Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Cube life with my Dark Passenger

There are those days in which "cube life" becomes a bit stifling.  Even working in a place such as the one I work, there are bound to be days of annoyance and frustration.  It is common to come across an individual walking the campus--taking a  "frustration walk".
I had to take one of these today.  They really do help.  However, on days when a walk is unable to be jammed into my schedule, I have another method of relieving my aggravation.

His name is Dexter.

                                                                                                     ^I decorate for Christmas!^

Dexter sits on my desk, and he is watching me type this very moment.  The wicked little smile on his bobbling head always manages to bring a smile to my own.  He's the type of guy that, when you need someone to understand you, I need only to tap his head to have him nod in understanding.
Perhaps it's the writer in me that appreciates his one hand holding a knife, the other--a garbage bag.

He nods at me now, knowing how his tools help my creative mind write what needs to be written.  Dexter knows that sometimes, shtuff happens.  I was once advised to do something drastic when I get stuck in a story.  Dexter's favorite thing to do is kill someone off, but that is not always the case.  Still, he does remind me that drastic is sometimes necessary.

And when I'm not writing?  Well, Dexter can help then, too.  His over-sized head and lovely little face can bring the darkened emotions right out of me.  Who can be angry when gazing upon my sweet little friend?
I've received quite a lot of compliments from coworkers on my little bobble, and he often has visitors.

This random blog is my tribute to him, made timely by the season finale greeting all of his fans this Sunday.  It's been quite a ride, and while I'll be sad to see the show over for another year, I have the comfort of returning to my Dexter on Monday.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Plucked Swan

There's no easier way to say it--single men make me crazy.  They make me wish I was married so that I didn't have to deal with them anymore.  To be free of their games and their ability to break hearts would be a dream come true.  I'm lucky I've got Jesus.  Truly, when my heart takes a hit, I find it soothing to step back and say a prayer of protection and healing.  I always feel better after that.

But what about those poor single girls who haven't got what I've got?  They're still trapped out there, alone, being mistreated by men.  Don't get me wrong, women do their fair share of mistreating--but as I'm a woman, I only know of what being on this side feels like.

I posted a blog a few months ago titled "The Ugly Duckling", and I won't reiterate all that I said there, but I do believe that blog and this blog are connected.  I may often feel like the Ugly Duckling, but every once in awhile I get a glimpse of the Swan I'm told I can be.

Well, if you take a swan, pluck it down to it's bare skin, and chuck it out in the cold--ain't going to be so beautiful anymore is she?  She's going to be ugly, cold, and vulnerable.

Guys do that to girls.  Many a time they have no idea they've done it.  Words cut so deep, and they aren't careful in their choosing.  Example: I hate being referred to as "sister" in any respect by all of my guy friends but one (his is a reference to "Arrested Development", and I love that show).
When a guy calls me "sister", in almost any context, it says to me "Hey, I don't find you attractive or desirable at all!".  If a guy were interested, or thought you beautiful, why would he refer to you in a way that likens you to him in the least romantic way possible?  I mean...ew! Who has any interest in dating their sister?

A friend called me that last night.  It was like a slap in the face.  It doesn't help that he's cute and smart, so what I view as a complete brush off stings a bit more than it normally would.  It clicked the cogs into high gear, effecting a spiraling chain of thoughts that every girl who reads this post will nod at it understanding.

We just can't help ourselves.  We take everything literally and break down every syllable of conversation to discover "hidden meaning".  Even when we KNOW we are doing it, we can't help ourselves!  It's part of our makeup.

So the wheels are turning, and I'm offended.  My cute, smart, generally sweet friend has wounded my pride and tugged unceremoniously at my heart--and he hasn't got a clue that he's done it!  Now, I had/have recently been thinking more on this cute smart friend then was probably wise, so I will take the blame for being more offended then I might've any other day.

But already, I'm either the Ugly Duckling or the poor Plucked Swan.  My self worth has dropped.  This was one of those guys that I hadn't considered "Out of my league".  He seemed like the type of guy who might ACTUALLY take an interest in me for once.  And yet, here I type, shaking my head at my own foolishness.  And for that matter...his foolishness.
Because, you see, I do NOT believe myself to be beneath him.  Nor do I think he is beneath me.  So I feel very conflicted: Offended because he'd be lucky to have me; Upset because maybe he is too good for me; Annoyed because I'm thinking about any of it at all, and finally Amused, because I think I'm just that crazy.

Girls are crazy.  I laughed at myself last night, despite the negativity of my feelings.  What right do I have to his attention or affection?  Regardless of whether or not he's above, beneath, or right at my level--who cares?!  If he is the guy God intended for me, then he'll right that mistake (eventually) and life will go on quite pleasurably.
If he isn't, then I will find a new guy to unknowingly offend me and send me off on another completely pointless tangent.

Remember the poor plucked Swan?  Feel bad for her?
She's currently picking up her feathers and honking at any mocking passersby who dare think she's any less strong just because a well-meaning fellow said something stupid (she'd fall apart daily, otherwise).  She doesn't feel defeated, nor does she run and hide.  She's standing brazen for the world to see, daring them to make fun of her silly tangents.
She's got some gumption, if she does say so herself.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Moonstruck by a Good Read

I'm staring out one of the tall glass windows that makes up my work's very glass eccentric building.  Directly in front and above me is the moon.  It's slowly disappearing behind one of the ledges of the window.  Yet I know in only a few more minutes it will appear in the window directly under that.  When it's gone for good, I will no longer feel this special sense of peace.  Like this moment is just for me--as I sit in a place where  I am alone, and no one else can see what I see.
It's momentarily hidden from me, but I can still describe how it will look when it appears again.  It's a half moon, though it's cut diagonally and not straight across horizontally or vertically.  Even being a half moon, it is still in such a state that I can see the three dimensions of it.  Gloriously round, even if part of it is fading into shadow.  It lies against the bright blue winter sky, teasing me mid morning.  I don't know how long it will stay, but eventually it will disappear until tonight.

But oh, how I love the moon.  The sun and I have never really been friends.  I don't appreciate heat, which I attribute to the sun (even in the winter).  I'm a fan of light and all, but there's something wonderfully mysterious about the moon.  I find I enjoy the night far more than the day.  I like to write in the evenings, not the mornings (which I am right now disputing by writing this blog at all, but it's a preference, not a necessity).
It's strange that I love the moon, and yet when I wrote a book about the daughter of both Sun and Moon, it's the Moon that is my less favorite parent.  It's her personality--and I can't help that: It's how she was long before I wrote her.

Last night I finished a wonderful book: Flat Out Love by Jessica Park.  I enjoy finishing books at night, when the moon is high.  Flat Out Love was wonderful in so many ways.   I didn't appreciate the use of some words, but that is how Jessica wrote it, and I cannot change that.  The story was interesting, romantic, and intriguing.
I LOVE a good romance story IF it is a part of a bigger story.  I don't generally jump for just romance--there isn't enough there.  Flat Out Love isn't just some love story.  It's a story hidden within a much more intriguing story about a very strange family's hidden secret.

Honestly, the book was so good I don't want to give anything away.  All you have to know is that the MC, Julie, ends up staying with the family of her mother's old college roommate after her housing falls apart when she moves to Boston for college.  The Watkins family is quirky, to say the very least.  Each of them has their own strange idiosyncrasy.  The Greatest of these is Celeste, the 13 year old daughter: She dresses like she's 9, talks like she's Data from Star Trek, and carries around a life-size cardboard cutout of her oldest brother Finn (the counterpart of which is traveling in exotic countries).

Celeste is the real mystery--why she is the way she is.  I can begin to recommend this book enough.  It was such a wonderful read that tugged at all the right emotions at all the right times.  The ONLY problem I had with this book (besides some un-fun use in vain of The Name--which is, sadly, everywhere) was that one of the key characters reminded me of someone I knew.  I learned to late that picturing my acquaintance in my head when reading about that character was a BAD idea.  I can get over that though.

Alas, the moon has left me--gone into hiding where I can no longer see it.

