Wednesday, February 28, 2007

March column

My March "Notes from the Windowsill" column is up: Cleansing Fire. One of the wonders of the Flint Hills, at least for me, is when farmers and ranchers burn off pastures. It can be a dramatic sight, especially at night. And it reminds me of how God works in our lives, burning away the stuff that gets in the way of living for him. So that's what the column is about. As an online bonus, I included some relevant links.

Monday, February 26, 2007

How to tell spring has almost arrived in Kansas ...

Saturday we were under a tornado watch until 6 p.m. Then we were under a blizzard warning.

(Fortunately, we didn't get the nastiest of the weather -- just lots of rain and lots of wind.)

Friday, February 23, 2007

Blog tour and truth-tellers

Today I'd like to point you to a couple of things.

This week's CFBA blog tour features the second book in John Aubrey Anderson's Black and White Chronicles: Wedgewood Grey. You can find more about it at the CFBA blog.

This week I've been thinking about what freedom in Christ means -- particularly what it means when it comes to writing (but also reading). I don't have my thoughts very organized yet, but it's interesting how when I start thinking about something, I always find others who are thinking related things. Mike Duran posted yesterday about "What is Christian Art?" and it looks like the first in a series. Mike's thoughts are similar, though better expressed, to some of what I've been thinking. And he's not afraid to rattle a few cages, but he always does it with love. And since it's Friday, it's Mark Bertrand's turn to post at the Master's Artist: Tasting the Bitter Scroll is about the unpopularity of prophetic voices. If you wonder about honesty in art, both of these posts are good to read.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Good stuff on the Internet

One of the books I'm looking forward to reading this year is the first novel by Kathleen Popa, a fellow member of the Faith in Fiction community and a regular blogger I read. Her book is called To Dance in the Desert and it's coming out in May. There's a trailer up now and I encourage you to visit -- it's beautiful. Then enter the Web site and find out more about what inspired Katy to write about the desert, and read the first chapter.

I don't listen to a lot of podcasts, but one I listen to regularly is by Michael Spencer, otherwise known as the Internet Monk. He's a Bible teacher and preacher in Kentucky and I have to admit that part of why I like listening to him is I like his accent -- I lived in Southern Indiana long enough for a Kentucky accent to sound like home. But mostly I like what he says -- he's got good insights into Scripture, a heart for his students, a sharp wit and a keen eye for inconsistency and pretense in the American church. And he always plays cool music. (By the way, you do not have to have an iPod to listen to a podcast -- and you can download his podcasts from his blog if you don't want to mess with iTunes.)

OK, I have to add something. Chris posted about this very fun game that is right up a word geek's alley: Word Shoot: Spell Fast or Die. The idea is simple -- spell the word next to the alien ships coming at you. And sometimes you get the word "detonate," which blows up everything. This could be addictive.

Monday, February 19, 2007

CSFF Blog Tour: Where the Map Ends

This month, the Christian Science Fiction and Fantasy blog tour is highlighting a Web site: Where the Map Ends. The owner, Jeff Gerke, is a writer and former editor with several different publishing houses. But most of all, he's a fan of science fiction, fantasy, speculative fiction ... Well, here's how he describes himself on his Web site:

Jeff Gerke a guy who loves Christian speculative fiction.

Christian fantasy. Christian science fiction. Christian time travel. Christian spiritual warfare. Christian supernatural thrillers. Christian "chillers." Christian alternate history. Christian pure speculative. I even like Christian speculative gaming, manga, comics, animation, machinima, and animation. If it's Christian and it's speculative, I'm there.

Jeff has filled his Web site with the kind of stuff Christian science fiction and fantasy writers and fans will love: interviews, book suggestions, art, writing tips, publishing suggestions and lots of other neat stuff. A new feature he's added is world-building and character-building tools, including alien name-building. How cool is that? (I wish I'd knows about this when I was trying to come up with a name for the alien race in a short story I'm writing.)

Jeff is developing a great Web site that I know I'm going to be visiting again. Check it out.

You can also explore these fine blogs and Web sites to learn more:

Nissa Annakindt
Jim Black
Grace Bridges
Jackie Castle
Valerie Comer
Karri Compton
CSFF Blog Tour
Gene Curtis
D. G. D. Davidson
Chris Deanne
Janey DeMeo
Tessa Edwards
April Erwin
Kameron M. Franklin
Beth Goddard
Marcus Goodyear
Andrea Graham
Todd Michael Greene
Leathel Grody
Katie Hart
Sherrie Hibbs
Sharon Hinck
Christopher Hopper
Jason Joyner
K. D. Kragen
Tina Kulesa
Kevin Lucia and The Bookshelf Reviews 2.0 - The Compendium
Rachel Marks
Shannon McNear
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Eve Nielsen
John W. Otte
John Ottinger
Robin Parrish
Cheryl Russel
Hanna Sandvig
Mirtika Schultz
James Somers
Steve Trower
Speculative Faith
Daniel I. Weaver
Timothy Wise

Friday, February 16, 2007


I've been busy this week. I have some projects at work that have needed more attention and I haven't taken time to blog.

