Sunday, June 28, 2009

Reduce & Simplify

Yesterday a friend asked me why I have two blogs.

You and I have had this discussion before; you might remember we talked about Cross Blogination. I thought, at that time, that I ought to keep both my blogs going because I didn't want to snub the followers I had on this blog. However, it is a bit complicating.

So, I've decided that I ought to stick with one blog.

It pains me to say it, but I really do need to stick with one blog, and in this case, I'm going to make my alicross blog the one I stick with. I'm not going to altogether delete this blog, but I am going to make a go at just one blog and see how I do with that.

Long story short . . . if you're crazy enough (or love me enough, which I might argue are the same thing) to follow me over there, come on over and, if you don't mind, become a follower there.

Thanks so much for reading my blog and being my friends!

Friday, June 26, 2009

The Reasoning of the Spirit

I've been doing a lot of soul-searching lately about my writing and where it ought to go. I came up with ideas that really seemed great. I told my crit buddies about them and they thought the ideas were great too. Everything seemed to say "this is the way you should go."

Until I had the opportunity this week, to resubmit some of my work to a publisher with only a few changes to the original manuscript.

I honestly thought my answer would be "no thank you," because the new ideas I'd had for my work made so much more sense. I could go on and on about the why's and wherefore's of my ideas and how they would benefit my book.

Nevertheless, it was a big decision (as in: Do I stick with my new plan and burn the bridge with that publisher? Or do I throw away all the good ideas I just had--and that sounded so darn good--in favor of giving this publisher another shot?) so I thought I ought to ask Heavenly Father about it.

I have found that the best and most reliable way to receive answers in prayer is to go with your decision already made, and then ask to know if you have made the right decision. I laid it out for Father, then told him I had decided to kindly pass on the opportunity and stick with the new changes I had been outlining.

And He disagreed.

At first, I thought maybe I'd misunderstood the answer as I felt it. But the next day, I continued to feel good about working on the changes the publisher had requested. I saw in my mind how the book could be improved, and more importantly, how the story, while less tantalizing perhaps, would have the potential of more clearly delivering the story I wished to tell. And, the more I tried to think about the changes I had just the day before loved, the more I found them hard to hold on to--they just wanted to slip from my mind.

I prayed again, just for clarification, and was relieved to be well and truly educated about the best path for this book. I had thought, previously, that the best path was the one that would lead to higher readership and sales. And boy, that sounds good, doesn't it? But now I know that success can be measured in more than one way.

So now I have to go to all my friends and take back everything I said about why I needed to change my story. I got the advice from the one Person who's opinion really matters and I'm going to go with what He said. So there.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Silence is Golden

Come see my blog at the LDS Writers Blogck about the importance of daydreaming in your writing.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Thanks For The Memories

Where do memories come from? Do they come from the special, once-in-a-lifetime experiences? Or are they found in the mundane?

Would your favorite lifetime memory be the time you went to Sea World with your family and got soaked to the skin? Or would it be the leisurely Saturday mornings you enjoy every week, laughing and joking over brunch?

Would you remember most the time you stood at the top of the Eiffel tower and surveyed the beauty of the Paris lights at night?

Or would it be the moment your child climbed into your lap, and looked at you, his eyes shining with love, and you knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that you would give your life for him?

I’ve spent the last few days on vacation with my family. We’ve done things we’ve never done before, and have experienced things we may never experience again. Lots of money has crossed hands in order to provide my children with memories they could cherish for a lifetime.

And yet it was today, the most simplest of days, that has been my favorite.
Today we spent a few leisurely hours on a beach in La Jolla. The sun was warm, the sand shining with crushed sea shells, and the waves crashed with rhythmic intensity. And my children, my children were alive with happiness.

Where do I think memories come from? They are moments you share with someone you love. It doesn’t have to be a million-dollar-day. It can be every day. Just be present, be with someone you love, and be ready to remember . . . because it could be that moment, that fuels your imagination for the rest of your life.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Do or Do Not

Come read what I had to say about the immortal words of Master Yoda on the LDS Writers Blogck.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Those Who've Been In Darkness

As you probably know, I’ve written a novel called The Devil’s Daughter. As one might guess, it tells the story of a girl whose dad is Satan, and as you may have figured out, sometimes the story gets kind of dark. Twice now it’s been rejected by LDS publishers because of that very thing—too dark, they said.

The last time the manuscript was rejected, I took it kind of hard. I thought perhaps it was a statement about me. I wrote the words on those pages—they came from my heart. If they were too dark, wouldn’t that mean that my heart is black, that I am dark?

I’ve been thinking a lot about that, and it’s been rather enlightening.

My life is my own. I have made my choices and they have shaped the woman I am today. I have experienced pretty bad things, and it’s because of those experiences that I have felt to cherish the light when it has come into my life. The contrast of light and dark has made the wonder of the light all the more sweet.

I love the song “Hold On,” by Michael McLean. In it, he says . . . “And those who’ve been in darkness for a while, kneel much longer when the light has come.”

I had hoped that the LDS publishers would see that, would know that in order to examine the beauty of the light, we had to walk in the darkness, just a little bit. But maybe now I have the greater opportunity of sharing this story with people who are in darkness, who need to know there is hope.

That I can show these things in the stories I write doesn’t make me bad, it makes me lucky. Lucky to have seen both sides in this world. Lucky to have emotional resources that perhaps not all people do.

I will write the stories of my heart. I will share what I have learned so that maybe I can lift another. If I have the chance to show someone, just one person, the way out of the darkness, then everything I have suffered, all that I have experienced will be worth it.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Together We Are Beautiful

I love the moments with Dr. James Dobson on my local radio station. In just a few minutes, he offers wsdom and advice on parenting and relationships, that I often find uplifting and insightful.

Recently he shared the story of a grocery store that underwent a social experiment of sorts. The store manager challenged his employees to come up with their own personal signature and use it to improve customer relations.

Nicholas, a bagger with Down Syndrome, took the instructions to heart. The next morning he came to work with a stack of notecards. The front of each card featured a thought for the day, and Nicholas had signed the back. He put a card in each customer’s bag.

A few days later, the manager of the store noticed a long line at one of the registers. He opened another lane, but the customers refused to move. They wanted to have their groceries bagged by Nicholas, because they wanted one of his notes. One customer said she came in every day, just so she could have a new note.

News of what Nicholas had done, and the customer’s reaction, spread through the store. Soon the florist was handing out a carnation to each customer that walked past. The butcher put snoopy stickers on each of his packages of meat.

