Monday, April 30, 2007
Friday, April 27, 2007
Thursday, April 26, 2007
Two days ago Split Ends, the latest book from the fabulous Kristin Billerbeck, arrived in my mailbox. I have learned that any book by Kristin is going to be a treat, so even though I had tons to do, I inhaled that book. This in between 360 miles in the car, attending a lecture my Barbour editors gave at Taylor University, and lunch with a bunch of ACFW Indiana members in Fort Wayne.
Sarah Claire has the opportunity to remake her life. She just didn't realize what was going to be involved when she left Sable, Wyoming for an exclusive Beverly Hills salon. The journey reminded me of bits of my move from North Platte, Nebraska to Washington, DC. Culture shock. Beautiful people. Fish out of water. Fortunately, I wasn't ordered to have things like blue peels done. I have no idea what that is but boy does it sound painful!
Sarah has an abundant stash of emotional baggage that's accompanied her to Hollywood. Add a stylist who won't let her do more than clean toilets and empty trash, a cousin who's being over-protective, a mother who can't leave her alone, a best friend who's quite possibly lost her mind, and men suddenly taking notice of her, and Sarah's no longer sure where her life is headed. Then she gets the opportunity to break out and has to decide what really matters to her.
Kristin has a gift for creating characters that I care deeply about. I can always see pieces of me in them – and Sarah Claire was no exception. Sometimes her struggles reminded me a bit too much of me. But because of the humor and faith, I enjoyed the challenge to my perceptions.This book explores the depths of Sarah's issues and needs while maintaining Kristin's trademark humor and color. I loved this book and am really sad to see it end.
Wednesday, April 25, 2007
It is part of a trend in the books I'm seeing from Bethany House. More of the ones I'm getting are targeted at men -- a shift my husband is enjoying, and this one is no exception. My husband thoroughly enjoyed this book, and beat me to finishing it off. He's been waiting for me to finish it so we could talk about what worked and didn't.
Mr. Robertson chose to write this book in first person from Jason Boyer's perspective. We see everything through his eyes. At first, this made it very hard for me to care about Jason and his story. Jason has been given much more than a silver spoon by life, and anticipates things continuing as they were for a very long time. His life is purposeless, but he doesn't really care because he has a beautiful wife, more money than he can spend, and a life without care. And life will continue this way since he's been told to expect a very large monthly stipend for the rest of his life with no strings attached.
Then his father is killed unexpectedly in a car crash, and Jason is stunned to learn that instead of passing to his father's foundation as everyone had been told, the estate is now his. And only his.
He finds himself with power, wealth and fame he never wanted. And frankly he doesn’t know what to do with it. He's being handled by everyone from his father's attorney to the governor, and trying desperately to figure out what to do. Then people start dying and he's not sure who he can trust.
This book built in intensity and after a few chapters I was firmly in Jason's corner wondering what on earth he would do with all the money and power. The plot spirals into a tight web of intrigue as power rushes to fill the vacuum left by his father's death, and Jason tries to right the wrongs of the past.
Reading Jason work his way through to a purpose was like watching a newborn calf stand for the first time. However, everything does not tie up in a neat package at the end of this book – much like life refuses to fall into simple lines. In fact, I'd call the ending ambiguous and rushed. Many of the plots are tied up, but the big questions remain. Even so, it is a satisfying read.
Tuesday, April 24, 2007
Tonight I'll be in Fort Wayne for a presentation my editors are making at Taylor University. It will be great to get to know them better, and spend time with some other writer buddies.
Have you ever noticed how God will bring the right people alongside you to encourage you at just the right moments. Nothing is worse than the feeling that no one understands you and that they might not even be trying. I think the enemy of our souls delights in making us feel cut off from others. It's in that isolation that we can lose our bearings and forget what we believe, where we are headed, where our passion lies.
So I delight in the friendships God has blessed me with in this writing journey. They are one of the unexpected and most precious parts of the path.
I guess it takes one to understand one. How many other people can apprecite the talking heads that waltz around my mind? I have to admit, there is still something very strange about sitting down to interview a character.
Now that I'm back from Nebraska, I have less than two weeks until the mini-marathon. Woohoo! The insanity is almost behind me. And it's time to get to work on the class I'll teach at Purdue starting the middle of May and revising Double Image. Then starting Sandhill Dreams. And finishing that legal thriller proposal. Good news is that my agent likes the new direction...could you hear the sigh of relief?!?!
Like I said, some random musings for your Tuesday morning.