I think I'm going through a season of thinking. Which may be a good thing. When I have more to say, I'll say it. For right now, I've been thinking and praying. Our church has been doing 24/7 prayer for about a month now, and it's really neat. I've been in the prayer room about once a week since we started. It is very good to have a place to just be quiet and listen to God and see what he's doing in the lives of people in my church. And time in the prayer room does seem to help put the little daily annoyances and cares in perspective. So that's one thing I've been doing.

I've been walking again this week. One of my co-workers gives me a ride since it's been so bitterly cold. (It's not so cold today, but this afternoon it started snowing. I think it's more than the weather service had expected. It's been very pretty to watch out my window, but in a while I'll have to ride the van in it. Fun.) Anyway, I stood on the scales at the rec center and I've lost a little weight since December. It's encouraging, but I've got a long way to go.

We've been listening to Harry Potter books on audiobook. I get them from the library and Bob and I listen to the cd's together. If you've never listened to the audio versions of these, narrated by Jim Dale, you're missing a real treat. Dale is a wonderful reader, and does different voices for all the characters. It's fun to listen to. And while I listen, I've been trying to crochet again. I learned a long time ago, but I never was very good at it. But it keeps my hands busy and when I'm crocheting, I'm not eating.

So I guess that's the main things. Take care. And here's a thought for the weekend: Don't hate yourself in the morning. Sleep in. :)

Thursday, February 15, 2007

CFBA Tour: Christian Writer's Market Guide

I was truly excited to receive my copy of this book in the mail this week. Why? Because it is an important tool in a writer's toolbox. Sally Stuart's Christian Writer's Market Guide is for Christian writers what Writer's Digest's Writer's Market is for general market writers.

Here's a bit about the author:
Sally E. Stuart is the author of 34 books and has sold more than a thousand articles and columns. Her long-term involvement with the Christian Writers' Market Guide as well as her marketing columns for the Christian Communicator, Oregon Christian Writers, and The Advanced Christian Writer, make her a sought-after speaker and a leading authority on Christian markets and the business of writing. Stuart is the mother of three and grandmother of eight.
And about the book:
For more than 20 years, the Christian Writers’ Market Guide has offered indispensable help to Christian writers. This year, for the first time, this valuable resource comes with a CD-ROM of the full text, so you can search with ease for topics, publishers, and other specific names.

The 2007 edition also includes up-to-date listings of more than 1,200 markets for books, articles, stories, poetry, and greeting cards, including information on 40 new book publishers, 83 new periodicals, and 34 new literary agents. Perfect for writers in every phase, this is the resource to get noticed – and get published.

It contains listings for: 695 periodicals, 228 poetry markets, 355 book publishers, 133 online publications, 29 print-on-demand publishers, 1185 markets for the written word, 321 photography markets, 31 e-book publishers, 122 foreign markets, 112 literary agents,and 59 newspapers.

It also gives you comprehensive lists of contests, writers groups and conferences, search engines, pay rates and submission guidelines, editorial services and websites.
I looked through the book last night and was pleased to see how well it is organized. It will be easy to find specific publishers or specific markets I want to submit stories to. I'm going to use this book a lot, I'm sure.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

The Door Opens

When I got home last night, my husband said I had a letter from The Wittenburg Door -- a letter with a release I had to sign and return. Whoo-hoo! The Door has accepted a humorous survey I submitted called Preacher's Kids Anonymous. It will either be in the magazine (in one or the other of the next two issues) or in the newsletter or online -- or maybe in all three. Not only does the Door actually pay, it's one of my favorite magazines. I'm very excited about this.

In other news, I think you have a few more days to vote in the Infuze Best of 2006 poll. My story Confessions of a Christian Mom is in the running, so I'd really appreciate your vote (if you haven't voted already). My critique buddy Chris has a poem in the running, too.

Have you noticed the new look here? I used the customize layout option that Blogger offers now and I think it turned out pretty good. It's not real different, but I was able to clean it up a bit and it was very easy to do. And I added a link to my Flickr photos, too, if you're interested.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

I am ...

You Are An INFP

The Idealist

You are creative with a great imagination, living in your own inner world.
Open minded and accepting, you strive for harmony in your important relationships.
It takes a long time for people to get to know you. You are hesitant to let people get close.
But once you care for someone, you do everything you can to help them grow and develop.

You would make an excellent writer, psychologist, or artist.

Friday, February 02, 2007

CFBA Tour: Germ

This week's featured book is Germ, by Robert Liparulo (who is becoming one of my son Joel's favorite authors -- I should have had him write this entry!).

