Thursday, March 29, 2007

It's Thursday and I'm not a Guitar Hero

It's Thursday and it's raining. This is good. There's even been a little thunder -- nothing severe, just enough to feel like spring. I've just got some random thoughts today.

I've got a new favorite game. My son Tim got this game for PS2 called Guitar Heroes 2. It has a cool controller shaped like a guitar, with buttons on the fret bar and a strum bar on the body. The idea is to play the notes (color coded to match the buttons) as they scroll along the screen. And what you're playing are rock songs. This is harder than it looks. Even on Easy. So far, I can blunder my way through Girlfriend, Carry on My Wayward Son, Message in a Bottle, You Really Got Me and Sweet Child 'o' Mine. And blunder is the operative word. I think the best I've done is get about 89 percent of the notes right. Of course, there are various bells and whistles to go along with the music -- flashing lights and something called star power that makes the notes glow and gives you more points. It's a very fun game and could be seriously addictive.

It's also humbling. I have some musical talent and I have a fairly deep familiarity with rock 'n roll. But this game is hard. You have to hit the buttons at just the right time and the notes scroll along pretty fast. And some of the timing is funkier than you think it is. You can't play this game without practice. A lot of it. I'll never be very good at Guitar Heroes 2 because I'm not going to dedicate significant chunks of time to a video game.

But I do want to be a good writer, a better writer than I am now. That's going to take practice. I'm going to have to dedicate a significant amount of time to sitting my butt in the chair in front of the computer and tapping away at my stories. I wrote a story this week and need to revise it fast if I want to make the April 1 deadline for Coach's Midnight Diner (brought to you by the folks at Relief). So it's butt in chair time. (With occasional short breaks to play Sweet Child 'o' Mine.)

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Good stuff for a Tuesday

Here are some good things:

Gregory Paul Smith: This singer and songwriter is a Kansas native and his album I Can Live Again has been released through Creative Soul Records. He led worship for us Sunday, which is how I became aware of him. I appreciated the honesty of his testimony -- both spoken and in his lyrics. The album is a nice blend of musical styles -- some rock, some mellow, some gospel. Besides his Web site, he has a ShoutLife page. (ShoutLife is a Christian social networking site, similar to MySpace. I was looking at it a bit today -- looks interesting. Like I need another blog.)

Double Vision: I blogged about this last week, but I hadn't read it yet, so I didn't get specific. But Saturday night I started reading it and I couldn't put it down until I finished it, at about 3 a.m.! Randy Ingermanson has done a fine job with this "humorous romantic suspense." His characters are distinct and memorable and the plot twists keep the reader guessing. Randy is a physicist and I got lost a bit among the science -- the story's plot revolves around a computer that uses the principles of quantum physics -- but not so much that I couldn't follow the story. One of the things I appreciated about the story was how the Christian characters interacted with nonbelievers -- it was genuine and believable. One of the things I want to do as a writer is show Christians as real people, not freaky stereotypes. Randy has done this very well. Faith is an important element of the story, but it is integral to the characters, and so is a seamless part of the plot. This is an entertaining book, but it also gets you to think a bit about faith and forgiveness, love and ethics.

Journler 2.5: (Note the spelling -- it's not Journaler.) I upgraded to Journler 2.5 today and it's got some cool new features, like a drop box that sits on my Mac's desktop. It allows me to drop a document or other item into it and it makes a new entry in the category and folder I specify. It also has a Lexicon, which is essentially a list of all the words you've used in your journal entries. It allows you to see new connections between what you've written, or see all the entries where you've used a certain word. And of course, Journler is searchable, lets you add tags and search that way, and is fully integrated with iLife applications. By the way, Journler is only for the Mac. I use Journler a lot to keep notes related to my work, such as InDesign tips, or procedures such as how to set up color separations for printing. It's also a depository of nifty quotes, blog entries, song lyrics, and random thoughts.

