Friday, December 30, 2005

You Say It's My Birthday

39

It just kind of sits there, doesn't it? One more year until 40, which doesn't bother most males of the species. We solve our crisis with a simple Harley Davidson or fling with a much younger woman. Since I'm broke and I'm really quite happy with my wife (not to mention the whole Thou Shalt Not Commit Adultery thing), I'll settle for some ice cream and new computer toys.

Which I'm playing with now.

I got a really awesome wireless mouse for my laptop and some writing software--Writer's DreamKit. I know, alot of people hated it, alot of people loved it. I'll give it a try. My family was really pressing me for ideas yesterday. At 39, I've got just about everything I want, with the exception of a published novel. But people want to buy you SOMETHING, so I had to do a quick search of software, and that's what I came up with.

Anyway, back to 39. It's an awkward age. Not as awkward as 14, but awkward in a "your place in the grand scheme of things" sort of way. To teenagers, I'm old. To the elders in my church, I'm still a kid. I'm too young to sue my company for age discrimination if I get fired. I'm too old to join the military. I'm too young to go around offering free advice. I'm too old to believe all the free advice I receive.

I always thought that, by the time you hit 40, you had it all figured out. I know squat. And I don't think one more year is going to instill me with a massive amount of wisdom.

But, at 39, I'm still young to the average person. No car dealer is going to "see me coming." I have enough money to buy gifts for those I love and maintain my writing habits. I know that most of what I read in the press is someone's opinion, and usually a liberal one. I can respect and understand if someone's opinion differs from mine and not get angry. I can stand up for what I believe. I'm not afraid to tell my hunting buddies that I'm leaving camp two days early because I miss my wife.

39 is good. It's a place to stop and look back, consider where I've been and decide if I like where I'm going. It's not too late to change course yet. Most of the areas of my life--financial, marriage, family, spiritual--are solid as a rock. That's more than most people can say, I'm afraid. My career is the one thing I'd like to change, and I'm working on that, so I can't complain.

Who knows what 40 will bring. Maybe, by then, I'll have a new job, a book contract, an agent. Truth be told, if I'm in exactly the same place one year from now that I'm in today, I'm still doing pretty good.

I've been given abundant life. I will always seek more but be thankful for what I've been given.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

The Lost Week

Every year between Christmas and New Year's I make great plans on what to do with my week off. It's one of the few gifts I get from working in the auto industry. This year I had intended on wrapping up Soul Searcher and getting started on my next novel, Third Kiss. Instead, I end up with a sinus infection and a constant headache that won't allow me to even look at a printed page.

Regardless (or Irregardless, just to annoy my wife), I am trying to make good use of my time. I have managed to get some crits done and edit some of Soul Searcher. I'm to the end on that one. I've also taken advantage of my spare time and perrused my new copy of Jeff Herman's Guide to Book Publishers, Editors, & Literary Agents. The Agents being at the center of my interest. By the end of January, I should have queried a few agents. I think that's an achievable goal. Which brings us to other achievable goals. Here they are for 2006:

1. Complete Third Kiss by September (ACFW Conference).
2. Submit Soul Searcher to agents until I go through the list or I land one.
3. Read at least 24 novels (not inlcuding books on CD).
4. Finish my MBA (I'll be done in the Spring!)
5. Get a contact at the Oxford Police Department for research.
6. Write in my notebook at least one page per day.

So, there they are. Now I must tag my friends. Robin, Ronie, Dineen, Gina, Camy, and Heather, let's see 'em. What do you want to accomplish in '06?

Friday, December 23, 2005

Merry Christmas from Wherever!

I've always wondered what a "normal" Christmas is. I'll be 39 years old at the end of this month, and I've never celebrated Christmas the same way twice. I've spent Christmas:

1. In Pearl City, Hawaii
2. In Port Orchard and Bremerton, Washington
3. In San Diego, California
4. In Virginia Beach and Yorktown, Virginia
5. In Navy Boot Camp in Orlando, Florida
6. In the Persian Gulf onboard the USS Okinawa
7. In Davisburg, Pontiac, Lapeer, Waterford, and Oxford, Michigan
8. Without knowing Jesus for 30 years
9. Knowing Jesus for 8 years

I keep hearing about "traditions." What's a tradition? I'll tell you what it is. It's knowing that you have friends and family you love and who love you. From halfway around the world to sitting at the table next to me, I've always had people to celebrate Christmas with, people who I wouldn't want to forge into a new year without.

Merry Christmas to all my new friends and my old ones. I am truly blessed.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Out of Egypt at Last!

