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    Friday, January 29, 2010

    Downward-facing Dog

    I have a love/hate relationship with my Wii. I love that I can exercise in my living room when no one else is home. I hate pretty much everything else about exercising, including the Wii. So there you go.

    Still, I’ve been doing around twenty minutes of Wii Fit every morning for the past few weeks and yeah, yeah, it’s been good for me.

    After each exercise you’re scored and ranked, and then the Wii trainer offers you helpful advice along the lines of—“If you did this more often, you’d be in better shape, Dummy!”

    I’m obsessed with duping my Wii trainer. So much so that I will cheat and hold onto things to keep my yoga poses steady. When the instructor, Miss Perfect Yoga Body, claps for me, I feel an evil satisfaction at having fooled her empty head.

    But our new dog is messing with my cheating yoga routine. Like most young children, she thinks that any movement more vigorous than reaching for a coffee cup is an invitation to play.

    So as soon as I step on the Wii board, she shows up, stub wagging, ready to have fun. She circles around me as I breathe deeply.

    A side note: I REALLY hate it when I score low on breathing. Come on! Are you kidding me? I can breathe! I’ve been doing it for twenty-nine years, give or take a couple.

    Where was I? The dog. So the dog comes and plops her head on the Wii board next to my foot, and Miss Perfect Yoga Body tells me, “You’re a little shaky. Try to stabilize your back and legs.”

    I say nasty things about her leotard while trying to stabilize my back and legs.

    When the exercise is over, I nudge the dog away and move on to the next pose.

    But it gets really bad when I try to work on the floor. The other day, I wrangled my body into the cobra pose, which is suppose to look kinda like Ariel up on that rock in Disney’s The Little Mermaid. But with my body it looks more like The Little Orca. I’ve got my tummy, hips, and legs on the floor and am raising my torso up with my arms when Willie (the DOG, not the gardener, or the mailman, or the UPS guy—this needs to be clear) trots over and starts licking my neck.

    I squirm and giggle and squeal for Willie to stop. Yoga Body says something really helpful like, “You’re a little unbalanced.” To which I respond, “You’re an anorexic pixel with gray skin and unnaturally shifting boobies.”

    Of course, the witch gives me a low score for that and a lecture on doing yoga every day to improve my form and posture. But I’m starting to think maybe I need more interaction with the outside world. I’m picking fights with an avatar for crying out loud.

    Friday, January 22, 2010

    Books, Beef, and Bad-Mannered Bellies

    I wish kids had an early warning system—a billboard above their heads that read, “Warning: In approximately 5 hours I’m going to start puking.” That way, I wouldn’t stay up till midnight reading, only to be woken up two hours later by a forty pound Mount Vesuvius.

    Poor Chunky redefined his nickname earlier this week. But you’ll be glad to know he’s back to his little dumpling self, and the rest of us managed to avoid gastronomic catastrophe.

    This reminds me of a story Mild-mannered Missionary Mary once told me. Apparently she and her husband—we like to call him Bill—once had a very harrowing boat ride in the middle of a serious storm. Mary was sitting with her suitcase on her lap, the ocean round her ankles, and a serious case of “God if you get me through this, I promise to…” when she spotted a mysteriously smiling stranger.

    Immediately, Mary experienced a profound peace. The man had to be an angel. No human could be calm in the middle of such a storm. Mary’s reassurance lasted right up until the smiling man lost his lunch. She now refers to him as The Puking Angel.

    Good book title don’t you think? Speaking of books, I finally finished mine. It’s tentatively called Flower in the Sky: A Faerie Tale. Technically, I finished the manuscript last week, but the epilogue revolted. I flogged it a few times and it finally surrendered.

    Yesterday I met with Secret Agent Man, and he and I brainstormed titles for a series. After some free association and thesaurus consulting, we came up with The Faerie Link Trilogy. What do you think?

    The series follows three individuals whose lives are hijacked by the Fair Folk. In the first, cloudy-headed Elodie Lessard discovers a brounie living in the wall of her apartment. He’s hot, he cleans, and no one else can see him. Awkward!

    I am really excited about the sequel, but I have to give my brother, the plot doctor, a call. People, never doubt that mad D&D skills come in handy. My brother, once a basement-dwelling geek, is now consultant to the literary stars. Ok, that’s overstating it a bit. How about, consultant to the dimly-lit light bulbs?

    But if the Big Pens ever discover my brother’s genius, I’ll have to start paying him to rescue me from my plot ledges.

