Saturday, January 31, 2009


An update on my publication status. I received an acceptance on a magazine article yesterday, followed by a rejection on a short story today. That makes three articles sold, but no fiction.

The articles are all personal story pieces. One is pretty much a devotional based on a personal experience, one is a story of how God touched my life during a crisis, and this latest is a mothering story.

I find it funny that I'm selling my real life. Yet, I can't find a home for the fantastical stuff I'm making up.

I grew up thinking of reading as an escape. I wanted outrageous stories. I never read historical fiction or romance because it was too "real life." Give me magic and unicorns, bad guys who can shape-shift, aliens and dragons. Real life is everywhere--I read to experience what's beyond all that.

But I decided to write personal stories because I've been through some pretty tough things. I prayed that God would use those experiences to reach people who need to know someone else has been there, and that God is there for them, too.

OK, so maybe there is no irony here. Hmmm...God is using my writing, just not the writing I expected Him to.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The Nerd Table

I like analogies. So I'd like to compare the publishing industry to a highschool cafeteria. When I was in highschool (that would be in the late eighties, btw), our lunchroom was divided by tables. There was the popular table, the nerd table, the metal-head table (eighties, remember), the preppie-but-not-popular tables (that was a big section), the skaters, the punk-rockers, the pot-heads (sadly, another big section in my highschool), the get the idea. Everyone sat at the same table every day. Everyone knew exactly where they belonged.

Well, publishing is divided into genres. And it seems that books are supposed to fit neatly into those genre categories. Authors are supposed to know exactly where they belong, too. Often, agents and publishers want your genre stated in the subject line of a query. I'm assuming this is so they can delete it if it is not a genre they represent, and not be bothered reading a submission if they know up-front it is not a good fit. That is how seriously this categorization is taken. An entire novel can be turned down based on the subject line of the email in which it is queried.

Book genres include sci-fi/fantasy, romance, western, horror, mystery/suspense, humor, and many others. And there are two distinct umbrellas under which these genres fall: secular and Christian. Here's how you tell the difference. Secular books are the ones found all over the book store. They are divided, and then lined up on shelves under signs that declare their various genres. Christian books are in the way, way, far-back corner of the bookstore, and all the genres are crammed together in a single aisle under a sign that says, "Christian/Inspirational Reading," or something of the like.

That is where my book will end up if things don't change. But that is like putting a punk-rocker at the nerd table just because she balances chemical equations and factors polynomials for fun.

I am a Christian. If you can read, and you've been to my website (, then you know that. I am a Christian, but I am a fantasy writer.

No, not "but."

I am a Christian and I am a fantasy writer. Just as my life is built on the foundation of my beliefs, my books are built on a backbone of theological reasoning. But my life includes everything everybody's life includes. And my book includes all the elements of any good fantasy novel. Punk rocker and nerd, in one.

But just admitting I am a Christian, and admitting my book has certain theological foundations, may be enough to segregate me to the way, way far-back corner of the bookstore. I may be forced to sit only at the nerd table. There's not much I can do about that now. It's not what I want, but let's face it, no non-nerd punk-rocker or metal-head would be caught dead at the nerd table.

Unless, the nerds are cool. Unless, the others see that we can be both.

I really was an all-in-one punk-rocker and nerd when I was in highschool. And I sat at both tables. Fortunately for me, they happened to be right next to each other, ironically in the way, far-back corner of the lunchroom. I tended to grab a chair and sit smack-dab in the middle between the two. Both groups soon began to understand each other a little better because I refused to be labelled as one or the other.

There are other authors like me--lots of them, as a matter of fact. Just Google "edgy Christian fiction" or "Christian speculative fiction" and you'll find gobs of websites. Presses are popping up that recognize the need for authors like us, authors who refuse to be shoved in the corner.

Not quite "Revenge of the Nerds," but then our purpose isn't getting invited to frat parties.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

"Havah" winner!

