chief Justice and Associate Justice, will address this issue.
Sunday, November 05, 2006
Wishing on Dandelions is the second installment in Maranatha's story and picks up about seven years after the first book, Watching the Tree Limbs. Maranatha is now 17 and trying to find out how to live and love in a way that honors God. The only trouble is she feels guilty about her uncle's stroke, angry about the invasion of her new step-aunt, upset that people may know and be telling her secret, and anxious about love and whether she will ever feel free to love someone. She feels marked by the sexual abuse she endured as a child. There is also an under-thread of racial reconciliation. Mary explores these topics with poignancy and authenticity. Burl seems like any other small Texas town -- caught somewhere in its past. When Maranatha has to testify at a trial, her future and past collide.
Maranatha is a three-dimensional character with inner strength she doesn't recognize and enough flaws to make her human. She is surrounded by people who are fleshed out enough to make them seem like people I know.
Mary's way with words is amazing. She describes the setting with vivid words, yet doesn’t overwrite.
This book is probably best classified as women’s fiction because of the residual issues of Maranatha’s childhood sexual abuse. Mary handles this topic in a way that doesn’t demean the depth of the issue.
I highly recommend the book to you.
Saturday, November 04, 2006
Friday, November 03, 2006
I will admit up front I don't watch a lot of TV. Several reasons. First, there isn't much worth watching (other than college football of course). Second, I'm crazy busy. And third, did I mention that I love to read? I'd rather spend the time in a good book.
Last night I watched Tuesday's episode of The Unit. Usually, I love that show. And up until the last five minutes it was phenomenal. Up until the last scene, I was engrossed and feeling incredibly patriotic. The show does a wonderful job of showing both sides of military life. Then the writers decided that the love letter from WWII that everyone assumed was left for the man's wife was really left for his army buddy. Ick! Then tonight we're watching Numbers. Again, a show I usually enjoy. Tonight it began with a pretty graphic love scene. Ick Ick Ick. Completely unnecessary, and did I mention ick.
So I'll give each show another week or two, and then move on if the themes continue. Before long I won't watch anything other than the history and real forensic shows.
Wednesday, November 01, 2006
Chip says you need three things to make it as a writer: great writing, great platform, and great ideas. It's ideal to have the intersection of all three. Not everyone has that. There's not a whole lot I can do about my platform. Sure, I guest blog on several blogs, I contribute to books, but those aren't in the fiction area. I have this blog (thanks to all my good friends and family who read it :-) ). I can work at cultivating good ideas. I can brainstorm with others to take a good idea and then twist it on its head so it avoids over-done cliches.
But writing. That's where I can really work and hone my skills. There are writers where I pick up the book and have to savor it because the word use is perfect. I can tell they invested time and thought into choosing the words the appear on the page. Some are able to combine excellent writing with a great plot.
I am currently savoring Mary DeMuth's Wishing on Dandelions. I just finished one of Colleen Coble's books; she paints such rich settings with her words that I could almost feel the tropical breezes on my face. I aspire to have these ladies skill with words, but also their heart for God. And I can tell you that each of them works HARD at their writing, always aspiring to improve.
What book have you read that had great writing?