Monday, April 23, 2007
Since I'm way too tired to post anything creative, I direct you to the Writer Interrupted Carnival of Christian Writers. Each month Gina Conroy and her team provide links to authors, agents, and others writing about the writing life. It's a great resource and a lot of fun, too. So pop on over and enjoy the ride!
Friday, April 20, 2007
I made another research trip today. It's amazing what you can find when you get off the interstate and start traveling the highways and byways. Stay tuned for more, but each trip will make the books I'll write this year more authentic to the times and places. And that gets me very excited.
Another exciting development: the ACFW conference portion of the website is up! You'll be able to see the fruits of many hours earlier this spring since the agenda is up. It is FANTASTIC. I am so EXCITED about the line-up and what we'll be learning. (And yes, I'm yelling). So if you've ever dreamed about writing, you need to seriously pray about whether you should attend. It's going to be amazing!
Wednesday, April 18, 2007
In the federal law, Congress had made a determination that a health exception wasn't necessary to preserve the health of the mother. The Eighth Circuit struck down the law, and the government immediately petitioned for cert.
The shocker for me was that Justice Kennedy wrote this decision. He was joined by Justices Thomas, Scalia and Alito, as well as Chief Justice Roberts. I loved Thomas' concurrence. Short, sweet to the point, and focused on what is really in the Constitution.
It will be interesting to watch how courts and the legislatures respond to this opinion. As the Court reiterated, "[t]he Casey Court reaffirmed what it termed Roe's three-part "essential holding": First, a woman has the right to choose to have an abortion before fetal viability and to obtain it without undue interference from the State. Second, the State has the power to restrict abortions after viability, if the law contains exceptions for pregnancies endangering the woman's life or health. And third, the State has legitimate interests from the pregnancy's outset in protecting the health of the woman and the life of the fetus that may become a child." It also found that the act was not a substantional obstacle to late-term, pre-viable abortions. Thus, it looks like there is fresh opportunities for states to restrict post-viability abortions.
I'm pretty excited to see what's coming from this court. And if you wonder why the President matters, you've just witnessed an example of the difference that two justices can make on the court.
As I drove, I asked God to give me favor with the curator I was meeting and for the trip to be valuable. Wow! God answered that prayer in a huge way.
I spent almost five hours with Thomas Bueckner, the museum curator at Fort Robinson. He's been at the museum for twenty years and is a warehouse of information and stories about the Fort during World War Two as well as other Nebraska WWII activities. It was amazing! Fantastic! Invigorating! Exhausting!
I have the July 1, 1943 War Dog Training Manual to copy. Invaluable since that is the exact time period that the book occurs during. A CD of photos to copy -- taken by a soldier who worked at the Fort during the War. Most soldiers assigned to work with War Dogs were only at Fort Robinson for 8-12 weeks, but this man was there for the duration. I also have a copy of his interview. I also have the Fort's newsletter that was produced the first half of 1943. It is a goldmine of social events and happenings at the Fort.
I really wish I could have spent another day there just reading the interviews and flipping through photos.
This day was a great way to get over lingering concerns about approaching experts for help with research for books. Mr. Bueckner was so generous with his time and knowledge and seemed to delight in sharing that.
I'll share more later, but what a great day!
Tuesday, April 17, 2007
As a writer, one of the things that often happens when I learn about a tragedy like that is I almost dive into the middle of the pain. What would it be like? What would I be feeling? What would I do if I suddenly heard gunfire? What about friends? Even as I pray that God will comfort and protect, the questions race.
I've been blessed. The closest I've come to a tragedy like this is escaping Washington, DC on 9/11. I worked in a court next to the White House and evacuated as soon as we knew the Pentagon had been hit. We watched the Pentagon smolder from our neighborhood. Drove by the devastation every day on the way to work. But other than not being able to get to work for a week because the security perimeter around the White House kept shifting or being unable to let my husband know I was on my way home, I was again a spectator.
As I listened to one of the commentators, I got so frustrated. The tragedy was hardly two hours old and this particular talking head was being so critical of the VT administration and it's security measures. I sat there thinking, until three hours ago, nobody would have thought something like this was possible.
How do you react when you witness -- long-distance -- a tragedy like today's? In a world where the media is so invasive and pervasive, it's hard not to feel like a witness.
Monday, April 16, 2007
Highlights so far:
- Abigail lost a tooth last night: She took this one out herself. She had lots of time to twist that tooth while she sat in the backseat.