My six-year-old daughter was very excited this morning when I told her she would get to reach into the basket again to pick another winner.

So, Dennis H., it looks like you're going to be the envied one. Dennis entered on behalf of his wife and daughters, and I'm glad to say it payed off.

And thank you once again to the wonderful lady who donated Havah for the contest.

Next month, I have a great kids' book picked out to give away. Keep checking my blog to see when I announce that contest. It's one of my favorite books, and will be a treasure to anyone who loves dragons, or knows a child who loves dragons.

Friday, January 23, 2009

This is Your Brain on Joy--Review

We've all heard the saying, "Mind over matter." But what if your mind IS the matter? What if your brain is locked in a cycle that prevents you from refocusing your mental powers to something positive?

This is Your Brain on Joy by Dr. Earl Henslin discusses the disorders that physically affect the brain and block us from achieving happiness.

He begins the book with a tour of the brain. He uses the analogy of a house to help us give a mental picture (pun intended). We enter through the "front door" into the prefrontal cortex, and continue through the "rooms" until we reach the "basement," the basal ganglia.

Pictures of real brain scans taken during SPECT imaging (single photon emission computerized tomography) show the activity, or lack of activity, in the various "rooms" of our brain "house" that correlates with disorders such as ADD, OCD, PTSD, depression, and disturbances in the temporal lobe.

For each disorder, Dr. Henslin outlines suggestions for nutritional changes, supplements, medication, exercise, music, prayers, scriptures, and even movies (what he calls cinematherapy). And to help you determine which category you fall into (or if you do at all), he includes a test called the Amen Brain System Checklist (created by Dr. Amen, Dr. Henslin's friend and mentor). I love that he gives such a wide scope of treatment and considers medication something to reserve for only serious cases, or as a last resort when other treatments fail. BTW, fish oil is a recommendation he makes for every disorder, and it is a recommendation I believe in whole-heartedly!

I will say that parts of the book read like brochures for Dr. Amen's clinic and supplements, as well as SPECT imaging in general. But, the SPECT scan is the key to diagnosis in many cases, so he must include it. (I have read books that felt like giant adverisements for the author's procedure or business, but this does not go nearly that far.)

Dr. Henslin keeps the tone light, and the reading is definitely not dry. He peppers in humor and personal experiences, as well as gobs of movie and TV references. Apparently, he takes his own advice on the cinematherapy :).

(My favorite part was his description of a young girl who was terrified of failing her drivers test...again. He helped her overcome her fear by having her imagine the driving instructor in a ridiculous outfit. It immediately brought to my mind Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban--fighting a boggart with a mental picture of your biggest fear made funny!)

Dr.Henslin closes the book with a chapter on Paul and his letters to the church Philippi. Paul states in Philippians 4:11, "I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances." Dr. Henslin gives practical advice to help us apply Paul's principles revealed in the book of Philippians.

This is Your Brain on Joy is a book for anyone who struggles with finding joy, even if it just a case of the blues here and there. While Dr. Henslin focuses on true disorders of the brain, he gives practical, everyday advice in each chapter for nutrition, exercise, prayer/scripture, and other methods of boosting our moods.

You can find more information on This is Your Brain on Joy by visiting the Thomas Nelson website:

Here's to joyful reading!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Keep Your Flavor

Shawna Williams' January 19th blog post was truly inspiring to me. She brought up a great point, one I wish I had thought of when I started my novel. I won't tell you, you can read it at the link below--just make sure you come back to read what I have to say about it.

Now, her post didn't just get me thinking about her subject matter, it got me thinking about her voice. Her writer's voice. Here, let me drop a bomb on you--Shawna is southern. And smart. And witty. Oh, what, after reading her blog you are not surprised?

Well, that is exactly what I'm talking about. She is distinctive. She adds a unique and captivating flavor to her writing. We have recently endeavored to critique each other's work, and I find myself stepping back sometimes before commenting on her prose, because the one thing I do not want to do is take away her style. Her writing needs to sound like Shawna--it's what makes it work so well.

