Thursday, June 30, 2005

Embrace your inner geek

A little quiz for ya:

1. When you're planning a trip, do you spend a lot of time looking at maps? (even when you know where you're going)

2. When you go to look up a word in the dictionary, do you get sidetracked by other interesting words you find along the way?

3. Do you subscribe to A Word a Day? (or some other place that sends you words by e-mail)

4. When you go to a bookstore, do you gravitate to the reference section and look longingly at books such as Bryan Garner's Modern American Usage?

5. When you read Atlantic Monthly, do you read the Word Court column first?

6. Have you read a book by Barbara Wallraff? Do you know who she is?*

7. Have you ever amused yourself by reading the encyclopedia?

8. Is your computer cluttered with nifty free programs that you just HAD to try.

9. Were you a member of your high school band, and/or participated in debate and forensics? (give yourself extra points for doing these things in college)

10. Do you feel you can relate to Hermione Grainger (Harry Potter's know-it-all friend)?

If you can say yes to maybe half of these questions, then just go ahead, embrace your inner geek. You don't need to go out and buy a pocket protector or walk around carrying a big dictionary, but be happy with yourself. I figured this out about myself some time ago and decided, this is who I am. That's OK.

By the way, this isn't a scientific study and no human subjects were subjected to embarrassing questions while I formulated this quiz. And this is by no means a comprehensive measure of geekiness -- it's just a measure of some types of geekiness.

(And if you can tell me that you averaged 61 mph on a 1200-mile drive back from Idaho, you might also qualify.)

* Barbara Wallraff is the Word Court columnist and has written a couple of cool books -- about words of course.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

A picture

Blogger lets you upload images straight from your computer! This is cool. So I tried it. In case you're wondering, this is my family, mid-60s or so. It's Easter, I think. We're on the steps of the church where my dad was minister for most of the 1960s. The girl in the adorable matching coat and dress (and cat-eye glasses) is yours truly. Those two little boys are my brothers. Tim is in the suit coat, Jim is the redhead. Tim and Jim grew up to be ministers and I grew up to be ...

Good interview

Katy interviewed Jeff Berryman about his book Leaving Ruin. It's very interesting and sounds like a book I want to read. And it's a good interview. Check it out.

Great mom quote

Here's the tip for the day from my Just for Moms desk calendar:
When children misbehave and anger builds within, call out "Loving universe, may I be free of this anger!" This is unlikely to alter your feelings but will stun your children into silence.

The end of an era

It feels like an era of Christian rock is coming to an end. Larry Norman recently played what is very likely his last U.S. concert.

I didn't even know there was such a thing as Christian rock until I got to Bible college in 1975 and started hearing about Larry Norman, Randy Stonehill, the 2nd Chapter of Acts and a few others. It was wonderful to realize there was cool music praising God! (Except I think we were already singing "I Wish We'd All Been Ready" at camp.) Rock on, Larry.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Thoughts on excellence

The discussion of how we (as Christians) should be writing continues. Mick's post from a few days ago continues to generate comments. Mark articulated very well his thoughts on the subject. I find myself nodding in agreement as I read them.

But I also see the point of those who caution against innovation or "edginess" for the sake of innovation or "edginess" alone. And I've enjoyed books that can only be described as fluff. (Janet Evanovich anyone?) I've always been cursed (yes, sometimes it's a curse) with seeing both sides of an issue. It takes me a while to decide where my opinion falls on the continuum of things.

Last night it was too hot to sleep well (air conditioning on the fritz) so I thought about this for a while. And here is what I believe.

I took a class in college that was about recognizing God's truth in all kinds of literature (or something like that -- I forget the exact name of the class). I think I took it partly because I knew I'd get to read The Lord of the Rings and the Chronicles of Narnia for class credit. We also looked at other writers and I came away from the class with an understanding that God's truth shows up in unexpected places. I also came to realize that our God is a God of excellence.