- We joined 55,000 of our closest friends at the Nebraska football spring scrimmage. It was the first time some of my nieces and nephews had attended. I'm afraid they thought it was boring, but, hey, tickets were about $100 cheaper :-)
- We attended church this morning at Lincoln Berean -- it was their second weekend in the new auditorium, and it's fantastic. Our friend Jim Lange was the structural engineer involved with the construction. They had a lunch after the service for those who had worked on the construction, and we got to meet the pastor who oversaw the project. Eric jumped right in to pick his mind since our church is getting ready to launch another building campaign.
Friday, April 13, 2007
Earlier this week I was in the middle of one of those slumps.
It's been two and a half months since my miscarriage, and it amazes me just how much I can be caught by surprise by the emotions. Blindsided is more like it. I will be absolutely fine. Counting my blessing. Enjoying the sunshine (okay, so that was last week before the cold snap hit Indiana. When was the last time you had snow the day before Easter?!?!?). And then -- WHAM!!! I'm in a funk.
Right now, it's happening when I learn that friends are pregnant with due dates very close to what mine was supposed to be. I have never appreciated how painful it is to truly want to rejoice with someone while your heart is breaking. Again.
And then there's the expectation that I should be over this. If you haven't had a miscarriage, I am so happy for you. That is such a blessing. But one thing I have learned is how common miscarriages are and how lasting the impact is (estimates range in the 10-20% range for miscarriage after a recognized pregnancy). Yet women I know and respect tear up when they tell me about their miscarriage. And many of these happened ten, twenty, even thirty years ago.
It can be an amazingly lonely experience, too. I have had more people ask me how I was doing after my grandfather and grandmother died, than after this loss.
The result? It feels like the expectation is to shove the pain down, stoically ignore it, and move on. I can't. Because I am committed to working through this process. One book that has helped me in this might surprise you. It's Beth Moore's new one: Get out of the Pit. Now, I got the book because I have learned so much through her Bible studies and a couple friends recommended it.
Now I don't think of myself as a pit dweller. God has protected me from so much in my life. And I have been blessed beyond measure. But one of the pits that Beth talks about is the pit you're pushed into. Think Joseph being sold into slavery by his brothers. He didn't do anything to deserve that, but still found himself in a strange country as a slave rather than a favored son.
Can you imagine all the questions running through his mind? Repeat them with me: Why God? It isn't fair! I didn't do anything to deserve this! Do you still see me? Do you still care? What did I do wrong? I don't understand. I trust You but it really hurts right now.
So I am clinging to Genesis 50:19-20 right now. In that passage, Joseph tells his brothers: "Don't be afraid. Am I in the place of God? You intended to harm me, but God intended for good to accomplish what is now being done..." What has been painful, even excruciating, can still be used by God. Couple it with Jeremiah 29:11, and I can rest in the fact that even though I can't see the reason behind -- and might not until heaven -- I can know that God intends even this only for my good, hope and future.
Thursday, April 12, 2007
I found this the other day, and had fun with the questions. One thing my friends know about me is that I lvoe teh thrill of the hunt -- for a good bargain that is. So I wasn't surprised to be labeled a window shopper. To me shopping is relaxing. Ahh. Wishing I was at the Talbotts' sale now :-)
You're a Window Shopper!
You know that shopping's a blast, but you prefer to save your money
You hardly ever give into an impulse buy, unless it's a total steal
You've always got the most money of your friends - and you never have to borrow
And you've got a nice wardrobe too ... of classic pieces that last years!
Wednesday, April 11, 2007
In Coral Moon we return to Kanner Lake, the fictional setting for Violet Dawn. This time Leslie Williams, the reporter who tracked down the killer in Violet Dawn, walks to her car one morning and finds a body propped in the passenger seat. The rest of the book rocks through to the end as the town braces for more bodies. The police race to find a suspect when there are few clues. And all clues point to a dead man being the killer. Yep, a dead man.
Now this is not your typical CBA suspense. I'm not much into ghost stories, but this one has a twist that kept me reading. And Brandilyn laces it all together in the end with a cleverness that kept me shaking my head but not feeling cheated. The clues were there, the red herrings sprinkled in, and even when I started to guess who was behind it all, I quickly talked myself out of that conclusion.
The ensemble cast prevents deep characterization of all but the main characters. Even with that constraint, I like the way she built on what we knew of the town and its residents from the first book, but wrote Coral Moon in such a way it stands completely on its own.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book and can't wait for the third installment Crimson Eve.
And check out the Scenes and Beans Blog to see what's happening in Kanner Lake until then.