In a short period of time, the environment of the store changed from something mundane to something extraordinary—an experience that customers loved and returned again and again to enjoy. All because its employees sought to discover who they were, and to share the gift of themselves with everyone who came into the store.

Far too often we hold ourselves apart. We hide our light under a bushel, if you remember that old Sunday School song. And what are we saving ourselves, our light, for? And if we are saving ourselves, will we recognize our moment to shine, when it comes?

Like Grandma’s precious china that goes unused over a lifetime because no moment is special enough to warrant its use, it’s possible our own best selves may also be wasted.

For any of you who have been reading my blog for a while, you know I have issues with being myself. I am constantly worried that myself simply isn’t good enough, that if a friend knew the real me, they’d be sorely disappointed. Who am I, after all, if not just me? Just me, is not that special. Just me is insecure, sometimes lonely, sometimes unsure of my beliefs or who I really am.

But, to be fair . . . there is more.

Just me is loving, kind and generally thoughtful. Just me has spiritual gifts that bless my life and have, on occasion, blessed the lives of others. Just me has learned to treasure love, to cherish it.Just me can often recognize the beauty in others, even if I don’t always see it in myself.

So what would happen to the world at large if all of us sought to share ourselves, to let our lights shine? It doesn’t have to be in spectacular acts of selfless generosity, it can be as simple as a thoughtful note, like Nicholas did, or a sticker of our favorite cartoon character shared with some neighborhood kids. What would happen if we told the people we met that they were beautiful? Or told a mom, when we have overheard her talking to her child, that we were touched by the love we saw there?

Would we be shunned? Pushed away? Possibly.

But would we make a difference? Almost certainly.

“This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine, let it shine, let it shine, let it shine.”

After a lifetime of feeling like I didn’t belong anywhere, I’ve recently discovered that I do have a place. There are people, strangely, who are willing to love me and accept me. And they are desirable friends, they are people I admire and for whom I have so much respect.

But there’s a catch.

If I want to keep these friends and be worthy of their friendship in return, I cannot hide my light under a bushel. I need to shine. Because in letting my light shine, I reflect the light of others, and together we are beautiful.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Tools of the Incompetent

Sometimes you find pearls of wisdom in the most unlikely places.

Last week while watching So You Think You Can Dance, one of those pearls dropped into my lap. The unlikely giver, the unlikely setting, left my mind reeling. It was brilliant. Pure wisdom on a reality dance show.

A girl who had high hopes of getting into SYTYCD’s Top Twenty was cut from the competition. She was beautiful, shining, and while tears glistened in her eyes, she smiled, and offered wisdom:

“Excuses are the tools of the incompetent and I will not use them."

Holy Guacamole. Was that a pearl she just flung out there?

I had to hurry to write down the words, and then I spent some time googling them—wondering if the dancer had authored them herself, or perhaps she was falling back on wisdom someone else had given her.

There seems to be some dispute as to who the author of this wisdom might be, and in fact I could not find record of the exact line quoted above. Stephen Grayhm said “Excuses are the tools with which persons with no purpose in view build for themselves great monuments of nothing,” but I like the dancer’s line better.

I cringe whenever I hear dancers on the show, singers on American Idol, or people in regular every day life, offer excuses as a way to avoid consequences for their actions or choices. I used to be an excuse girl—who among us hasn’t tried them, right? But eventually I learned that I made so many mistakes that the excuses started to sound flat, even to my own ears.

The truth is, mistakes happen. As human beings, we are far from perfect and it shows. We make glorious, huge, life-altering mistakes. But the awesome thing about mistakes is that if we own them, claim them, and if we are willing to take a good, hard look at them, we can learn from them.

Learning never happens when our minds have built up walls of excuses around the truth.

Strangely, I am grateful for the mistakes I have made. Because of a poorly written first book, I strove to write again, to see if I could do it better. And again, and again. I am getting better, and it’s only because I haven’t hidden behind excuses as to why I wasn’t awesome to begin with.

Because of mistakes, I have felt the sweet swelling of love and forgiveness of my Savior and Father in Heaven. If I’d hid behind my wall of excuses, I might never have known how much They loved me.

And because I no longer making excuses for the poor choices my mother made, I’m able to see how I can pilot my life better.

No good comes from making excuses, while so much joy awaits beyond them.

Possibly Stephen Grayhm, but I’m not certain, wrote a poem related to the line given by the dancer on SYTYCD:

"Excuses are monuments of nothingness,
They build bridges to nowhere,
Those of us who use these tools of incompetence,
Seldom become anything but nothing at all."

I, for one, plan on being something, warts and all. How about you?

Monday, June 08, 2009

Don't Bother Me. I'm Writing.

Come see why I haven't been blogging much lately . . . hopefully, you'll agree with me that I had a good reason.

Come read my blog today at the LDS Writers Blogck. See ya there!

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Book Review ~ Dead Man Rising

  rating: 4 of 5 stars
I have become a FAN of the Dante Valentine books.

Dead Man Rising is the second in the series and I thought it perhaps better with the first book. My only beef with it, was that it suffered from the same thing many in-between books suffer from. It felt a bit like a connector book, getting us from book one to book three.

But I was okay with that. I WANT to get to book three :)

This book had a much better story arc, a much more tangible antagonist and in general a more satisfying read. 

What it lacked, and that I missed, was a strong love connection. 

But again, I kind of guessed that from the name.

However, book three promises to give me more of that demon love I enjoyed so much from book one. Oh yeah baby!

Saturday, May 30, 2009

So You Think You Can Dance in Retrospect

In anticipation of the new season of the TV show So You Think You Can Dance, I wanted to share my favorite dances from 2008.

Just as an aside, last night when they aired another episode of the auditions, one of the judges talked to a young man who thought he could just "get a teacher and learn how to do other dances, then come back next year." This man didn't seem to appreciate at all the enormity of what the dancers were doing out there on the stage. It isn't something one can simply "pick up" and expect to do as well, to as great acclaim, as those who have spent years perfecting their art.

Just because my world revolves around writing, I found this discussion to be applicable to writers as well. I think I too often forget that I am new to this game, relatively speaking. I've only been writing for a few years as opposed to many like other writers I know. I need to pay my dues, put in a zillion of hours of blood, sweat and tears, before I can hope to be counted among the big boys. And I know the sacrifice of time and energy will be well worth it when I can join their ranks with my head held high. 

Now, without further ado, and in no particular order ... my favorite 2008 dances ...