This isn't a new concept, but it was something of a revelation to me almost 30 years ago (yes it's been that long). I think I began to wonder why Christian artists so often seemed to be content with their average effort, instead of really pushing themselves to true excellence. (And I'm not saying that all Christian artists are mediocre.) Of course, this is true in the secular world as well. And it's certainly true of myself. I'm lazy and being pushed is often not very pleasant. The end result of being pushed, though, is worth the unpleasantness.

God made us to be creative beings. He also expects no less than our best for him. That whole first fruits business doesn't just apply to crops, you know. So whatever I write, I need to do my best. I need to be willing to accept constructive criticism, I need to make sure I've cleaned up spelling and punctuation and grammar, I need to be willing to be pushed to produce the best art I'm capable of. I need to be willing to try a different style or form if that's the best way to tell the story. I need to be willing to tell a story that makes people squirm a little, if that's the kind of story God wants me to tell.

What I am not saying is that everyone should produce the same kind of writing. Different readers have different tastes, different writers have different styles. That's what's so wonderful about books! I could no more write The Inside Job than Mark could write Secrets in Connors Grove. (Not that he'd want to.)

What I am saying is that we all need to aim for excellence -- whether it's in literary fiction or mysteries or romance or horror or whatever. We can't settle for being average or being like every other writer on the market.

I think Mark has a point about the need for true critical evaluation of Christian fiction (and non-fiction). Without some measure of accountability, we get lazy. When my mother or my friends tell me they like my writing, that's nice, but it doesn't push me to be a better writer. But if someone reads my writing and says this is what works and this is what doesn't, here are the strengths, here are the weaknesses -- then I have a better idea of how well I succeeded in telling my story. Of course there is some subjectivity in reviews, but there's also a measuring against an accepted standard. Lately the Atlantic Monthly has been running little sidebars with examples of good writing and bad writing (with explanations of why the examples are good or bad) in its book review section. That's a good idea.

Excellence doesn't exclude writers. It holds up a standard and says "Here, see if you can reach this. Try, you can do it. But if you can't, you're still a better writer than you were before." I'm trying.

Monday, June 27, 2005

Here's today's big news in Kansas

The man who described himself as "BTK" pleaded guilty today. Here's the Wichita Eagle's coverage.

I took a survey

BoingBoing directed me to this survey on blogs. It doesn't take long and it's easy.

Take the MIT Weblog Survey

Friday, June 24, 2005

For your reading pleasure ...

Today let me steer you to some thoughtful, and thought-provoking, words from more articulate writers than I am.

First, let Mark take you to a cool, restful place where great literature is pondered and enjoyed. This is especially nice when you're in Kansas and it's already in the 80s and it's not even 9 a.m. yet.

Katy tells a delightful coffee story, which reminds me of one my favorite coffee places (in the past).

Then, allow Mick to encourage you to be inventive and innovative and excellent. I continue to be blessed by his humility and his sincere quest to be the writer God has called him to be. In the process, he's encouraging a lot of others to do the same. I don't know how innovative I am yet. I think I still need to learn the rules better before I start breaking them. But it's posts like Mick's that point me in the right direction.

And finally, Christianity Today's editorial really nails the issue (at least for me) of the intersection of faith and politics. (Thanks, Brad, for bringing this to my attention.)

May I add (at the risk of committing some blogging sins by editing this post):
The wisdom of Bill Watterson and the pointedness of Wiley Miller.

Further perusal of Tim Challies' excellent Web site turned up this review of a book about prayer that sounds excellent.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Peace Like a River

Last night I finished Peace Like a River by Leif Enger. It's an amazing book and I highly recommend it. The story just flows and, though it seems to ramble at times, it's always going somewhere. The language is beautiful and the characters are distinct and finely drawn. You gotta love a writer who can get the word "smote" into the first chapter of a book.

This is a book written by a believer, about believers, but the faith in the book flows from the characters and the situations. It's not forced, even though miracles wait around every corner. It doesn't preach, people aren't perfect, but they are genuine and their faith sustains them through a difficult time. This is what I want to do with my writing, but I obviously have a long way to go!

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Good reading

The waiter's on a roll today. You should read it along with the entries in the Celebration of Christian Fiction. And, no, that is not blasphemy.

