Monday, January 29, 2007

A Year Long Class on Writing . . . and It's Free

At the end of last year I mentioned that Bob Mayer and Jennifer Crusie were going to be teaching a year-long writing class on their blog and you can participate. Well, I sorta forgot about it until the other day. So, here's the link.

One thing I always enjoyed about reading their blog and listening to their lectures on CD is that they approach writing a little differently. This is good for beginning writers to know and for all of us to remember. There is more than one way to write. Part of the learning curve is figuring out how you do it.

The other enjoyable thing is how they banter and bait each other a lot. Good to know writers can have a good sense of humor. At least all the ones I hang out with do . . .

Finally, it's free. That is almost always a good thing, especially for broke writers.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Tagged again

Michelle tagged me with six things that are weird about me. At first I had a hard time coming up with them. It’s hard to see yourself as weird. I mean, I’m sure plenty of people think I’m weird, but I just see me as me. But the more I thought about it, the more weird things I came up with. Not sure if that’s a good or bad thing. So, here goes.

1. Like Mich, I like raw potatoes. I guess this is weird because no one else I know likes them this way. But with salt, wow, yummy. We eat other veggies raw, why not potatoes? Actually I like nearly every veggie better raw.

2. I apparently have synthensia. All of my senses mesh together. Colors and shapes have taste. Squares are red Jello, rectangles are blueberry, triangles are lemon. And now my tongue feels like it’s been poked by said shapes. I also see music in color. In fact, I have to see the music in order to hear it. That probably doesn’t make much sense, but I know when I’m really tired and I’m not seeing the music in my head, I can’t hear it either. I can hear the notes but they don’t make any sense to me.

3. Which leads me to weirdness no. 3. I’m not sure if this is the cause or not, but I had scarlet fever when I was 8. Remember, it’s what made Mary blind in Little House on the Prairie? Actually, I think it was On the Banks of Plum Creek. Anyhow, I think/know it’s affected some of my nerves. In particular my vestibular mechanism is messed up. This is a ‘thing’ (technical term, I know) in your middle ear that regulates stimulus. (This is at least how I understand it. I could be wrong, I’m not a doctor.) It’s part of why I hate any roller coaster that uses centrifugal force. Like a Ferris Wheel. Or a merry-go-round. I can’t even watch them. I lose my sense of my place in space and start vomiting. Also can’t see laser light shows. No great loss there. Additionally, it doesn’t filter out enough stimulus. In a room with a lot of people talking like a party or a writers conference, I can’t filter out the individual with whom I’m talking. I hear everyone’s conversation and get overwhelmed and start shutting down. It’s so hard for me to just try and focus on what the person I’m talking to is saying. I just try to say, “Hmm” a lot. So if I do that to you, don’t be offended.

4. My fingernails routinely turn purple . . . My toes do too, More gray actually.

5. Like Mich, I have a birthmark on my left wrist that’s a good barometer of my mood, changing from purple to red.

6. I could never be a pill popper because I gag on pills. And if you watch me take them, you might gag too. It’s awful. And I have to take five pills each morning. Luckily they’re small. Still.

I came up with more than six things. Not sure if all of these are weird or what, but here you go.

I like knowing the endings of movies, but I hate knowing them in books.

Almost every joint is double jointed. And I can crack just about every one of them too. I sound like a bowl of Rice Krispies in the morning.

I’ve had 6 concussions and I don’t play football.

I’m afraid of kites. Okay really, it’s just heights.

I’m also claustrophobic. I hate having a pillow anywhere near close to covering my head. I have to be firmly on top of it. I also hate having the sheets tight around my legs, like if someone sits on the bed while I’m in it. Like my kids. Guaranteed to make me freak out.

I hate being cold.

I’m not going to tag anyone because I know y’all are busy. But feel free to tag yourself and put in the comments here so we can all go to your site and laugh at your weirdness. Um, celebrate your uniqueness? Yeah, that’s it.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Where's Mike?

Mike Snyder is apparently hitting the publicity circuit early. Today and tomorrow you can find him over at Brandilyn Collins's blog, Forensics and Faith, where she interviews him. Given how off-the-wall his interview questions are, I can only imagine how his answers will be.

Infuze also has a blurb up about him.

Sigh. Must be nice.

I'm not jealous. Really.

PS--It's 25 today and it snowed here Sunday. Yep. It's true.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

What I Did on My Christmas Vacation

Okay, probably one of my nonexistent New Year’s resolutions should be to blog more. And it’s not that I don’t have ideas to blog about—I do. I just keep running out of time to get to them. So here it is Saturday again, and I’m just getting around to posting.