She and I had a discussion about this just recently. Often, critique groups have at least one person who is so stuck on "writing rules" that they never learn to find their voice and write distinctively. They often try to make everyone else's work sound the same as well. I attended a critique group once where the conversation pretty much never got past whether or not it was acceptable to start a sentence with a word that ended in "-ing." And one guy rewrote everything for everyone else, and when they showed their lack of appreciation for that, he left.

Do not be that kind of writer. Don't get caught up in counting how many times you use "was" and "-ly" words. Yes, you must limit those, of course, but if that is all you think makes good writing, then you're not seeing the forest for the trees.

That same critique group got sidetracked on those points regarding a particular writer's chapter. But the chapter had much bigger issues--tremendously clunky sentences, out-of-date terminology for a teen novel, and confusing dialogue. Good writing will ultimately make the reader overlook an occasional was, -ly or -ing word, or other "no-no." And some of those things can add to your writing if used correctly.

For example, here is one of my pet peeves. Look at these two sentences:

"He walked across the room, and opened the door."

(Boring, yes, but I'm talking pure structure here). This sentence implies a beginning, middle, and end to the action with one word--walked. He started to walk, he covered the distance, and he stopped (at least the walking in the room).

Now here:

"He was walking along the side of the road when he spotted a shiny object."

Oh, no! A "was" and an "-ing" word! You must change that to "he walked." Right? NO! He was already walking before I started writing about him. He's in the MIDST of walking, in the middle of the action. It is a totally different idea than "he walked."

(Now, you could change that to "as he walked" but someone, somewhere, will gripe about using "as." Trust me.)

The point is, sometimes passive works better and sometimes fragments get your attention. Adjectives can be what bring descriptions to life, adverbs can ratchet the action, and dialect can definitely punch up writing.

Too much passive makes writing drag and too many fragments make writing choppy. Too many adjectives and adverbs bog down the descriptions and action, and too much dialect can make writing hard to read.

Let the rules guide your writing, rather than beating it into submission. Write in YOUR voice first and foremost, and then clean it up and tighten it down. Take into consideration whether comments refer to grammar or style before making changes.

Don't let someone take your flavor.

Monday, January 19, 2009

"Demon" winner...and a NEW contest!

I have selected the winner of Demon by Tosca Lee. Congratulations, Donna T. You have an email on the way requesting your mailing address.

This was FUN! I had my six-year-old daughter literally draw a name from a basket. She loved it!

And I think she wants to do it again.

Fortunately, an anonymous donor has volunteered her extra copy of Havah for me to give away. She humbly requested I not give her name. I will respect that. But know that it is someone else's generosity at work here. I feel priviledged to be a part of it.

Note--I have discovered that it is much more effecient to have comments posted on my website in order to keep track of who is entering. This keeps your email addy from being published on the blog comment page as well.

So, to enter:
Please visit and leave a comment on any page. Or click on the "eye" in the upper right-hand corner of my blog page. PLEASE include your name and email address.

I will pick a winner next week and pass your email on to the "real" giveaway person.

I hadn't planned on two book giveaways this month, but I am happy to be able to promote both of Tosca's books. I only wish there was an ethical way of entering myself in my own contest :).

Next month, I'll be shifting gears a bit and giving away a couple of young reader books that are dear to my heart. These are books your kids, grandkids, nieces, nephews, and neighbors' kids will love! One of them, I have already reviewed on my blog, and mentioned that I would soon be giving it away. So keep checking back. And please leave comments about what ramblings of mine you enjoy.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Review of Tosca Lee's Demon

I don't know if this is the best way to review, having just finished the book and not had time to sort out what I want to say. But, once you read this, and you MUST read this, you'll understand the need to pour out your experience without necessarily worrying about perfect wording.