And here's a neat thing: The Devil's Dictionary online: cool interface places the wit and wisdom of Ambrose Bierce at your mousetip.

Check out this dragon optical illusion. I found it by way of the Annals of Improbable Research. Be sure you watch the movie! I downloaded the pdf that you can cut out and put together, but I haven't tried it yet.

Celebrate with us

The June Christian Fiction Celebration is up. It's hosted this month by Marcia Laycock and once again you'll find plenty of reflections on writing from a delightful group of people. I posted my entry yesterday and you can read it below. Enjoy!

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Writing as an act of faith

Marcia Laycock suggested this quote by E.B. White as a starting point for entries in this month's Christian Fiction Celebration: “Writing is an act of faith, not a trick of grammar.”

I can see the truth in that. It is by faith that I live. Faith and creativity seem closely intertwined — creativity allows me to partake of one aspect of the nature of God. Another aspect of this truth is that as I write, I clarify my thoughts and understandings of a subject. If I’m meditating on a passage of scripture, writing about it can help me deepen my understanding of it. In some mysterious way, God uses the act of writing about his word to teach me more about his word.

But for me, the deepest act of faith in writing isn’t in the actual writing. It’s in the sending out. Writing is a solitary act and it falls very neatly into my comfort zone. I could always write for an assignment: You need 15 inches on a new business in town? No problem (except for the actual calling up and talking to people part of the process, which is one reason I’m not still a reporter).

The difficult part comes AFTER the piece is written. Giving it to someone else to read; putting it in the envelope to the publisher and taking it to the post office and putting postage on it and actually mailing it; hitting the send button on the e-mail containing the short story — those thing are an act of faith for me. Once a piece of writing leaves my hands, I really have to let go of it and let God do with it what he will.

I read a short story* recently and one of the characters is a guy who's sort of stuck in adolescence. He writes stories and performs them, accompanied by guitar, in a little club. And in the story he says that an agent wanted him to send her his stories. But he never did. Why? Because he's afraid of rejection. He lets his fear and lack of faith in himself keep him from doing something he really wants to do.

I’ve been where that guy in the story is. I used to let my lack of confidence, which is really a selfish lack of trust in God, hold me back. But I’ve learned that if I want to be a published writer, I can’t just let my stories sit on my computer. I have to send them out into the world. So, I’ve had some rejection and discovered it wasn’t a catastrophic blow to my ego. I’ve also found encouragement in unexpected places.

Writing seems to encourage the needy part of my nature. I want approval, I want people to enjoy what I’ve written, I want God to use my writing for his service. But I’ve learned that my value is not dependent on what someone thinks of my writing. It’s not dependent on whether or not I ever get published.

Remember the part in Indiana Jones and the Holy Grail where Indy has to follow the directions in his dad’s diary to find the Grail? He comes to a precipice, with a wide chasm between himself and what he seeks. There appears to be no bridge. But there has to be a bridge. He follows the directions and takes that step out into what appears to be thin air. Except the bridge is there, just as the diary said. (A former pastor loved this scene and used to show it to illustrate sermons on faith!)

Sometimes sending out something I’ve written feels like stepping over the edge of that precipice. But the support is already there for me to walk on.

I always think of the following verse in the King James version because it’s quoted in a hymn we sang a lot when I was growing up: “For I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I’ve committed unto him against that day.” (2 Timothy 1:12)

I commit my writing to God. He will use it in the way he sees fit. But for him to use it, I can’t be like the servant in the parable who was afraid and buried his one talent. I have to do my part to get my talent — my writing — out into the world and let God do the rest.

(*The story was How to Paint a Naked Man by Melissa Bank and it appears in the June issue of Glamour magazine. It’s an excerpt from Bank’s book The Wonder Spot.)