And the Vonage trial. If you like your phone service through the Internet, especially Vonage, then you may have been following the case. The case involves a dispute between Verizon and Vonage regarding patents. It is in front of the Honorable Claude Hilton, a US district court judge in the Eastern District of Virginia. In March a jury found that Vonage had infringed on three of Verizon's patents. Last Friday Judge Hilton decided Vonage could only provide service to its existing clients during the appeal. Vonage's attorney was quoted in a USAToday article as stating that the company could be out of business within three years if it wasn't allowed to continue adding new clients during an appeal. And Vonage did some creative lawyering by going straight to the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals to get an emergency stay on the order that Judge Hilton isn't going to sign until April 12. That's unusual maneuvering, because a court of appeals generally can't stay an order that hasn't been entered yet. This will be an interesting case to follow!
Tuesday, April 10, 2007
I’m in the middle of training for the Indianapolis mini-marathon. No, not a full marathon. A mini one – just 13.1 miles. But plenty far I think.
During law school I had a couple friends who ran marathons, and then and there I decided I should do the same thing. Law school had pushed my brain as far as it would go. A marathon would push my body as far as it could go. This from the girl who HATES to sweat.
Then life happened. I got pregnant. Last semester of law school while working full time with a baby. We moved. I got pregnant. Even less time and inclination to run. Then we got a treadmill. Then I put off running because I wanted to get pregnant. Then after a year, my husband and I got tickets to run the mini together. Then I got pregnant. Then I miscarried. And then I started running. And running. And running. Nights like tonight, I’m not even sure what I’m running from or to. I’m just running.
Now my husband’s got a pinching pain in his lower back and hasn’t been able to train in two weeks. I may be running this on my own. And I don’t want to. Why? I’m afraid I won’t finish. It’s easier to stop now than to keep running without accountability.
Isn’t that like our lives?
We spend so much time running from or to we don’t even know what. And then when we get close to the destination we stop. Paralyzed that something will go wrong.
So much of my life right now is outside my control. I’m writing which is a very capricious business. I’m homeschooling. And I’m training for this crazy mini-marathon. And this control-freak can’t control anything other than my response.
So I chose to do what the Psalmist said: I delight to do YOUR will, Oh God. And I’ll put one foot in front of the other, day after day, step after step, mile after mile. Knowing that God has it all in control, and that’s enough for today.
UPDATE: I ran nine miles Friday night and Eric ran nine miles Sunday night, so we just might be able to do this together after all!
Monday, April 09, 2007
Then on a completely unrelated note, did you know pet deaths are hard to decipher. USAToday dedicated a story to the challenges of unraveling the causes of pet deaths that seem to be related to the tainted pet food. The interesting note on this one is that they talk to the executive story editor of CSI about the realities of labratory investigative work. I guess everybody's an expert now!
Then over at yahoo.com there was a story about a scientist who may have uncovered a link to why dogs come in so many sizes. Now me, I've always just given the credit to God and His infinite creativity. Why bore us with one kind of dog when there are so many options? Now we can begin to see the genetic foundation God created for all that variety.
Time has a fascinating look at Einstein and religion. I have always been a fan of Einstein's, though I couldn't tell you what first got me interested since I've never been that interested in higher science. And that may be why: Here's a man who could see the complexities in teh world and understand the hidden laws that direct it. This article was filled with interesting quotes from the man on his take on God. Looks like he fell into a kind of deism (think Ben Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, etc.). However, one of my favorite quotes from Einstein wasn't included: "I want to know God's thoughts. The rest are details." I had a poster with that quote and this picture on it in my dorm room in college. I also thought that if a man as brilliant as Einstein could stick his tongue out at life, then I should find a way to not take life so seriously, too. (Arthur Sase / UPI / Corbis)
Friday, April 06, 2007
Thirty-three years later He makes the supreme gift when He chooses to die for each of us. I am still humbled each time I think about the reality that He would have died for just me or just you. But he did. His disciples and followers must have been so confused.
But three days later He rose. You see, anyone could die. But only God could conquer death and come back to life. And with death He conquered everything. Our sins. Sickness. Strongholds in our lives.
So this Easter weekend, even as you celebrate with eggs and bunnies, don't forget that the real reason for this celebration is that Jesus came and died that we could have eternal life with Him.
Thursday, April 05, 2007
The Spring Reading Thing is a challenge to get out that stack of books and actually read them. 207 people including yours truly have joined in. Somehow Bethany House found out about this and sent Katrina, the blog's owner, a box of nine of its new releases. Then Brandilyn sent out a challenge today to other authors to send her a book or two to give away. So if you like new books, and for some reason you aren't entering my contests, then hie thee over to Callapidder Days. This week's give away is Where Willows Grow by my friend Kim Sawyer.