That is what the protagonist, Clay, is forced to do throughout the book. He is approached by Lucian, one of Lucifer's demons, who says, "I'm going to tell you everything....and you're going to write it down and publish it." For months Clay interviews Lucian, and is possessed with putting his account on paper.

There are books that make you turn the pages, with pounding heart, on the edge of your seat...What happens next?

And there are books that make you linger over the prose, savoring the words--words rich with meaning and description--words that touch you and bring images to life in your mind.

Tosca Lee manages to do BOTH with Demon. You will want to ponder Lucian's words and take in her vivid descriptions, but you will find yourself at a.m....reading "just one more chapter."

Her characterization skills astounded me. Every phrase, every comparison, every description of sensation and emotion evoked response that I could relate to, because Clay, let's face it, could be any of us. Is all of us.

Lucian will shatter any preconceived ideas you have about demons. And Tosca's talent made me green with envy as I read her descriptions of him. Lucian appeared as a different person at each interview, and Tosca kept his core character consistant through the entire novel, while imbuing him with traits of the person whose physical form he chose. It is hard enough to keep a character consitant as one person, but when he rotates through personas...well, Tosca is either brilliant or suffering a serious case of multiple personality disorder.

Now, I have no choice but to read her second book, Havah. You don't find an author like this and just stop after the first book.

Find out more about Tosca Lee and her books at the following websites:

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Moving On

OK, I know when to stop something that is not working. I admit, my Dawkins posts were far-fetched. Even so, I was having fun with them. I was even planning on comparing him to Ayn Rand because of his long-winded, winding, circular reasoning, sarcastic, and completely pointless (he presents not one shred of evidence to support his ideas--just circular reasoning that can't be proven) chapter four in The Blind Watchmaker.

But, as I moderate the comments, I see that my Dawkins posts ain't even bein' commented on. That tells me that no one reads them, or no one gets it but everyone is nice enough to not call me a weirdo :). So, on I move. No big.

(BTW--most comments are from you greedy-grubbers wanting to win the Tosca Lee book. I don't blame you one bit. "Free book"--those words are music to my ears, too! And BELIEVE ME, whoever wins is gonna be a happy camper, cos Demon is goooood! I'll be posting a full review soon. I still have a couple of chapters left.)

Yes, I know, this post was pretty meaningless. But I was playing around to figure out how to add pictures, and had to write something as an excuse to put that adorable picture of my son in here!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Sharing and Inspiration

I've been writing for over a year now. My early blog posts chronicle some of the struggles I had in the beginning. My first time at a writers conference was my first time meeting other writers. Until then, only a handful of people knew I was writing at all. And only a couple of people had read anything I'd written.

I walked into that conference completely terrified. My book was complete, but I was still revising. I sat in on Bryan Davis' Teen Track class, and learned more than I thought possible in those few hours. I completely rewrote my first chapter. Because I had met Bryan at the conference, he agreed to read a few pages. His advice was wonderful. But working up the nerve to let him read my work took everything I had.

Today, a full year after that conference, I still get nervous letting someone new read my work. So far, every one has had very positive comments. (Even Bryan. "Talent and real potential" were his words. I had them engraved on a plaque. Just kidding. But I wanted to :).

But confidence-building is only one side effect of sharing your work.

Another is inspiration.

I was kind of in a rut, working on my second novel, but holding back a bit, still waiting for responses on the first novel and my many short story and article submissions. I find it hard to concentrate sometimes when I'm anxiously awaiting something.

Then I met some new friends through an online writers network. We've begun sharing our work with each other. (You see, I don't have a critique group close enough to my house, so I have to have friends read for me. They are not writers, and I can't impose on them to read this chapter and that, please get back to me, like, tomorow, thank you. But, writers can do that to each other. We understand the pain of waiting, and when we critique, it's usually pretty fast.)

My fire has been resparked! I'm not thinking about the responses I'm waiting on. I'm working forward, really coming up with new stuff. Reading the other writers' work and coming up with suggestions for them has gotten my gears moving again in regards to my own work. I pounded out a short story last night in two hours. It had been in the back of my mind, lying dormant, until I started handing my other stuff over for critique and taking theirs. Everything popped into my head like it had been waiting for just the right moment.

