Showing posts from May, 2011

Addendum to Living Without Cable and Internet

I have noticed a lot of the traffic to this blog came here because of searches for "Living without cable and Internet."  I apologize somewhat because that was not what it was really about (that is, not a list of ways to do it).  I don't know how someone could live without Internet today because the default position is that anyone who needs something done legally, informationally, medically, etc., can "look it up on the Internet."  We are facing that with my mother now.  She is 83 and has resisted using the 'net, but I think I am going to have to teach her.  My brother, who passed away Sunday, helped her with those kinds of things and she depended on him.

I don't think business, government, etc. have been fair to the elderly, the poor, undereducated, and minorities in going to the default position that you can "find it on the Internet."  The actual statistics on Internet access in this country is far, far short of 100%, and the people who are l…

This Says It Better Than I Can

What's Been Going on

In the last month I have experienced a lot of new things.  On the morning of April 28, I saw what an E4 tornado can do to a town.  On May 13 I saw the fruition of 22 years, my son graduating from college.  I spoke at my first writer's conference (and second) on May 7 and 21. 

The last three days would add to that list.  On Saturday afternoon my mother called to say she was at the hospital with my brother, who had been in terrible pain.  She had called the ambulance.  She had been there longer than she should have without calling me, but in my family we tend to go it alone.  My son and I were there as soon as possible.  The ER doctor called in a surgeon; the news was not good.  My brother would probably not get through the surgery, and if he did, would probably not get through the night.  The surgery was done, he went to ICU, and never was aware again.  At 4:30 or so Sunday morning the ICU called my mother and we were there in 15 minutes.  We watched him die within a half an hour, …

Reflecting on Truth and Our Lack Thereof

This is a good essay on lying and truth.  We lie so much we don't even know it, and when we do, we find easy ways to justify it.  Sometimes we just lie by saying nothing. 

Does a person who writes fiction lie?  No, because he/she presents it as fiction.  Even so, one can lie, in writing fiction, by not doing it well, by not writing honestly about the human experience, by "messing" with the reader, and for a Christian, misrepresenting God (which I contend The Shack does, as I've written about elsewhere on this blog.)

I am coming up on 600 blog posts over the last five years.  My goodness. 

Novel Writing 101.2 - New forms of publishing

The following is a transcript of a talk I'm giving this weekend on epublishing.  Hence the talky nature of it.  Not typical of my writing.

Now, about the self-publishing, epublishing.  We all think we are good writers, or we wouldn’t be doing this.  But publishing is a business.  Yes, we think, “they just publish people they think they will make money on.”  Of course they do.  And if they reject your novel or book, they just, in their opinion, don’t think they will make money on you and/or it doesn’t fit in the kind of thing they want to publish right now.  It may or may not have anything to do with the quality of your writing and story.   I have read plenty of traditionally published books that were just not good.  I rarely read light fiction or genre fiction, no matter who the author is.  Now, if you want to write light, funny Southern fiction, that’s great.  There’s a market for it.  If you want to write mysteries, erotica/romance (big in epublishing), cowboy stories, that’s fin…

Just thinking about . . .

You know, something as occurred to me recently.  Whenever we criticize a politician on one side of the spectrum for a character flaw, a sin, a black spot on his/her record, especially morally, the response from the other side is "Yeah, but what about . . . "  This hardly seems like an argument.

Novel Writing 101

Cult of celebrity?

I like to put links to interesting articles.  Here is one from hermeneutics blog:

I have never understood the cult of celebrity, why normal people are so dragged into personalities:  Oprah, Madonna, Lady Gaga, Beth Moore, and then male preachers, the Osteens, etc.  Is it a meaninglessness we see in our own lives, poor "self-esteem," boredom, too much time on our hands (I know of a soup kitchen you can work at)?  Do we just watch them, fascinated that someone can live a life so self-promoting, so in a fishbowl, or do we really admire them, want to be them, fantasize about a similar lifestyle?  Is it just the money, the servants (not doing my own laundry and yard work!), or the adulation we want?

Now, some would be angered at me that Beth Moore is in the preceding paragraph, and I don't put her in the same category morally or theologically with Oprah or Lady Gaga, of course.  She is a fine Ch…

Speaking Engagement

I will be speaking (for a little bit) at the Chatanooga Writers Guild Spring Workshop on May 21 at John A. Patten Recreation Center in Tiftonia.  Aspiring writers may want to attend this; it looks like a good line-up.  Here is the website:

I May Not Have the Right to Do This, But

Someone who I plan to meet in a few days wrote me this email.  It made me happy.

I finished your book, Traveling Through, tonight and loved it.  I was hooked from beginning to end in a real fast read.  And I'll be there to recommend it . . .  I hope you can come and present  at a . . . 

The only Christian books I've read have been preachy, but your book showed a powerful silent side of Christianity that is not often explored, and that was inside the characters.

I easily identified with Carlie,  her struggles for independence and the right to have a mind of her own as well as her commitment to doing the right thing.  She is the universal 70's woman. As the book ended I wanted to know more about Josiah, Emily and Jeff. At the same time I wonder about Carlie's birth mother.  In any sequel will there be any hint of who she was or what her life was like?

