Showing posts from July, 2015

Online Discourse

Quotation from Candace Cameron Bure, in Christianity Today:

Ephesians 4:29 says, “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear” (ESV). This verse tells us we should only say what build others up. Sometimes it seems like we get this totally backward online—only speaking up when we have something negative to say.

Walk in Nature Therapy

Follow this link to reported research on the value of taking a walk in a quiet place.

Walk in the park therapy

I am a firm believer in walk therapy. Thirty to fifty minutes a day.  It is the main thing that keeps me sane and uplifted, keeps me from diabetes,  able to write (I do a lot of plotting and dialogue while walking), and from strangling my hyper pitbull who absolutely needs exercise every day. 

Film Noir Experience Over--Thanks to you TCM and Ball State

Just want to say I finished my summer class on film noir through TCM and Ball State University.  Kudos to all.  Amazing, impressive course design and content.  Thanks to Richard Edwards, the professor.  I learned so much.

Anyone coming to this blog will probably wonder if I am schizophrenic.  No, just interested in lots of different things but committed to a few very important ones.

Some thoughts on grief and grieving

Song of Solomon 8:6-7 states:  The Shulamite to Her Beloved Set me as a seal upon your heart, As a seal upon your arm; For love is as strong as death, Jealousy as cruel as the grave; Its flames are flames of fire, A most vehement flame. Many waters cannot quench love, Nor can the floods drown it. If a man would give for love All the wealth of his house, It would be utterly despised.

Perhaps S of S is only about sexual love (not romantic, because that wasn't "invented" until the Middle Ages).  It certainly gets provocative.  But this passage seems to me to also be about grief.  Love goes on after death; is that not the definition of grief?  We do not just "miss" a person from our daily routine, because we love and grieve for people who violate our daily routines and convenience, who do not make our lives "easy."  To put it on the level of "missing" is to say it's like a TV show that was cancelled or a team that moved out of town.


Two Months in on Six-Month Smiles Braces

1. I have not had to take any analgesic in a couple of weeks despite having them tightened two days ago.
2.  The brackets have stayed put for over a week (they have come loose six times, quite annoying).
3.  I can eat somewhat more reasonably, except for the usual non-braces food.
4.  My overlapped upper front tooth is now almost flush with the tooth it overlapped.  Quite remarkable, and odd after so many years. 
5.  With the change of my teeth, I find I am having to talk differently.
6.  I still hate these things but now know they are working.  The bottoms are somewhat better but not as dramatic as the tops.

One-Year Anniversary

My mother died a year ago today, at about noon.  I won't put the particulars here.  We went to her grave and changed the flowers this morning.  Much has happened in the last  year; I am tired, and taking some time off.  I am somewhat unmotivated today and want to just waste time rather than be productive.  I am not even motivated to waste time at anything.

I read about the five stages of grief.  Of course they are not lock step phases, more like attributes, I think that follow one another.  I don't know that I ever felt denial, anger, or bargaining, perhaps because I knew her death was coming and it wasn't sudden, just sooner than I expected based on the hospice doctor's prediction.   also have a different perspective on life than many; I am global rather than "it's all about my world."  This does not make me less selfish--I can be very selfish--but I don't process events that way.

But I do go through the depression phases; despite finish a doctorate …

Eternal Grace

From The Valley of Vision

Blessed Lord Jesus
No human mind could conceive or invent the gospel.  
Acting in eternal grace, though art both its messenger and its message,
lived out on earth through infinite compassion, 
applying thy life to insult, injury, death
that I might be redeemed, ransomed, freed.

I Corinthians 1-2 are reflected in the first three lines.  The words "eternal grace" send me looking in the concordance.  While that construction isn't used, grace grants many eternal things and is linked to an eternal God.  Is grace itself eternal?  Will it have to end at some point, be no longer needed?  This is linear thinking; we conceive of eternity past and eternity future, when there is no such thing; it is all eternity present.

We evangelicals think only of the death of Christ saving us, not the life.  But there would be no efficacious death without a perfect, "infinitely compassionate" life that was sacrificed willingly.

I am taking a film noir course throug…

Spiritual outlook on To Set a Watchman

As mentioned earlier, I visited Powell's Book Store in Portland last week.  The place was crawling with copies of the "new" Harper Lee novel.  I didn't buy one--I'll get around to reading it eventually, but not buying yet.  But this sounds like a good review.
In Portland, Oregon for a conference for college administrators (will leave it at that.)  Quite an investment from my college to send me to this, so I will soak it all in.