My point to this post is to say, writers, get your stuff out there. First, if it's good, you need to hear it. Second, if it's not, you can never fix it if you don't. Third, if you share with other writers you become part of a creative collective. Creativity feeds off of creativity. Don't keep your work to yourself!

Sunday, January 11, 2009

The Mistmantle Chronicles

I am on the second book in the Mistmantle Chronicles series by M.I. McAllister, Urchin and the Heartstone. I bought the first book of the series, Urchin of the Riding Stars, on a whim--Barnes and Noble was clearancing out the hard cover editions and I happened to have a gift card (birthday gift from my hubby). I had never heard of it. It looked cute. It had a squirrel with a sword on it :).

Well, I opened that book and discovered the entrancing world of Mistmantle. If anyone out there remembers the book Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of will love this series. THIS is good children's writing. Mrs. McAllister assumes her child readers actually have a brain. She uses big words--but appropriate words--for this grade level, which is 3rd-6th. It is INTELLIGENTLY written. The characters are well-crafted and loveable. The plot twists and turns enough to keep anyone interested, young or old, but doesn't confuse the reader. A perfect balance of complexity.

Urchin of the Riding Stars opens with Urchin's birth, when his mother arrives on Mistmantle Island--the reason she is there is not disclosed. He is found by the island priest and several others who know that his unique appearance makes him special, as does his unusual fur color. Urchin soon falls in love with the idea of working at the king's castle. Adventure surrounds and ensnares him, as the evil Husk tries to steal the throne from King Crispin.

I love that Mrs. McAllister peppers details in, and then explains their significance later through the action. Those hints don't seem arbitrarily placed, though; they flow naturally with the story and then later, when their significance is revealed, you find yourself saying, "Oh, so that's why..."

I can't say enough about this series. I love it. One of my homeschool friends has an eight-year-old daughter--but she reads at about a fifth grade level--who has read the entire series twice and begged for it as a Christmas gift. So it ain't just me :).

(I'm planning on giving away a copy of Urchin of the Riding Star soon. It's on's on its way...and I will announce when it's time for the giveaway. I'll post on my blog in a couple of weeks when the giveaway starts.)

Oh, and Mrs. McAllister is a minister's wife--the books have a definite Christian backbone, although they are published through a secular publisher (Miramax).

There are five books in the series, and I plan to add all of them to my collection.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Book Giveaway--Tosca Lee's "Demon"


I over-ordered for my book club this month and ended up with an extra copy of Demon by Tosca Lee. Leave me a comment and mention that you're interested in the contest and I'll pick a winner in a couple of weeks and post your name on my blog.

Don't forget, I need your email address to be able to contact you if you win. Email adresses will only be used for this contest, and absolutely nothing else. If you don't want your addy out there on the comment page, you can also visit my website at and leave a comment about the contest.

Good luck!


Thursday, January 8, 2009

Fiction Questions--check out Chip MacGregor's blog

A friend just sent me this link:

Chip MacGregor's January 3rd post was awesome, answering some pressing questions about writing fiction.

The third question was especially relevant, I thought. So many of us get discouraged by the newbie sensation writers--oh, I won't mention any names--and his blog explains where they come from. I can't agree with his statement that all of those authors have writing that "shines," though. Let's be honest, some of them just had a marketable idea and could write fairly well. "Marketability" is a word you hear over and over in the publishing arena, and can make a talented writer want to scream. But, it was comforting to read that not all of those gambles pay off.