Book Review #385

That title is silly, but I just picked a number randomly to distinguish it from previous book reviews.  Last night I finished The Improper Life of Bezellia Grove.  I read this book because it was the second one of Susan Gregg Gilmore.  I had read her first one, Looking for Salvation at the Dairy Queen, which is about the town I live in, Ringgold, Georgia (well, I have a note below on that one).  I liked the first one; also, I met Susan a couple of weeks ago and liked her, too.  She is now living in Chattanooga, again.  Finally, I wanted to support another writer, especially one who comes to my college or with whom I appear on a panel.

I liked the book very much; I read it in a day or so, really, which is a good sign.  She creates a believable world and believable characters.  This is not light stuff (which I am not a fan of); it's serious writing.  I have to say it didn't go in the direction I expected it to, but why read a book that doesn't surprise you?  "My" d…

In The Name

All my Christian life I have heard the phrase, "Do all in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ," which is quoting Colossians 3:17.  And I let it sweep over me, as if it were a cliche that was tossed around by well-meaning but non-thinking people, and as if I were so smart I didn't need advice like that, and as if it were not Scripture.  But this week I got to thinking about it.

What does it mean?  First, to do something under his authority.  That assumes we are not the authority deciding whether something is within the realm of his authority, but we are listening to him.  Too often we make ourselves the arbiters of whether something is under his authority instead of just placing ourselves there and waiting for clear direction. 

Second, it means intentionality.  How much of my life has been habitual, instinctive, intuitive, haphazard, seat-of-the-pants, let's just go with it, and not intentional.  Intentional doesn't necessarily mean planned, but it does mean conscio…


OK, I  will admit it, although some will immediately stop reading this blog as soon as they read this.  But, normally, I vote Republican.  Not because I am in love with Republican politicians.  I'm not, but because I am closer to Republican ideals (little and big r) than those of the Democratic party (not even sure what those ideals are, except a vague kind of inclusivity.)

So I have to say I am disappointed that Mike Huckabee has decided not to run for president, although I hardly blame him.  The office of the president has "evolved" to such a point, largely by the efforts of certain bigger than life presidential characters (Roosevelts I and II, Wilson, Johnson, and Reagan) that only a megalomaniac would consider running for it and could survive the ridiculous media scrutiny and lies.  No one half way normal, no one with any moral center or ethical boundaries, could do it.  Huckabee is too good a man.  He also is too easy a target for the evil media.  But he would be a …

Madame Bovary

I will be the first to admit that there are major gaps in my education, especially in terms of literature and specifically in terms of non-American literature.  I try to correct that by a reading regimen that includes one fiction for every two nonfiction books I read (those mostly for academic purposes).  I have a huge pile I am working on, but my most recent fiction read was Madame Bovary, or at least an English translation by Francis Steegmuller.  I had heard this was the seminal novel, so it was time.  I firmly believe only people who read great writing are permitted to write (although that is an unpopular view). 

It is a great novel; whether it is the greatest ever written I don't know.  I thought The Brothers Karamazov was more profound and Dickens more encompassing.    What makes a great novel (or movie, or symphony, etc.) is that one can experience it many times and find something new in it each time, and yet the first time one is struck by its depth and quality.  Ironical…

To blog or not to blog

This Saturday afternoon I am sitting in my bedroom.  Outside a neighbor is cutting grass and sunlight is sparkling off the elm tree in my front yard.  My little dog is curled in my lap, making it difficult for me to type.  But my husband gave him a half an antihistamine pill to see if it helped his itching, and the dog is very sleepy, as I always am after an antihistamine.  The dog doesn't even respond to his name.

We are waiting for our son to return from college.  He graduated yesterday; I brought home most of his belongings and he wanted to spend one more night there celebrating with friends.  We are proud of him.  He stuck to the plan, finished in four years with no debt and a solid gpa from a rigorous college.  The ceremony was very nice, but outside and two-and-a-half hours long, resulting in a pretty wretched sunburn on my arms.  I'll have to wear long sleeves for a while, since I'm two toned. 

I feel that I am entering a new phase of my life.  I no longer have his…

My Towns in Ruins

On Wednesday, April 27, 2011, Ringgold, GA, my little Southern town, like many other little Southern towns that day, met the reality of a E-4 tornado.  Because the core of the town is very close to Interstate 75 about ten miles south of Chattanooga, the damage is very visible to all on their way to or from Atlanta or Florida.  But what is visible from the interstate is nothing compared to what is about a mile deeper into town.  I just saw it all for the first time yesterday, and I am speechless, wordless.  Sure, I could use all "d" words--destruction, demolished, disaster, devastation--but those have all been used.  I have never lived anywhere that experienced that kind of natural disaster, and any times I visited sites such as this, it was well past the time.  I saw Katrina areas three years later; I saw Cayman Islands a year after Ivan.  Not the same.

Houses and business in piles, with circles of orange spray paint on the wall that is left, some kind of cryptic message th…

Viewpoints on death of bin Laden

Mother Nature

Thoughts on a Scandal (of the Evangelical Mind, that is)