Reading a new book to take my mind off things.

February 26th. 2009

Always the first line of defense for me, from stress-related syndromes, is to find a good book to read. I always turn to something light and diversionary for mental getaways. (I save biographies and self-help for days when I feeling particularly open to new ideas, which isn’t as often as I’d like to think.) I generally read for escapism. Not a natural student, and one who has a woe-fully short attention span at best, I veer away from reading to learn. Give me a movie or a brillant lecture for those issues. But, when headlines make me wonder where our country is headed or the calendar takes on mythic proportions, then I grab a book and scoot on over to that comfy chair  with the lopsided floor lamp in the quiet corner of my bedroom. The escape book du jour is Rachel Hauk’s novel, Love begins with Elle.  I was intrigued by the clever title. And the book doesn’t disappoint either. Though  not finished, I’m enjoying the journey with characters heavily-bruised by life. I do question the author’s research with mega churches in the Dallas area as she suggests a chuch with 600 members meets the criteria. I’m thinking she hasn’t visited some of what are commonly considered mega-churches in Dallas (Prestonwood Baptist has attendance in the five digits.) Anyway, I give this one two swishes of the fish tale. (that’s a good thing.)

Proof-reading ain’t my gift

February 25th. 2009

As I get another contest entry package ready (this one for Writer’s League of Texas) I realize, how wonderful gifted editers are and how I aspire to those eagle eyes. I am all about the big picture, details trip me. This is a strange paradox for a writer, who by nature of the business should be all about the details, and I suffer for this inverted triangle. I misspell, mispunctuate, fail to check historical facts (consider this a warning and a disclaimer) that I’ve presumed to be accurate and in every other wayshow little aptitude for self-editing. Is it too late in the year for new resolutions? One side of my brain says slow down, re-read for the inaccuracies, the other side (the bigger, faster side driven by pockets of Dove dark chocolate) says its more important to get the story right and then hire an editor. All I can do at this point is dust off those editing books on my shelf, do a bit of study and pray that my saturated brain takes in the rules. Personally, I think I’m doomed.

Coming through the thorns

February 24th. 2009

Yesterday did not go as I planned.  I was supposed to stay in the chair and write all day. But, the kids were out of school for half a day (who thought this was a good idea?) and then their friends came over (which I normally love because they bring laughter, silliness and I get a crazy thrill out of feeding them) and before I knew it I couldn’t get anything creative accomplished. So, I WD-40-ed the pruning sheers and did, what I should have done Valentine’s weekend, some serious whackage to the rose bushes. I’ll confess now so as not to confuse anyone later–I’m not a gardener. I have the soul of a gardener, not the thumbs of one.  Though I love to look out on blooming plants and healthy grasses, I choke on the hard work. Rose bushes are my particular nemesis. The ones that taunt me, about nine old varieties that were in the garden when we bought the house, grow tall and have thorns that could wound innocent bystanders.  Dilligent, at least at first, I reserached the care and nutrition of rose bushes and have tried, over the last five years, to be a good steward of the sweet-smelling shrubs. No longer. The gloves are off. I’ve been poked, stabbed and otherwise assaulted by thorns of weapon dimensions. I’m taking the tough-love approach from here on out. With sheers in hand I pruned those bushes down to the lower extremities. And not only did I take significant footage from these branches, I had to construct my own disposal methods. These prickly reeds resist all efforts to slide into trash bags. So, what looks like s simple, loving procedure on gardening shows and in books, is really, for me anyway, nothing short of pre-historic surgery. Despite my brutality, I do hope they survive. I’m rather fond of the blooms in spring.

Weekend hangovers, non-alcohol related.

February 23rd. 2009

I love Monday, really I’m one of the weird ones who do. I love returning to routine and a especially a quiet house. But after a marathon of weekend events, (we hosted 11 10th grade girls and one college counselor for Spark) and going to bed way past my usual time then I tend to wake up with a hang-over of sorts. Groggy, head-achey, legs don’t want to move as fast as usual. If I could go back to bed and not feel guilty about it, I would. But we’re stoic sorts aren’t we? We plod on. (These are the times I hate that I memorized those Proverbs about sluggards and sloths.) So, it’s time to fire up the laptop and get to work.

One fun thing about the weekend, I did manage to squeeze in a book. Actually, I started this Thursday night after I finished the Temptation of the Night Jasmine (excellent, as expected) and started a book new to me, Susan Meissner’s Blue Heart Blessed. A great story, charmingly told with a wonderful resolution. A delightful book. I’m going to look for more novels by Meissner. I think I read one of hers years ago, but I’ll have to look through the shelves to make sure.

Tonight’s the Night

February 19th. 2009

I must have 80’s songs stuck in my head this week judging by the cheesy titles I give these posts. But, not to belabor the point, tonight is the night we find out which grade level (boys or girls)  were chosen to spend the weekend at the Fish House for Spark weekend. When people ask, I always say Spark is our church’s version of Discipleship Now and everyone nods their head. I don’t know why the Spark title never caught on  . . . drum roll and cymbal crash, please. We’ve hosted different ages/grades for Spark weekend for four years and though there’s a bit of housekeeping to do after, it’s always fun going through it. Our dog, Frodo, loves this weekend because teenagers eat potato chips and cookies non-stop and he’s feasting on crumbs. Our youth director makes a huge deal of combining spiritual teaching, vulnerable moments, all-out insane fun and a few surprises. We, those who host, get caught up in the maelstrom of activity and are spun out by the time Sunday afternoon, post-church dismissal. Historically, we come home and nap. The good news is I’ve hardly cleaned house all week, why bother? Fifteen kids will be playing, studying, eating and sleeping here from Friday through Sunday and all they expect of me are hot breakfasts.  I wonder who will my host my children?

