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    Friday, March 26, 2010

    Watching New Moon with my Husband

    My husband is pretty secure in his masculinity and thus able to withstand most chick flicks I hurl at him. Although his tastes run more toward Face Punch that Love Spelled Backwards is Love, he tolerates almost anything as long as it doesn’t have Meryl Streep in it.

    The other night I lured him into watching New Moon with the promise of decent special effects. I felt slightly uncomfortable, just like I did when we watched Twilight together. I kept waiting for him to turn to me, raise one eyebrow and say, “Really?”

    But like I said, he’s pretty tolerant.

    Then about the time Bella starts to figure out that Jacob is a werewolf, Kory let out a small exasperated sigh and said, “Why don’t they throw in a couple more mythical creatures for her to fall in love with? Like a warlock or a goblin…”

    “Or a troll,” I suggested.

    “Right,” he muttered.

    We went back to watching the movie. All was quiet. Then my husband grunted in mock torture, “Thag love Bella.”

    I dissolved into laughter but pulled it together to play my part. “I love you, too, Thag. But you’re too good for me.”

    “Thag will always be troll. Always live under bridge. Bella must live happy life without Thag.”

    “No, Thag! Make me a troll too! Then we can live under the bridge together forever!”

    “But, Bella . . . oh, . . . hold on a sec. Hey you! Yeah, you in rain jacket. You no cross bridge. You bring Thag two juicy goats. Then cross bridge.”

    That’s about the time I lost it. Ever since my first pregnancy when Kory discovered that if he made me laugh too hard I’d pee, he’s regarded that ability as a super power and sought to repeat those moments of glory. Cruel, cruel man.

    I recovered--after a trip to the bathroom--and Kory restrained his extracuricular comments for the rest of the movie, but I'm not sure I'll ever be able to watch New Moon again without thinking of poor Thag and his undiscovered storyline.

    Anyway whether you’re a troll, a vampire, a clumsy girl, or an ordinary person with an unreliable bladder, one thing is true: All relationships require compromise. I think I owe my husband a guy movie night. Any suggestions?

    Friday, March 19, 2010

    Good News is Way Better than Dieting

    First, congratulations to Atypical Girl. You won a copy of Tracey Bateman’s Thirsty. I know you’re going to love it. I encourage everybody else to go out and buy it. And if you like to read Christian fantasy/allegory/speculative fiction/COOL stuff, then go to your local Christian bookstore and ask them to order it for you if they don’t have it. I, and other bright and attractive folks like me, would love to see this genre grow.

    Have you ever had something wonderful slap you out of your own miserable belly-button contemplation? That happened to me this week. I’ve been on an angst-ridden what-do-I-do-now treadmill since Secret Agent Man called and said we weren’t getting anywhere with my supernatural romance. (See above sentiments about speculative genres.) He asked me to come up with a new project to pitch.

    I brainstormed with my mom, my brother, and some other trusted writer friends, sent off a couple emails, then boarded a flight to Poor Me Land. I haven’t heard back from Secret Agent Man, which means he’s

    A. Really busy
    B. Afraid I’ll cry over the phone
    C. Captured by the enemy and being tortured for information

    I hope it’s not C.

    In the midst of my career hiccup and corresponding with my children’s spring break, I decided to go on a diet. My husband tried to convince me this was a somewhat dangerous idea, but I assured him that—despite knowing me better than anyone else—he was mistaken.

    Seasoned dieters know what the day before you start the diet looks like, so I’m not going spell it out, but the initials are P-i-g O-u-t. The fun thing is, the diet I’m on actually encourages this and even has a technical, guilt-reducing name for it: Loading. Doesn’t that sound official and medical and reasonable? I like it.

    I met my friend at PF Chang’s in order to load, and she shared some wonderful news with me. It was as if some giant hand reached down and picked me out of my stinky, self-absorbed swamp. I was and am so genuinely happy. For someone else!

    Maybe this doesn’t seem like such an accomplishment to you. And no, I’m not some selfish, stingy jerk who can never celebrate another’s success. But the moment I experienced the other day was just so completely joyful that I had to stop and take note and just revel in the Wonderful.

    I hope your spring break brings some Wonderful your way. And for those of you asking, what was the news? Well, it’s not mine to share. Besides, this blog is about me.