Rebecca reminded me of one of our adventures in music.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

CSFF Tour: Double Vision

This month's Christian Science Fiction and Fantasy blog tour features Randy Ingermanson's new novel Double Vision. Not only is Randy well-known for his novels, he's a cottage industry of writing help, with his Web site, Fiction 101 sessions at writer's conferences and on CD, and his Advanced Fiction Writing e-zine (I'm a subscriber). Randy is known for blending science and story in a way that holds readers to the last page. (After all, he is a physicist.) And, he won a Christy award for his novel Oxygen, in 2001. This new novel looks intriguing (and it's on my pile to read, but I haven't gotten to it yet). It's described as humorous romantic suspense. Here's the premise:

Dillon Richard is a brilliant and meticulous engineer, respected by his co-workers at CypherQuanta, but he has never had a woman interested in him before. Now he's got two, and they're giving him double vision . . .

Rachel Meyers is a quirky, erratic biophysicist who has just developed a quantum computer that will change the world. If Rachel and Dillon can bring it to market, CypherQuanta will be worth billions. But someone is determined to steal the secret . . . and create a rift between Rachel and Dillon.

Keryn Wills is a mystery novelist and part-time chief financial officer at CypherQuanta. She desperately needs to keep Rachel and Dillon working together to finish the project, but she desperately doesn't want them to be friends. Now Keryn finds herself on the run, like a character in one of her own novels, as somebody begins tightening a noose around her and Rachel and Dillon. Somehow, she needs to unravel this mystery -- before it unravels her.

Three secrets. Two women. One man. No time.

As always, you can follow the tour by visiting the fine blogs listed below.

Nissa Annakindt
Jim Black
Grace Bridges
Jackie Castle
Valerie Comer
Karri Compton
Frank Creed
CSFF Blog Tour
D. G. D. Davidson
Janey DeMeo
Tessa Edwards
April Erwin
Linda Gilmore
Beth Goddard
Marcus Goodyear
Andrea Graham
Leathel Grody
Katie Hart
Sherrie Hibbs
Sharon Hinck
Christopher Hopper
Jason Joyner
Tina Kulesa
Lost Genre Guild
Kevin Lucia and The Bookshelf Reviews 2.0 - The Compendium
Rachel Marks
Shannon McNear
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Caleb Newell
Eve Nielsen
John W. Otte
Robin Parrish
Cheryl Russel
Hanna Sandvig
Mirtika Schultz
James Somers
Tsaba House Authors
Steve Trower
Speculative Faith
Daniel I. Weaver

Friday, March 16, 2007

Friday news and views

I guess this is a week for publication news, though I knew this one was coming. If you attend an Evangelical Covenant Church you most likely have seen a little publication called the Covenant Home Altar. It's a quarterly devotional and each week's set of devotions is written by a member of a Covenant church. I have a week of devotions in this issue -- the week of June 10 -- so if you see a copy, pick it up. Or you can order copies or a subscription through the Web site.

Basketball Tournament notes:
K-State won it's NIT game against Vermont on Wednesday evening. Next up is DePaul on Monday. Go 'Cats!

My NCAA bracket isn't in too bad shape yet. I was wrong about Old Dominion, Duke, Gonzaga and Marquette, but of those, I had only picked Gonzaga to advance to the Sweet 16. And I wasn't terribly disappointed that Duke lost to VCU. It was a good game and I was impressed with how VCU played. This seems like a program that could be a factor in years to come.

Texas Tech is out. Yes! Stanford is out. Yes! Further proof that Drexel and K-State should have received bids instead, at least to me.

Tonight KU plays its first game. I guess Niagara is a good team, but I think KU has shown this year that they can play well in tough games. (For ex., coming from behind to beat Texas in the Big 12 tournament championship game.) So they should advance.

In the this-is-just-so-cool category:
Scientists at Purdue have developed a working tricorder. It doesn't look much like the Star Trek models, but it sounds really cool, and useful.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

And the winners are ...

Me, among others.
Yes, Robin Parrish has at last announced the top 10 finishers in both poetry and fiction for the 2006 edition of Best of Infuze. My story Confessions of a Christian Mom made the cut! I'm in very good company -- there are some excellent stories and poems included. The anthology will be available in a few weeks, so make your plans to get your very own copy.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Four things

I think I've done this before, but Jim tagged me, so here goes:

Four jobs I have had:
The salad girl at the Red Geranium Restaurant in New Harmony, Ind.
A nurse's aide in a nursing home.
Composition editor at the Clifton News-Tribune in Clifton, Kan.
Publications editor for K-State Research and Extension

Four movies I could watch over and over:
While You Were Sleeping
The Goodbye Girl
About a Boy
Safe Passage
(Can you tell I'm a sucker for sappy movies?)