And so ends my morning's musings.   Read the book Flat Out Love.  Then read my book someday when it's published.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Pop Tarts and Power Rangers

Love them or hate them, Pop Tarts are a part of my generation.  To this day, a Strawberry Pop Tart will throw me back in a fit of nostalgia.  For some reason, that flavor holds that special trigger in my memory.  I generally lean toward Cherry or Cinnamon Brown Sugar if I'm actually going to eat a Pop Tart, only resorting to the Strawberry if I'm starving and need a quick snack.

And yet, even now without one anywhere in sight I feel that memory of childhood.  Something about the smell and the sight of multicolored dots dancing over a bed of white frosting casts a spell of warm thoughts and feelings about the days of old.

That feeling of nostalgia--no matter what brings it--is always something I appreciate.  That sudden sensation, like a phrase on the tip of your tongue, that you can't quite grasp specifics but know the emotions regardless.  Our brains are such hubs of information, and certain scents, tastes, and textures can send us spiraling back to yester-year as we hop along the rabbit trail in order to sift out a clearer picture.  There's something about not being able to succeed.   There's something in that inability to fully remember exactly why this trigger matters to you.

Specifics about the Pop Tart don't rush back into my thoughts.  Instead, I'm surrounded by images and pictures about life when I was a child.  I'm not that old--it isn't a far leap.  Yet I can remember watching the Wonder Years (almost a decade after they'd originally aired).  Sensations of summer and my mom's daycare--the friends I had then that I haven't spoken to in the fifteen years since we moved to another part of town.

One of my favorites from my days of Strawberry Pop Tarts is the memory of watching both Barney and the Power Rangers.  I had no idea that these two shows occurred early in the morning.  To me, they were prime time.  My mom--the angel that she is and was--recorded both shows daily so she could set us down all together in the afternoon to watch.  The young ones (we children in Kindergarten) watched Barney before the older kids returned from school.  One of her favorite stories to tell is the tale of our reaction when we discovered Tommy had become the White Ranger (Power Ranger Buffs know exactly what I speak of).
Apparently, we reacted much like my father did when the Broncos won the Superbowl a few years back.  So much yelling, shouting, and hugging--there were probably even tears.

I still watch Power Rangers every now and again--I still love it dearly.  I love the way I remember it, and I also love the way I see it now.  I can see the how they were almost making fun of it when it first started, and I wonder how much the actors laughed at themselves after each take.  But more than that, I see how they didn't just get a group of young twenty somethings to play high school kids--they hired a group of athletic and talented individuals to do their own martial art stunts.  That probably is what impresses me most as an adult--they weren't famous, but they had skill. 

The next big kick from Barney to Power Rangers was, undoubtedly, Harry Potter.  However, as Harry Potter has been such a large part of my life growing up, I think I will reserve a later blog to fully discuss such a wonderful topic.

Sometimes I miss being a kid--I miss the simplicity of it.  Being an adult is hard work.  I enjoy the knowledge and experiences I have, but when I remember the glories of nap time,  I often forget about the joys of an 8-5 job.  However, I will say that I love my driver's licence and won't part with it for anything.  As always, my thoughts have followed a jumbled confusing bumbling trail that undoubtedly leads to Underland.

 To think, all these thoughts were inspired by a Pop Tart.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Long silent

Snow has reached us, and I'm wondering if that means Fall was over before it began.  We had summer heat riding all the way through September and even sneaking into a good chunk of October.  I sure was looking forward to that in-between weather, but as long as Summer is gone, I don't care which season is waving at me through the windows.

It feels kind of strange to think that I've been quiet on the blog front for about a month.  October brought insanity into my work life, and I hardly had time to think let alone write.  Truly, since I finished my last novel I don't think I've written for even two consecutive days.  It's been splashes here or there when I've had both time and energy to think.  But now October is over, and I am smiling at my favorite time of the year.

You see, most people enjoy the holiday season.  I revel in it.  Christmas and Thanksgiving are some of my favorite times of the year--and my fun starts before those even arrive.
My birthday is about two weeks before thanksgiving (depending on the year), and I'm one of those individuals who is always excited to celebrate.  Lately a book about love languages has been brought up around me on almost a regular basis--by several different people.  My love language (my own definition, I haven't read the book) comes in two folds just as everyone else's does.  To show love, I'm a giver.  When it's someone's birthday, or just a Tuesday when I happen to find something perfect for them, I love to give them a gift that is filled with thought, time, energy, and when I have  I like to see the look on someone's face when I have catered a gift to them, not just thrown something generic that I could have stuck any name on and it would have sufficed for a dozen different people.  Even when I have no clue and give a gift card I make sure the place is specific to the person.  I never have understood how people could hand someone like me a gift card to Lowes and think it was a smart idea.
With that in mind, I've had to do a lot of thinking on what my love language is when it comes to receiving.  I thought I had it pegged--at least in terms of what the book might've said.  However, the more I've thought about it, the more I've decided it's almost something a bit more.  I've done this thinking because in the conversations where this topic has come up, I've been very good about picking out what ISN'T my love language (I think anyone can succeed at that).

My love language is NOT touch.

I don't enjoy being touched.  My space. My bubble.  When it comes to family and close friends I enjoy hugs and playful shoving or pats on the shoulder, but when it comes to acquaintances, guys trying to flirt, and complete strangers I cannot stand being touched.  If you're a guy whom I find attractive you MIGHT be able to get away with it once in awhile.
It bothers me most when it comes from men.  I'm not one to show public displays of affection with gentleman I am dating, and so a gentleman I have no desire to date attempting to show affection by continually tapping me on the arm to get my attention generally is barking up the wrong tree with me.  Now, I know what you're thinking..."Tapping you on the arm to get your attention?  That's a bit extreme for you to be thinking that's showing affection.  Aren't you vain and full of yourself."
Well, yes, that would be the case IF the man in question didn't tell me "My love language is touch" and then proceed to jab me in the arm every time my attention wavered to the girl I mentor with whom I was having a conversation...first.
I'm being snippy.  And mostly unfair.  Sadly, this is what space invasion does to me.  The quickest way to put me on guard and make me uncomfortable/uneasy is to be a Male I don't know very well and find a way to physically interact with me more than once in a conversation.

While this stood out to me like a man streaking through a well publicized soccer match, the truth about what my receiving language was remained hidden.  Now, without reading the book, I've decided for myself what that language is.


I just deleted a slew of paragraphs explaining what this means, but then I felt it sounded too whiny.  Basically, what I do for someone else, I want them to be thankful for it and be willing to do the same.

So it seems my first jump back into the blogging world is silly nonsense about my love languages.  However, if you're trying to get to know me better (or just happen to be a friend wondering what I'd like for my birthday) then maybe this could be of some help.
If you are a passerby, I hope this blog thoroughly amused you, what with my rants and sideways tantrums about the things I do and do not appreciate.

Do you know your love language?  Do you think it's important to know?
I'm not sure knowing mine makes much of a difference, except maybe to say I now understand why I might feel more slighted than another might in the same situation.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Dueling Desires

I'm often of two minds.  I find myself saying contradictory things more often than I'd like.  The problem is, a lot of the contradictions are true.  Like a starburst candy, I seem to be two things at once, but without one of the contradictions I wouldn't be who I am.

I'll start here.  I live in a smaller city.  I live at home in a very comfortable arrangement with my family.  I don't pay rent, I don't buy groceries (unless I choose to).  I'm pampered and spoiled.  I love my family, and don't want to leave them.  I see no reason to spend money to live on my own in Chardeau when I am so happy where I am.


I want to live on my own.  Not just on my own...I want to live in Ireland, England, or New York. Okay, less New York than the other two.  I want to be somewhere and apart of something else.  I want to go to my adorable stone cottage home after running to the market, plop down my bags, and sit at my quaint little desk to write.  I want to have friends with accents I would die to have, but also have a place where when I get back it's just mine.


But I don't want to move.  The money, effort, change, fear, and lack of true commitment mean I don't go to these places I want to go.  I have a job, a family, a life, and friends.  I don't want to drop them all to go off and live in a place where I'd be lonely and probably cry myself to sleep nightly.  So then, I can't go alone.  Therefore, I can't live alone.

So you say to me "Don't go to live there, then.  Save your money and go visit there with a friend.  That way you aren't alone and yet you still get to go to these places.  Better yet, make it a long vacation and you'll get to feel like you really did live there."
Then I get to my next contradiction, which is more of a conflict.

