Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Inspired by a Turtle

Robynn Tolbert, aka The Ranunculus Turtle, has inspired me to post a list in which I was tagged on Facebook. Instead of just sending out to certain tagged people, I'm putting it here, like she did hers.

So here goes. I'm supposed to list fifteen movies that affected me in some way. Not my favorite movies, per se, but those that struck me emotionally.

1) "When Harry Met Sally"--Alright, look at me, breaking the rules with the very first one. This is a favorite movie of mine, but it's because it is SO quotable. I'm not one who easily remembers movie lines, but this one is different. I can remember almost every line of this movie, and it seems there is a quote for every occasion.

2) "The Joy Luck Club"--I resisted watching this movie for a long time. I thought it was going to be one of those the-critics-loved-it-which-means-I'll-hate-it kind of movies. I came home from college one day and started flipping through channels, and Joy Luck Club was on. I was immediately sucked in. This movie did a beautiful job of portraying the roller-coaster that is the mother-daughter relationship.

3) "Funny Farm"--The story of a sports reporter who moves to the country to write a novel, only to discover he's better off a sports reporter and his wife is the novelist. I've watched this movie over and over for many years, and for a long time I couldn't pinpoint the feeling I had at the end. It's a comedy, so why did I always feel kind of down and...longing...after watching it? It hit me, though, one day. Jealousy. It was one of the first indicators to me that I really wanted to start writing.

4) "Nightmare on Elm Street"--I grew up watching old black and white horror flicks on Saturday mornings, so when some friends of mine got the first Elm Street video I was all in. I was fourteen. I could barely make it through, and ended up having nightmares every night for a month. I thought for years it meant I didn't like horror movies. It took a long time, but after seeing....

5) "Silence of the Lambs"--the movie I saw on my first date with my husband. I realized it's not "horror" I have issues with, it's mindless slasher movies. Psychological thrillers and "thinking" horror movies are great.

6) "The Lion King"--the only movie that every made me cry during the opening scene. Oh my gosh, I can't believe I just admitted that....

7) "The Passion of the Christ"--well, if you don't understand this one, there's no point in me explaining.

8) "Highlander"--OK, here I am breaking the rule again. This is just flat-out one of my favorite movies. Not the sequels, not the TV series. Just this one. I love the whole medieval thing, the whole sword thing, the whole immortal thing. And the villain in Highlander--Kurgan--is the best villain ever. "There can be only one!"

9) "Blazing Saddles"--I think this movie makes a statement that the world needs right now. Political correctness has gone too far. It's making us look too closely at race in an attempt to pretend we don't see it. Blazing Saddles looked race straight in the eye, and by mocking it showed us how ridiculous we are for making it an issue. We are people--black, white, red, green, purple, whatever. It's a color, for crying out loud. We can be different colors, and recognize that we are different colors, and still love and respect each other.

10) "The Number 23"--dark and disturbing and wormed its way into the recesses of my mind. Another film that hit that hidden spot of wanting to be a writer--the spot I didn't know existed for so long.

11) "Sid and Nancy"--this one is too hard to explain. If you've seen this movie, your imagination will probably take you to some bizarre places. Some of it might be accurate.

12) "Maximum Overdrive"--I saw this in the theater, and was fortunate enough to be among an audience of people who liked to heckle. It was a blast, listening to all the jokes being thrown out. Sometimes, a movie being awful is what makes it great.

13) "Heathers"--because I am from this generation. And yes, this is pretty much how I felt about "the populars." Not that I'd go to such extremes, of course. Good grief. But going to my twenty year reunion a couple years ago showed me that the popular girls from MY high school are STILL the snobs they were as teens. It made me think how accurate fiction can be.

14) Bram Stoker's "Dracula"--I loved this movie when it came out. Then I actually read the book. Now, I can't get through it. The only redeeming thing it has for me now is Gary Oldman's performance. Everything that made this book amazing was twisted into something rotten for the movie. Sigh....

