Friday, November 30, 2007

Bad blogger and FIRST tour

I'm afraid I've been rather negligent in blogging -- a continued pattern of late. I don't think it's going to get better anytime soon. I want to rethink how I do this blogging thing, too, but I'm sure I'll still post random stuff from time to time, like this: Robin Parrish answers questions about his books and whets one's appetite for the third. (I know it's like a week late, but it's still cool.)

It's also time for the FIRST tour. This month's book is Minor Protection Act by Jodi Cowles. You can read more about it at the FIRST blog.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Fun linkage

The Creative Prose newsletter this week (from had links to some very entertaining time wasters:
Typeflakes -- make snowflakes with words and email them to your friends (this is my favorite)
Cake writing generator -- even if you've never been good at writing with icing
Dance writer -- a dancer makes letters as you type them
What chefs do when they're bored -- the title says it all

Have fun and Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 19, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving and other stuff

Megan has blogged about the trip Julia and I made to Illinois for a family baby shower. It was lots of fun. Reading it reminds me that I have a lot to be thankful for. I hope you'll take time to really give thanks this week.

Sports Illustrated has a good article about the Kansas-Missouri football game coming up on Saturday. I like the Max Falkenstien (long-time KU broadcaster) quote near the end of the article: "People are so wrapped up in football, they almost forgot basketball season was starting." It's been a long, long time since anyone took KU football seriously -- it's kind of nice to see a team from Kansas getting some respect.

Starting last week and continuing this week, there's a good discussion at The Rabbit Room about Creative Intent. If you haven't checked out this group blog, now's a good time.

Friday, November 16, 2007

How readable is this blog?

I'm a sucker for stuff like this.
(Tip o' the hat to Brad.)

Monday, November 12, 2007

Monday music and stuff

I'm a big fan of iTunes playlists. It's the only way to organize a big collection. So now I'm listening to my top-rated songs, but starting with the ones I've listened to the least. And I'm liking McAllister better and better. He's got an 80s thing goin' that's good for a gray November day. (the list will catch up eventually) I blogged about his CD a few weeks ago and I'll just mention it again: Strong Tower. It gets better with repeated listenings. (So does Andrew Osenga's Letters to the Editor.) So those are my musical recommendations for today.

It's November here (well, everywhere, I guess) but you wouldn't have known it from the weather the last few days -- beautiful. I took a walk yesterday and enjoyed the warm breeze and the color still on the trees, though lots of leaves have fallen now. The year is winding down, but that's OK. I'm writing again. Some stressful things are behind me and I can think creatively again.

Speaking of writing, I have it from Coach Culbertson himself that the 2008 edition of Coach's Midnight Diner will probably be open for submissions on Nov. 15. Coach will be posting the categories at the Relief Web site so check it out soon. I think I have the perfect story for the next issue of the Diner, so I'll have to get busy revising it so I can submit it. Support Relief with your subscriptions and your submissions, folks -- this is a great outlet for writers who happen to be Christian and don't feel they fit in the traditional "Christian writer" mold.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Arts and faith and really loud music

If you pay attention to my song list from you'll see I've been listening to some Foo Fighters today -- I bought some of the new album and have been listening to the songs repeatedly -- they're just so good.

Actually, I want to call your attention to a very excellent article about faith and the arts: Being a Child of the Creative Age, by the artist Makoto Fujimora. He uses one of my favorite books of all time, Jane Eyre, to illustrate his point about art and redemption and imagination. Awesome. (I found this article through a link from Brewing Culture, a good source for though-provoking stuff.) We have divorced imagination and faith for too long -- Fujimora helps us see why that should not be.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Kansas is not flat

And if you want proof of that, check out the Flint Hills Tourism Coalition. I've added a link to them in the sidebar since a member of the group left me a comment yesterday. Where I live is right on the edge of the Flint Hills and I love this part of the state. If you are ever driving along I-70 it would be well worth your time to get off at the exit for K-177 and go south toward Council Grove (and beyond). It's a beautiful drive anytime of year. In the spring and early summer, it's green and covered with wildflowers; in the late summer and fall, the grass starts turning color; in the winter, the land sometimes wears a dusting of snow, but even without snow the shape and structure of the hills has a beauty all its own.
(Edited to correct the highway number -- though U.S. 77 will get you into the Flint Hills, too, but I was referring to the state route that goes through Council Grove.)