I love vacations and being somewhere else.  I thoroughly enjoy being in a new place and experiencing the way they live...especially if I can be there long enough to feel like I'm a part of that world.  In Hawaii, I love the easy feeling of walking most places.  I'm not huge on the Ocean, but I like knowing where places are.  When I was in the South, I enjoyed the different layout of the land and seeing the older more colonial buildings.
When (yes WHEN) I go to Europe, I want to spend enough time there to know where the local cafes and best restaurants are.  I want to be able to stay in a flat, not a hotel.  I want to someday know what it's like to feel like a New Yorker.


I HATE TRAVELING!  Or perhaps you could say traveling hates me.  It seems there is no way for me to travel that I walk out of feeling good.  I get carsick, airsick...seasick if the boat is small enough.  I've never traveled by train, so I don't know how I would handle that one.
I don't do well in circulated air or gross food (which is all you have when in airports).  The longer the flight the less likely I'm going to be a happy (healthy) camper.  The destination is almost always worth it, but a big reason why I've never been further than Mexico (by boat) or Canada (by car) is because I don't want to take the 24 hours of travel (by air).
I know I couldn't fly alone.  I'd be far too miserable.

So how am I ever going to get to these places if it takes a day to recover?  I guess I'll just have to plan an extra day's vacation.

Last. For now.  I want to get married.  Surely and truly that's something I've always wanted for my life.  I have never seriously thought that it would NEVER happen.  I may have had times where I didn't want it, but I always assumed it still would.  As a matter of fact, I'd much rather be married sooner than later.  I'd rather have that person in my life at a younger age, and to have several years together until we decided to have kids.  That way (in my head this makes sense) I could still be a younger mom.  I don't want to have my first kid at over 30.


There are so many things I want to do!  I want to travel. I want to live on my own *eventually*.  I want to be successful enough to support myself.  I want to be published and supporting myself through my writing.  My heart cries out for adventure, for fun, for a LIFE!  These things are things that, yes, could still happen when I was married.  However, the likelihood of me taking these risks, jumps, or adventures when I have to consider the cost it would take on the love of my life....well...I'm told it's less likely.

So what do I do?  I have all of these dueling desires in my heart crying out for satisfaction.  I don't have the money to make any of the travel I suppose that's out of the question (my heart breaks a bit).  I haven't a boyfriend, so I'm not too concerned about marriage getting in the way of anything yet....but then again, I don't have a boyfriend, so marriage is still a far way away for me (aw, sad).

My brain is broken, but, you know what?  I kind of like it the way it is.  I want these things.  I truly want them.  All I need now is the motivation to make them happen.  I've written two books (plus some) and that takes plenty of motivation.  If I can do that, I can find a way (and a friend) to Europe.  I can figure out a way to end up in a cottage or a flat instead of a hotel, I CAN get what I want.

I just have to figure out how!

Friday, September 30, 2011

An Ode to Sam


I've been thinking a lot of critiquing and critics today.  I've found most people don't have enough heart or positiveness mixed into the corrections they have for writers.  By all this, I do mean amateur writers and amateur critics.

New writers want readers.  They scour, beg, and annoy many friends and family to find the people that are willing to read what isn't ready to be read by the world.  My family read my first book, and they'll listen to me rant and rave, but not many of my family members are really "readers".  I was born devouring words, and they have other hobbies.  I love my family just as they are and never would change them, not even to make them more interested in reading.  

My older sister reads what I write, but I refuse to take her opinion as honest.  I constantly am telling her she's biased, and therefor what she says doesn't count.  I think I frustrate her :).

I've had a few readers in my lifetime, though even less have actually finished a book.  Out of those readers, as helpful, hurtful, or pointless as some were, only one really stands in the place of "critic".

This critic is the only person I've ever known who can speak the harshest truths without me feeling defensive or angry.  He can tell me he hated a chapter and, while sometimes that makes me want to cry, it mainly just makes me want to be better.  He read my first two books---books, I might add, that were complete trash.  He stuck with me through them and gave me the feedback I needed at the time.

My critic, Sam, has been known to me for nearly my whole life.  We grew up a year apart in the church, and I've always known who he is.  Sometimes our paths cross as friends; others, as acquaintances.  He's one person who I could sit and discuss books with for hours, though what else we might talk about I wouldn't know.
Sam hasn't read in some time.  He's a busy young man, as I too am busy.

Today is my lament and my praise at once.  I lament that Sam is busy, but I say thanks for all that he has done for me thus far.  

I was pretty stubborn when I started writing--grossly so.  I wasn't going to change anything until I had an agent, and editor, and a publisher.  Then THEY could tell me what was needing changing, but they'd better accept me while it was still no good (I didn't realize it was no good).
With each rejection letter, I grew more discouraged and depressed.  My friends and family liked it, why didn't an agent?  It wasn't until I gave up entirely that Sam, unknowingly, brought me back to writing.  I'd told him I wasn't really interested in the story any more, and though he didn't know it, I'd grown weary of writing as well.  Sam's response was to tell me that, if it meant rewriting the whole thing to keep me telling the story, he would read it again.

Those words gave me the strength to do just that.  If Sam--my bluntest and most calloused reader--was willing to reread it all over again in hopes of it being better, than maybe others would too.  And maybe, just maybe, I would actually write something worth selling this time.

I rewrote both my first two books.  Have I sold them? Nope...
Has Sam read them?   


In this moment, I expect those reading this are confused, angry, or amused.  No matter what you're feeling, I am  not upset that Sam never reread them.  As I said--he's busy.  What matters is that he pushed me forward.  He gave me the truth no matter the cost and he kept me from giving up on my dream.

We all need Sams in our lives.  We need that person that is not so close that they are biased or their words hurt, but not so far that their indifference chafes.  Sam is the type of person that you know just well enough to be honest with, and that person with you.  

Writers need Sams.  Without them, we'd never be willing to try again.

So thank you, Sam, for all you've done.

This is the only photo I have of both me and Sam.  The best part, if you don't know us, you'll have no idea which ones we are.

Stumbling Down Memory Lane

It's Friday.

Today I tripped and fell down memory lane, but the flashback wasn't one of my finest hours.  Moments like these make me wonder if they happen just to remind us not to be what we once were--or perhaps it's some sort of torture device the enemy uses to get inside our heads.  All in all, this memory really isn't that bad.

A blue monkey friend of mine posted on a group in facebook.  That's what started the colossal tumbling.  She'd had her little writer's heart punched by an individual who didn't understand.  When she laid who she truly was out on the table, the response she received was "oh....okay...I don't get it." or "It's confusing".  

Those are harsh words to lay in the lap of an individual who wants understanding and support.  For the most part, those are two things I have.  Most (if not all) of my friends and all of my family back me on my desire to be a published author.  They love me, and when they need to say the rough things, they know how to say them in love.  But that isn't always how it works.

My friend reminded me of what I'd faced once...a time when my reaction to the criticism wasn't pretty.  It was shameful to see how my defenses rose and I proceeded to act like a small child.  Albeit, I was only 18...not a very mature age from all those I've known to see it--myself especially.  I (foolishly) placed my heart on a note in Facebook, it was the first chapter of my first complete draft of my book.  This was my mistake.  You do not take your first born child to the (creepy) beauty pageant and expect the critical judges (with no children of their own) to think your child is as beautiful as you do.  Bad analogy..I hate those beauty pageants.

Regardless, I placed myself in a very vulnerable position.  My friends responded as they saw fit.  I don't agree with how they said everything, though looking back I agree with much of what they said.  It was my own fault for not expressing my vulnerability to them, so that they knew to "handle with care".  Instead, they spoke blunt harsh truths in well written paragraphs, tearing each strand of resolve and strength away from me--they left me bleeding on the floor with no doctor or medic to keep me alive.  It didn't take long for me to snap, tears filling my eyes as I made my replies.  These returns were all right in the beginning, with little marks here or there that screamed "Ouch! Okay, thank you, but no more".

But that wasn't enough for the slaughter to stop.  My friends, not seeing these signs, continued.  They kept tearing my firstborn to pieces in front of me.  Shredding my little darling and calling him ugly.  I got ugly myself, snapping back at them and forcing them into retreat.  They tried to apologize, tried to make me understand.  It was too late, I was already broken--they'd already murdered my child.