Saturday, June 18, 2005

Thoughts on a good place

Lately Chris has been has been blogging about the Top Ten Things That Leave Me (him) Slackjawed. He has lots of scenic and wonderful pictures to back him up. But I would argue that he lives in a part of the world where one is likely to spend a lot of time in that slack-jawed state. I, on the other hand, live in Kansas -- not a state where one spends a lot of time being slack-jawed. Or so you would think. But, to paraphrase the apostle Paul, I have learned to be content in whatever state I'm in. So here's some of the reasons I like Kansas (in no particular order):

1) Friendly people. I'm not alone in thinking this. Everyone I know who visits us comments on how nice everyone is to them. I think it's the reason people come here for various reasons and never leave. No matter what you think of our legislature or our board of education, the actual people here are nice and generally accepting of individual differences.

2) Room to breathe. Maybe part of why everyone is nice is because there's plenty of room for everyone. There's a little more than 2 million people in the whole state. Kansas is a big state. That translates into lots of empty space. When you drive the two-lane highways, you'll go miles between towns. When I go to visit family in Illinois, it feels more crowded.

3) Lots of sky. When you live where there's a lot of open space, you start to appreciate the sky.

4) The Flint Hills. Kansas is a remarkably diverse geographical area. One of the most beautiful parts of that geography is the Flint Hills region, in the eastern half of the state. It's defined by rolling hills covered in prairie grasses. If you want to know more about the Flint Hills, check out the Konza Prairie Web site.

5) Embracing eccentricity. I think Plains living must have held an attraction to people of, shall we say, an independent temperment. How else to explain the Garden of Eden, in Lucas, or Cawker City's giant ball of twine. All I can say is, you work with what you've got.

I think this is enough to start with, but I'll add to my list another time.

Friday, June 17, 2005

A cornucopia of delights

So do we want serious stuff first or fun stuff. I think I'll go with the serious first.

Former Sen. John Danforth has an excellent op-ed column in today's New York Times about the viewpoints of Christian moderates and the need to express those values in today's political climate.

I found an interesting organization through a link sent to me today: PJNet. It looks like a journalism group worth paying attention to. Some of the people involved are familiar to me from my academic journalism days; their conference in San Antonio looks like it will have a good group of panelists. I think public journalism, or civic journalism, if done well offers a way for the news business to connect better with ordinary citizens. I like something from today's blog post. He's talking about "the digital reformation; a faction of the church breaks free and allows the masses to read and interpret the bible themselves. That's what is happening with the media..." Fascinating stuff.

Mick Silva has a two-part interview with Brandilyn Collins at Your Writer's Group. It's a good discussion about the diversity of CBA books and audiences and embracing that diversity with grace and excellence.

A couple of days ago, Internet Monk had an excellent post "It's Not Easy Talking about Jesus." It's thought-provoking and seems to apply in many ways to writing from a Christian perspective (but not preaching).

Now for something fun. BoingBoing (this place is great) pointed me to the perfect project for new dads desperate to use their power tools in the service of baby needs.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Web sites for writers

Since I don't want Brenda to be all hrumphy (is that a word?), I'm going to share some of my favorite resources.


Chicago Manual of Style (even if you don't have a paid subscription, there's a lot of useful info here):

Strunk & White (the standard by which all else are judged):

Guide to Grammar & Writing:

The Slot (there's nothing like a curmudgeonly copy editor to set you straight):

Purdue OWL (all your grammar questions answered, with illustrations and exercises!):

Jon Carroll (mondegreens! and he's a good writer, too):

News Watch (they have a good style guide for nonoffensive language):

Language Corner:

The Power of Words:

AJR Resources:

Google Scholar:

Sree net, smarter surfing links:

Power Reporting Tools:

Journalism tools:


Policy Research Institute (Kansas specific):

Ref Desk (this may be the single best starting point for all kinds of information):

A dictionary site that searches a bunch of dictionaries! (a reverse dictionary too!)