Friday, November 02, 2007

A few changes and some good things to read

As you can see, I've been messing with the blog again. The picture I've added to the header is of the Flint Hills of Kansas. I'll probably change it from time to time. I've also been experimenting with Word Press and moved my other blog to a Word Press blog. I've renamed it Writing from the Windowsill and it will be the home for newsletter columns and other articles that I want to post, as well as contain links to things. I think I like Word Press, but now that I know how long it took to migrate the other blog, the thought of moving this blog over is rather daunting, so I won't.

Mike's interview with Coach Culbertson is generating some good discussion about Christian horror.

Here's a new group blog/Web site worth checking out: The Rabbit Room. It's the home of musician Andrew Peterson and others and in the few weeks they've been up, they've already written about books and music I'm interested in and discussed interesting topics. This is becoming a regular stop for me and I heartily recommend it.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Check it out

Mike Duran (at Decompose) has a great interview with Coach Culbertson, the warped genius behind Relief and Coach's Midnight Diner. Coach talks about the reasoning behind Relief and the Diner, as well as his experience at Gothicfest in Chicago a couple of weeks ago. Good stuff.

FIRST: Hollywood Nobody

It's November 1st and you know what that means (or maybe you don't, but I'm about to tell you): It's time for the FIRST tour. This month's featured book is Hollywood Nobody, by Lisa Sampson, a young adult novel with a smart, fresh voice. More about Lisa and the first chapter below, and I'm betting you'll want to read more!


and her book:

Hollywood Nobody

Th1nk Books (August 30, 2007)


Lisa Samson is the author of twenty books, including the Christy Award-winning Songbird. Apples of Gold was her first novel for teens. Visit Lisa at

These days, she's working on Quaker Summer, volunteering at Kentucky Refugee Ministries, raising children and trying to be supportive of a husband in seminary. (Trying . . . some days she's downright awful. It's a good thing he's such a fabulous cook!) She can tell you one thing, it's never dull around there.

Other Novels by Lisa:
Straight Up, , Club Sandwich, Songbird, Tiger Lillie, The Church Ladies, Women's Intuition: A Novel, Songbird, The Living End


Hollywood Nobody: April 1

Happy April Fool’s Day! What better day to start a blog about Hollywood than today?

Okay, I’ve been around film sets my whole life. Indie films, yeah, and that’s all I’m saying about it here for anonymity’s sake. But trust me, I’ve had my share of embarrassing moments. Like outgrowing Tom Cruise by the age of twelve — in more ways than one, with the way he’s gotten crazier than thong underwear and low-rise jeans. Thankfully that fashion disaster has run for cover.

Underwear showing? Not a good idea.

Fact: I don’t know of a single girl who doesn’t wish the show-itall boxer-shorts phenomenon would go away as well. Guys, we just don’t want to see your underwear. Truthfully, we believe that there is a direct correlation between how much underwear you show and how much you’ve got upstairs, if you know what I mean.

I’ve seen the stars at their best and at their worst. And believe me, the worst is really, really bad. Big clue: you’d look just as pretty as they do if you went to such lengths. As you might guess, some of them are really nice and some of them are total jerks, and there’s a lot of blah in-betweeners. Like real life, pretty much, only the extremes are more extreme sometimes. I mean honestly, how many people under twenty do you know who have had more than one plastic surgery?

So you’ll have to forgive me if I’m a little hard on these folks. But if it was all sunshine and cheerleading, I doubt you’d read this blog for long, right?

Today’s Rant: Straightening irons. We’ve had enough of them, Little Stars, okay? It was bad on Helen Hunt at the Oscars, worse on Demi, yet worse on Madonna, and it’s still ridiculous. Especially on those women who are trying to hold onto their youth like Gollum holds onto that ring. Ladies, there’s a reason for keeping your hair at or above your shoulders once you hit forty, and ever after. Think Annette Bening. Now she’s got it going on. And can’t you just see why Warren Beatty settled down for her? Love her! According to The Early Show this morning, curls are back, and Little Me ain’t going to tell why I’m so glad about that!