At least, that was how I saw it at the time.  Now, I see that they thought they were doing what was required of them--they just answered with their brains and not their hearts.  They left the feeling and the care for me at the door when they embarked on their comments--which really isn't a large crime.  They treated me with business when it was a matter of family.

Looking back, I found myself ashamed.  Sure, they'd hurt me, but not intentionally.  They hadn't set out with "let's make Kelsey cry" screaming in their hearts.  They'd only wanted to help.  Almost all of what they said, I eventually realized (much much later and without remembering they'd said any of it) was right.
I'm sure they saw me as ugly that day.  I'm sure they were offended by my harsh words and ready to fight action.  Fight or flight?  Fight please...too bad they thought they'd been invited to tea.

How silly we are.  I wonder how mature I am now.  In three or four years will I look back on this blog and laugh at my immaturity?  Will I think of how silly I was to think well of myself even in the slightest?  Do I think well of myself?

Flashbacks such as these always leave me feeling down on myself.  Too bad we can't change the ugly in our pasts.

Monday, September 19, 2011

"Fall"ing for Storms

I can't get it together today.
Foggy brain dragging me down.
I don't appreciate the way my eyes keep blurring out of focus, nor the way thoughts trail off or get lost mid sentence.

I can say, though, that I am glad Fall is finally here. I love the cooler weather.  Don't judge me, but I hate summer.  Now that I'm done with school and working full time, Summer seems utterly pointless to me.  I hate the heat.  Everything lovely and good comes with Fall and Winter: Hot Chocolate, Shoes (cute ones), Coats (cute ones...), Thanksgiving, Christmas (GAH! I love Christmas), Halloween, Clothes (cute ones...) get the idea.

I love the colors of fall and the changing of times.  Life speeds up,inspiration strikes.  I tend to fly in my writing during the fall, winter, and even spring.  I'm currently fleshing out a new idea with two new characters I'm excited about.  I'm excited about the weather.

From where I sit, typing these words, I can see storm clouds moving in.  There is nothing more beautiful to me than a storm.  Something in the swirling darkness of uncertainty reminds me of the glory and power of God.  So much power and potential destruction combined into something that is also life-giving and necessary for sustaining.  I hope this storm hits--I hope it's good.

Sometimes I wonder what it would feel like to have so much power.  What might it feel like to wield lightening or control rain?  What sort of energy would course through your body as the electrical current ran the course of your every synapse?  What would it feel like to be in control of something so dangerously bewitching?  Am I the only one who dreams of these things?  Is it my writer's mind--my insane imagination--that conjures ideas of creating fire, controlling lightening, breathing life, and conquering death?  I doubt a day goes by where I wonder what it would be like to be one of my characters--to act like them, think like them sure, but really to have the unique attributes I give them that make them interesting.

What would it be like to bring the calm after the storm--when your life is raging and rolling and nothing seems to be within your control.  I'm about to start a faith group with a few friends of mine, and I'm excited about living my life alongside other people.  I have a tendency to be a recluse when it comes to the real me.  The more I think about delving deeper into my relationship with Jesus alongside others, the more excited I become.

It's like the way I feel about the writers I know--there's something about knowing you have a passion, and that the person sitting next to you shares it and wants to talk about it.  Lifelong relationships are made through groups like these, and I know I can turn to my Blue Monkeys for anything.  I'm hoping those individuals in this small group will be the same way.

What about you?  Who do you turn to when the storm is raging?  You don't have the power to control it--that wasn't a gift you were given.  Who has the power to walk you through it?  Who is there after the storm--the person(s) who picks you back up?

Or maybe you're traveling alone, down a dusky road.  The clouds are darkening, and you haven't a soul in the world to turn to.  The wind is picking up, and it's getting colder.  Only dirt road lies ahead, even more behind.  In the distance you can see a little cottage, bravely standing against the storm.  You have a choice to run to it--but will you?  And if you do, who will you find inside, waiting for you to return?

Friday, September 9, 2011

A Loss and a Gain

It's been a strange week.

I recently spent two days up at a "Staff Retreat" in the mountains with the wonderful people I work with.  It was a time meant for fun, relaxation, and bonding.  It was also a time to look forward to a big change happening in our future.  The Boss Man is stepping down after 35 years of pastoring our church, and an amazing new individual is stepping in.  The Retreat was a time for us to discuss and love and grow.

We were encouraged to not let bad blood remain between us.  It's so easy to go around and gossip or discuss your issues with a friend instead of with the person with whom you have the "beef".  As I went out on my own, wondering who it was I needed to talk to and what it was I needed to clear up in my life, I went to an old familiar place.

The place we held our retreat is a site we use each year for our youth camps--a place I had attended for years, both as a camper and as a student.  Many years previous, I'd had an experience of emotional proportion while talking to a leader on the basketball court.

It was to this basketball court that I returned during the night of my staff retreat.  I had been going there for our quiet times and free moments that were meant to be just alone time.  It was here that I sat and pondered what my next move was--what my future looked like.  It was here that I was approached by a friend--though, it wasn't the friend I expected to have healing with.

This friend is someone I've known for 4 years, and I can't remember a time where we've fought or argued heatedly--that just isn't a part of our relationship.  When he sat down next to me, his eyes misted with tears of regret, I felt nothing short of surprise as he asked for my forgiveness.

"I'm sorry I haven't stuck up for you or your family when people were saying unkind things about you guys.  I'm sorry I just let it happen.  Your family has done a lot for me, and I know you guys can be a little abrasive, but I shouldn't have let it happen.  You know, mean jokes and stuff."

Truly appalled, I immediately forgave him.  No way could I hold any hard feelings against him. He hadn't exactly said unkind things about me himself, and I'm guilty of chuckling at a joke that never should have been laughed at.  We hugged it out and moved on to other topics--the change in leadership, the way the church was going, life in general.

I walked away feeling more camaraderie towards him, but my heart also squeezed with sadness about what he'd said.

Don't get me wrong--I am no where NEAR surprised that people speak unkindly about me.  I am well aware that people probably don't like me.  I don't have a high enough self esteem to believe the whole world loves me--I'm not arrogant, nor am I stupid.

What got to me was the phrase "mean jokes and stuff".  Jokes?  What joke could be told about me?  I tried to think about jokes that were told about other people that they didn't want that person to hear said about them...I tried to find a context in which one (or all) of my faults could be laughed at in an unkind way.

But I couldn't come up with one.
I still can't.

I feel like Darcy when he's talking to Elizabeth and she's trying to find a way to tease him in Pride and Prejudice.  He says his faults (which are pretty human and not honorable or good in any way) and she replies with "Oh dear, I'm afraid I can't tease you about that.  Pity, for I do love to laugh." *loose quotation*.

What's funny about my faults?  What could be said that would make my friends laugh, even if they know it's mean to do so?  It wasn't paranoia that I was feeling, but sadness.  Deep and painful sadness.  I'd almost wished he'd apologized for the jokes HE'D told and then told me what they were--at least then I'd know.  Instead, he did what was right and didn't gossip.

But every time it pops into my head, I feel the tears press against the corners of my eyes.  I attempt to put up a strong front, but anyone who really knows me knows I am an emotional pansy.  I love my friends, but I'm wondering more and more about who loves me back.  It's a horrible feeling and I'm 96% sure it's Satan messing with me...but that 4% is still pretty loud.

If anything, I've learned one lesson.  I will never allow another unkind joke to be said in my presence UNLESS it's the type of ribbing that would be done if the individual was standing there.  People tell jokes all of the time and say "Man, I wish ___ was here for me to say that to."  Then if that individual walks up, they repeat the joke for his/her own ears.

But the jokes people say--the ones they would be mortified if that person heard--I can't allow those to ever occur around me again if I ever did before.  Now that I feel this pain, I'm going to learn from it.  I have no other option.

It's funny, how life and God teach us lessons.  Sometimes the ones that hurt are the best teachers.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Part of Me

Well, it's that time of life again--I've finished writing a novel.  It's the second time I've finished this book, which happens to be the second book I've ever written.  It's an interesting sensation.  Things have changed since I last finished a book--I've changed.