Four places I have lived:
Bowen, Ill.
Griffin, Ind.
Lincoln, Ill.
Jamestown, Kan.

Four of my favorite foods:
Mexican food
Mashed potatoes and gravy

Four places I would rather be right now:
Fort Wayne, Ind. (where my friend Rebecca lives)
Chicago (where Megan is and where KU plays it's opening round in the NCAA tournament)
At home with my husband

I can't think of anyone to tag, but if you read this and want to play along, leave a comment.


Yes, it has come again -- time to give myself over to the annual orgy of college basketball that is the NCAA Men's Tournament. I was very disappointed (and I mean VERY) that K-State was not one of the 65, but Texas Tech got in, even after K-State wolloped them in the Big 12 Tournament. Shouldn't winning 22 games and winning 10 games on the road in the Big 12 and finishing 4th in the Big 12 for the regular season count for something? Apparently not. I could whine some more, but it makes no difference now. K-State plays it's first NIT game tomorrow night right here in Bramlage Colliseum, so at least they get some postseason play. I'm hoping they do well.

As for my other basketball school -- KU is a No. 1 seed! The 'Hawks Rock! I do not think they'll fold in the first round this year, either. They've shown they can play in tough games and I'm picking them for the Final Four -- and to win it all. (I'm probably being optimistic, but my bracket will be shot to pieces by the end of the first weekend, so my picks are just for fun, anyway.)

I'm not planning on taking Thursday and Friday afternoons off, but I'll be watching the scores and then go home and watch a lot of basketball. I love the early rounds, especially, when everybody plays with so much heart.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Friday news and views

I've been a pretty lax blogger, so I've got a bit of catching up to do today.

Today's Christian Fiction Blog Alliance tour is The Watchers, by Mark Andrew Olson, a tale of supernatural suspense.
Just below the surface among the family of God lives another family tree--one traced in spirit, invisible and ageless, known as the Watchers. For two thousand years they've seen beyond the veil separating this world from the next, passing on their gift through a lineage mostly overlooked. Throughout history they've scouted the borders of the supernatural frontier, but now their survival hangs by a thread. And their fate lies in the hands of a young woman, her would-be killer, and a mystery they must solve....

If that sounds intriguing, check it out.

One of the books I'm looking forward to this year is Tribulation House, by Chris Well. It's getting some good advance notices and it sounds like another hilarious entry in his series of stories set in Kansas City:


Mark Hogan has it all. The job. The family. A position on the board at church. All he’s missing is a boat. Not just any boat—a 2008 Bayliner 192.

When Reverend Daniel Glory announces that the Rapture is taking place on October 17 at 5:51am, Hogan realizes his boat–buying days are numbered. So he does what any man in his situation would do—he borrows a load of money from the mob.

Not that there’s any risk involved: After all, when the Rapture comes, Hogan will be long gone. The mob will never find him.

But when Jesus fails to come back on schedule, Mark Hogan finds the mob is in no mood to discuss the finer points of end–times theology...

The book releases April 1 and I'm hoping to have an author interview in a few weeks. Chris reports that he and his wife Erika are working on other projects, too, with more details to come.

I've been listening to some new music:
Sara Groves -- Add to the Beauty (my favorite track on this is "Just Showed Up for My Own Life," which is a very upbeat, catchy tune, with good lyrics).

Badly Drawn Boy -- About a Boy soundtrack. I've always loved the movie and the music in it, so I finally got the soundtrack. Very cool music.

The Black Keys -- Rubber Factory and thickfreakness. This duo from Akron, Ohio, rocks the blues with mostly just a drum and a guitar. Good stuff.

Oldies but goodies -- some Creedence Clearwater Revival, The Guess Who and Queen.

Spring is almost here!