Whew, I guess that's all I feel like doing, lol. Sorry some of the videos were of crummy quality.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Free Spirit

I used to think I was a rebel, and therefore that I was bad.

I've always hated conforming to arbitrary standards--whether they were imposed on me by my mother, by school, by jobs. Believing that I was a rebel translated to believing I was bad.

What was wrong with me, that I wasn't satisfied doing what was expected of me?

Sometimes not conforming has meant going above and beyond expectations, but most often it has meant marching to the beat of my own drummer or taking the road less travelled.

It also means that I often have to travel with a machete because the road is troubled with brambles and thorns. It's not easy to travel that road.

So much easier to follow the crowd, go along to get along, be one among the many.

But I guess that's just not me.

I used to think I didn't know who I was--and honestly, I'm still working on that. But as I hang around with more writer types I discover I'm less an island than I thought. Writer types get me. Writer types are like me. This is an amazing realization for me, because I've never felt so accepted by a group of people before. It's also a little scary because I'm not usually a group person. I fly solo. Typically.

So in the framework of this discovery, I've learned that it's not just about being a rebel. It's more like being a free spirit.

I don't rebel because I don't want to conform. I rebel because I have a spirit that yearns to be free of customary restraints. I need to be free to go where my spirit takes me. I am not bad, I am me

I don't always know who I am, because I am constantly in flux. I don't have a particular style that defines me because I, by my very nature, am indefinable. I am simply me--happy, whimsical, determined, a bit nuts, special, unique. 

I am not a rebel, to be contained and reformed. I am a free spirit and I am meant to soar.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

A Tag of Eights

It's been a long while since I've played a game of tag so when Shawntele tagged me, I was game (hardee har har.)

Here be Da Rules:
1. Mention the person who tagged you.
2. Complete the list of 8's.
3. Tag 8 other bloggers.
4. Tell them they have been tagged.

Eight Things I Look Forward To:
  1. Getting my first book deal.
  2. Losing the extra weight I'm carrying around.
  3. Getting fit and being healthy.
  4. Karen's photo shoot on Thursday.
  5. San Diego with the family in June.
  6. Seeing my sister again.
  7. Finishing up Jump Boys and getting it into Shadow Mountain's hands.
  8. Being a working, successful published author. :D
Eight Things I Did Yesterday
  1. Slept in.
  2. Had lunch with the fam at Red Robin.
  3. Took the boys to see Star Trek and loved it--again!
  4. Got rejected by a publisher.
  5. Cried my eyes out.
  6. Talked with friends.
  7. Got hugged and held by my sweet honey.
  8. Read a lot.
Eight Things I Wish I Could Do
  1. Jump on a plane and visit my sister right now.
  2. Deal better with Charlie on his 'off' days.
  3. Be more consistent in going to karate.
  4. Be a faster reader.
  5. Be a more creative homeschooling mom.
  6. Sing in an opera production again.
  7. Make a CD.
  8. Be published, lol.
Eight Shows I Watch
  1. Smallville
  2. Medium
  3. Dollhouse
  4. CSI
  5. Eureka
  6. So You Think You Can Dance
  7. America's Funniest Home Videos
  8. Chuck
Eight Friends I Am Tagging:
  1. Karen
  2. Shanna
  3. Christine
  4. Stephanie
  5. Jeri
  6. Kristi
  7. Jennifer
  8. Nichole
And there you have it! Crazy Eights, lol.

As you can tell, I'm back ... sort of. No promises, but I'm slowly starting to feel like myself again.

Don't be a stranger :) And if you haven't done it already, I'd love it if you became a follower. I'm a writer--I need constant reminders that I am loved ;)

Monday, May 25, 2009

Music Monday ~ I Am Proud To Be An American

I don't know if I'm back or not ... but I'm here today. Things are looking up in my world, so I'm hopeful I can handle blogging more regularly once again.

I am not an American. I am a Canadian. And yet, I love the song I chose today. I sing along with it and I feel the words burn within my heart. Even though I am not an American, I feel the truth and power in the words and I am.

Grateful to have the privilege of living in the United States. Grateful to be raising my boys here, to be patriotic, to love the country and what it stands for. It is an honor.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Book Review ~ Working for the Devil

  rating: 4 of 5 stars
Holy bad language Batman.

Several times I put this book down because the language was getting harder to jump over. But, I didn't get it out of the house fast enough, I guess because shortly I returned to it. The story was just that good and I needed to read it.

Being a sci fi nut, I found this to be an awesome story. Saintcrow writes of a world, our world, free of conventional customs and restraints. She manages to weave description of a complex futuristic world into the fabric of the story with ease. 

The protagonist is strong and believable--flawed in just the right ways that we can route for her, identify with her, and believe in her when she rallies and saves the day. (shh, I didn't say that.)

The love interest rivals, to my mind, Edward. Yes, I said it. I like him BETTER than Edward. 

Their love story is not unlike that between Edward and Belle, except the whole thing rings more true and makes more sense to me. 

The antagonist in the story was a little weak. Saintcrow could have done more with that, I think. I won't say more, because I don't want to give away the punchline, but you'll see what I mean if you read it. 

And I do recommend the book. IF you can tolerate serious bad language. As in every-other-word-out-of-their-mouths kind of bad. I got into the rhythm of it pretty well and go really good at substituting acceptable words when my eyes grazed over the offensive ones. But I'm not sure that's a skill I should be proud of or not. If you're not offended by that sort of thing, then go for it.

This is a fast-paced, action packed sci fi thriller that's unique and exciting. If you like strong female protagonists, love found in unlikely places, and the overarching, and ever-present, battle between good and evil, then this would be a great book for you.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Taking a Mental Vacation

Hi ya Folks,

I'm dropping by to tell ya'll that I'm not going to be blogging for a bit. Hopefully just a week, but perhaps longer. Or maybe I'll be back tomorrow. That's my prerogative, right? Keep ya guessing--that's my goal.

Don't worry, nothing's going on ... I just need to have a clear head with my writing right now and I'm finding there are too many voices talking at once. I need to give everybody a chance to say their peace so I can figure out what the heck they're all talking about. It's so noisy in my head, I can't even hear myself think.

So I'm going to go hang out with Me, Myself and I for a while, have some good heart-to-hearts, a regular ol' pow wow and see if I can't get some work done.

Forgive me if I'm not posting--especially, forgive me for not visiting your own blogs over the next while--and in the famous words of Arnold a la Terminator "I'll be bahck."