Ragged Edge made all the difference.  I've been more positive and had a better outlook on life ever since Tennessee.  People now know the truth:  I am a writer.  It has changed the way some of them talk to me, and for the better.  Now, there is a better chance for certain people to touch on topics they know I would find interesting.  There have also been moments where silly things have happened (with my encouragement) that I can plead "writer's insanity" for.

    Ex.  The other day I was having a discussion with a friend of mine named Molli.  A gentleman friend of ours walked by, and Molli shook her head with a smile, asking "Oh Ryan, what do we do with him?"
My response, which will surprise no one who knows me, was to say "We could always kick him."

Had I been speaking to anyone else, this remark would have been chuckled at and we would've moved on.  Molli, however, is the type of friend who is a writer's dream.  Her big blue eyes lit up and she sat straighter in her chair.  "Can we?" She asked me, grinning from ear to ear.  "Would he get mad?  How would he react?"
These are the type of questions that every writer jumps at the chance to answer.  With Molli plucking the chords of my interest, I urged her forward, telling her if she kicked him I would observe the process.

We approached Ryan, beginning a benign and casual conversation in which he asked us if we would join him in an endeavor he was going to undertake.  With our responses being light and positive, he turned slightly, his attention diverted.  Molli amped herself up and kicked him in the shin--not hard, but still enough to bring his attention back around to us.  I can honestly tell you that his reaction was NOT one I had ever expected.
 "Huh?  Did I do something wrong?"  He wasn't angry, wasn't off put, but instead had believed HE had wronged US and so been attacked.

We had a right laugh about it, Molli and I.  People fascinate me.  I love to see them react to strange occurrences.  I love my friends for putting up with my oddities.  Most of all, I love the support I receive from both writer and non-writer friends.

I finished a book.  That's where I started this rant.  The book is done, and maybe one day it will be published for the world to read--that is my goal, after all.
As I also said, things have changed.  Before when I finished a book, I would fall into some sort of haze.  I didn't want to write, I didn't have any more story.  I just wanted to recharge. Now, though, it's killing me that I've finished and I haven't written anything else in the last 24 hours SINCE I finished.  I can't wait to get back to it.  I love it.  It's part of who I am.

That being said...I'm going to go write now.  I don't have the time to be blogging.  I need to do what I love.

Monday, August 22, 2011

The Ugly Duckling

It's a beautifully painful story.  Angst ridden, heart wrenching--the truth about every writer who has ever breathed oxygen on this place we call Earth.

Wait, you thought it was about being accepted?  Well, that's true too.

This story truly can apply to any life, anytime, anywhere.  For me, it applies dually.  The Ugly Duckling speaks to my heart as a writer, and my insecurities as a woman.

Walking through life, we all fit into "groups" or "cliques" whether or not we want to.  Most of us swim throughout the pond, even though one type of waterfowl may not be like us.  We get along best with our own type, but we can be friendly with those that don't look or act quite like us.

For a writer, getting along with others is sometimes difficult, sometimes easy, but always a bit different than it is for other people.  We interact (most of us) just fine, have friends and family we love, but we are never fully in "this world".  A writer's mind wanders--far and wide, to places unknown to those around them.  I bet you've seen it, especially if you know me even a little.

The eyes glaze over, and though she nods her head, you know she's going to have to ask you to repeat that last sentence.  She isn't hard of hearing, she's hard of concentrating.  You said something that clicked her writing mind into overdrive.  They don't mean to ignore you, they were merely inspired but whatever it was you said!

Sometimes, a writer feels like an Ugly Duckling--they just don't fit in.  Then one day, that sad little duckling full of stories with no one to tell them to, sees a flock of beautiful swans--feather pens in hand.  With a glance, they notice the duckling and beckon him over with a wing, handing him a pad and pen and telling him to write as he's never written before!

That's what it feels like when you group a large amount of writers into one room and tell them to interact.  It's so wonderful to feel like someone gets you in a way that others couldn't.  Now, truth be told, the writers I have met don't get me in the way my mom does, but they DO get me in a way she may not.  Meeting writers isn't an end all for me to interact with all of those I loved before I had that chance.  On the contrary, it simply broadened my horizons.

That being said, despite the swan that I am told I have become, my insides still feel like that little Ugly Duckling.  It's so funny to think, because I am so used to it, that when I put myself down (mentally or verbally), I'm going against the beliefs of several of those who love me.  Is it because they love me? Or because what they say is true? (Rhetorical question).

I had an experience recently where I felt I had made a FOOL of myself in front of a rather attractive young man.  The friend I was with marveled at my sudden insecurity and social awkwardness.  He remarked that he'd never seen me so "out of control" when it came to my cool steely personality.  He'd never seen me flounder and fluster and blush as insanely as I did in that moment.

"No matter what anyone says, I still feel like an Ugly Duckling on the inside.  Like I open my mouth to speak, and all that comes out is a ridiculous 'hooonk'".

He laughed jovially and told me that wasn't the case, that no one would have thought me a fool in that moment but myself.

Isn't that the point though?  I think I am the fool.  I think I am still the awkward Ugly Duckling whose "best friend" would reference to herself as "the pretty one" and to me as "the funny one", and sometimes "the smart one".  I still get caught up in those moments where I am attempting to sound sane when speaking to an alluring gentleman, and all I hear is "hoooooooooonk".

When I look in the mirror, I don't see a confident Swan smiling back at me--knowing full well that she is beautiful, inside and out.  That she is a talented writer who will one day be published.

I see an awkward little Duck, trying her best to stay strong and look confident when on the inside she's squirming and squawking.  A little Duck who knows she should see the Swan, but somehow can't.  A little Duck who looks at her writing and wonders how  she'll ever be what she's always dreamed to be, and then speaks to a man and wonders how she'll ever find anyone who sees her for what she can't.

And every Swan, Goose, and Mallard alike smile at her sweetly, telling her that in time she will have these things.  In time she will be published, seeing her books on the shelves in Barnes and Noble.  In time and only in God's time, will she meet the man of her dreams--despite her desire to have at least one notice her once in awhile.

In time, my little Duckling, you will stare into your reflection and you will see a Swan.  It takes hard work, patience, and perseverance.  Have the tenacity to succeed, and no one will be able to feel like you've failed.  You are beautiful as you are, in both writing and in person.  "Don't let the bastards get you down."  They aren't worth it in the end.  Concentrate on what God made you to be and eventually everything else will fall into place.

Those are the things I have to remember.  If there are any other little ducks reading this, know that I mean that for you as well.  Birds of a feather...well, you know the saying.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Ragged Edge--Life Begins

"We have an incredible love affair with the written word."
              ---Ted Dekker

After a day of what most would consider "Depressing Truths", I think the authors were pleased that we all (I think) actually came back.  Day two blew day one out of the water--I can't even begin to describe what it was to me.

The craft of writing is to each our own--and we were told that everything we write is beautiful.  There is no getting better when it comes to our personal writing. 
Now, we may improve in the sense that others find our writing as beautiful as it has always been--but at this moment in my life. Right Now.  Everything I write is beautiful. 

We talked it all--becoming our Characters with Bob; Finding our Strengths with Tosca; fulfilling our promises and Story with Steven---and of course, the lovely Ted Dekker. 

Hilarity filled the day.  I know you'd like me to detail the funny things they said, but I honestly want to keep a lot of these memories to myself.  I will tell you that Robert Liparulo slapped a friend just to see what his reaction would be--and Ted and Steven argued over whose stories were darker.  Kevin Kaiser did the best Yoda impression I have EVER heard--hands down. 

Essentially, I learned that I need to write more--and more often.  I'll be making an author's page on facebook--hopefully you all will "like" me.
The page will be for my writing, and my blog more for my musings.

Welcome to my Asylum.  It's going to be a fun ride.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Ragged Edge--Beginning

I walked into Ragged Edge with a knot in my stomach.  Fear and nerves crawled through me the entire morning, and I couldn't shake the slight nausea that washed over me in waves.  As luck would have it (Or as God would bless it), we took the shuttle with a group attending the Ragged Edge. 

It's funny how God works things together.  It's funny how you can make a friend (potentially for life) in a time when you weren't looking for one.

Devin Berglund--a lovely girl--happened to be in that shuttle.  It's simple to say that we spent these last two days of the conference in each other's company.  I'm so glad to have made this connection.