    Thursday, March 11, 2010


    I’m giving away a copy of Thirsty by Tracey Bateman! See details at the end of this post.

    I felt like cheering when I heard that Tracey Bateman was writing a vampire novel for a Christian audience. With the recent surge in popularity of all things blood-sucking (well, maybe not mosquitoes), I was hoping a Christian publisher would see the value in exploring the depths of metaphor within vampire lore.

    Let me take a step back for a second and say that my love for finding symbolism within legends, myths, and ghost stories is rooted in my highschool discovery of Bram Stoker’s Dracula and Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. Contrary to pop culture treatment of these Halloween monsters, the actual literary works dealt with heavy themes of good and evil, mankind’s thirst for power, and God’s ultimate control.

    I’ve pretty much been enamored with the vehicles of metaphor ever since. I probably drove my college professors nuts with my endless interpretations of symbolism in the driest and most straight-forward of texts. Apparently, my physics professor didn’t want to hear my extrapolated thoughts on Newton’s Laws of Motion.

    I’ve learned to chain my inner allegory addict when I’m around science-y types, but I’m pretty sure none of them read my blog, so I should be safe as I applaud the exquisite use of metaphor in Thirsty.

    In my opinion, Thirsty is a dead-on (notice I didn’t say undead-on) example of how and why we can, and should, use a vampire character to bring scope and breadth to the theme of a Christian book.

    Nina Parker, the protagonist in Thirsty, is a recovering alcoholic. Her addiction has destroyed her marriage and her relationships with her family, and now she’s forced to move back to her hometown. But something other than Nina’s personal demons haunts Abbey Hills, Missouri. As the origins of Nina’s curse surface, she struggles to navigate her new path of sobriety while piecing her life back together.

    Nina’s striking neighbor offers support, friendship, and the possibility of new love, but something about Marcus is unsettling, alien, or maybe all too familiar. As their friendship grows, Marcus recounts the story of another family curse, couched in local legend, that bears an alarming similarity to Nina’s own destructive legacy.

    As two obsessions collide, Nina and her daughter, Meagan, are caught in a very real nightmare. Desire and addiction threaten to consume Nina’s existence as she takes step by tenuous step toward the only true source of strength.

    Thirsty is a satisfying and, yes, uplifting read. I think no one is immune to the call of addiction in some form or other. If we’re honest, we’ll see shades of ourselves in Nina’s story. But we’ll also see grace and strength for the battle.

    The visionary folks at Waterbrook graciously provided me with a copy of Thirsty to give away. Leave me a comment and tell me your favorite vampire or monster story or your favorite character in one of those stories. I’ll draw a name on Friday, March 19th.

    I’ll start.

    My favorite vamp has got to be the charismatic and ever-searching Lestat from Anne Rice’s The Vampire Chronicles.

    Wednesday, March 3, 2010

    The Knife, Literally

    So I wrote my first stabbing scene yesterday. It was both challenging and fun. The fact that it was challenging is reassuring because it suggests that I have never been stabbed nor stabbed anything more alive than a rare steak. The fact that it was fun is disturbing because it suggests I might want to. I’ll be seeking professional help for that last one.

    Already, this new book I’m working on is more gritty, more edgy, more raw. I’m finding I need to fight my own love of words with this novel. I keep having to resist the urge to make my sentences pretty.

    I confess to having a crush on the English language. While I’m not so far gone as to be a poet, I still flirt with my prose way more than a mature writer should. By the way, I don’t claim to be a mature writer. I merely aspire to maturity. Someday.

    I really had to walk the line with the fight scene I wrote. The action needed to be clear. The pain and emotion needed the immediacy of concrete language. This was not a time for simile. After all, if I’d written, “The knife slid into my stomach like a serving spoon into Aunt Mildred’s Waldorf salad,” it would have really killed the energy of the scene.

    This experience got me thinking about art and metaphor and abstract representation. And also about the complexities of literal, meaning-rich expression. Which naturally brought to mind the video at the end of this post. I think the visual images in this clip are a good reminder not to let our creativity trample our, well, common sense, grip on reality, and choice of hairstyle. The words in this clip? Well, I’ll let them speak for themselves.

    Warning: This clip contains no profanity but has some mildly off-color humor. If you’re easily offended, skip it. If your sense of humor occupies the same spectrum as mine, grab a pair of Depends.