15) "A Clockwork Orange"--a movie that should be pretty well disturbing to anyone who sees it, yet developed a bit of a cult following. I've seen it a few times, and can't really say I "like" it, but I surely couldn't forget it. And there's a funny story related to it. I was in college, in an Animal Behavior class, and the prof was talking about negative reinforcement. He mentioned "a movie" that illustrated that concept really well, and the words "A Clockwork Orange" slipped out of my mouth, just loud enough for the guy sitting in front of me to hear. Moments later, the prof said that the name of the movie was, of course, A Clockwork Orange. The guy in front of me turned around and looked at me like I was an alien: a mix of amazement, respect for me knowing the answer, and complete weirdness--for me knowing the answer. I will never forget that movie because I will never forget that guy's expression.

OK, there you have it. A dive into the movie mind of Kat Heckenbach. A little comedy, a little touching drama, and a seemingly large portion steeped in shadow and weirdness.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Write It Raw

I have read many blog posts and Facebook discussions lately about Christian fiction and why it seems to be substandard compared to secular fiction. A lot of people--Christians and non-Christians alike--find it contrived, hokey, watered down, unrealistic, and pretty much overall wimpy. There are some amazing Christian books out there, but they are few and far between. Even some of the ones I like very much don't really compare to the truly powerful secular books out there.

Why is this?

It seems that many Christian writers hold back. They are afraid of putting raw emotion into their writing. Partly because so many Christian readers don't want that in their books. They read for "escape" or "entertainment"--they want to get away from the harsh realities of life. I can understand that to a degree. I like fun reads. But I also like to be touched, to be torn part by books.

I just finished reading a secular novel that did exactly that. It's called Hold Still, by Nina LaCour.

It is the story of Caitlin, a sixteen year old girl dealing with her best friend's suicide. Talk about raw emotion. This book holds nothing back. It deals with some serious issues in a touching and believable way. It's beautifully written, full of "voice"...but it is not pretty.

I can't imagine finding a book like this in the Christian section of the book store. Not just because it doesn't even come close to addressing spiritual matters, but because it shows life in all its ugliness--and portrays certain types of people in a way that would never make it in the mainstream Christian market.

What do I mean?

Well, first there is cussing. Yep, the f-bomb to boot. Quite a few times. You know what, though--it's true to the character. She's not being raised in an obviously Christian home. She's sixteen and angry.

Second, there is sex. Not a lot, not in detail, but realistic. It's not shown in a way that glorifies teen sex either. It actually quite well illustrates the dangers of it. But most Christian books would never dare something like this. Which bugs me to no end. Christian romance has no problem with heat and passion as long as sex isn't involved. This book takes it the other way, and shows just how a worldly view of sex distorts what it was meant to be.

Third, there is a gay character. She's not stereotyped. She doesn't seem shoved in there as a "token gay" either like so many TV shows, movies, and other books seem to have. There's nothing in the book that is leading in any way, nothing that screams, "Hey, you must accept this kind of person!" Yet she is real, compassionate, loving, interesting, and necessary to the story. Could you even imagine a mainstream Christian book staying neutral on this? Is there a single Christian book out there that would not use this as a soap box?

I was moved by this book, and nearly brought to tears at times. I'm quite sure many readers HAVE been brought to tears by this book. (I think maybe the only reason I wasn't is that I'd already read a teen suicide book called Thirteen Reasons Why, by Jay Asher, and kinda gotten some of that emotion out of the way already. If you'd like to read my review of 13RW, click HERE.)

My point with this post? When the Christian market starts putting out books like this, books that hit real emotion, that are raw and deep and passionate, that deal with sex and can show it without making it porn, that can work in controversial topics and people without preaching, then the secular market will start taking it seriously.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Medieval Times

I'm finally gaining some energy back after camping for four days. We stayed at a really nice campground right down the road from the Medieval Fair we were attending as part of our homeschool group. Yay for field trips!

