Tuesday, November 28, 2006

The Big 35 and a Few Sick Kids

Hi everyone! Let me dust the cobwebs off of my blog. Oh, my...there goes a tumbleweed! It seems that I haven't posted for a while, but I have good reasons. Really.

Let's see...my 2-year-old has an ear infection, and my 1-year-old is trying to cut 4 teeth. Needless to say, we've had our share of sleepless nights and cranky days. (Thankfully my teen is healthy!) Also, last week I turned 35. Ok, that one isn't a good excuse for not blogging and visiting blogs, but that's what happened.

In other news, I'm almost back to the elusive 10 lb. mark. Woo-hoo! I hit it last Wednesday, and then Thanksgiving happened. Of course I couldn't pass up my artery-clogging mashed potatoes. (I add sour cream and cream cheese--tons of cream cheese!) It's taking me a few days to re-shed the poundage I picked up over the weekend.

I hope you all had a great Thanksgiving, too! And I'll be visiting you on your blog soon! Please pray for my babies if you have a moment.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006


Calm, Cool & Adjusted


From the back cover:


Silicon Valley chiropractor Poppy Clayton 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. Especially since her best friends, Lilly and Morgan, seem to think so. After all, a "normal" woman doesn't evaluate prospective dates on their liver function and their spiritual balance, does she?

Poppy's route to self discovery will be an unnatural one involving a plastic surgeon (of all people!), a condemned house in Santa Cruz and a wedding date from the dark side. It's enough to send a girl and her gal pals running for their favorite spa!


My take:

I love this book! Calm, Cool & Adjusted is the final installment in the Spa Girls series, and I have to say that it is my favorite of the three. Kristin Billerbeck has the ability to tell each story with a completely different voice. This time we get to follow Poppy, who is quirky and funny in her own way. Following Poppy's journey is a treat.


Two things stuck with me after reading this book:


1. Living healthy. Poppy Clayton is a big time health nut, and for some reason I felt convicted on this point. It was shortly after reading this book that I recommitted to my diet. Of course, my method is one that Poppy would probably frown on, LOL. The book also made me miss--yes, miss--exercising. I haven't recommitted to this one yet, but it's still niggling at me.


2. Obstacles. God allows things to happen in our lives that seem to hold us back and frustrate us, but those are the times we need to pay attention to His greater purpose. And if you want to know what Poppy's obstacles are, YOU MUST READ THIS BOOK.


To add this book to your TBR pile, click here. And don't forget to visit Kristin Billerbeck's site.

Thursday, November 16, 2006



SCOOP

From the back cover:

Channel 7 News producer Hugo Talley dreams of working with first-class professionals. Instead he's saddled with an aging anchor woman who refuses to release her claw-like grip on the newsdesk, a conscience-stricken reporter who's reluctant to focus on sensationalism, and a new assistant--former homeschool student Hayden Hazard--who can't just seem to leave her faith outside the newsroom.

When the Channel 7 News team inadvertently stumbles on a hot news story, Hugo is frantic to exploit this rare opportunity. But a series of crises--including a Botox disaster and the disappearance of a colleague--threatens to destroy his chance for ratings success and send him completely over the edge.

With their oddball antics and all-too-real foibles, this lovable cast of characters offers a hilarious look at the sometimes-unexpected effects of taking one's faith boldly into the workplace.


My take:

I had so much fun reading this book, especially since I'm a self-declared news junkie. Author Rene Gutteridge puts a fun spin on the news industry, and an entertaining peek behind-the-scenes. This is the kind of book I wish I could dig into every single day for the pure enjoyment of reading. I can't even count how many times I LOLed.

Two scenes that made me laugh the hardest involve the Electric Horseman and burping Tupperware...you MUST read the book to find out why. And if that isn't good enough (drumroll please....) it's a series!!! Woo-hoo!

Click here to get your copy of Scoop.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Light Bulb Moment

I used to belong to a critique group for short story writers, and the biggest complaint I received on my work was YOU'RE TELLING, NOT SHOWING. First, I had to figure out what that even was, then once I did, I did my best to show and not tell. Still, I knew there were circumstances where the dreaded and oft-bashed "telling" were appropriate, but I couldn't put my finger on what those circumstances were. That being the case, there were many times I got it wrong.