Till then, take care, adios, adieu.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Book Review ~ Skin Hunger

Skin Hunger (A Resurrection of Magic, Book 1) Skin Hunger by Kathleen Duey

My review

rating: 2 of 5 stars
This was an odd book.

Skin Hunger is the story of two people, Sadima a young woman in search of love and acceptance for herself and the magical gift she holds secret, and Hahp, a teenage boy who has been sent to the wizard academy against his will. Interestingly, Sadima's story is told in third person and Hahp's story is told in first person, alternating by chapter. Furthermore, Sadima's story happens several generations before Hahp's.

All of that I can live with. For me, the approach was unique and fresh. I didn't have a problem with it.

What I did have a problem with was ... why should I care?

I found this story to be entirely too much telling and not nearly enough feeling, showing, living and breathing of each character's story.

And what was worse, the story barely got anywhere and then completely left me hanging without any resolution at all. I understand it is a trilogy, nevertheless there was NO resolution. I can't recall a novel where that has happened before. Usually at least some part of the story comes to completion, but in Skin Hunger that's just not so.

I honestly can't say that I could recommend this book to anyone. I will likely read the next book when it comes out, and then, perhaps, I might recommend the two together. But at the moment, I'd say, don't waste your time with this book.

View all my reviews.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Thoughtful Thursday ~ Mindfulness

I've talked about this before but it's a topic I feel strongly about so I thought it wouldn't hurt to revisit the subject. Plus, I recently read an article that talked about the health benefits of living in the moment, and gave good tips on how to get started. 

But first, a little refresher course on what mindfulness is. Mindfulness is a concentrated state of awareness that can help you see and respond to situations with clarity. It's the ability to clear the mind of incessant chatter and diffuse the color of emotions in your decision-making.

Mindfulness can also help you to:
  • Better manage tension and stress
  • Be more objective
  • Communicate and make decisions more effectively
  • Be more productive
It's not hard for me to imagine that mindfulness could achieve all of those things. I love the TV show Life and in it the main character, Charlie Cruz, is totally into the teachings of Zen. One of the sayings he listens to is "One plus one is one." I believe it means that to be truly at peace, we must be at one--with the world around us, with people, with ourselves.

Some of the benefits of mindfulness are:
  • Reduced blood sugar
  • Lowered cholesterol
  • Enhanced immune function
  • Reduced headache, migraine and back pain (I need this benefit!)
  • Improved respiratory function
  • Decreased abdominal fat (oh yeah, baby!)
So how can you begin being more mindful?

Start the moment you wake up. Rather than jumping right out of bed, take a few moments to notice the various sensations in your body--your heartbeat, breathing, or the way the sheets feel against your skin. What are you thinking about? Take a moment to be mindful of yourself just be before you get swallowed up in the thoughts of your day to come.

In fact, continue your mindfulness through your shower and morning routine. Notice the feel of the water on your skin, the makeup being smoothed over your face.

Any time you have time, practice being mindful. 

"Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it." 
~ Ferris Bueller

On your morning commute, turn off the talk-radio, and be. Take in the views around you, notice the other cars on the road, the feel of the steering wheel in your hand, the way your back feels pressed against the backseat.

Standing in line at the grocery store, pay attention to the muscles you are using to stand. Feel the measure of your breath.

I'm sure you can find many opportunities each day to practice being in the moment, to be mindful of yourself and all around you. I think all of us could benefit from being more mindful. I think we'd feel less stressed, less hurried, less out of touch with ourselves. 

I was glad to read this article because I needed the reminder to practice being mindful every day. Too often I'm rushing through one activity so I can get to the next. Too often, I'm trying to do multiple things at once, ultimately resulting in nothing getting done to the best of my ability.

That could actually be one of the reasons why I love writing so much--it's impossible to think of anything else, to be anywhere else, when you are writing. The craft demands that you be there, 100% wholly invested.

Just remember, that the benefits of practicing mindfulness begin immediately and are greatest when done consistently over time. So come on, join me for a moment and just ... be.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Book Review ~ Bone Warriors

First of all ... Bron Bahlmann. That's a name made for a book cover if ever I heard one. And Bron was definitely made to be a writer.

Bron started writing when he was in third grade and now has his first published book before the age of sixteen. How cool is that?

I think my boys would especially love Bone Warriors. It has all the stuff that makes a young boys' hearts go all atwitter. 

There's an evil necromancer who forces the souls of those who died hopeless and without fear, power the crude creations in his army of bone warriors. There are two teenage boys, who's parents have been captured by the necromancer's minions, that are determined to save them and all the people of their village at all costs. There are unlikely allies, snake-men, giants, and myriad other amazing creatures.

Bron's story is unique and well-done. It comes to the edge of really scary without being too much (in my opinion.) 

I would recommend Bone Warriors to boys between the ages of 11 and 15. You can buy Bron's book from Amazon here

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Teaser Tuesday ~ The Jump Boys

Just to mix things up a bit this week . . . here's a tiny excerpt from The Jump Boys:

Jayce pressed the up button on his bed until his nose touched the ceiling. Pressing the down button, the bed’s tiny thrusters quieted and propelled the bed in the other direction, until it lightly bumped off the floor.

“Will you cut that out?” Val stuck his foot out and shoved Jayce’s bed to the other side of the room when it passed him on the way back up.

“Wooo!” laughed Jayce. He loved getting a rise out of Val. Jayce bumped into the media screen currently playing “Kung Fu,” an ancient TV show their mom had found while scouring the Beta Earth archives. Jayce put his hands together in mock humility and bowed to the image of the sun-dried man on the screen.

“My apologies, Master.” He laughed again as his bed spun away on recoil.

I want to read your teasers. If you've posted one of your own . . . leave me a comment and I'll come visit. 

Happy Writing!

Monday, May 04, 2009

Music Monday ~ Tom Sawyer

Next to the amazing Pop Muzik, I have two early music memories. I can't remember which I got first, so I'm going with this one. Tom Sawyer by Rush. I think I had the actual whole album, but I don't remember much more than Tom. It was definitely a fave. And still ... it rocks, man.

Hope you enjoy it!

In other news, I got Jump Boys ready and sent in to Lisa. It's such a blur now, I hope it was decent when I sent it in--after reading and re-reading it so much my brain was a bit fuzzy.

But I discovered something about myself--actually it was not an entirely new discovery, but rather it became a fully formed realization.

I love writing intensely. 

The harder the work, the more deeply I am ensconced in the story, the more the magic breeds and the more I love writing. 