I took a walk around the city tonight, going to Powell's books.  It is a more organized version of a used book store we have in Chattanooga that is well known. 

This city is green (in the plant and ecological sense), pretty, well laid out, pedestrian friendly.  But there are a lot of young people here who look, well, lost in several senses.  Hipsters, too, as my son would say.  I can see why some people would want to move here, espeically since it was 73 today when it was probably 93 in Ringgold, GA!  It was nice to see a Christian youth group in the park (saw Bibles). 
"Let's not paint all Muslims as radical terrorists.  I wouldn't want all Christians  to be associated with Westboro Baptist."

At the risk of bringing up some ire here, let's not compare apples and oranges. I have seen this meme all over Facebook and it misses the point. Yes, Westboro is despicable and no one defends them. I really wish they would stop calling themselves Baptists. They say hateful things about gay people, but they don't behead them.  They haven't killed anyone, and the Supreme Court said they had a right to free speech.  I wish in this case they didn't, but they do.  I wish some bikers would scare the h- out of them at a funeral.  But they are a infinitesimal fraction of the church--something like 25 people, a cult, out of 2 billion Christians on the planet.  

The issues with radical Islam go much deeper. The Q'uran calls for death to non-Muslims. It is a religion that spread through conquering.  Radical Islam constitutes a m…

A little news because I don't put my life on Facebook

Colleagues and I recently "won" a $30,000 grant to create open resource materials for a basic speech class.  The grantor is the University System of GA.  Lots of work to do.

I got my husband to go with me to see a screening of Double Indemnity.  It was "touched up" and very clear, and we could enjoy it as it was meant to be seen.  I am quite a fan of film noir, and it's a pleasure to go somewhere with my husband.

The Trials of Being a Fiction Writer

With the publication of my fifth novel, I feel as if I can reflect on the trials of being a fiction writer.

First, go to youtube and check out videos on "things people say to writers."  One of them has the s-word in the title but it's pretty true to life.

First, people think that if your character says something, you believe that.  No, that is what the character thinks.  It's not what I think.  If I am going to create believable and interesting characters who drive the story, then they have to be different from me.

People think that they are in your books.  Little pieces of them probably are, but not a particular whole person.   My first character was a composite of four women I knew, but of course they thought it was them in totality.

It's hard to write believable characters if you are an evangelical Christian who goes to a Southern Baptist Church and teach Sunday School.  Your friends get scandalized if you use real language.

You cannot assume your friends will…

The Case for CreateSpace: Best bet for Self-Publishing

--> I am going out of a limb here and recommend CreateSpace by Amazon for anyone wanting to self-publish, whether it is a cookbook, family history, textbook, novel, or nonfiction. I am not getting paid for this endorsement (of course not!) but I am a pleased customer and found the process easy and doable (but I have better than average computer skills and far better than average writing skills--sorry, but it's true.  I can't play the piano, so that makes it even).
After failed attempts for about three years to find a suitable publisher for two of my novels, Bringing Abundance Back and The Unexpected Christmas Visitors, I decided to take the plunge and try CreateSpace.  At best it was an experiment, but as a friend says, I am not getting any younger, and for me, getting the books to the public is more important than the possibility of a contract with a publisher who may or may not help me very much (many small presses do very little for their writers, but that is anot…

Serena, the Movie

The first book I ever read on my Kindle was Serena by Ron Rash.  I thought, and think, it is a masterpiece, and have written a review of it elsewhere.  I had heard there was a movie version of it, but it never came to theaters around here (we are not exactly New York, Chicago, or Los Angeles, so one has to look carefully to find nonmainstream films). 

It is on NetFlix now, so I watched it.  I also read the reviews on, which I think one has to take with a grain of salt sometimes--some are very thoughtful and well informed, others are just rants, others are just cries for help.  The reviewers there give it 5.4 average, which is pretty low.