Plain English:

New York Public Library Digital Gallery:

Bible Reference tools:

KSU library:

Kansas Library Card:

Morbid curiousity (is Abe Vigoda dead or not?):
(Find a Grave)
(The Dead People Server)

The Wayback Machine (an archive of Web sites):

Poynter Online (writing, ethics, journalism, photojournalism -- amazing resource):


Faith in Fiction -- tips and forum

Lots of stuff at the eServer

My own Web site:

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

A cautionary tale

This article from the Chronicle of Higher Education is just the latest development in a situation I'm familiar with. Be sure and read the comments at the bottom. Here's the Collegian's take on it. And this is some background.

When Ron Johnson was dismissed as adviser last year, I was aghast. (Not a word I get to use very often, but it applies.) He taught me a lot of what I know about editing and page design and I respect and admire him. Daily grammar quizzes and weekly AP Style quizzes have a lot to do with me being qualifed for the editorial job I have now. He was an important part of the journalism program, and he's still a professor, but he's not advising the student media and that's a loss, I feel. Last year, 'visiting advisers' did his job; the adviser position is still open as far as I know.

Student reporters and editors learn their jobs by doing them, but they usually only do their jobs a semester at a time. Then it's a new group of students in charge. But the faculty adviser is there to take the heat semester after semester. Sometimes he or she gets burned. The Student Press Law Center documents lots of these cases every year. If you ever read a college newspaper, just understand that these newspapers' faculty advisers often have a thankless job as they try to prepare the next generation of journalists.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Some more good stuff

While checking BoingBoing, I found something all bloggers should bookmark: EFF has published a legal guide for bloggers relating to copyright and other issues.

Someone at Faith in Fiction pointed out Chuck Colson's column about Gilead. It's good (and it's short).

And a few bloggers have started an online soap opera: In the great circle. This is truly hilarious. Just be sure you don't read it while sipping your morning coffee at your computer. It could be hazardous.

Monday, June 13, 2005

Tag, I'm It

Brad tagged me with this movie thing, so here goes:

Total number of DVDs/VHS tapes I own: Good grief, I don't know. We have a ton of tapes, but probably 15-20 DVDs.

The last film I bought: I think it might have been the Star Wars DVD set (the original three movies plus special features). Our kids gave us the extended version of The Return of the King for Christmas, so we have all the extended versions of the Lord of the Rings.

The last film I watched: I saw The Interpreter while I was in Chicago a few weeks ago. I really enjoyed it. I never thought I was a big Sean Penn or Nicole Kidman fan, but I enjoyed them in the movie and I liked the way the story unfolded. I think the critics were mixed on it, but I thought it was good storytelling.

Five films I watch a lot or mean a lot to me: 1) I kind of have a tie here: While You Were Sleeping -- this is one of my favorite movies. I love all the characters and the way they interact. And The Goodbye Girl -- another sappy love story, but it's great; 2) Tootsie -- this is the most hilarious movie. I know parts of it by heart I think. Even though I've seen it many, many times, I still just die laughing when I watch it; 3) About a Boy -- Hugh Grant is gorgeous and this is just such a neat story. I love how these people who aren't related become a kind of intentional family; 4) Safe Passage -- Susan Sarandon as the mother of seven sons. So much of this movie resonates with me: big family, lots of boys, things aren't always perfect, grownup love; 5) a tie here -- The Lord of the Rings movies and the Star Wars movies (so really I get six movies in this one category). Epic stories, wonderfully created worlds, Viggo Mortensen and Harrison Ford. 'Nuf said.

So now I'm supposed to tag five people. Hmmmm. How about:
(I was never very good at playground games, so if this doesn't fly with you guys, it's OK.)

Seek Unity

In essentials unity, in nonessentials liberty, and in all things love.
(St. Augustine)

There seems to be some acrimony in the air these days. I’m not talking about the general incivility in Congress, or the whole red states/blue states divide. I’m talking about the body of Christ, specifically parts of the body of Christ I participate in through an e-mail listserv and online. What seems to be happening is that brothers and sisters in Christ seem incapable of accepting that there might be other brothers and sisters in Christ who see things a little differently. Now this is human nature and it’s always been with us. The church has never been the most united of bodies, no matter what period of history you look at. But I think it’s getting worse.