Once again Liparulo has come up with a story that is just close enough to reality to be unsettling. What's it about?

The list of 10,000 names was created for maximum devastation. Business leaders, housewives, politicians, celebrities, janitors, children. None of them is aware of what is about to happen--but all will be part of the most frightening brand of warfare the world has ever known.

The germ--an advanced form of the Ebola virus--has been genetically engineered to infect only those people whose DNA matches the codes embedded within it. Those whose DNA is not a match simply catch a cold. But those who are a match experience a far worse fate. Within days, their internal organs liquify.

Death is the only escape.

The release of the virus will usher in a new era of power where countries are left without defense. Where a single person--or millions--could be killed with perfect accuracy and zero collateral damage. Where your own DNA works against you.

The time isn't coming. It is now. Pray the assassins get you first.

In case you're wondering, Joel (age 16 and a voracious reader) says it's pretty good.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

FIRST: Abiding Darkness

This month's featured book for the FIRST tour (Fiction in Rather Short Takes) is Abiding Darkness, by John Aubrey Anderson. I'm afraid my heeby-jeeby meter went way high when reading the cover copy for this spiritual warfare thriller, so I haven't read it yet, but it has received some good reviews from other readers. Here's how fellow FIRST reviewer Kevin Lucia describes the book:
Abiding Darkness, by John Aubrey Anderson, is a promising work of literary weight that’s a wonderful period piece steeped in nostalgia and good old fashioned, Southern living. Told in a style reminiscent of Flannery O’Conner and other Southern writers, Abiding Darkness takes the 40’s, 50’s, and 60’s and fleshes them out to real-life proportions, so much so you can smell the catfish roasting on the fire and hear the Temptations playing in the background. The characters are wonderful studies of simple, foundational living, and the narrative drawls in a uniquely Southern fashion, Anderson writing the character’s dialogue as only a Southern writer could.

The story follows the life of Missy Parker, a white girl who’s been deemed “special” by dark and holy powers alike. Through her young life and through adulthood, Missy is unwittingly the center of a demonic and holy tug of war, as unseen, dark forces wage war against her; first in an effort to sway her soul, and forever after in an effort to hurt her and the ones she loves. Twice these forces claim the lives of those close to her, as two people she cares for sacrifice themselves for her.

However, the dark forces that dog her every step are thwarted by the prayers of those close to her and Missy’s own determined spiritual development. Also, beyond her ken and of those around her, an angelic host stands guard, making sure that God’s special ones are not harmed by the Enemy’s hand. The novel ends as a demonic and angelic forces clash once again, and the storyline leaves us expecting continued repercussions of the Cat Lake ‘War of ‘45’.
So, here's the the beginning of Chapter 1 of Abiding Darkness (I'll send you to the FIRST blog for the rest of it):

Summers were mostly reliable.

The always followed spring. They always got hot. And they always promised twelve weeks of pleasure to the three children at Cat Lake.

The summer of ’45 lied.

^ ^ ^

The whole thing started right there by the Cat Lake bridge.

They were playing their own version of three-man baseball when Bobby knocked the ball onto the road near the end of the bridge. Junior was taller and faster, but Missy was ahead in the race to get it. Bobby and Junior were older, but Missy was tough enough to almost keep up, and the boys usually held back some so they didn’t outdo her too much.

Missy was still a few yards from the ball when it rolled to a stop near the only car in sight. A boy taller than Junior stepped from behind the far end of the car and picked up the ball; he was followed by two more boys—one younger than Missy and another almost as tall as a man.

Missy slid to a stop in the gravel and yelled, “Hurry! Throw it!” Junior jogged up behind the girl and waited.

A heavyset man in a rumpled suit was standing in the road by the driver’s door; he allowed himself a long look at the girl and whispered something to the boy with the ball.

The boy nodded at what the man said and backed toward the car. The tallest boy moved up to stand by the man.

The fat man eyed Junior, then looked up and down the deserted road before beckoning to Missy. “Why don’t you come closer, and he’ll let you have it?”

Missy ignored the man and advanced on the boy with the ball. “Give it.”

When she walked past the taller boy, he fell to his hands and knees behind her and the one with the ball shoved her over his back. When Missy hit the ground, all three boys laughed. The man grinned.

In the near distance, a foursome of well-armed witnesses—tall, bright, and invisible—stood at a portal between time and eternity and watched Bobby Parker leave home plate and sprint for the bridge.

One of the group said, It begins.

Junior Washington’s guardian answered for the remainder of the small assembly, And so it does.

The three guardians conferred quietly about the events taking place before them; the archangel watched the unfolding drama in silence. The quartet—guarded by the wisdom of the ages against restlessness—waited patiently for a precise instant in time that had been ordained before the earth was formed.

(For the rest, follow this link.)