Self-Editing for Fiction Writers, by Renni Browne and Dave King is worth the price of the book, for Chapter 1 alone. Now, I have a list to use when deciding what to show, and what to tell.

Here are the instances where Browne and King say it's appropriate to "tell:"

*to vary the texture and rhythm of writing--scene after scene of only showing can become enhausting

*to give continuity to your story on a larger scale by narrating time that passes between scenes; to capture weeks or months of slow, steady growth

*telling can also be useful with repetitive action--only develop the critical moments of repetitive action into scenes

*some plot developments aren't important enough to justify scenes, such as minor events leading up to key scenes

Of course, this is Georgiana's abridged/over-simplified version. I hope it helps someone else out there, besides me! There's a lot more in the book, complete with examples. No wonder SEFFW is on everyone's must read list.

Chapter 2, here I come!


P.S. For those of you who asked me to keep you updated on the dieting...I've lost 9 pounds in 8 days. YIPPEE!

Monday, November 13, 2006

50% of the PIE

I've cruised through six different bookstores in the last three weeks; a few Barnes & Nobles, Hastings, and a family-owned Christian store. (Have I mentioned how much I love books? Okay, okay, put the tomatoes away!) Anyway, the Christian fiction sections of these stores seem to be divvied up approximately the same across the board.

*20% Left Behind series

*20% Karen Kingsbury

*10% Francine Rivers

*50% everyone else

There are oodles of great authors that fall into the "everyone else" category, and honestly, I cannot find many of the great titles I'm hunting for. (Yes, I know, I could buy books online, but that's not as fun as actually holding them in my grubby hands and taking a BIG PILE to the cash register! Perhaps that's another post.)

Tell me, are the bookstores I've visited anomalies? Is this the way Christian fiction actually sells? I haven't seen a conclusive breakdown of book sales by author/category anywhere, but maybe one of you has, and I'd be interested to know. In the meantime, I continue to enjoy the hunt.

Thursday, November 09, 2006



The Cubicle Next Door


From the back cover:


Jackie Harrison is a civilian who loves her job at the U.S. Air Force Academy. That is, until she is forced to divide her office into cubicles and share the space with a new history instructor, Lt. Col. Joseph Gallagher. A charmer in a flight suit, Joe wants to explore both Colorad and a growing relationship with his new cubicle mate. The office was bad enough, but Jackie's beside herself when Joe shows up in her home and church, even turning her grandmother's weekly bridge game into poker night.


Jackie goes online to vent, but she eventually finds herself admitting her conflicted feelings about this office neighbor who drives her crazy and makes her heart flutter. But when her blog--The Cubicle Next Door--is featured on TV, everyone begins to read it, including Joe. Will he figure out the anonymous confessions and frustrations are written about him? And how will Jackie ever express her heart offline?

My take:

This is an adorable story, and I love the way author Siri L. Mitchell incorporated blogging into the book. The idea of expressing true feelings behind anonymity gets me every time. And Jackie Harrison isn't your typical chick-lit heroine--she's not a girly girl, and she spends much of her time trying to convice herself that she doesn't like Joe.

The book especially touched me in two ways:
*Jackie hangs out with her grandmother and her grandmother's friends. It took me back to the precious days when I was able to do the same.
*Jackie is an environmentalist. I never paid much attention to environmental issues until I read this book. I found myself choosing cloth towels over paper, and making conscious decisions about how much gas we use. Also, every time I see a big SUV in my rear view mirror, I think of Jackie. (You must read the book to understand!)

Click here to get this book. And don't forget to visit Siri.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

GO TO THE WORD

While I'm disappointed in some of yesterday's election results, I can't help but digest what God's Word says:

Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.
~Romans 13:1~

I must confess, I've been remiss in praying for our country. I'll start today, and pray that God will heal our divided nation. Anyone want to join me?

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

880

I had to give in. To what, you ask? A real diet. I didn't want to do it; I thought I could snip a few calories here and there and get results over the long haul. Remember when I told you my goal was .5 loss per week? Evidently .5 was too ambitious a goal for me.