The fourth post about editors knowing their stuff even when they aren't necessarily good novelists themselves was very enlightening. I never thought of it that way before. But what Chip says makes total sense!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Dawkins (a little), MRI's, and Chevy Chase

My post tonight will only touch on my Dawkins series. I forgot, chapter three is the "Me thinks it is like a weasel" and "biomorph" chapter. I'll leave it up to the guys with letters behind their names to tackle this chapter. Not that it's difficult--it's just over-done. I mean, duh, using a computer program to "simulate" cumulative selection. That's kind of like following a map to simulate random wandering. You know, like a geocacher "stumbling" upon their destination, as if the GPS was some sort of unseeing force of nature.

The main thing is, the chapter is Dawkins patting himself on the back for writing some cutesy little program that made line drawings resembling space aliens and insects. Just like the bat sonar chapter, it really has nothing to do with the "story." He's supposed to be showing how genes were first formed and how they mutate and carry on those changes. Instead, he's showing how you can program something to take baby steps in the right, pre-set direction and then saying how cool it is that life did that all on its own.

In fiction, the author is supposed to "show, not tell." That means the reader should be able to look at the actions and surmise what the message is. Saying "he was angry" is telling. Saying "he stormed into the room and slammed the door behind him" is showing. The thing is, the author has to have the actions match the message. You can't say "he stormed into the room" and proceed to tell the reader what a cheerful guy he really is at that moment, underneath it all. Either one is true or the other, but not both. Dawkins spends most of the first three chapters of The Blind Watchmaker showing us over and over the evidence for design, but then tells us it's chance, underneath it all.

So, on to other topics.

Last night, I was reminded of an analogy that I had been wanting to write out, but had no place to write it. I've only had my website and blog going for a couple of months and got a bit side-tracked with the set-up and book reviews that I forgot all about this great illustration I'd come up with!

Here it is:

In the movies and on TV, writers are always depicted as sitting in front of their computers (or as in one of my fave movies, Funny Farm, with Chevy Chase sitting in front of a type writer--remember those? Remember him?), starting with chapter one, and writing the book page by page until they reach "The End."

That is like an MRI. For the medically challenged, an MRI takes a series of pictures of a section of your body, sort of like x-rays, in cross-section starting at one point and moving inch by inch to the other end. If you made a three dimensional model of this, which the people who created the "Bodies" display actually did, it would look kind of like a mannequin who'd been pushed through a giant egg slicer. Only the slices would be paper thin.

The thing is, you would see bits and pieces of all sorts of different tissue in each slice. A slice that came from chest level would have sections of heart, lungs, ribs, major blood vessels, the spinal column. Stack the slices in the right order and you get a whole person.

This is how you read a book--getting bits and pieces of several different characters and plot elements at once, that all come together in the end. We kind of start at the top, and work our way down, page by page (slice by slice), until we reach "The End." And we can then see the story as a whole.

But writing doesn't happen that way. At least, I could say with some certainty, for the vast majority of us. With most writing it is more like those kid's books that have the clear sheets that illustrate the human body. You know, the back page is the skeleton, and then you lay down a clear sheet that has nerves on it, or blood vessels, then a certain set of internal organs, and then a different set, and keep layering until you have all the muscles and fat tissue, and then finally the skin.

Writing a good, solid novel means starting with the bones. The skeleton is the structure, the plot outline. The organs are the characters. Each is very individual, fully formed in his or her own sense, and each serves a distinct purpose. The main characters would be the heart, lungs, etc. But minor characters are important too, and should be treated as complete, fully-functioning organs. And of course they interact and are dependent upon each other. Muscle is the dialogue and action, and needs to be smooth and strong. Trim the fat, of course. And skin is the final polishing that should only be done when all the insides are present and accounted for, and in working order!

I wish someone had told me that a long time ago. I was at one time convinced all writers were like Chevy Chase in Funny Farm and since I could never do that, I scrapped the idea of writing for many years. I watched the movie over and over, though, secretly wishing I were the wife in the story--the one who wrote the children's book in her spare time, having never been an aspiring writer for a moment prior to her "inspiration." I dreamed that one day I'd be hit out of the blue and just start writing. Well, that actually did kind of happen, but by the time it did, I had realized how unrealistic my ideas were regarding writing. I guess I just had not been at the right time of my life before. And now I am :).

