Sunday, September 27, 2009

Poetry from a Pup

This weekend, while I was slicing up the roasted lamb, the pup waited very patiently for her share, and with good reason. My daughter, 8, wrote this from the point of view of the pup.

The knife slices through the juicy meat,
the dark red liquid oozing




until it reaches my quivering black nose.

I lap it up


and lie in wait

for my next treat.


Friday, September 25, 2009

C. S. Lewis

What a gem this book is: C.S. Lewis's CASE FOR CHRIST: Insights from Reason, Imagination and Faith. The many things I struggled about religion since I was twelve years old are the same that C.S. Lewis struggled with. How I wish I could've met the man. He used his literary background and reason to accept Jesus and grow in his faith.
Art Lindsley has compiled the essence of many of Lewis' arguments in perfectly digestible bits. Questions like these are answered:
1. How can I believe in God when there is so much evil, pain and suffering in the world?
2. Isn't Christianity one myth among many?
3. Isn't belief in God just a crutch for needy people?
And so many more.
I especially loved the last chapter which answered the question: Isn't Jesus just another good, moral teacher? If you read the Bible you know that Jesus claimed to be one with God, be God. He called himself the bread of life, the true vine, the light of the world. If an ordinary person would say that, and got people to believe it, he'd be the world's biggest trickster. If Jesus believed it but it were untrue, he'd be crazy. But what if it were true? Then He is who He claims to be. He is the Lord.
You decide.
I'm looking forward to reading MERE CHRISTIANITY by Lewis next.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Cooking and Writing

After a very hectic week and weekend, what with the garden bursting with good stuff, and my students even more productive than me, and the usual sports and church activities, I finally have a chance to breathe and write. My freezer is filling up with zucchini bread, vegetable stews, and salsa.

Alas, my novel is losing weight. I realized during all the cooking (I don't know what the correlation is) that the book would be better told through a single viewpoint instead of the alternating viewpoints I have been using. I'm throwing out almost everything but the first chapter and starting over. So goes novel writing -- many false starts, but when I do hit upon the right one, I know it's right.

The moral of this story? It's good to have lots of food in the freezer. But in a story, more is not always better.

Happy writing, all.

Friday, September 18, 2009

The Hiding Place

I love books like these that uplift my soul and remind me that "there is no pit so deep that God's love is not deeper still." The Hiding Place is full of practical examples showing how to live when times are tough and you feel that evil is winning and so much more.

Corrie ten Boom was a middle-aged woman who lived with her sister Betsie and father above their watch shop in Haarlem, Holland, when Nazi Germany invaded. They opened their doors to Jews, managing to find homes for some, and keeping others hidden in a secret room in Corrie's own bedroom.

I love this quote from her father when a man feels that Corrie and her family shouldn't be putting themselves at risk with "all this illegal concealment and underground business." Corrie's father holds a baby close and says, "You say we could lose our lives for this child. I would consider that the greatest honor that could come to my family."

Corrie and her entire family were sent to concentration camps. Corrie survived with the help of her sister Betsie, who always reminded her to fix her eyes on Jesus. They managed to smuggle a small Bible and found themselves transformed in a place they thought God had forgotten. There were so many excerpts I read out loud to my family from this book. It is a must read.

I almost put this book down because the first part of the book is about their life before the invasion and there isn't much conflict. The ten Boom family was a happy one. It reminded me of Tolstoy who said, "Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way." It's not that I don't like reading about happy families, because I do, but there just isn't enough tension to keep turning the pages. But Bam! we have invasion and suddenly the tension ramps up and it just doesn't stop. There is no room to breathe. The stakes keep getting higher and higher and higher. I knew how this story ended, yet I couldn't put down this book.

I hope you will pick up this book to read. There is also a movie, if you prefer. Haven't seen it yet.


Monday, September 14, 2009

A Budding Teacher

Every morning, I tidy up a little bit before sitting down with a cup of tea. Here's a piece of scrap paper that I have to share with you all. I don't have a scanner, so I will type this up, creative spelling and all. Looks like my eight-year-old daughter is absorbing the art of writing editorial letters:


My name is Daughter. It is a plesure to be teaching you this year. I look foraward to sucsess. Your desk s will always be where they are right now. You will never be able to see my body, head, shape, or size. Right now please work on page 3 of the papers. It tells you exatly what to doo. And rember, behave! I am watching every move you make. I hope you are looking forawd to the new school year too.


Well, there you go! My budding teacher. She's much tougher than I am.

Oh, I forgot to add that when my kids were little, they'd send rejection letters to each other when they were mad. It's funny what kids pick up when they live with writer-moms.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Slow and Steady

I'm finally getting into a writing groove. I try to write longhand first thing in the morning, that is if the pup isn't nosing the cat and the old cat's not getting into a big snit. Then we get ready for school. The dog gets a good walk. And I love listening to my kids during our walks. It's a great way to start the day.

After I come home, it's time to have a hot cup of tea, reconnect with my husband who's already spent a good couple of hours working, do the wash, clean the kitchen and finally sit down to write. I write two pages a day (about 500 words) and that translates quite nicely to ten pages a week, or roughly a chapter. The rest of the time is devoted to teaching and taking care of my family. I need to add marketing to the schedule. When I was writing more for magazines, I'd devote a couple of hours every week to sending my work out. I might have to institute Marketing Mondays or some such. I've been consciously lazy about that. I take breaks from sending my work out.

I couldn't have a writing career without my husband. He does most of the shopping, cooks just as much as I do, and does most of the driving back and forth to various sports practices the kids have. The whole family helps with the housework and garden and I am thankful for that.

So, how is everyone else adjusting to the new school year? I hope you are all carving out some time to think and write.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Books That Make Me Think

One of my cousins is a so-called "dumpster" baby. She was left to die, but someone found her and my aunt adopted her, giving her a good life. This is fairly common in India, but I wouldn't expect that here, in such a prosperous country. Yet, all too often, I have read the news of a baby found in the dumpster. So I know it happens.
AFTER by Amy Efaw weaves a story around a girl, Devon, who does just that. It explores what happens when the new mother is facing charges of attempted murder. It shows Devon's understanding about what she has done as well. This book has been written with tremendous grace. The ending is magnificent.
The author's note cites a few statistics. One baby is abandoned to a trash can every day in the United States. And the CDC has concluded that "the homicide rate on the first day of life was at least 10 times greater than the rate during any other time of life." There is something disturbing when the CDC makes a statement like this. It implies that life happens when you are born. Not so, folks. Life begins at conception. A new human being is formed and the nine months that the baby is in the womb, he or she is very much alive. Infanticide has been going on throughout history. Even sanctioned in some cultures. But never in the millions. The abortion rate, although falling, is roughly over a million per year in this country. Sanctioned by society. This is the world we live in today. Something to think about.
Choices by Deborah Lynn Jacobs is a fantastic book about multiple universes. Each time you make a choice, the universe splits. I have been fascinated with this idea for a long time and the author weaves a story about two people who both have the ability to shift between these parallel universes. It's about making choices and realizing that they have consequences. I'm reading another book by her, Powers, that gives plenty of food for thought.
I thought I had read most of the Grimm's Fairy Tales. But I missed the one that Shannon Hale's Book of a Thousand Days is based on. It's a magnificent story cast in the central Asian steppes. I'm looking forward to reading the original tale this is based on.
I'm also going through The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren. Only a chapter per day. This book has probably given me the most food for thought besides the Bible.