Without further ado, here are the photos of the fair. And up-front...no, I'm not in any of them. I'm always stuck with camera duty. :P

We were met at the gate by King Arthur's court:

My daughter was abducted by a band of faeries:

My son was challenged to a duel. He's the one on the left. Little did his tunic-clad opponent know, he's been taking fencing lessons. Yep, my boy won, hands-down. :D

This was a cool ride:

Notice that the chair my son is sitting in is hanging by ropes. Those are attached to what looks like a huge umbrella, which was turned by a huge geared contraption, run by these two guys:

Yes, they run every ride by hand, and build the whole thing by hand. Gotta respect that.

There was a human chess match, complete with sword fighting:

And, of course, the joust:

There's one more really cool picture I took, but I can't share it yet. And, no, I'm not going to tell you why. It's a surprise. But if all goes as planned it will be worth the wait ;).

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

So Much and So Many

I'm going to be honest. Blogging lately has felt like a real chore. Not because I don't want to communicate with you all! But because I just haven't been sure what to put up here.

It's easy when I have things to announce. Lately, though, other than the Chicken Soup story, I haven't gotten any new acceptances. There are some submissions floating around out there, still waiting on replies. And a couple stories that will be coming out next month as well.

Oh, and there are things...happenings....stuff I can't tell you about right now.

Not that I don't trust you. I'm just sworn to secrecy.

You have no idea how it breaks my heart to keep secrets from you! It really does! But some things need time to "settle" before they can be talked about. I'm sure you understand.

I've also been rather all-consumed with editing for other writers. Something I find really fun. The timing was good on these projects because my own writing has needed a chance to simmer before I "submerge" back into it. I already told you about I Am Ocilla, by Diane Graham. Well, I finished critiquing that one. A beautiful story. Oh, my. I am very looking forward to holding a copy of I Am Ocilla in true book form someday. Yes, yes, I am.

Diane is a member of a group called New Authors' Fellowship.

This is a group of authors founded by Keven Newsome, who has written a paranormal thriller called Winter. I've read this one as well, and it's a name to keep your eye on ;).

And since we're on the subject of NAF authors....we CANNOT forget P. A. Baines, author of the newly-released book Alpha Redemption. I have been slack on posting about this book, and I have no excuse that justifies that. The book is wonderful. Check out the awesome cover art:

So there you have it. Maybe it's not having enough to write about, but having too much!

By the by...I'll be posting some clues about those secrets before too long.

(Maybe I already have.)

Thursday, November 4, 2010


I have started maybe five times to post a blog this week. Nothing. Can't think of a decent thing to say that isn't a ramble or a rant.

So, I guess we go with ramble:

If you haven't seen the pumpkins this guy carves, check out James Roy Daley's blog where he posts pictures of Ray Villafane's pumpkin carvings. And if you go to the comments you'll see where I left a link to a video of Villfane that appeared on "Sunday Morning" on CBS.

On that holiday note, let's switch to Christmas. My story "Lights of Hope" appears in Chicken Soup for the Soul: Christmas Magic, which is out in all the major bookstores right now. Here's me posing with the book at my local Borders:

And speaking of books--I posted a review of J.R. Parker's Kestrel's Midnight Song on the Splashdown Review Blog. Check it out. J.R.'s got a lot of talent for a such a young author!

And for another book review by me, check out the Amazon page for Shawna Williams' In All Things. Mine is the first review listed at the moment. You all KNOW, if you have been following my blog for any length of time, that I love Shawna's writing. Yes, it's romance. Yes, it's even historical. But her characterization rocks.

Ahh...what else.

I have read a few other books lately, but unfortunately they really aren't even worth reviewing.

Hm, well, except for the manuscript I'm critiquing right now for Diane Graham. I Am Ocilla. Not published yet, but I have no doubt it someday will be. The title grabbed me ages ago. And when Diane and I finally connected and she said I could read it--well, yeah, I was not going to say no! Loving it so far!

(The above is a concept cover, of course.)

Last but not least, a "Notebook Nugget" that came inside my last fortune cookie. I just love this one:

"Be brave enough to live creatively."

I may have to put that one a t-shirt....