Oh, what a beatiful morning . . .

February 18th. 2009

I love weather forecasting by roll of the crazy 8 ball. Do you want sunshine. . . yes! Do you want spring in the middle of winter .. . yes! Do you want rain to water the grass and clear off the bird poop . . .maybe.  I’ll enjoy the marginal rain and pull the weeds and hose down the poop later. I’ve opened the window next to my writing desk and can hear birds trilling to each other, maybe they’re stunned by the change in temperature too. This is East Texas so mercurial weather is nothing new, but after ten years I still forget how shocking it can be to go to bed with cold air and wake up warm.  Now how am I supposed to get so much writing done when I’m easily distracted by pretty clouds, bird calls and sunlight? I’ll have to force my rear end to the chair, that’s how. 

 

Dad is plugging away at his daily blog, following the 365 Bible reading. I’m so proud of him for embracing new technology to communicate age old truths. I should comment on his blog just to keep things interesting.

It was a dark and stormy morning . ..

February 17th. 2009

Yesterday’s sunshine has turned over to cold and rainy skies. Such is winter around here, warm one day, cold the next. Today I’ll wrap a blanket around my shoulders and huddle around the laptop. I’ve imposed deadlines on my writing so that when the website goes live the stories on the read pages are as sharp as I know how to make them.

Day 5

February 16th. 2009

I love Monday mornings. A return to the routine is like candy. Not that I don’t love lazy winter weekends, but I tend toward couch-potato-its, especially when the USA network rums a  marathon of House episodes. The highpoints of a great church service or a sweet Valentines dinner are often knitted into laziness. Ah, well. Monday brings back the work schedule, the phone calls, the emails, the grocery store run and the inevitable beck and call of the tread mill. I’m still trying to incorporate the light bulb moment of a few weeks ago and pull together the Women of Comfort series. I wrote these novels in various seasons, but it was just this month that I saw the ovewhelming connections. Now, I’m impatient to get everything organized. I made a bit of progress in the book I’m reading, but also ordered about six more books from Amazon and picked up three from Barron’s Bookstore in town so my to be read stack is teetering. Which will I read next?

Day 4

February 14th. 2009

So I’m learning to make use of other tools on the internet–thank you Tim and Mike. To make the descriptions of the books I’m talking about easier, and memorable when you get to the bookstore, I’m going to start posting book covers here. For example:

The book I’m currently reading, The Temption of the Night Jasmine by Lauren Willig. Love it, love the whole series about English spies in the confict between England and France during and just after the French Revolution. It’s entertaining, historical and has a modern twist in that the main character through the whole series, Eloise an American grad student working on her dissertation, keeps the story lines tied together, engages in romantic endeavors and struggles to stay warm during a London winter. Lauren Willig makes reading these novels effortless.

 

Today is Valentines Day–a truly lovely reminder to tell all the people I’m friends with, work with, related to, brush against in the grocery store line and otherwise come in contact with through daily life that I think they’re special.

Day 3

February 13th. 2009

I’m in a birthday club that delights in finding moderately inappropriate cards to give to each other–did I mention we’re almost all over forty? So the challenge is finding the ‘just right’ card to truly identify the struggles we women face–sagging body parts, memory loss and the ever increasing dependence on legally addictive stimulants (chocolate, anyone?) I found a great one for my friend, Traci. I’d go into details but my parents/and or/teenagers might read this and neither of them appreciates that I have any knowledge of sex so I really shouldn’t elaborate. Today we met for a breakfast party which, to a confirmed breakfast-ite, was the perfect way to start the day, particularly one that gets a bad rap like Friday the 13th.  Cheryl served cheese grits, sausage/egg casserole, a warm fruit salad and I brought cinnamon rolls from the Butcher Shop bakery. This was a meal designed to carry me through lunch.  I vote for more breakfast parties.

Right now, I’m deep into reading the latest installment of one of my new favorite series by Lauren Willig. The Temptation of the Night Jasmine. The main character is a completely relateable modern girl reserching her Harvard dissertation in and around London. Sounds like dry bones, I know, except the subject of her search are English spies during the French Revolution. (Anyone remember the infamous Scarlet Pimpernel??) She discovers that spies didn’t leave a lot of information lying around, so when she stumbles onto the family archives of a charming older lady she has hit the proverbial jackpot with one caveat. The handsome young heir to these letters is defensive, occasionally rude and totally fascinating to Eloise. Colin and Eloise dance between faded letters and potential romance is one on-going plot line that stretches through out all the books. Another are the various identiies and activities of these flower named spies. The novels are written with two concurrent stories–one quite modern between Eloise and Colin, the other the real time experiences of our dashing spies. I thoroughly enjoy Ms. Willig’s extensive historical reserach and her flair for interpersonal conflicts, from two distinctly different time periods.

Night of the Jasmine is particularly unqiue because the hero of this story has just returned from military service in India and is tracking a nefarious, occult tinged group who are responsible for the death of a British colonel.  Mix that with a winsome young heiress and well, I can’t tell you what happens next because I’ve just started reading. But, I know I’m going to be hooked until the last page.