    With my book done, I’m filling my downtime with odd tasks. Today I made our second annual trek to what we in The Springs call Kansas but is really just Falcon. Mom and I picked up our half a cow, and then I transferred Cudbert, all four boxes of him, into the freezer. I now have about four hundred pounds of beef in the garage and no idea what to make for dinner.

    If you have any beef recipes or experience with intrusive faeries, feel free to share!

    Friday, January 15, 2010

    Faerie Breath

    My week began in frustration. Everyday Stuff kept getting in the way of what I really wanted to do, which was FINISH MY NOVEL.

    On Tuesday I was reminded to be thankful for my everyday stuff. Amidst the heart-rending coverage of the earthquake in Haiti, I experienced flashes of amazement as organizations and individuals sprang into action. It takes my breath away to think that for a moment, we can step outside ourselves and experience the prompting of the Divine.

    Some of you know that I am attempting to write supernatural romance for a Christian audience. I know I’m going to face the question, “What do you think you’re doing mixing faith and faeries?”

    I’m not the first to have to answer the question, but I’ll take a stab at it.

    The truth is, I’m addicted to those moments that take me out of myself. Please don’t misunderstand. Of course, I’m not talking about using the suffering of others to remind myself that I’m alive. Rather, I’m referring to the displays of compassion, bravery, and selflessness that result from those tragedies.

    Like most folks, I spend way too much time in Humdrumville, focused on my messy house, what to fix for dinner, and how to wrangle Thing One and Thing Two into doing their homework.

    And then my little life is hijacked by the sublime. I see people pour themselves out in response to dire need. Or I read a story that opens my eyes to some new aspect of God. Or one of my sons says something profound. And I get goose bumps--like faerie breath on my skin.

    Do just a tiny bit of research and you’ll find that faerie tales and mythology have been around for a long, long time. As human beings, we’ve been combining our Faerie Breath Moments with our need to process truth through story since we started scratching marks on cave walls.

    I chose to write a supernatural romance novel because the concept crammed my imagination with opportunities to explore the extraordinary. And this is my contribution to the cave paintings, my record of faerie breath on my skin, my attempt at widening my gaze to include the reality of the unseen.

    If you’d like an opportunity to step out of yourself, please consider donating to one of the many organizations rushing aid to Haiti.

    Compassion International and World Vision are two worthy channels.

    Monday, January 4, 2010

    Why You Need Powers

    One of my favorite things about the holidays is guilt-free reading time. Moms never really go on vacation; we just experience a slight increase in our favorite leisure activities. Unfortunately, this means we sometimes mistake a really bad cold for vacation.

    “I’ve been in bed for three days, and I’ve finished four novels. I must be on vacation!”

    The best book I read this holiday season was Powers by John B. Olson. Check out his site here for a cool book trailer.

    When I read the first book in the series, Shade, I felt like buying ad space—you know, TV, radio, Internet, billboards. The campaign concept was simple: a huge arrow pointing to the swirly shadowy cover of Shade with the words, “This is it!”

    Olson wove all the elements together—suspense, action, mystery, romance—into a practically perfect package.

    I anxiously awaited the sequel, and when Powers arrived in the mail, I got goose bumps. The book didn’t disappoint.

    After a couple literary paragraphs that plunked me right in the middle of a Louisiana swamp and convinced me it was the most beautiful place on earth, the action slammed into high gear.

    The story opens with Mariutza, a gypsy girl with Dorothy Gale’s innocence and Catwoman’s mad fighting skills. The man she’s known as her grandfather is murdered by mysterious evil forces, and Mari must leave everything she knows to follow his final instructions to find the prophet Jaazaniah.

    If Mari is in touch with her inner Superwoman but a bit out of touch with reality, Jazz is the opposite. His harsh reality, scraping by as a musician in New Orleans, has squelched all but the instinct to survive. Until strange visions, and terrifying, hooded pursuers turn his life into a waking nightmare.

    Jazz and Mari’s paths cross, twist together, and lead them further into danger, intrigue, and powerful attraction.

    I loved the way the plot expanded to become bigger than all the characters yet still dependent on their choices. I was not ready for it to end, and now I have the bittersweet pleasure of waiting for the next installment.

    My imagination lives on books like John Olson’s Shade series. Like Lord of the Rings and Chronicles of Narnia, Olson’s books stoke the soul and feed those inner cravings we all have for something more than our cardboard existence.

    If, like me, you’re tired and hungry and you need a vacation from your vacation, I suggest you self-medicate with the exciting, deeply-satisfying, and beautifully-written Powers. Better yet, take two—both Shade and Powers—and call me in the morning. Or whenever you wake up after reading them straight through.