Devin made it easier.  My mom, who had 'come along for the ride', as she put it, walked with us back to Liberty Hall, and spent several minutes being what I needed--my Mama.  When she left, though, it was nice to have someone else to stand with; someone who had felt nerves, but was just as excited as I was.

I promised you all this blog.  I promised you I would tell you what I saw--every bit that I could (without sharing too much).  I'm not sure how to put some of it into words.  I can honestly say that I have never felt so...normal.

Normal, because everyone (mostly) was like me.  We were all there for the same reason.  As we started talking in the hour we had before the conference started, we all began to realize how similar we were.  We all had the same experiences, same feelings and thoughts--same interactions with people who didn't care to get it, and those that tried but couldn't completely understand.
Only some of us were as blessed as I have been--only some at the conference had the loving support of their family or friends.

We talked about our stories--what we've written, what we were working on--we talked genre, authors, books, blogs etc.  I thought I was in heaven!  And then I realized...

I'd only made it to the waiting room.

The lights went dark and a video came on the screen.  It was something called "The Dreamer Cometh" or...something like that.  I watched it, knowing that what came next would be what had made me so nervous-so sick-so excited.  Call what I am about to do hero worship, but I don't care.  I saw my hero walk up onto the stage.

He was everything I expected, the eccentric Ted Dekker.  His hair was styled in that messy way; his shirt was a screen-t that was only tucked in in the front of his jeans.  This, by the way, revealed a studded belt holding up his designer jeans.  Down on his feet, he wore Nike flip flops.

My hero had arrived.  He spoke with a slight accent--evidence of his being raised outside of the good ol' United States.  He has a unique way of talking--always moving and never quite still.  Even when sitting, Ted Dekker moves.  He brought the others up--Steven James (The Pawn), Eric Wilson (Fireproof), Tosca Lee (Demon), and Robert Liparulo (Comes a Horseman).

These people--some I'd never heard of--began telling us of what it means to be a writer.  Telling of the lifestyle we live.  Most of those in the audience heard their words and said "Yes! That's me!  It's so nice to finally feel like I'm not alone--I'm not as weird as I feared I was!"

I'm not going to tell you what they said--I won't be sharing that here.  I didn't record it (though I took notes), but I'm not going to share the experience they asked to be private between us.  All I will tell you, is this was considered the "negative day".  Learning what it means to live the life of a writer.

This is getting long, so I'll jump to the reception.

After all day of being with these people, hearing what they had to say, we had a chance to meet them.  We were given books to have each of them sign--books I'll probably review on here soon.

I met my hero--I talked to him!  Without fainting, stuttering, or sounding like an idiot.  I spoke clearly, got a picture with him, and then let him do my hair when he wouldn't believe that I didn't have product in it to make it the way it is.

I met Tosca Lee--a beautiful woman who is kind and real.  I have a picture with her as well.  She spoke to me like I was someone the same as her--not a wannabe talking to a pro, as it truly was.

Robert Liparulo was holding up the signing line.  Why?  Because he wanted to have a meaningful conversation with each person that passed through the line.

Eric Wilson told me he had a niece named Kelsey whom he missed, and that he loved my "Bazinga" shirt because it stood out.

Steven James smiled and was pleasant--but there was no denying a slightly dry humor hiding beneath the grin.

I left walking on air.  How could it get any better?  How could my life be sweeter?

Then there was day two.  But I will talk about that in the next blog.  For now--I'm in heaven.  I don't want to come home.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Sweet Sanctuary

Just finished reading Sweet Sanctuary by Sheila Walsh & Cindy Martinusen Coloma for  I've never been very good at book reviews, as I never know what to say--but here it goes.

Honestly, when I picked this book, it was simply because it was the most interesting synopsis in a pile of DULL.  I read several "back covers" and thought--why did I sign up for this?  Is a free book worth it if the only books I can get are rubbish?

But I gave Sweet Sanctuary a chance.  According to the back cover (paraphrased), Wren Evans, single mom, is raising her musically gifted son, Charlie.  She'd do anything for her son, even move to Boston for a chance at a prestigious music school.
Wren discovers, however, that Charlie has been praying for her.  Minutes after hearing these words, Wren's grandma Ruth shows up with a request--a final family gathering between her and her grandchildren at their summer home, where so many years before an accident shattered so many things.  Wren also is facing loss of her job due to budget cuts, and finds out that Charlie's dad may not be as "out of their lives" as she's always said he was.
In the midst of this, Wren finds a friend in the handsome and kind hearted Paul Callahan.  When the family is finally all together, a roller coaster of emotions and hurts reveal themselves--hurts only God can heal.

I wasn't very excited, but it was enough for me to be interested.  Frankly, I find a lot of Christian Literature has run towards cheesy-pie and cliche.  I was pleasantly surprised, then, by this book. 

Wren was a character with real life woes, wants, and worries.  She loves her son, Charlie, and the mother she is, is both endearing and realistic.  Charlie is--after a first few pages of stumbling--a sweet and kind-hearted kid.

The other characters fit into real life--Coworkers who are friends, though a little nosey; library patrons of all shapes and sizes; siblings with clashing personalities...Reality.

The story moves along at  a good pace, and I managed to finish it with a contented smile.  It was no Francine Rivers, but I enjoyed the story.

What I didn't like was easily overcome.  I didn't like that fact that they kept referring to "the incident" throughout the book, building and building until it was finally revealed and then----

Basically nothing.  I mean, I understood that "the incident" was a big deal and traumatic for the family--but the reactions were too much.  It was such a drastic overreaction for what it turned out to be.  When they built it so big, and made it seem so intriguing, and then let it be something that really (to me) just made Wren's family look like a bunch of horrible people.

Furthermore, the fact that Wren had DEALT with these people all her life?  I found that unpleasant, as it made me feel like Wren was weak.  Any people who treat another person the way Wren's family had treated her--well, I wouldn't have been the complacent "peace maker" that Wren's character tried to be.
I don't know anyone who would be a "peace maker" if they were treated the way Wren was as a child.

That sounds like a lot of dislikes--and it is.  When it comes to my usual standard of books, Sweet Sanctuary is not in my top 10, 20, 30....or anywhere near there.  But as it goes for Christian Women's Literature, the books was alright.  I may even read it again someday.


So pretty high praise in my own, strange way!  Read Sweet Sanctuary if you enjoy a cute story with characters that are realistic.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

A short Story

Here is a rough, somewhat quickly thrown together story that's been in my head.  It's not my best, but I hope you like it.  It's not accurate--I didn't do research about what slave life would have been like.  But hopefully you find it interesting; it's told from the point of view of a slave in the High Priest's household in Jerusalem at a very volatile time.