I suppose my running-behind-schedule applies to more than just my blog. For instance, just yesterday I download the pictures of Christmas from my digital camera to my computer. Which reminded me of something we did over Christmas vacation. We went hiking.

In one of my posts last July I mentioned how much I like hiking. So over Christmas break, since Peter had the week between Christmas and New Year’s off, I wanted to do some hiking. There are some great trails in the local regional parks. And this time of year, with all the snowbirds and the bowl game attendees flocking to the Valley of the Sun, the Arizona Republic usually prints a list of things you can do to show visitors the real essence of Arizona. Frankly, I think you need to be here in July and burn your hand on the 200 degree handle of your car door to truly experience the essence of Arizona, but that’s just me.

Heedless of my opinion, the Republic published a list of some easy hikes in the local area. When I’m looking at hikes I have to remember I have little kids with little legs and accommodate accordingly. At South Mountain Park, one of the nation’s largest city park’s, I found one that looked promising and we were off.

Well, not quite. We had to replace little Calvin’s bike because the handlebars kept falling off. Then the kids wanted to see Night at the Museum. (A topic for another time perhaps. I liked it, they loved it, but I think there were a few missed opportunities, especially at the beginning to raise the stakes. Anyhow).

So after all that we get to the trail at about 4:30. It’s freezing, like 42 degrees, and it had been raining on and off all day. I start wondering about the wisdom of this, but I get so few opportunities to hike and the kids are looking forward to it. The weather looked okay so we decided to start off.

We were hiking to Fat Man’s Pass, an easy three mile round trip hike. I was thinking it got dark at 6 . . . 20 minutes a mile . . . we should be back at 5:30, plenty of time before it got dark.

Um, I miscalculated. Well, it didn’t help that I kept stopping to take pictures like this. Or that Calvin had to be carried by moi the last mile. Or that we kept jumping to the side of the trail to avoid being run over by mountain bikers (though to their credit they were all very nice). Or that it’s actually pitch black at 5:30.

Arizonans have a sense of humor in naming things. This is Fat Man’s Pass. See that slit in the middle? That’s what you have to skinny through or hike all the way around. The kids had fun getting through it. I could make it, and did there and back, but I’m claustrophobic and had to practice Lamaze breathing to not freak out at the rock walls pressing in on me, just waiting to crush the life out of me. This was a bit worse than the McDonald’s playland tube.

It had taken us 45 minutes to get here. The sun was behind the mountains and it was getting dark. I knew when we returned the last half mile of the trail hugged the side of the mountain and was rocky, strewn with chunks of granite. The clouds were rolling in. Did I also mention I’m night blind?

So we start double-timing it back. I’m trying to figure how we can cover 1.5 miles in the fifteen minutes of twilight we have left. We can’t.

Poor Calvin is worn out and shivering on Peter’s back. Sissy was trooper though, I was so proud of her. She never complained. We started running. Not easy to do on the rocky trail in the disappearing light. I felt more like a mountain goat hopping from rock to rock, helping Sissy over the tough areas and running full out in the sandy areas. The last mile was in blackness for me. I can’t see anything. Not the rocks, not the trail, not Peter and Calvin up ahead. I can see Sissy’s reflective sneakers and that’s all. She’s in front of me, and I’m stepping where she’s stepping, and praying I don’t break an ankle.

We made it back in twenty-five minutes. Safely. Our car was the only one left at the trailhead. The city lights, now visible, twinkled up at us breaking the sense of isolation that had followed us on the way back.

Too bad I had filled up the camera earlier with pictures so there wasn’t any room to take one of the city lights. We hopped in the car and turned on the heater and headed home, just as the rain started, thankful we hadn’t become a stupid hiker statistic.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Isn't this just the coolest thing?

Okay, I have a lot of other things to post about but it's been one of those weeks. In the meantime, drool over this, Apple's new iPhone. Now, it's waaaaaay out of my budget, but doesn't it just look so cool? It's almost like a mini Mac. I confess, I have a weakness for gadgets, especially ones that do really neat stuff. I loved watching the demonstrations of the various features. Very intuitive. Apple always does two things well: intuitiveness and style.

Maybe someday. Sigh.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Called to Write

Ah, I hadn’t really wanted to open up this can of worms, but since my friend, Heather, did, and I decided my response was too long for a blog comment, I decided to post here.

First of all, I don’t think there’s a right or wrong answer to this question. I don’t think all writers are “called” to write. I think you absolutely can be gifted and successful as a writer without it. I don’t think you have to be called to write to do it to the glory of God.