Monday, January 5, 2009

Dawkins, part II

Chapter two is my favorite chapter in The Blind Watchmaker. Dawkins spends 16 pages explaining bat sonar. It's really interesting. Completely irrelevant the rest of the book, but really interesting.

I read a review of Twilight today, on Amazon, that said, in reference to Meyer's constant detailed descriptions of irrelevant things:
"It's like the saying goes: if you see a gun in chapter one, it's going to go off in chapter three. But if the gun goes off in chapter three during target practice and only manages to hit a tree branch, did it even NEED to be in chapter one in the first place? " (I actually like this person's entire review, so here's the link:

That is Richard Dawkins' bat chapter. It's pretty much like this--sixteen pages of vivid description of the gun, from end to end, every curve, every contour, how the inner mechanisms work, speculation on how the metal was forged and the purposes behind each and every bit of the design...but the gun's not even loaded. No one is shot. There isn't even a target practice scene later on in the book where it goes off and hits a tree. Sixteen pages of this-is-how-a-bat's-ears-work, isn't it neat?

Then, towards the end of the chapter, he makes this statement:
"Animals give the appearance of having been designed by a theoretically sophisticated and practically ingenious physicist or engineer, but there is no suggestion that the bats themselves know or understand the theory in the same sense as a physicist understands it. The bat should be thought of as analagous to the police radar trapping instrument, not the person who designed the instument....The designer's understanding is embodied in the design of the instrument, but the instrument itself does not understand how it works."

Look at what that says. Essentially, he's saying that because bats don't understand the physics behind sonar, they could not have designed themselves. Well, duh, we all knew that. We also know police radar trapping instruments don't understand physics either. What's the point? If sonar trapping instruments are designed by someone else, and bats are just like them, then why can't they be designed by someone?

It's like he's setting this up as a murder mystery, trying to convince the reader that one person is the killer (creation) by making all the evidence point to that character. But he's already told us who the villian (evolution) really is (according to him, anyway), way back in the prologue. And he's suppsed to be convincing us that evolution is the one we should be following. So what's the point of all this, "hey, look how well-designed these are" illustrations? Really, I think Dawkins knows Whodunit, but just doesn't want to face that fact.

I must throw in here this statement. I was raised in a Christian home, but like publically-schooled children all over the U. S., I was taught that the world was the result of a big bang and millions of years of chance. And in college, since I was a science major, that was pretty much all I heard all day long. It began to wear on my faith. And then, my Evolution professor (yes, I actually took a whole class on this!) assigned us to read The Extended Phenotype, by Dawkins. That cinched it. I had no more wavering about my faith. Dawkins rantings in that book were the words of a lunatic as far as I was concerned. I could no longer even toy with the idea that we weren't created by a loving God.

So, thank you Richard Dawkins, for being a part in my devotion to my belief in God! And, btw, I burned your book :).

Christian Fiction Online Magazine--Rant!

You MUST check out the latest issue of Christian Fiction Online Magazine. My fave humor columnist, Randall Ingermanson, continued his adventures with Sam the plumber, sparking a great thread on his blog ( about self-publishing. Of course, I had to chime in with a few comments :).

Randall may have been upstaged this issue for me, though, by John Perrodin's review of Twilight. If you have read my blog at all, you know how much I just love that book. (The good thing about writing is you can't see me fighting to hold a straight face during that comment :). His critique mirrors many of the complaints I have about the book, and it's a great read. Check him out at

Friday, January 2, 2009

I finished reading Peeps tonight. It did keep me turning pages until the end, but I was feeling quite run-down by the references to evolution on every single page. Granted, the story itself wouldn't have worked very well had it not been based on that theory, but come on. I did have to chuckle when I hit a particular sentence in the next-to-last chapter: "This was why peeps had been created." Interesting that through the entire book, evolution is given credit for everything, and then he makes the statement that the parasite had been "created."