I finally finished "Out of Egypt." The fact that I say "finally" is not a good sign. It really saddens me because I wanted to like this book. After all, the Vampire Lady had re-discovered the faith of her youth and is now writing for "our side." I guess that's still a reason to rejoice. Anne, after all, picked a difficult topic to start her Christian writing career. I'm afraid, however, that her work was probably a bit too realistic. Jesus, at seven years old, probably didn't do much out of the ordinary. Anne tried to make it suspenseful with a Jewish uprising and the ensuing plundering, murdering, and the unavoidable mass crucifixions. But it just wasn't enough. Dave Long apparently agrees with me. He did a write up at his blog, Faith in Fiction (link to the right). The POV of a seven year old gets a bit tedious, as anyone who's ever had a seven year old can tell you.

The book does have its high moments. Jesus shows exceptional wisdom to the Pharisees in Nazareth. Anne does a good job in showing that the residents of Nazareth remember Mary's "untimely" pregnancy. Although I thought she could have taken that much farther. Again, though, she may have restricted herself by keeping it in the boy Jesus' POV. The climax of the book has Jesus discovering the truth of his birth. This occurs during the pilgrimage to Jerusalem where Jesus disappears for three days. I had a real issue here because Anne chose to have this happen while Jesus is only eight years old. The Bible only gives us His age one time throughout all the scriptures—twelve years old at the time of this incident—and Anne ignores it. She covers a bit by saying he appeared to be twelve to the teachers around him. I'm thinking no. If you're already handicapped by lack of information for your historical figure, why throw out one piece of knowledge that's handed to you on a silver platter (pun intended)?

I've already mentioned the Catholic overtones. Since this is just a commentary on the book, I won't discuss Mary's perpetual virginity. By the way, Mary gets to tell the Christmas story from her POV at the end of the book while spilling all to her child. I liked that. It was well done and I give Anne credit for not hoisting Mary up as many might have. Mary remains a quiet, yet strong, young woman throughout the story. I rather liked her character. I also liked James, though he's older than Jesus in this story. I would expect James to be somewhat jealous of his brother after finding out the story surrounding his birth. The scene with James buying two doves as a sin offering at the temple for his hatred of Jesus is especially touching.

I believe Anne intends to make this a series, taking Jesus through his teen years. She'll have to up the tension a bit, because it was a struggle to keep my attention. It's kind of funny, though, that Christian writers are trying to open up the CBA to supernatural thrillers and suspense. In the meantime, one of the world's most successful supernatural thriller writers has backed off and now wants to write stories about Jesus.

I'm glad you're writing for the Lord now, Anne, but I can't think of a tougher way to go about it than writing about the Lord.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Mid December

I know. I've been slacking. December is a crazy time, even if you're not a stuff-aholic. Between church and kids and, oh yeah, writing, it seems the whole world is crashing down around me. So what's new. Let's see, I'm about two-thirds through Anne Rice's "Out of Egypt." Okay, I'm glad Anne has this new direction and she's a wonderful writer, but the story just ain't happening. I'm still waiting for something to happen. My wife has been listening to it on CD and feels the same way. That's the problem with taking a major historical figure and trying to write about a time in His life that isn't mentioned anywhere. You can't just make something exciting happen, say, like a giant meteor smashing into Nazareth. Everybody knows that didn't happen. So you're stuck with Jesus' childhood the way it probably did happen—boring. He was a normal Jewish kid, as far as anyone knows. Anne throws in a minor miracle or two and some visions, but it's just not enough. Oh, well, hopefully it will improve by the ending.

My writing buddy, Robin, has some good news from an editor, but she needs to do a major re-write. She calls it major; I told her if it doesn't involve a plot change, it's not major. Colleen Coble bugged her to get it done by January 3rd. Me and Colleen, we're on the same page. Robin has this issue, though—it's called Christmas. I told her, if it were me, I'd CANCEL Christmas and get that sucker written. She didn't agree. Neither did my wife.

My other writing partners, Ronie and Dineen, have upgraded from form letter rejections to personalized ones. No X's and O's at the bottom, though. All three of these ladies are in that very frustrating place between being darn good and getting published. They can easily be pushed over the edge—either way. Me, I'm plugging along. I don't have many submissions out there yet. 2006 will be my year of flooding the e-mail lines with proposals. Then, of course, there's Gina. She's doing so well I'm ready to stop talking to her, unless she'll grant me an interview for my blog.

That's pretty much my little writing world in a nutshell. I'm excited to get my next project started in January. I'll keep y'all up to date on that one as I go. I'm going to try to be more organized on this one and kick it up a notch—BAM!!!

Friday, December 09, 2005

Linda Windsor's Interview

Make sure you catch Gina Holmes' interview of author Linda Windsor. Her latest novel, Fiesta Moon, is available now. She's a great writer and a really neat lady. I sat with her at the ACFW conference in Nashville. You can read her interview on Gina's blogsite at http://firstnoveljourney.blogspot.com/.