I’ve been an avid reader of My Writer’s Group – now Your Writer’s Group. I was inspired by Mick’s exhortations to excellence in Christian art. He holds fairly strong opinions on the subject, but he also exhibited a refreshingly humble spirit in a lot of what he wrote. Apparently, not everyone thought so. He pulled his blog for a week or so and came back very apologetic for having offended people. I have no idea who was offended, and I couldn’t really figure what he had written that WAS all that offensive. Pat addressed this very well the other day, so I don’t need to repeat what she said.

On another front, members of a list I belong to (not writing related) have been sniping at one another pretty regularly about attitudes and opinions. It seems that almost any subject now has become a minefield — there’s little desire to even agree to disagree about matters of opinion.

Whatever happened to the concept of civil discourse? “Wherever two or three are gathered together …” there will be disagreement, I know. I’m the classic oldest child: a people pleaser and conciliator. I want everyone to get along and play nice. I’ve learned that doesn’t always happen, but at least people could accept that they don’t see things the same way and move on to something else.

One thing I’ve learned in my 47 years on this earth: we serve a big God. He’s a lot bigger than the differences that divide us. He’s a lot bigger than whether or not we should have a salvation scene in the novel we’re writing, or if our characters can say “hell” and “damn,” or if married people can have sex and enjoy it. God can use a prairie romance, a prairie romance gone horribly wrong, and a prairie romance that isn’t really a romance and isn’t really on the prairie but it sort of invokes those concepts.

But the spirit of discord I’ve become aware of isn’t from God. Here is what Sam Gamgee says to Faramir in the clearing of Ithilien (The Two Towers, “The Window on the West”):
“… But it’s a pity that folk as talk about fighting the Enemy can’t let others do their bit in their own way without interfering. He’d be mighty pleased, if he could see you now. Think he’d got a new friend, he would.”

Here's a verse of a song that seems like a prayer worth praying:

“Take these hands
Teach them what to carry
Take these hands
Don’t make a fist.
Take this mouth
So quick to criticize
Take this mouth
Give it a kiss.”
(Bono, “Yahweh,” How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb)

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Interesting interviews

Infuze has posted an interview with a Christian writer in Hollywood. Before you say "There's an oxymoron if ever I heard one," read it. Dean Batali wrote for Buffy the Vampire Slayer and That 70s Show — not exactly two shows where I would have expected to find a Christian writer. But it's an interesting interview.

And speaking of Infuze (what a seque), Chris Well posted the first part of his interview with Robin Parrish, the mastermind behind my favorite Christian arts & culture magazine.

I keep finding good stuff today. Christianity Today did an interview with Steve Bell, a musician I'm not familiar with (but I think I want to be). It's excellent and really speaks to what it takes to achieve excellence as an artist. What he says applies to any Christian artist, not just songwriters.

Let me also add, though this isn't exactly an interview, that Mick Silva's blog is back. I'm glad.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005


Several things lately have reminded me that when we talk about a "walk of faith" we're really talking about a journey. We don't stand still -- at least not for long. We have to keep moving. Sometimes it's a slow walk, sort of a saunter. Other times we run along the road, in a hurry to get to where God is leading us.

A man came through my home town the other day. (Note: Because of the way my hometown paper does its Web page, scroll down to the story titled "Sojourner gathers attention, converts.") I had actually seen him walking along the road on Sunday afternoon, dressed like someone playing Jesus in a passion play. And the next day, when he got to town, I didn't go looking for him. I figured he was probably not playing with a full deck. And maybe he isn't, but after reading the story in the local paper, maybe he's just someone God has called to a different kind of journey than mine. It reminds me that I am often too quick to judge, too quick to dismiss people who express their faith differently than I do.

I've been reading Traveling Mercies by Anne Lamott this week. Here's another person whose walk of faith doesn't look a lot like mine. I find it easier to accept, though, probably because she's a good writer and makes it so interesting. But I know that some people find her views and life unsettling.