I went through the same thing last year when I revised and rewrote Devil's Daughter in a three week full-time period. I felt awesome

Now I have to figure out a way to keep that intensity going so I can feel like that all the time. It was so great I almost considered sending my boys back to school next year just so I could write full time. But that would be selfish--there are no good reasons for them to go back to school--only for me. And even that, not really. I love having them home.

So, I'm keeping the ball rolling by working hard to get my query and synopsis for Devil's Daughter ready to submit to agents. And then I'll work on Land Magic. Or The Blood Crown. Or ... hmm. Oh yeah--in the spirit of positive thinking I should work on a good edit/rewrite on Jump Boys so that when Lisa asks for the full manuscript it'll be ready. Yeah!

Oh, and don't forget to check out my blog today at LDS Writers Blogck ~ it's all about naming your characters--and naming your kids. You'll see ;)

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Let's Go For a Ride

My husband and I are terrible consumers. 

We are gullible and trusting--hence, I think we often get taken for a ride.

Today we had a duct cleaning company come on out to our house to clean our vents and air ducts. I chose them because we had a coupon from them that they would clean any number of vents, any sized house for a flat rate. Granted, it was an excellent rate, but still . . . I believed it to be true.

The guy came out, looked at all our vents, and then announced that it would cost four times as much as the coupon. Of course, when pointed out, my husband saw that in microscopic print where it said that the price would depend on the number of vents etc.

Okay so David tells the guy, umm, no thanks. And then the guy says, well, you owe us for the service call, or they could do the vents on the main floor and we'd get "something" for our money. 

So just now I looked up what air duct cleaning entails, because I wanted to see if the guy had actually done anything.

Turns out that the EPA says there is no definitive answer whether duct cleaning is necessary. It is their opinion that duct cleaning should only be done if you visible mold growing on your vents, you have a vermin problem, or your vents are spewing particles of dust and debris (visibly) into the air.

Umm, we didn't have any of those problems. And yet, we totally believed our regular furnace service man when he said it would improve the air quality in our home. We were so proud of ourselves when we found this company in the ValuMailer and their cost was substantially less than our heating and cooling company.

But apparently, for our money we got nothing. According the EPA web site, the service guy didn't do any of the things he was supposed to do.

So, yep. We were taken for a ride. And it was not a pleasant one.

When will we learn to do business cautiously? Well, we're half way through our life and we still haven't learned, apparently--so perhaps, never? *sigh* 

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Book Review ~ The Hand of Isis

Hand of Isis Hand of Isis by Jo Graham

My review

rating: 3 of 5 stars
At first when I started reading Hand of Isis I was thrilled that it read so much like Jo Graham's first book Black of Ships, which I loved. However, soon the similarity in voice began to distract me.

Who's head was I in? Sybil's from Black Ships? Or Charmian's from Hand of Isis? There was very little, outside of lifestyle and circumstance, to distinguish between these two characters.

I'm at a loss for what to say exactly about the voice because I love it, but I thought Charmian should stand out more from Sybil and be more herself. That being said, I love Graham's voice and am feeling conflicted, lol.

Hand of Isis tells the story of Charmian, handmaiden and half-sister to the great Cleopatra. Cleopatra has forever been an icon of the past and I found the subject matter and the crystalline way Graham wrote about her to be fascinating.

Graham wrote Hand of Isis in that beautiful lyrical way that won my heart in Black Ships and told about a time long past as though she really had been there.

Next to the voice of the main character, the only other thing that disturbed me about this book were the rather graphic sex scenes. There were only a couple throughout the entire book, but they were powerful enough to leave me feeling disappointed that I had read them. I hadn't expected them and kept thinking that they would soon be over or that something important would come of it. In the end, I just wish I'd turned the page.

I think what was most troubling about the sex scenes was the nature of them--they were not romance in the traditional sense, but dealt with the abuse of power and the alternate lifestyle choices that were the norm in early Greece, Rome and Egypt. Homosexuality and Bisexuality were acceptable practices at that time and so they were a part of Charmian's life. I just wish I hadn't read about them. I wish there had been a warning sign "avert your eyes!" before I came to those parts. I think the story would have been just fine without them--less is more, I think in this case.

So, overall, I'd say I'm a wee bit disappointed with this, Jo Graham's second book. While it was rich in beauty and imagination, it lacked in originality from her first book and in decorum.

View all my reviews.

WiP Wednesday

For those of you who don't know, a WiP is my Work in Progress, which means the book or story I am currently working on. I thought I knew what that was, but I'm a bit befuddled after returning from the conference this past weekend.

I had been working on Land Magic--a story set in a make-believe world that acts and feels a lot like a medieval world. Except there aren't really any knights or kings or anything like that. Kind of hard to have kingdoms when your land keeps breaking apart and drifting away. You see, in Insulunda, my make-believe world, the land masses move like clouds in the sky. Sometimes coming together, always eventually moving apart. It makes it very hard to form relationships or build community for all the obvious reasons.

There was a time when the land was controlled by land wizards, but they fell out of favor with Gaia, the goddess of the earth. Now Gaia hoards the land magic and the people of Insulunda are left to drift aimlessly in the endless seas.

That is, until a teenage boy earns the respect of Gaia and the love of her daugther, Tera. Aren and Terra (not 100% committed to the names, so if you think they don't go together, give me a shout out--this is the first time I've written their names together and now I'm kind of going "hmm") together work to bring land magic back to Insulunda, but there is one remaining land wizard who is determined to be the only one who can control the islands. 

Kale is an ancient land wizard who went a little crazy whe she felt the magic being withdrawn back into the earth. She couldn't face a world that she could not control. When Cernun, the god of the astral plane comes to her and offers to breathe life into her mechanical creations in exchange for Gaia's destruction, Kale is eager to agree. 

How will Aren protect Insulunda of Kale's deadly plans and save Gaia from Cernun's evil intent? 

I don't know! I will have to write it to find out. :D Oh, I have some ideas, but I'm not ready to share them yet ;)

So, Land Magic was what I felt prompted to work on before the conference, but now I have another priority. I promised that I would send out ten submissions to agents or editors within the next two weeks. But before I can even do that, I have to write the query and synopsis.

Oh yeah, and did I mention? I seriously suck at writing those things.

Plus, while at the conference, I had some ideas on how I can improve the voice in the manuscripts I have previously written and that I'm currently working on. I can't let myself get too distracted though. 