But I know without a shadow of a doubt I was called to write. I can remember the specific moment, the almost audible voice of God telling me to step out in faith and write. And I said no. For six years.

I’ve heard that voice of God in my heart each time He’s asked me to step out in faith. But the only time in my life He’s ever “called” me to something was to write. He didn’t call me to marry my husband, or give birth to my kids, or to be a stay-at-home mom, although I’ve done all those things with His favor and blessings, and I believe they were in His will for me.

One thing that I can compare it to in my life is singing. I love to sing. God’s given me some measure of talent and opened the doors to allow me to use this gift in ministry. And I love doing it. But it’s not the same as my calling to write. I can’t explain it other than that. It’s just different.

For me, the calling to write is to sit my butt in the chair. That’s basically it. The rest, like publication and success, is in His hands. And I also feel that if I’m not faithful to keep my butt in that chair I’m being disobedient.

But I would emphasize most of all, that all of this is very personal. My experience doesn’t mean it’s true for anyone else. Or should be. It’s just what God has told me to do.

Can people be called to other things, like plumbing? Sure. Why not? Does everyone have to be “called” to something? I don’t know. Maybe not. I think part of the difficulty is that calling and will and purpose are all interrelated but not the same things. While I don’t have the brain power right now to tease apart separate definitions, I think that may be one place to begin a discussion on this subject.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

The Next Best Thing . . .

. . . to a contract of my own is my good friend and crit partner Michael Snyder getting one. He officially signed the contract with Zondervan and is now free to talk about his well-deserved publishing career.

Here's the official Publisher's Lunch notice.
Michael Snyder's MY NAME IS RUSSELL FINK, a romantic comedy written from a Christian worldview, about an artist trapped in the body of a copier salesman with a psychotic fiancee -- and someone has murdered his allegedly clairvoyant basset hound, to Andy Meisenheimer at Zondervan, in a nice deal, for two books, by Steve Laube of the Steve Laube Agency (world).

Mike talks about it here and here.

My Name is Russell Fink is a great book. I love all the permutations I've read, and I can't wait to see it on the bookstore shelves next fall so you all can read it too.

And, you know what? His second book is even better. Mike is an amazingly gifted writer, and it's a privilege and honor to be able to swap work with him.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Christmas Recap

I think taking a blogging break was good. Instead of being the dry well that it was in December, I actually have several ideas, and I’m eager to get back in the swing of things. I don’t know about you but I love the idea of fresh starts. January and September (back to school) just always fill me with some level of excitement. It’s another chance to start anew, to refine things and try out new things. Sure, you can do that anytime (especially if you’re a Christ follower), it’s just that these milestones always seem to lead to some reflective time for me.

But, before we get to that, how was everyone’s Christmas? Ours was quiet. No family, just the four of us. Which was probably good given all the excitement we’ve had in our lives lately. Of course I have a Calvin story for you.

In our new house we have a formal living and dining area, something we’ve never had before. And basically it will be our library-piano-extra furniture room. We don’t really do formal. So, that was where we put the Christmas tree, and my temporary desk was down there. I’m doing something on the computer and Calvin is over by the tree. Not too unusual. He likes to play wherever I’m at and this is a big empty room. But then it gets quiet, pierced by something that sounds like a quick rip of paper.

I look over. He’s hunched over one of the presents. It has a small, thumb-sized hole in it.

“Don’t open that,” I say.

“Mo—om, it’s time for Christmas.”

“Two more days.”

“No. Today’s Christmas.”

“Two more days.” I go back to work. He leaves the room and goes upstairs, taking his toys with him for once.

About ten minutes later he comes back down. “Mom, open this for me.”

I turn around. He’s holding his Nerf dart gun. One of his Christmas presents. That little booger. “That’s for Christmas. You don’t get to play with it now.” I stick it on my desk and then head upstairs to see what else he’s done. He’s opened one of Peter’s presents too. Wrapping paper covered his bedroom floor. I pick it up, repair the damage, and check under the tree for more missing presents.

It’s hard being little. And it didn’t help that Sissy’s birthday is on the twenty-third, so she got to open presents. So on Christmas day he got his Nerf dart gun back, in addition to his light saber that lights up and makes noise when it whacks things. Not sure what we were thinking in getting him an arsenal, but he’s a boy. He’s been watching Star Wars to get the sword fighting down, much in the same way my daughter watches High School Musical over and over to get the dance moves and songs down. So, the DVR has been a blessing in that regard.

We took the tree down yesterday, to only a small protest. Calvin bargained for Christmas to last one more week. Last year he was so upset when I took the tree down. He wanted it in his room. Um, no.

How was everyone else Christmases? Good memories? Funny ones?