OK, I get that the dude is not actually a scientist, that this is a novel and all. But in every book I've ever read on evolution--that is, books written from an evolutionary standpoint--at some point the author says something about traits or organisms being created or designed. They always "slip" somewhere along the line. Even the king of evolutionists, the man himself, Richard Dawkins, does this. In his preface, no less, in The Blind Watchmaker. Here are his words:

"It is almost as if the human brain were specifically designed to misunderstand Darwinism, and to find it hard to believe."

I'm wondering, what evolutionary benefit would that provide? (Ironic, eh, Dr. D, that humans would evolve to want to believe in God and find it hard to swallow a life of meaninglessness and no afterlife? Yet, you as an evolutionist find it hard to swallow the existence of God, even though He created you.)

I could go on for hours listing examples of evolutionists, expecially Dawkins, referring to design in nature. Maybe I'll add a quote to each of my postings. Or, maybe I'll start a series dissecting The Blind Watchmaker. That would be big fun!

I know, I know, technically I should be keeping my posts relevant to writing. But, hey, The Blind Watchmaker is, actually, a book :). Maybe I can find a way of looking at it all from the standpoint of a writer--I mean there are scientists--great ones--all over the place who dispute Dawkins succesfully in the science realm. (If you'd like to find out more about them, visit, or read Lee Strobel's The Case for a Creator, and then check the bibliography for names like Michael Behe and Jonathan Wells.)

So, this at least gives me something to think about.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Happy New Year!! What a creative way to start off, eh? Well, what do you expect after staying up with two young kids till after midnight? My brain is pretty much fried today.

But, I couldn't let the first day of 2009 go by without posting something. I mean, so far, all I have is a lame post telling everyone to ignore the blog. Pathetic.

So, in keeping with my usual (as in the stuff I was posting on the blog on my website,, I'll finish up my review of Scott Westerfeld's series. Extras was, in my opinion, at least as good as the rest. I'm not sure I like the turn it took because it seemed a bit disjointed from the rest of the series. But it was very well written and kept me turning pages and not wanting to put it down. This is the kind of sci-fi I love.

I've started a new book by Westerfeld called Peeps. Very different from the Uglies series. This one is definitely for older teens--he does not stick to his clean m.o. as he does in Uglies, It's a vampire novel, but nothing like the traditional ones. Sorry, Stephenie, but so far Scott's got you beat in the vampire realm--its much more realistic and well-researched than Twilight. It definitely appeals to the science geek in me!

I have to say that I've learned one thing about this author--he reads Richard Dawkins. In Extras he refers to "memes" which is a terms created by Richard Dawkins, and in Peeps he dicussed parasites much in the way Dawkins discusses evolutionary effects in The Extended Phenotype. Makes me sad--I love Westerfeld's writing, but I of course do not adhere to anything spouted by Dawkins. I do not want to use my blog to start irrational arguments about the Creation-evolution debate, but a few seconds on my website will show you where I stand on that. End of discussion. I just had to point out that this book does, in fact, have themes that should be considered before reading it. It does give some really cool info on parasites, though--one of my favorite topics of study in college. Yes, geeky, I know, but there's a whole 'nother world out there, and Westerfeld capitalized on it in a very creative way with Peeps.

OK, I can't quite let this go altogether. One of the things that is drilled into the heads of Christian writers is "don't be preachy." It's not an easy thing to do. Most of us write out of a passion for something, be it the gospel, Creationism, a need to support other believers, etc. We have to learn to let our passion show through without standing on a soapbox and that can be difficult. In fiction, the story is the top priority. It was a lesson that took some time for me to learn. I had to cut so much out of my book to stick to the story and not get sidetracked by messages. I believe I've accomlished the right balance now. "Less is more" is definitely an adage to follow when it comes to writing Christian fiction--or any fiction that has an underlying message.

I guess I should get back to my day--it is a holiday after all, and my family awaits.