Regardless, my WiP right now is a query and a synopsis. The synopsis is coming along and I'm feeling more hopeful about it now that I ever have before. 

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Teaser Tuesday ~ The Devil's Daughter, part two

I tried to tune out the sound of Dad’s voice. He was heavy into a conversation trying to convince some con guy not to give up on his current gig. He disgusted me. So what if he was swindling little old ladies out of their life savings? If they were dumb enough to let them be taken, they deserved to lose it all. That was my dad's idea of mercy; relieve them of the heavy burden of their wealth.

I stuck the earbuds into my ears, selected my favorite 'happy music'—The Beatles, particularly the early stuff—and turned the volume loud enough to drown out the discussion of the fine art of the con.

I was just getting into the music when my dad yanked the left bud out of my ear.

"Got your happy music on, eh?" His teeth shone whitely at me. "You must be really worked up if you're listening to that junk."

His voice, his words, slithered around my head like a snake. Did you know Adam and Eve only named snakes after they had met my dad in the Garden of Eden? He was so smooth and deceptive, like a snake slipping into your bed at night. Cold and menacing. As soon as Eve saw her first snake, peering at her from between the rows of seeds she was sowing, she thought of Lucifer. Poor snake, to have such a retched namesake.

I glowered.
"Ooh. Desi's all mad—” he taunted. "Tell me all about it, baby. Is it that boy? Is that what's got you all worked up?”

"What boy?" I asked too quickly, my defenses obvious.

"Oh, you know which one, Desolation. Don't play coy with me." He reached over and snapped open his palm, holding it flat and face up in front of my face. On it appeared a shimmering 3-D image of Michael, leaning in to shake Dad's hand, exactly as my dad remembered it. My breath caught in my throat before I could stop myself.

"See, I was right. It is a boy you're all hot for. Can't fool me, you know." He settled back into his seat, his right hand caressing the gear shift languorously. "Tell me about him."

"He's just a guy, Dad." I tried to put the earbud back, but he quick-as-lightning reached out to grab my wrist mid-air.

"Don't give me that. You know he's no ordinary boy."

I'll do a few more of Desi, but then . . . you're on your own till the book comes out. ;)

I worked Monday on my synopsis. I met with Stacy Whitman at the Storymaker conference this past week and she gave me some excellent suggestions on what I could do to improve my synopsis. 

I put her tips to work today and found them to be quite helpful. Hopefully they'll be helpful enough to get my foot in the door for the next ten agents/editors I promised my friends I would submit to within the next TEN days. No easy task my friends! Wish me luck! I fear submitting like the plague. Where's my hasmat suit?

Monday, April 27, 2009

Music Monday ~ Pop Muzik

My very first album--a rockin' 45--was Pop Muzik by M. I have strong memories of that song for no good reason. I remember being so mad at my mom that when she stood outside in our front yard talking to neighbors I turned the music up SCREAMIN' loud, threw open the window and sang in my loudest and most annoying voice. Needless to say, I got the attention I was seeking, but perhaps not in the way I had hoped. I think I was about ten years old. And I was a brat.

But Pop Muzik remained a favorite of mine and still does to this day. It still makes me smile. So here's a little tribute to all the other forty-somethings out there who remember bouncing and bobbing to M back in the day.

Most of you won't be wondering where I've been for the past week, because most of you will have been hanging out with me at the LDStorymakers conference. But if you weren't there, I'm so, so sorry. It was (in the immortal words of Rhino the Hamster) fully awesome! Best time I've had a writers' conference yet.

Nope, no awards for me this year, but that's okay. I didn't have any right to expect to win one as I did not submit my best work. I tossed it off and well, you get what you get and you don't throw a fit as my son's kindergarten teacher used to say.

Nevertheless, I came away feeling like a winner. I have some new insight into who I am as a writer and how I can improve my writing. I made lots of new friends and strengthened the friendships I already had.

In particular, I'd like to give a personal shout out to Jenn, Laura, Melinda, Kristi, James, Rob, Tristi, Deborah and Julie. . Jenn was my roommate and is now my BFF. And I'm not even joking--if she'll have me, I'll be her friend for life. She ROCKS. Everyone else went out of their way to say hi to me, to make me feel loved and I did--I felt so loved. It was an amazing experience of acceptance and validation (haha if any of you were in Julie's class and saw that video :D.) Thank you, all of you, so much.

Hey, if you feel like checking out my blog at LDS Writers Blogck, you'll get to read more of my wacky weirdness in today's post.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Teaser Tuesday ~ The Devil's Daughter

So, Elana, the Bandwagon Queen, got this thread from somewhere and I’m hopping on too. I mean, why not, right? I want you to fall madly in love with my stories so that you can add my prayers to the Powers That Be that one day my books will be on your local bookstore shelves. Can’t hurt, right?

So here goes, a little tease from The Devil’s Daughter . . . 


Some people are born with a silver spoon in their mouth, but I was born with a pitchfork in my hand. I stood on the sidewalk and looked up at the castle-like building that was to be my new school and watched as all the rich kids dressed in matching uniforms made their way up the front steps. Not that I had a problem with rich kids—it was why I was here that I had the problem. The bright California sunshine tried to warm me, but I still felt cold. It was hard enough to be the new kid at school; even worse when you were sent to wreak havoc.

That pitchfork thing? I wasn't joking. Except, my family has never really used the pitchfork, that's a myth. My father never would have been the one shoveling coal into the furnace of hell. He had minions do that sort of thing. And I don't think he ever used a pitchfork as a weapon. Nowadays his weapon of choice would be the cell phone. He can ruin a life with one call. That's all it takes.

That’s why I didn’t want to go to St. Mary’s Academy. When I’d turned sixteen this past summer, Dad said it was time to join the family business. In case you didn't catch it, my dad is Satan and the family business is destroying lives and stealing souls. I was supposed to go to St. Mary’s to befriend a girl named Miriam Carr, a truly good girl, and turn her to the dark side. 

Monday, April 20, 2009

Music Monday ~ The Climb

Elana said she was the Queen of the bandwagon, but I beg to differ. That, my friends, would be me.

Shawntele has her Music Monday, Elana has her Teaser Tuesday and WIP Wednesday, and many have their Thoughtful Thursdays. You know me and promises (I make them just in time to break them, at least where my blogs are concerned) but I kind of like these thingies. I could also add Friendship Friday, Silly Saturday and Sacred Sunday. But don't hold me to it.