Now for my list of books in the to be read or finished pile:
To Be Finished:
- Lightning and Lace by DiAnn Mills (Barbour)
- Grave Risk by Hannah Alexander (Steeple Hill)
- Get Out of That Pit by Beth Moore (Integrity/Thomas Nelson) (I highly recommend this based on what I've gotten out of the first four or five chapters! It's excellent!)
- The Freedom of the Soul by Tracey Bateman (Barbour)
- The Bible (just finished Isaiah tonight -- so it's taking a bit longer than 90 days... but I'm reading!)
To Be Read:
- Bygones by Kim Sawyer (Barbour)
- Where Willows Grow by Kim Sawyer (Bethany)
- Hot Tropics and Cold Feet by Diann Hunt (Westbow/Thomas Nelson)
- Reluctant Runaway by Jill Elizabeth Nelson (Multnomah)
- Petticoat Ranch by Mary Connealy (Barbour ) Another Nebraskan
- These Boots Weren't Made for Walking by Melody Carlson (WaterBrook)
- False Witness by Randy Singer (WaterBrook)
- In Search of Eden by Linda Nichols (Bethany)
- Summer of Light by Dale Cramer (Bethany) (Eric enjoyed this one)
- Original Sin by Brandt Dodson (Harvest House)
- Watching the Tree Limbs by Mary DeMuth (NavPress)
Wow! That's just a few books :-)
Please pray for me as I start edits on Double Image to get it ready to resubmit to an editor. And as I buckle down to work on a couple legal proposals. It's time to push past whatever's been holding me back and get back into the writing. I covet your prayer support as I do this! I'll also start writing Sandhill Dreams after some on-site research in Nebraska. And I'll teach Business Law at Purdue again starting in the middle of May. Life is never dull around here!
Wednesday, April 04, 2007
The first thing I enjoyed about this book was the richness of Morrisey's writing. Each word is carefully strung to the next one. None seem wasted or extraneous. Instead, the combination paints a vibrant picture of rock climbing, the emotions of fear and exhilaration, and the beauty of creation.
This book is told in the first person through the eyes of Patrick Nolan, a sixteen year old in the 1970s whose passion is rock climbing with his parents. One weekend Patrick and his father conquer climbs around Seneca Rock only to come home and find their worlds forever changed.
While they were gone, Patrick's mother committed suicide. The balance of the book tells of the ways that Patrick deals with his grief while watching over his father. They escape to Seneca Falls in an attempt to outrun their grief and find answers in the only place they know…climbing the rocks.
Morrisey’s artistry with the English language left me so engrossed in the book, I could feel the wind blowing in my face as I tried to figure out where the next handhold was going to be. I could feel my muscles tighten from fatigue and overuse, and then feel the glory of reaching the top and knowing victory.
I also felt the depth of grief and the journey out of it. This book is rich, deep and well worth the investment of time.
Tuesday, April 03, 2007
First, I found this article today on the Left Behind series. It's from the online edition of the LA Times and is pretty interesting. Whether you like them or not, the series revolutionized Christian fiction.
And CONGRATULATIONS to Chanda who played along on Friday and wins a copy of one of these books: Coral Moon by Brandilyn Collins, Rember to Forget by Deb Raney, or The Heir by Paul Robertson. They're all excellent and very different. Leave a comment with how to get ahold of you, Chanda.
This week I was thining about how blessed I am. So I wrote a shorttribute to my husband. without him, I wouldn't be where I am on this writing journey. It just reinforces that we can't pursue our dreams on our own.
Monday, April 02, 2007
Another blog you might enjoy is the Chat N Chew Cafe by my friend Crystal Miller. Her local paper picked it up this week. You can check out the article here. Another friend of mine, Cathy Shouse, is the author of the article. And if you haven't been to Girls Write Out yet, get on over there for some fun. (It's the blog where Colleen Coble, Kristin Billerbeck, Denise Hunter, and Diann Hunt have a good time talking chocolate and life.).
So prudence calls for using email judiciously. (Blogs, too, for that matter).
There are new federal rules of evidence out that few people understand yet (me included) that make electronic discovery (read computers) mandatory and earlier in the litigation process.
So I wasn't surprised to see this article in the ABA Journal E-report about Alberto Gonzales and his practice of not using email. The man's attorney general and has decided emails can't be trusted. And he's not alone.
I think there might be a lesson in there for all of us.