If you've never experienced Gina's blog, you're missing out. She's a stitch and a great writer. If you're into demons and other nightmarish stuff, you'll want to keep your eye on this lady. I'll be playing catch up to her real soon.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Out of Egypt

I've started reading Out of Egypt by Anne Rice. You know, her "Jesus book." While I respect her newfound desire to write for the Lord, I can't help but wonder what an editor would have told me if I came up with the idea of writing a novel from the viewpoint of a teenage Jesus. My first warning to my Protestant bretheren is: Anne's Catholic. And that's how she's writing it. Not that I have a problem with Catholics. I've been in "mixed" bible studies and we overcome our differences by simply leaving them out of the discussion (the differences, not the Catholics). Mary's standing is probably not a salvation essential. I admit, though, that praying to a long list of saints makes me uncomfortable. So much so that, at my niece's baptism in a Catholic church, I respectfully remained out of the prayer.

That being said, Anne sets up Mary as Joseph's second wife within the first chapter. All of Jesus' brothers and sisters are from Joseph's first marriage. For the life of me, I'll never understand why the Catholics would do this to poor Joseph. Theory has it that he died young. That might explain it.

The book is written in the first person, like I said. I think maybe I would have done it in the third, and gotten some different POV's in there. Joseph and Mary certainly had some interesting thoughts. Let's get in their heads. The book starts out with them in Egypt. I think Jesus is seven at the time. Joseph knows that Herod is dead, but he never says how he knows. The family hops on a ship and sails to Israel, eventually ending up in Jerusalem in time for Passover, which I find appropriate and clever of Anne. Leaving Egypt on Passover. It fits, don't you think?

Jesus is suspicious of the events surrounding his birth, though the family is protecting him from the facts for now. The beginning of the book has him killing a playmate with his words and then bringing him back to life. I think that came from the Gospel of Thomas, which wasn't canonized. It's a cute story and good for fiction, but there's a reason that book wasn't canonized. As long as the reader understands that, he'll get through okay.

I'll keep you all up to date as I read. I tend to read a couple of books at the same time and only get an hour a day at most, so it'll take a while.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Seven Sevens

I've been tagged by Gina Holmes AND Robin Miller. Here are the questions:

Seven Things to Do Before I Die (Lord willing):
1. Publish a best-seller (aim high, people!)
2. Write for a living.
3. Go to Alaska.
4. Take my wife to Hawaii.
5. Be first in line at Robin's, Gina's, Ronies, and Dineen's book signings.
6. Read in the bathtub without getting the book wet.
7. Watch my son pilot Blue Angel #5 over Traverse City.

Seven Things I Cannot Do:
1. Read in the bathtub.
2. Take the auto industry seriously.
3. Vote for a pro-abortionist.
4. Turn my back on my Savior.
5. Stop writing (I tried, it hurts).
6. Live in New York City.
7. Take rap music seriously.

Seven Things that Attract Me to My Spouse [romantic interest, best friend, whomever](not necessarily in this order!):

1. Her legs
2. Everything above # 1.
3. Her intelligence.
4. Her love of the Lord.
5. Her ethics.
6. Our chemistry (is that what we're calling it?)
7. She makes me laugh.

Seven Things I Say (or write!) Most Often:
1. Get over it.
2. Call 1-800-Hillary (to my abused children)
3. Are you gonna eat that?
4. Get a grip (wavng at Robin).
5. Oh, Lord!
6. Twenty minutes! (when my children ask "how long 'till we get there?")
7. Bush won, he isn't required to cover the spread, get over it (see #1).

Seven Books (or series) I Love:
1. Bible (Daniel's my favorite)
2. Watership Down
3. Sum of All Fears
4. Salem's Lot
5. Grapes of Wrath
6. The Mitford Books
7. Call of the Wild

Seven Movies I Would Watch Over and Over Again:
1. Star Wars (all of them)
2. A Christmas Story
3. Shane
4. Monty Python and the Holy Grail
5. Fiddler on the Roof
6. Tora! Tora! Tora!
7. Young Frankenstein

Seven People I Want to Join in: (be tagged)
1. Ronie
2. Dineen
3. My Dad
4. Brandilyn Collins
5. Stewart
6. Camy Tang
7. Randy I.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

15 Book Preference

My pal Dineen has tagged me with my list of 15 book preferences. So here's what I came up with:

15 Facts and Personal Preferences about books:

1. Nothing written by bad ex-Presidents.
2. No gay vampires.
3. I like to read in bed with my wife.
4. I usually have at least two fiction books going at the same time.
5. Never use the phrase "her near perfect features."
6. Nothing by Al Franken (what, exactly, does he do?)
7. Fiction that teaches me something new.
8. You get to use a writer as your protag once during your career, then move on.
9. I check out several books at the same time in case one or two really stink.
10. I try to read at least one new (to me) author a month.
11. I'll try to read in the bathtub again, even though I know it can't be done.
12. Never read anything by someone who proudly proclaims to be an ex-Christian.
13. I love historical fiction, but wouldn't want to attempt it.
14. Sexual tension is great, but stop before it turns into erotica.
15. I love a romantic thread, but can't read a romance.