However, Shawntele did get me thinking about her Music Mondays and so I thought I'd jump in. You're supposed to post songs that have had meaning or that you've just enjoyed, through different periods of your life.

Right now, Miley Cyrus' The Climb is hitting the spot for me.

I can almost see it
That dream I am dreaming
But there's a voice inside my head saying
"You'll never reach it"

Every step I'm taking
Every move I make feels
Lost with no direction
My faith is shaking

But I gotta keep trying
Gotta keep my head held high

There's always gonna be another mountain
I'm always gonna wanna make it move
Always gonna be a uphill battle
Sometimes I'm gonna have to lose

Ain't about how fast I get there
Ain't about what's waiting on the other side
It's the climb

The struggles I'm facing
The chances I'm taking
Sometimes might knock me down
But no, I'm not breaking

I may not know it
But these are the moments that
I'm gonna remember most, yeah
Just gotta keep going

And I, I got to be strong
Just keep pushing on

'Cause there's always gonna be another mountain
I'm always gonna wanna make it move
Always gonna be a uphill battle
Sometimes I'm gonna have to lose

Ain't about how fast I get there
Ain't about what's waiting on the other side
It's the climb, yeah!

There's always gonna be another mountain
I'm always gonna wanna make it move
Always gonna be an uphill battle
Somebody's gonna have to lose

Ain't about how fast I get there
Ain't about what's waiting on the other side
It's the climb, yeah!

Keep on moving, keep climbing
Keep the faith, baby
It's all about, it's all about the climb
Keep the faith, keep your faith, whoa

This song has meaning for me right now because I have dreams that feel just beyond my fingertips. I want to believe that I can make it, and yet . . . there is that fear.

This song reminds me that it's not about the destination, but the journey. I do what I do, write, homeschool my boys, strive for a better me, because these things have meaning for me. Whether I am ever defined as a success or not, has little consequence to me today. Finding joy in the journey, keepin' on keepin' on, moving, climbing, keeping the faith. That IS what it's all about. 

Friday, April 17, 2009

I Know I Shouldn't Laugh But . . .

I think Craig Ferguson is so funny. To. Die. For. Funny. Seriously.

Yes, he's naughty. Yes, his brand of humor should probably put me to shame. And yet . . .

He had a bit on the other night about his dog and his naughty night-time habits. Darn but I couldn't find a clip of it. This video is not the most funny Craig I've seen, but it was the best I could do under pressure of blogging. 

Anyone else have a guilty pleasure?

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

That Moment

Everyone has a dream. If we're lucky, we get to live on the edges of our dream--close enough that we have the satisfaction of doing what we love, but ever falling short of the heart of it. For a rare few, they get that moment. 

That moment when it all comes together, when the singer and the song are one, the writer and the story are one.

Recently, Susan Boyle, an unemployed woman from Glasgow, Scotland, had her moment. 

It is not that her singing is technically perfect, because it isn't. The song choice is perfect. Her voice--the raw beauty of it--is perfect. Her moment, is perfect.

The video is long, feel free to skip ahead to the singing. Listen, appreciate her moment, and think to yourself--have you had that moment? Do you hope to?

Monday, April 13, 2009

There's a New Kid on the Blogck

For the past month I've been a guest blogger on LDS Writers Blogck. Today, is my first official post as a regular contributor to the blog.

How in the world, am I going to handle yet another blog? Oh yeah baby, you don't know the half of it--but that's a blog for another day.

LDS Writer's Blogck is the offical voice of Authors Incognito. The theme is, naturally, writing--and every day there is a new post by a different writer. My day is Mondays.

So high tail it on over there and check it out. Today I wrote about the importance of a writer having thick skin--crocodile skin, to be exact. 

Friday, April 10, 2009

Reflecting on Christ

Today is Good Friday. The day our Lord and Savior fulfilled His divine purpose. The day He died for us.

I love Him. I will always remember Him.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Cross Blogination

About a year ago Tristi decided she needed to simplify her life and one of the ways that she did that was to cut back on her blogs. I considered doing the same thing, but I have a few followers on each of my blogs and I didn't want to let them down.

But life is what it is and simplicity is a gem worth searching for, polishing up, and keeping front and center in your view at all times.

So, I think I've figured out a way to build simplicity into my life and to not give up my blogs altogether.

I have three blogs--The Cross Family which talks about my experiences with home schooling my boys. I'll leave that one the way it is.

However, my writing blog and this one are compatible, hence the cross blogination I intend.

When I post on my writing blog, I will also post it here. Likewise, when I post here, I will also blog there.

What will that mean to you? Hopefully it'll mean that you see more entries here, and that you'll read more about my writing.

We'll try it out and see how it goes. Let me know if it bugs you.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

A Bit of Craziness In An Otherwise Ordinary Day

I am totally stealing this vid from Nichole, but I don't care--I might have one or two readers who haven't seen this yet. This is most-awesome. Truly. Would I kid you? Worth a few minutes of your time.

What a fun adventure for both those who participated in this performance and all those who were unwitting bystanders in Antwerp Central Station on that unusual day. 

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

"Fear not, the future is as bright as your faith."
~ President Thomas S. Monson

Monday, April 06, 2009

Wizards R Us

So yes, my family and I are still playing Wizard 101. Like a few of you said--it is rather addicting. It's added a whole new element to our family life. However, the good news is, that we still do it together. 

Since it looms so large in our life now, two of my men have started blogs on the thing. I know, crazy, right? But I promised that I would promote them here, lol.

Xander is blogging again--about Wizard 101. He's got tips for players on where to find the best 'drops' or prizes you can win from bosses. Click here to visit his blog.

And David has a blog too--his is more a 'how-to' blog, I think. Check it out here.

Go here to get started playing Wizard--if you dare!

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Judge Roy Moore on America The Beautiful

This found it's way into my email inbox earlier this week, and though many of you will likely have also seen it, I thought I would share it here.

You may remember the Alabama judge, Ray Moore who was removed from the bench because he refused to take down a copy of the Ten Commandments from his courtroom wall. 

Judge Moore wrote a poem in an effort to capture his feelings about the state of our nation. I think it's well done and that it reflects my own feelings on this subject as well.

America the beautiful,
or so you used to be.
Land of the Pilgrims' pride;
I'm glad they'll never see.

Babies piled in dumpsters,
Abortion on demand,
Oh, sweet land of liberty;
your house is on the sand.

Our children wander aimlessly
poisoned by cocaine
choosing to indulge their lusts,
when God has said abstain

From sea to shining sea,
our Nation turns away
From the teaching of God's love
and a need to always pray

We've kept God in our
temples, how callous we have grown.
When earth is but His footstool,
and Heaven is His throne.