You see, when it comes to weight loss, I cheat. I eat a little breakfast, then have a small shake at lunch because, you know, I saved the calories in the morning. Then, I'd eat big on the weekends because I'd been good all week, except for the shakes. (Small shakes, remember.) But I'm an all-or-nothing kind of girl, so doing something half-heartely doesn't work for me. Therefore, I'm going on a low-carb diet, then I'll move on to maintaining with balace. Hopefully.

And what was the catalyst for me to make a drastic decision? You're not going to believe this, but my father--6'2", which is 9 inches taller than me--is about to pass me. I cannot weigh more than dear ol' dad. My big, brawny dad. Not gonna happen. No way.

So please, I need prayer. A lot of prayer. Day 1 went well, and day 2 is good too. No cheating so far! I lost 3.5 lbs since yesterday, and yes, I know it's probably water, normal fluid fluctuation, and I shouldn't step on the scale two days in a row. But it's a nice boost nonetheless.

BTW, 880 is the number of calories in a small shake. Who knew?

Monday, November 06, 2006

A NEWS JUNKIE'S TAKE ON BODY LANGUAGE

I'm a news junkie, especially during election season. Not real sure what the big draw is, but there you have it. You can find me glued to cable news every evening as I make dinner, clean the house, and fall asleep. I like to think it's because I'm an informed citizen, but really, it's gone way beyond that. You know all the talk about elections and campaigns? I'm not sick of it, but my family is. So, on the weekends I curtail my news viewing. By Monday morning I'm waiting to find out what happened on Sunday. This morning I was seriously ready to wrangle control of the TV away from my kids and Sesame Street so I could get caught up on news, because, kids don't need TV anyway, right? Sad, eh? (Just so you know, I didn't!)

Last week I was watching a news analysis show and there was a topic that caught my particular interest: body language. In the segment they analyzed interviewer/interviewee body language, and what the subtle implications were, and what they were each actually saying to one another.

Of course my writerly mind kicked into gear, and I started looking up body language websites in the hope of gleaning info to enhance my stories. There are tons of sites, and mountains of info to sift through, but I think incorporating body language--especially into my dialogue beats--will bring more realism to my characters.

Did you know:

*hands clasped behind the back indicate anger, frustration, and apprehension. In fact, I had a boss who did this a lot with me. Who knew I made him so frustrated? (Sorry Mr. M, wherever you are!)

*touching or slightly rubbing the nose indicates lying.

*rubbing the eye indicates doubt and disbelief.

I got those examples from this site. I spent way too much time on the next site which deals with romance and flirting. You see, I've been married for five years, so I've forgotten some of these non-verbal signals. Anyone writing romance, or any book with boy/girl exchanges should check itout. (BTW, I haven't looked all over the site because it's too big, hopefully you won't find anything objectionable!)

I hope you have as much fun with the body language as I did! And if you find another website with good body language tips, let me know:)


P.S. Don't forget to schedule time to vote tomorrow!

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

IS CRAP A BAD WORD?

No, really. In my new WIP I thrust my heroine into a situation where thinking "Oh, crap" seems entirely appropriate and realistic. It didn't cross my mind not to keep it in until the precious writer who bravely wades through my manuscript pointed out that there might be a better word. And you know what? She was right, and she even pinpointed the exact word that will make the situation even more hilarious. (But if I tell you what that word is then I'd have to explain the context of the scene and why her word is way funnier than crap.)

I know there are the fainter hearts among us, or at least among our readers (or future readers in my case) who might--might--take offense at an occasional crude word. And really, anything stronger than the aforementioned word would catch me off guard if I happened to be reading a CBA book.

And there's the catch: if I'm reading a Christian book I get more easily ruffled than when I'm reading worldly garbage. Not that I read a ton of worldly garbage. In fact, I've set down several books lately with no qualms whatsoever. When I read an ABA book where the story is so fantastic that I can't put it down regardless of the language issues, my eyes gloss over and I don't think about it. So where does this double standard come from? And am I the only one who has it? What gives?
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