People continued to shout inside as Koritsi tugged at the leather tie of her sandal.  The shouting continued inside, and she strained to hear the words spoken.  Sound all mixed together, leaving her unable to make out the phrases being shrieked through the late hour.  Koritsi shuddered with the cool night air, wrapping her arms around herself and spotting the fire in the courtyard.  People stood around the flames, warming themselves.
As a slave of the High Priest, it was Koritsi’s responsibility to make sure the fire continued for all those that were unworthy to enter his home.  She could see several men warming themselves, sitting around the fire and quietly talking.  Most of them were like her—too low class to ever be considered to enter inside unless they wore the sash of a slave and belonged to the High Priest. 
               “BLASPHEMY!” Koritsi jumped at the yell that echoed from the inner room out to the courtyard.  Several of the men at the fire also glanced up, and Koritsi heard clearly for the first time a bit of what was happening inside.  A loud sound echoed around, followed by more talking.
               “Prophesy! Tell us who hit you!”  It was her master’s voice.  He was questioning the man called Jesus—the man they wanted to die for his crimes.  Koritsi had heard what they’d said about him—heard of all he’d done from others at the market place.  She’d even seen him herself a few times, healing the sick and speaking to all who wanted to listen.  He talked of things that struck fear into her heart—fear, but also hope.
As Koritsi came closer to the fire, she pondered the troubled feeling that stirred within her.  The things this man spoke of—the things that were so radical and terrifying—they didn’t necessarily seem wrong.  If Koritsi were to dare to speak that aloud though, she would surely die. 
The men around the fire were quietly talking as Koritsi discretely examined their faces.  At the sight of one—a man remaining quite silent—Koritsi’s heart rate spiked.  She’s seen him with the Nazarene.  She’d seem him there as the miracles had been performed. 
               “You also were with that Nazarene, Jesus.” Koritsi heard the words escape her lips before she had a chance to stop them.
The man looked up sharply, but quickly avoided meeting her eyes.
               “I do not know or understand what you are talking about.” He replied as he stood and walked away from the fire. 
Surprised and a little confused, Koritsi watched him go.  The men around the fire whispered a little more animatedly as the man—someone called him Peter—stalked away into the darkness.  Koritsi followed after him, the memories of all she’d seen the Nazarene do fresh in her mind’s eye.  She could have sworn that he…perhaps she’d mistaken him.  Perhaps it was a trick of the light. 
Peter stood in the entryway, staring out into the night.  Koritsi could see the fear in his eyes; fear standing alongside pain.  There were more men in the entryway; it seemed there were people no matter where Koritsi turned.  There was no denying it—this man was Simon Peter, a follower of the Nazarene.
               “This fellow is one of them.”  Koritsi said.  Her tone was almost accusatory, and a twinge of regret swept through her as the fear dominated Peter’s face.
               “I don’t know him. I told you.” He snapped, stalking a short ways away from them all. 
An hour passed, and Koritsi kept her eye on Peter.  She wondered why someone who had followed a man for three years would suddenly deny any connection to him.  Why would Peter betray the man he had devoted so much time to?  If rumors were true, he had left a lucrative business to dedicate his life to the man whom he now claimed no knowledge of. 
Another man approached Peter, and Koritsi drew herself closer to better hear what would be said.  Soon she realized there was no need.
               “That man has performed many miracles.” The man said to another standing near Peter.
               “He has.  Some say by demons.  Others, by God.” The second man replied, while the first turned to Peter.
               “He had twelve men who knew him well; twelve who were very close to him.  Surely you are one of them, for you are a Galilean.  Your accent has given you away.”
               “I swear I don’t know him!” Peter shouted, throwing his hands up in the air and turning on all who stared at him.  “By heaven and earth I swear it!  Curse you and damn you for saying that I do!  Do you think I would throw my lot in with him?”
Koritsi stepped back in fear at the rage in Peter’s voice while he yelled.  Something in her broke, like hope dying.  The moment Peter finished his rant, she heard a rooster crow.  She saw as Peter turned his eyes toward the inner room, and as she followed his gaze, she saw the Nazarene staring back at the man who had just sworn no connection.  The look alone brought Koritsi to her knees, and she forced herself to turn away.  Her heart twisted and churned within her, but as she glanced up into Peter’s face, it broke completely. 
Peter’s eyes were locked on the Nazarene’s, and shame, sorrow, pain, and regret poured from Peter.  His resolve cracked, dissolved before Koritsi’s very eyes, and she watched the grown man begin to weep.  Embarrassed by the reaction, Koritsi dared another glance at Jesus, the Nazarene.  He was no longer looking at Peter—Koritsi’s master had spit on him, and was now ordering guards to take him away.

Koritsi’s world had forever changed.  It didn’t matter that she was ordered to attend the Nazarene’s crucifixion with her master.  She stood by silently, attending the High Priest while stealing glances at the man that she was sure had changed the world.  His death didn’t matter; not really.  She had seen his eyes, and there was no doubt that the soul inside was different.  Koritsi believed that Jesus was who they said He was—that He was the Christ.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Quick thoughts

There is a saying "The Heart wants what it wants".

I don't know if I like it.  Frankly, if the heart (or my heart) had its way, I'd be in a whole mess of trouble.  I think we all would.  Our hearts are no more perfect then we are; as a matter of fact, I think my heart would make several bad decisions, going only by emotions, if my head wasn't someone willing to assist in life.

I was planning on going into details about my thoughts and feelings on this topic, but then I changed my mind.  I could tell you my opinions about my heart and men, those in need, my family and friends--

But I won't.  I am going to jump topics--as I'm prone to do.

In one week I leave for Nashville to meet my hero, Ted Dekker, at a writer's conference.  I can't wait.  I want to learn so much.  I love his writing and I emulate him in my own.  I'll give more details later, but I just cannot wait.

My last thought is that I'm thinking of working on some short stories for the almost dozen of you that read this blog.  I've got a few ideas; I just have to make sure they aren't too long!  So hopefully that's something to look forward to!

Short and sweet!

Monday, August 1, 2011


As I sit here, staring at my computer screen, I'm a bit at a loss for words.  I have experienced so see I don't even have the words now.  So much good has happened in the past few days.

For the first time, I jumped in as a leader at Encounter--a youth conference for high schoolers.  I can easily say it was one of the best experiences of my life--an eye opener for me.  I saw God move in my life and in the lives of so many students.  I saw things that a part of my thought only happened back in "Bible times".  It was so insanely wonderful.  I think I cried at least once every day.  God is so good--so wonderful.  I am so blessed.

I really can't go into words!  Then after a filled insane "Oh my gosh" week...I went to the GREATEST wedding I've ever experienced.  My friends Becky and Matt were married in one of the best ceremony/reception compounds in all of the world. 

The reason this matters, the reason I mention it, is because I usually HATE wedding receptions.  Ceremonies are fine, but receptions are (in my opinion) a torture device used against single women.  I generally sit and watch a whole bunch of couples dance and be happy while I wish I was out there with them.  It isn't even about being a couple--it's about the fun I miss out on because I'm not one. It's like...single people can't have fun at weddings.

However, this wedding was different.  Instead of sitting and being wall-flowers, the single girls (and the married ones) were all on the dance floor having the TIME of our LIVES.  My mom, her friends, my friends, sorority sisters and even grandmothers were strutting their stuff to whatever song came through the speakers.  We danced until we couldn't move any longer.  And when the slow songs came up, I did what every older friend would do for her younger ones.  I went to the younger guys at the wedding and told them to do their duty.  They were responsible to their friends--I didn't want to see a whole ton of Mr. Darcys, refusing to dance with the ladies.

The men arose to the occasion!  I was proud to see them dancing to all sorts of songs--upbeat and slow--and keeping the girls feeling as beautiful on the inside as they looked on the outside.  A man my own age (or close to it) was nice enough to even do that kind service for me--to ask my to dance and make me feel pretty.

Men don't realize what it means when they ask a girl to dance.  When she works so hard to look beautiful--be it a wedding, a school dance, or a random night where they go dancing.  We try so hard to look desirable--to look like something worth noticing.  When we aren't, well, I can say from experience that it will ruin more than just an evening.  There is something in being noticed.  To see someone smile at you as he offers his hand.  I can say that my friend made me feel special.  And the guys made my girlfriends feel beautiful.

I apologize, but I am now going to COMPLETELY change topics.  This is a little "blog a.d.d." for you!

I just watched "The Glee Project" and saw a TOTAL Jesus move!  Christian candidate Cameron sacrificed himself to stand up for his beliefs.  In doing so, he saved Damian (my personal favorite). 
Maybe it's just my own personal beliefs making me biased, but seeing Cameron choose to go home so that Damian would stay nearly broke my heart.  Then, knowing it was because he was unwavering in what he knew was right for him--gosh.  I can't get over the awesome heart wrenching inspiration.

So I guess I end where I started.  No shame here when I say I'm a believer of Christ.  He died for me (and you too!).  I may be deemed "over emotional" because the smallest sweet thing can make me tear up.  However, I think that maybe I just have a big soft heart! 

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Almost Real

Currently watching "Magic Beyond Words-The J.K. Rowling story" and loving every moment.  There truly is something about seeing an inspiring story about an author who defies the odds.  Even more so, seeing any form of similarities between the hero of all Miss Jo and myself.

One thing has happened that I feel I share--but this one thing is all I need. 

Watching the scene play out--perhaps as it did originally--when Jo shut her eyes on a train and saw a small boy with a lightning shaped scar.  In this dramatic portrayal, she asks his name, and he doesn't answer.  Then, opening her eyes back on the train she breathes it.
          "Harry Potter.  Your name is Harry Potter and you're on your way to school--Wizard School."