Today’s Kudo: Aretha Franklin. Big, bold, beautiful, and the best. Her image is her excellence. Man, that woman can sing! She has a prayer chain too. I’m not very religious myself, but you got to respect people who back up what they say they believe. Unless it’s male Scientologists and "silent birth." Yeah, right. Easy for them to say.

Today’s News: I saw a young actor last summer at a Shakespeare festival in New England. Seth Haas. Seth Hot is more like it. I heard a rumor he’s reading scripts for consideration. Yes, he’s that hot. Check him out here. Tell all your friends about him. And look here on Hollywood Nobody for the first, the hottest news on this hottie. Girls, he’s only nineteen! Fair game for at least a decade-and-a-half span of ages.

I don’t know about you, but following the antics of new teen rock star Violette Dillinger is something I’m looking forward to. Her first album, released to much hype, hit Billboard’s no. 12 spot its third week out. And don’t you love her hit single "Love Comes Knocking on My Door"? This is going to be fun. A new celeb. Uncharted territory. Will Violette, who seems grounded and talented, be like her predecessors and fall into the "great defiling show-business machine" only to be spit out as a half-naked bimbo? We’ll see, won’t we? Keep your fingers crossed that the real artist survives.

Today’s Quote: "Being thought of as ‘a beautiful woman’ has spared me nothing in life. No heartache, no trouble. Beauty is essentially meaningless." Halle Berry


Friday, April 2

I knew it was coming soon. We’d been camped out in the middle of a cornfield, mind you, for two weeks. That poke on my shoulder in the middle of the night means only one thing. Time to move on.

"What, Charley?"

"Let’s head ’em on out, Scotty. We’ve got to be at a shoot in North Carolina tomorrow afternoon. I’ve got food to prepare, so you have to drive."

"I’m still only fifteen."

"It’s okay. You’re a good driver, baby."

My mom, Charley Dawn, doesn’t understand that laws exist for a reason, say, keeping large vehicles out of the hands of children. But as a food stylist, she fakes things all the time.

Her boundaries are blurred. What can I say?

Charley looks like she succumbed to the peer pressure of plastic surgery, but she hasn’t. I know this because I’m with her almost all the time. I think it’s the bleached-blond fountain of long hair she’s worn ever since I can remember. Or maybe the hand-dyed sarongs and shirts from Africa, India, or Bangladesh add to the overall appearance of youth. I have no idea. But it really makes me mad when anybody mistakes us as sisters.

I mean, come on! She had me when she was forty!

My theory: a lot of people are running around with bad eyesight and just don’t know it.

I throw the covers to my left. If I sling them to my right, they’d land on the dinette in our "home," to use the term in a fashion less meaningful than a Hollywood "I do." I grew up in this old Travco RV I call the Y.

As in Y do I have to live in this mobile home?

Y do I have to have such an oddball food stylist for a mother?

Y must we travel all year long? Y will we never live anyplace long enough for me to go to the real Y and take aerobics, yoga, Pilates or — shoot — run around the track for a while, maybe swim laps in the pool?

And Y oh Y must Charley be a vegan?

More on that later.

And Y do I know more about Hollywood than I should, or even want to? Everybody’s an actor in Hollywood, and I mean that literally. Sometimes I wonder if any of them even know who they are deep down in that corner room nobody else is allowed into.

But I wonder the same thing about myself.

"You’re not asking me to drive while you’re in the kitchen trailer, are you, Charley?"

"No. I can cook in here. And it’s a pretty flat drive. I’ll be fine."

I’m not actually worried about her. I’m thinking about how many charges the cops can slap on me.

Driving without a license.

Driving without a seat belt on the passenger.

Speeding, because knowing Charley, we’re late already.

Driving without registration. Charley figured out years ago how to lift current stickers off of license plates. She loves "sticking it to the man." Or so she says.

I kid you not.

Oh, the travails of a teenager with an old hippie for a mother. Charley is oblivious as usual as I continue my recollection of past infractions thankfully undetected by the state troopers:

Driving while someone’s in the trailer. It’s a great trailer, don’t get me wrong, a mini industrial kitchen we rigged up a couple of years ago to make her job easier. Six-range burner, A/C, and an exhaust fan that sucks up more air than Joan Rivers schmoozing on the red carpet. But it’s illegal for her to go cooking while we’re in motion.