But reading her thoughts on life and faith reminds me that God starts with us where we are and then moves us to where he wants us to be. It takes time. Speaking personally, it seems to me that God may be trying to move us to a new phase of our walk with him. I'm not sure where we're headed, but I know something else about walking with Him. We won't be walking alone.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

A new use for marshmallows

This is more of why I like boys. Last night I arrived home and saw my 17-year-old son Tim on the porch with some of his friends (Jonathon, Jake and Coda). They looked a tad guilty. Tim said "Mommy don't look. We're not doing anything."

Now when a 17-year-old says "Mommy" he's trying to be cute and endearing and you know he's up to something. So I looked. And, actually, it wasn't anything so bad that they were doing. Just shooting miniature marshmallows through pvc pipe things. Jonathon had actually devised the contraptions -- the pvc pipe was in sections and they put the shooters together so they looked sort of like those giant water guns. They'd drop a marshmallow in one end and blow through the other and the marshmallows would fly far across the yard. I figured this was relatively harmless, but told them not to shoot them into our elderly neighbor's yard (she's easily upset). I even contributed a dollar to the cause so they could buy another bag of cheap marshmallows.

Shooting marshmallows at each other kept them entertained for quite a while until someone drove by and yelled at them. I don't think he understood that it was marshmallows they were shooting. I suppose it would be easy to misconstrue what teenage boys with pvc pipe joined into gun shapes might be doing.

When I left the house this morning, the yard and street were still littered with the carcasses of miniature marshmallows.

If you want to see some of my funny boys, go here. Tim is the one on the far right.

Monday, June 06, 2005

Go Royals!

At the risk of jinxing this good fortune, the Kansas City Royals have a four-game winning streak! I became more of a Royals fan while I was laying out sports pages — I suppose I stay a fan because I tend to keep cheering for teams that lose a lot. I like the Cubs, too. I grew up in a pretty solidly Cardinals household, but listening to Cubs broadcasts on WGN radio in the early days of our marriage (when we had no TV) produced a switch in loyalties. Sorry Dad.

Hi, my name is Linda and I'm a blogaholic

Yes, I think there should be a group for us (I'm not alone). I was in San Antonio for a conference last week and there were a limited number of computers for us to use, so I didn't have time to do more than check for essential e-mail. And I missed blogging. Really. I came back and checked my stats on StatCounter and saw that when I wasn't posting, my traffic really went down (and it wasn't all that great to start with). I found myself hoping that people would understand and come back once I started posting again. This is sad. I also missed reading blogs and have a lot of catching up to do.

So if recognizing that you have a problem is the first step in recovery, maybe I'm on my way. But maybe not. I guess I'll find out next time I'm gone for a few days.

Your child really IS an artist

This is just cool! Go to BoingBoing and find out more about how you can get your child's drawings turned into cool paintings.

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Write a STORY

I read the following in the CT at the Movies newsletter (Mark Moring wrote it), about Cinderella Man:
When I saw Cinderella Man with other members of the Christian media several weeks ago, one of them complained about the movie's bad language—including extensive usage of the Lord's name in vain. He said he couldn't "recommend" the movie because of the language, and seemed to be saying the film would've been better without all the bad words. Often, I might agree with that observation. But if you took the bad words out of Cinderella Man, you'd no longer have a movie that portrays truth—in all of its beauty and its ugliness.

I used to be a sportswriter, and I covered a bit of boxing. It is a seedy world, and it's hard to know what's thrown around more—punches or profanities. I would expect any realistic film about boxing to include both the punches and the profanities. If Cinderella Man had been stripped of its bad language, I wouldn't have found it believable; it would not have been truthful storytelling. Further, Braddock's faith—and the fact that he avoids bad language—wouldn't have stood out so much had the boxing world been sanitized. A light indeed shines brighter in the darkness.

I've seen previews of Cinderella Man, and I knew even before I read this that I would want to see it (and not just because Russell Crowe is amazing). It looked like a good story. I'm not a boxing fan, but I was captivated by the story possiblities. That's what usually gets my attention: a good story.

I agree that as writers, we have to tell the truth, even if it's ugly. Especially if we're Christian writers. And we also have to tell a good story. Think about it.