I've been writing since I was old enough to string the sentences together.  I still have my first "book" that I wrote--three chapters total I think.  I have several short little stories I wrote in notebooks that I used to draw in. When I was thirteen I started what I believed would be my first real book.  It was utter tripe, let me tell you that.   Borrowed ideas and terrible lack of plot--not to mention it moved far too quickly.   It lacked, well, everything.  It wasn't any good.  No character had ever really been real to me.  I hadn't met any of them and wanted to know their story.

When I was either seventeen or eighteen, I went to the movie "X-Men 2" with my family.  I enjoyed the film; on the way home I listened to contemplative conversation about the ending and what it meant.  My mind, however, began to wander--as my mind often does.  I thought of what it meant to be a Phoenix, even as Harry Potter had defined it.

And then I saw her.  A girl with fiery red hair and blazing green eyes. The best thing about her was that she didn't just stand there.  I saw her the way you see spiderman on top of a building.  That crouched stance, staring down at something with an intense glare.  Her hair whipped about her face, and...

And I couldn't stop thinking about it.  I couldn't help thinking about Phoenix and what she'd be able to do.  The ideas just kept flowing--The Daughter of the Sun and the Moon, given up for reasons that I honestly didn't know yet.  To be raised by a normal family in a tiny town in the farthest reaches of...

Well, of a place.  I knew that much.  When we reached our home, I casually asked my brother if he would read a book about a girl like Phoenix.  I had so few details that it was a very general question.  I asked him if he thought it'd be interesting--and I asked the question in a way that might make it seem like it was a book I was considering reading, not writing.

My brother turned to me, thoughtfully considering my question.  After a few seconds he shrugged and said "Yeah, I'd probably read that.  It sounds good."
My brother doesn't read all that often, but the books he does read are carefully selected for his enjoyment--he's not one to waste his time with pointless storyline.

I casually smiled at him and said "Oh, really?  It's just an idea I had...I think I might start writing about it."
His eyebrows jumped up and his mouth pursed into an intrigued or thoughtful state.  "Good.  You really should.  I think it's a good idea."

And then I was off.  I dreamed, planned, and plotted.  Then I wrote.  I didn't get very far before I realized it was COMPLETELY wrong and tore it out of my notebook.  I rewrote.  Then I stopped again--rewriting once more.

That was so long ago now.  Alright, it was about four-ish years ago.  It feels as though it were ages.

I someday hope that--like J.K. Rowling--I will see my book displayed on shelves in the stores.  To see people sitting and reading it at coffee shops.  Even to do a public reading for anyone who would actually attend.

If you're a writer, tell me if any of your characters jumped out at you, their story following as you dreamed of them--or if you thought up a setting first, or maybe a premise.  Perhaps you didn't even know your main character until you tried to think of who would make your idea most interesting.

I'd love to hear from you.

Friday, July 15, 2011


Last night I went to the midnight showing of "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2", and it was the end of an era.  Harry Potter has been a part of my life, either in book or movie form, since I was about 7 years old.  That's 14 years of my life.

The movie, should any of you be on the fence about seeing it, was AMAZING!  This isn't biased either, because I walked out of Deathly Hallows Part 1 feeling a bit cheated.  I love good acting (which it had) and a great plot (which, uh duh), but there was something about Part 1 that just left me cold.

It wasn't enough.  Part 2 answered my need for more.  It was EVERYTHING I could have hoped for, and then some extra stuff I didn't even know I was allowed to hope for.  They told a brilliant story with acting such like I've never seen.

For those who have seen it (SEMI SPOILER SKIP PARAGRAPH IF NOT)The scene with Snape holding her and wailing nearly broke me.  I do mean literally.  It was so powerful, so moving, and so real that I could have fallen out of my chair and sobbed like a small child in the theatre.  In that moment I wanted to be held.  I wanted someone to hold me and tell me it was going to be alright, because Snape was hurting me, and I wanted it to stop.  Alas, no one was there to hold me, and so I just pulled myself together, but when I think of that scene I still feel my heart crack.  Alan Rickman is amazing, and Snape is probably my favorite character (hard to say only one). 

There is nothing more genius than a well written character.  When it comes to writing, I want to be someone who creates a being that you fall in love with (or hate with a passion).
I want my characters to be people that, when I'm done with you, you have to self evaluate and decide the intricacies of your own heart.  Did you really just identify with the villain?  Was that character twist totally unexpected, but yet you knew it all along?
Did you fall in love?
I do.  All the time.  I fall in love with characters right and left when I read, and also when I write.
I fell in love with Draco, Snape, Serius, Harry, Ron, Hermione, Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, Han Solo, Chewbacca, Monte Cristo and Mercedes, Katniss and Peta (Hunger Games), Thomas of Hunter(Black), Johnny(Showdown), Thoma and Lucine (Immanuel's Veins).

The lists go on and on.  I fall in love with villains and heroes alike.  It seems now, as I write my own, the bond is stronger in some ways.  Perhaps because they are almost like my children--little pieces of me.  These people I've made who are flawed, but who have a story to tell.  They do horrible things for the name of evil, or they fight for good with everything in them.
It seems, however, that the characters who have stolen my heart are a pair.  These boys aren't kidding around, but are in the business of bad for the long haul.

Eric Lee is something in me that every Christian writer has to have--hope.  Whether or not Eric will turn his ways away from the terrorizing he does with the Army of the King, you can always hope he will.  There is enough that is questionable and likable in him for you to want to believe that people can change.  Eric may never change, but he gives an opportunity for redemption.  He also plays a big role in something that is ALWAYS a big deal plot with me--think Scream 3, Avatar The Last Airbender and Star Wars.  If you can figure out what they have in common, then you, dear genius, will know what theme I love.

Second, I love Lee's Second.  Second in command, that is.  Samson Steele was a character I created long ago as a side thought--more of a gesture of friendship than anything else.  But then, somehow and somewhere, Samson became important.  He strode in front of me, looked me full in the face, and told me that there was more to him than what I had given.
I fought with Samson a lot.  Unlike Lee--whose story, with minor shifts, has always followed the path I originally chose--Samson made me change HUGE plot lines in order to accommodate what could only be called "the truth".

Anything less would have been lies.  It wasn't the way the story played out.  Samson had a role to play--albeit not one most might want him to, but a part none the less.  I couldn't force him into my box of expectations and keep him from being important.  He stands too tall, too proud, and too much like a couple of brothers I know after whom he was originally fashioned, so long ago.  He has long taken his own persona, but there are still a few dominating traits left over from his beginnings as an homage to a duo I adore.

We fall in love with characters.  We see their struggles, their strife, and we cheer them on--either to succeed or to be destroyed, depending on if we like the character or not.  We pick the bad guy and pray for good (Darth Vader and Prince Zuko).  We watch the good guy and actually hope he fails (The police vs Dexter).

So, how come, when it comes to real life and real people we are nothing like our reading/watching selves?  We see people, interact with them daily, and yet we don't show them the love and encouragement we have for fictional beings.
If half of the Harry Potter fans "loved thy neighbor" then we'd have a ridiculously peace ridden world.  No one would go feeling unloved.  Everyone would have someone who makes them feel like they are worth the space they take up day to day.

I'm guilty.  People get on my nerves sometimes.  I want to escape from reality and curl up with a good book or my favorite movie.  I want to escape the people, whom I don't much like, and be presented with characters, whom I know and love.

Girls can read "Pride and Prejudice" a thousand times, sighing at the end of the books each time.  And yet, when presented with a real life Mr. Darcy (as he is in the book) there is no change.  There isn't some grand moment where we girls tell him he is arrogant, even though he's in love with us, and then he chooses to change.
In truth, girls are so backwards that they actually be more attracted to a guy who acts like Mr. Darcy from the beginning of the book then the end.  Treating the "nice guy" like a door mat while they attempt to be noticed by the "bad boy" or the guy who ignores them.

Why can't we love our neighbors?  Why are humans so difficult?  Why can I sit and watch a show about a serial killer named Dexter and love him?  I can't do that in real life.  Present me with a serial killer and regardless of what Jesus thinks, I'm changing the channel in disgust.

Why can't I love my neighbor?
I suppose I've just challenged myself to try harder.  Maybe you will too.