"All right. Can I at least get dressed?"

"Why? You’re always in your pj’s anyway."

"Great, Mom."

"It’s Charley, baby. You know how I feel about social hierarchy."

"But didn’t you just give me an order to drive without a license? What if I say no?"

She reaches into the kitchen cupboard without comment and tips down a bottle of cooking oil. Charley’s as tall as a twelve-year-old.

"I mean, let’s be real, Charley. You do, in the ultimate end of things, call the shots."

I reach back for my glasses on the small shelf I installed in the side of the loft. It holds whatever book I’m reading and my journal. I love my glasses, horn-rimmed "cat glasses" as Charley calls them. Vintage 1961. Makes me want to do the twist and wear penny loafers.

"Can I at least pull my hair back?"

She huffs. "Oh, all right, Scotty! Why do you have to be so difficult?"

Charley has no clue as to how difficult teenagers can actually be. Here I am, schooling myself on the road, no wild friends. No friends at all, actually, because I hate Internet friendships. I mean, how lame, right? No boyfriend, no drugs. No alcohol either, unless you count cold syrup, because the Y gets so cold during the winter and Charley’s a huge conservationist. (Big surprise there.) I should be thankful, though. At least she stopped wearing leather fringe a couple of years ago.

I slide down from the loft, gather my circus hair into a ponytail, and slip into the driver’s seat. Charley reupholstered it last year with rainbow fabric. I asked her where the unicorns were and she just rolled her eyes. "Okay, let’s go. How long is it going to take?"

"Oh." She looks down, picks up a red pepper and hides behind it.

I turn on her. "You didn’t Google Map it?"

"You’re the computer person, not me." She peers above the stem. "I’m sorry?" She shrugs. Man, I hate it when she’s so cute. "Really sorry?"

"Charley, we’re in Wilmore, Kentucky. As in Ken-Tuck-EEE . As in the middle of nowhere." I climb out of my seat. "What part of North Carolina are we going to? It’s a wide state."

"Toledo Island. Something like that. Near Ocracoke Island. Does that sound familiar?"

"The Outer Banks?"

"Are they in North Carolina?"

Are you kidding me?

"Let me log on. This is crazy, Charley. I don’t know why you do this to me all the time."

"Sorry." She says it so Valley Girl-like. I really thought I’d be above TME: Teenage Mom Embarrassment. But no. Now, most kids don’t have mothers who dress like Stevie Nicks and took a little too much LSD back in the DAY. It doesn’t take ESP to realize who the adult in this setup is. And she had me, PDQ, out of the bonds of holy matrimony I might add, when she was forty (yes, I already told you that, but it’s still just as true), and that’s
OLD to be caught in such an inconvenient situation, don’t you think? The woman had no excuse for such behavior, FYI.

My theory: Charley’s a widow and it’s too painful to talk about my father. I mean, it’s plausible, right?

The problem is, I can remember back to when I was at least four, and I definitely do not remember a man in the picture. Except for Jeremy. More on him later too.

I flip up my laptop. I have a great satellite Internet setup in the Y. I rigged it myself because I’m a lonely geek with nothing better to do with her time than figure out this kind of stuff. I type in the info and wait for the directions. Satellite is slower than DSL, but it’s better than nothing.

"Charley! It’s seventeen hours away!" I scan the list of twists and turns between here and there. "We have to take a ferry to Ocracoke, and then Toledo Island’s off of there."


"Groovy died with platform shoes and midis."

"Whatever, Scotty." Only she says it all sunny. She’s a morning person.

"That phrase should be dead."

Honestly, I’m not big on lingo. I’ve never been good at it, which is fine by me. Who am I going to impress with cool-speak anyway? Uma Thurman? Yeah, right. "Okay, let’s go."

"We can go as long as possible and break camp on the way, you know?" Charley.

I climb back into the rainbow chair, throw the Y into drive, pull the brake, and we’re moving on down the road.


Sample from Hollywood Nobody / ISBN: 1-60006-091-9
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