I think the film suffers from casting; editing out some important parts of the narrative (which is prodigious and fulsome and probably unfilmable in some ways); from directing that uses a lot of long, long takes of Jennifer Lawrence's face; and from misunderstanding Serena's character.  She is Lady MacBeth; she is  psychopathic.  She …

Discouragement of Writers - From a writer friend's blog--

Harper Lee Revisited

This title has a double meaning.  I have not read more than the first chapter of To Set a Watchman, and probably won't for a while.  I have about 100 books ahead of it, but I'll read it before I watch the movie, promise. I also have to cowrite an open-resource, no-cost textbook for our basic communication course in the next four or five months, along with preparing to teach three classes, work full time as an administrator, try to market my latest novel, write my next one, and oh, yes, live.

However, back to the point.  In reading various comment boards and social media on the new release (hers, not mine--I would love to even get some negative press on mine, and it's much cheaper than hers!), I have been perplexed by the reactions to the way that Atticus is portrayed--as a segregationist, which is to most synonymous with racist.  I have even read posts that say "I was going to name my son Atticus--so glad I didn't!"  (Are you kidding me?  Would y…

My novels

Sorry--I have to remind people I have written five novels.  If you live in my area, I can get them for you cheaper, for the most part.

I do have some serious questions about how many have actually been sold.  There are 10 available on Amazon of the latest, but only seven have sold.  I don't quite get that.

Traveling Through
Cross Road

These three are a set and have some similar characters.  You can read Cross Road and Legacy without reading the first.  As my first, I have the strongest emotions about Traveling Through, both regrets and pride.

The Unexpected Christmas Visitors.

Bringing Abundance Back


It is very hard today to detect news from opinion, information from persuasion.  Perhaps it never was.

In the wake of the events in my city of Chattanooga, I am conscious of the spotlight, once again, on Islam.  No, all Muslim are not terrorists or anything close--that is not what is being said here, so don't misquote or "creatively misunderstand" as a colleague calls it, and as I call it "Tucker's Law"--"if someone can possibly find a way to misunderstand you, they will."

But I thought that two stories, and the reporting, by NPR, were interesting in the last two days.

This morning there was a story about how beautiful the Islamic call to prayer is, and how Americans living in the Middle East (both women, interestingly) became Muslim (or so claimed) because of the emotional effect it had on them.  HUMMMM.  Yes, look the other way, stupid people--don't look at what might have been done to radicalize this young man who lived in a town 20 miles f…

Tragedy at Home

My town was rocked today by domestic terrorism.  It is hard to believe--almost impossible--that a jihadist has hit two military recruitment centers in Chattanooga.  We joke here that this is the buckle of the Bible belt, a town in a county with over 200 Baptist churches.  We are 800 or 900 miles from New York, 3000 miles from Los Angeles (although only about two hours from Atlanta).  But perhaps nowhere can we assume absolutely safety now. 

Harper Lee's New Novel--Read First Chapter

Here it is.  Worth the read if for no other reason that it might save you paying the $25.00 the first edition hardbound might cost.  It's really hard to follow up TKAM.  Right now, I think it lacks that charm that made you want to keep reading TKAM.  I don't care about these people, yet.  And there is one sentence that will blow you away and upset you, and it comes out of nowhere.

I have heard the book was not really edited.  That is believable.  It reads like a young person's first attempt at a novel.  Man, I don't mean to be so critical.  I'm just going to wait before I get around to reading it.


1.  I often get spikes at a specific time on my "hits."  I think they are related to my essay on the movie Twelve Angry Men.  If someone is using this in a class or something, I really wish they would tell me.  I can put it in my portfolio for promotion to full professor at my institution.

2.  How much time do I waste on Facebook?   Recently it has been nothing but rainbows, Christians decrying the end of the country and civilization, and posts about Confederate flags.  My viewpoints on these matters have been made clear before. But I was really angered last night by a so-called friend who posted a pseudo-scientific article about conservatives being less intelligent than liberals.  I almost defriended her on the spot.  What's next--sterilization for tea party members?  (ok, I'm being ridiculous and snarky, but progressives were the ones who had the sterilization campaigns in the 1920s against blacks and the poor.)  I think both groups are subject to mob mentality and…

Olivia deHavilland - Happy birthday

I love old movies.  Today on NPR I heard that one of my favorite old movie stars, Olivia deHavilland, is 99!  One of the main stars of Gone with the Wind is still alive.  Amazing.  However, I liked her better in The Heiress (Washington Square) and some of her others.  Melanie in GWTW was just so sappy you wanted to slap her.  OH was only 23 when she made it!