We've voted in a government
that's rotting at the core,
Appointing Godless Judges;
who throw reason out the door,

Too soft to place a killer
in a well deserved tomb,
But brave enough to kill a baby
before he leaves the womb.

You think that God's not
angry,that our land's a moral slum?
How much longer will He wait
before His judgment comes?

How are we to face our God,
from Whom we cannot hide?
What then is left for us to do,
but stem this evil tide?

If we who are His children,
will humbly turn and pray;
Seek His holy face
and mend our evil way:

Then God will hear from Heaven;
and forgive us of our sins,
He'll heal our sickly land
and those who live within.

But, America the Beautiful,
If you don't - then you will see,
A sad but Holy God
withdraw His hand from Thee.

~Judge Roy Moore~

The Value of Friendship

Friendships mark our days from our earliest beginnings. But do we ever recognize their value in our lives?

My first friend was a girl named Nicole St. Pierre. Her family lived next door to mine in Bramalea, Ontario, Canada. In 1968, her mom was pregnant at the same time as mine--Nicole was born one day short of a month later than me. 

We grew up together, like sisters more than friends. Our mothers often dressed us the same--Nicole a dark haired princess and me, a fair little fairy. 

Nicole and I shared toys and dreams. We were the shining lights in each others' eyes and cherished our friendship like none other.

Until she moved away.

We tried to maintain our friendship, but we were still little kids--I think we might have been eight when her parents moved. A few years later Nicole moved back, and we rebuilt our friendship as best we could. We knew enough, then, that a friendship like ours was a rare and special thing.

But children are swept to and fro along with the whims of their parents, and so it was with Nicole and I. We managed to stay in touch for the most part, but never had the opportunity again to reconnect with the friendship of our childhood.

I've had a few friends since Nicole. It's interesting though that I see a pattern in my selection of friends--I seem to have but one real friend for each time of my life.

From birth to grade eight, it was Nicole. Then Laurie from grade eight to thirteen. In university, there was Peggy. In my grown-up life there is Sheri.

I have many more friends as an adult than I ever did as a child/young adult. I'm more capable, now, of having 'lighter' friends--not every friend has to know all my deep, dark secrets. But it's nice knowing that someone out there does. 

I haven't always valued the friendships in my life. I've been far too quick to lose touch, to not give the friendship the time and effort it deserves.

I'm writing this because I've recently realized that I am doing that again with Sheri. She is an true friend and so far she has always forgiven me of my lapses in being a good friend. She is the most amazing of friends and deserves better from me.

The value of friendship is something I want to truly appreciate. I don't want to grow old and discover I don't have any real friends left because I didn't treat the few friends I had with the love and respect they deserved. 

Each one of my closest friends, and all those who I am now blessed to call friend, are wonderful and amazing in their own way. They are all unique from one another and I am a better person and my life more rich for knowing them.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Work Those Muscles

The other day I took my sons to the optometrist. I was a little worried about Thing 2 because he's been complaining about his eyes being tired. Thing 1 was reminded that yes, indeed he needed to wear his glasses. Thing 2 however, was told that his eyesight was excellent.

When we enquired about why his eyes might be tired and the doc found out that Thing 2 reads a zillion hours every day, he said "Ahh, well . . ." 

Your eye muscles, as it turns out, are like any other muscles and tire after a good workout. However, they also get stronger from a good workout. Huh, who knew. I was still operating under the old wives' tale that too much reading would make your eyes go bad. :D

I've noticed that I have been reading a lot faster lately and it occurred to me that this too must be like a muscle that improves with use.

I don't know if that would be my eyes or my brain (probably the latter) but I have definitely noticed an improvement in the speed with which I am able to read. I've been reading about a book a week lately, whereas it used to be that I would have to give up my whole life for a few days in order to get a book read that quickly. 

This is super exciting to me because I LOVE to read, but in the past I've felt I "didn't have time" for it. Now, I know better. 

I can teach school, write, keep my house reasonably clean (ha!) and still enjoy a good book. Sweet!

Who knew that reading was a form of exercise--good for your eyes and your brain. Now you can 'work out' and feel that you're doing yourself a service. What's that you say? Thanks so much for telling you about this important new workout? You're welcome!

Friday, March 27, 2009

Anne Bradshaw Contest Give-Away

I love the group Fiddlesticks. They perform my favorite arrangements of "If You Could Hie To Kolob" and "Praise To The Man."

So imagine my delight when I discovered they were the prize to be awarded in Anne Bradshaw's weekly give-away!

Visit Anne's blog speedily, as the contest will soon end, and learn how you can enter to win your own copy. Or don't. Because, like I said, I want to win.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

A Beautiful Language

Have you ever read a book that entirely transported you to a different time and place? All books try, I think, but few truly succeed. Huckleberry Finn was like that for me--took me a while to get into it because of the vernacular, but after a while, I was so engrossed in the language of that time and place that I found it difficult to talk like a regular person. I heard everything in country-bumpkin redneck. 

In high school I read the Iliad in Latin. I loved Latin. It spoke to me like no other language--it was beautiful, and reading the classic words of Homer in his own language was a real treat.

This week I've started reading a debut novel by author Jo Graham. It's called Black Ships and is about a priestess in the days just after the Trojan war who sees visions of the world to come. 

Like when I read Huckleberry Finn, at first I found it difficult to get into the story. It's written in the classic way of times past, with the added eloquence of ancient Greece. It reads very much like a translated version of classical Latin literature.

I am almost half way through the book now and I can't read it fast enough. It's making it difficult for me to live in this world. The language is coloring the thoughts in my head, making me want to use words and phrasing that no longer exists in our modern world.

It is a beautiful language.

The way words can be strung together to paint pictures in our mind, make our blood run cold, make our hearts beat faster--it is a truly magnificent art form.

My own writing does not rival Homer or Mark Twain or Jo Graham. I write from my heart and though I admire the classical beauty of words, my heart is simple and what comes out is equally unencumbered with flowery turns of phrase. My words will likely never sing to a person in the same way that Black Ships sings to me. But I'm alright with that. 

My words are my own and I will write them--they are sincere, honest, truthful to who I am. And words will never shine if they are false.

But just because I can't reproduce their beauty in my own writing, doesn't mean I can't truly appreciate writing, in this classical sense, when it's well done and engaging. It is a truly beautiful language.