Monday, December 28, 2009

BOOK OF THE YEAR 2009: Shadows of Lancaster County by Mindy Starns Clark

~*~Hey, everyone, to explain--my annual Book of the Year choice doesn't necessarily mean that the book was published in the year I write about it. It just means that I considered it the best book I'd read all year. Hope you guys pick it up and enjoy it as much as I did!~*~

Storyline: Anna Bailey is not her real name, and California is not her real home. She moved from Pennsylvania following a tragedy within the Amish community she lived close to. She hoped to never go back.

But her brother has disappeared, and his wife frantically calls Anna, unsure of who else to turn to. Anna finds herself embroiled in a tangle of DNA experiments, family secrets, and the loving arms of God's mercy as she fights for her life.

My Thoughts: Wow! Mindy Starns Clark may have had typos and grammatical errors in this book, but for the most part I easily overlooked them.

Four words: This. Book. Was. Amazing.

Yes, there were a few things in it I didn't like—one scene is a teen party involving underage drinking and marijuana among other things—however, there were drastic consequences for these actions and they are part of Anna's part that she regrets, which makes her redemption that much more moving.

The tense scenes where Anna tries to figure out what happened to her brother, plus all the interesting facts about DNA research and the Amish community, make this an enthralling read. It's not just a thrilling mystery, it's a science and history book too! Plus the twists she throws in it really knocked me for a loop!

Do yourself a favor—if you want to read a compelling, fast-paced read that is well-written, read this book. I can't recommend it enough!

Rating: Five out of five stars (I just bought it two days ago!)

Also by Mindy Starns Clark: Penny For Your Thoughts, Don't Take Any Wooden Nickels, Dime A Dozen, and The Buck Stops Here (The Million Dollar Mysteries); The Trouble With Tulip, Blind Dates Can Be Murder, and Elementary, My Dear Watkins (The Smart Chick Mysteries); Whispers of the Bayou and Under the Cajun Moon (stand-alones); and The House That Cleans Itself (housekeeping).

Sunday, December 27, 2009

It's a New Year!!

A fresh year, with some beautiful and amazing happenings to look forward to. I honestly can't believe that less than two months, I'll be married and on my way to Michigan with Justin. Yay! Proof positive that dreams can come true!

So, here's some things you can expect from Magical Ink in the next year:

*A new/fixed template: I don't know about you guys, but my header had been giving me fits. So I'll be revamping the blog early in the year if I have time. If not, next fall for sure.

*More focus on speculative fiction: This means I'll be reviewing more fantasy/sci-fi books, or those with a more fantasy-like twist to them. I'll most likely add in a thriller, suspense, or chicklit every now and then if I find one I really, really like and can't resist telling you guys about. But for the most part, prepare yourselves for some amazing tales of knights and dragons! :0)

*A blog series: I have several ideas for this, but I'm not sure which one I'll go with, so the name of the series is TBA.

*A hiatus in March: I'm not sure how long I'll be taking off of blogging in March--I'm guessing if I blog at all, it'll just be an update. :0)

*A new every-other-month Randomness post: You never know what you'll find! Funny quotes, youtube videos, stories, quizzes, surveys--you just never know!

And of course, I'll keep my regular posts too. Looking forward to the adventures of this new year!

~*~Inconveniences are only adventures wrongly considered~*~G.K. Chesterton

Monday, December 21, 2009

Merry Christmas News

Hey everyone, I hope you're having an awesome Christmas season! I am! We had Christmas at my family's on Saturday and Christmas on Sunday with the Tituses. Lots of craziness! I've gotten about 5 pairs of fuzzy or otherwise fun socks--more "writing" socks! I think the best part of Christmas was watching Justin as he opened a gift at my house--one slipper. :0) (He got the other one the next day at Tituses.) I just couldn't resist!

Also, today's been a wonderful day because it's been one year since Justin and I started courting!!! It's been a good one-year anniversary today--and a good, wonderful, crazy year! I can't wait for March, because then it's going to be a good, wonderful, crazy life with Justin! I'm so thankful that it's only a couple more months! :0D

Livie's doing good, she had to get platelets today because her counts are so low. Please keep praying, her counts are pretty much zero and this is the most dangerous time for her right now. I'll keep everyone updated.

And finally...

~*~An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Svior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger."

Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests."~*~

I think that it's amazing that the shepherds told everyone they met about Jesus, who hadn't even died for our sins yet. That's faith! I hope to never get caught up in the wrong reasons for Christmas and to always remember what special event it signifies. As Linus says on A Charlie Brown Christmas, "And that's what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown."


Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The Battle Is Almost Over...

...For Miss Olivia! Thank the Lord, she's done with chemo!!!

Olivia finished with her final chemo round yesterday afternoon and has been at home since! Yes!! I'm so glad for the Tituses. I'm so happy that after a hard, tough year, Olivia can finally be at home, rest, and enjoy being with her family. I'm glad that Tammy doesn't have to try to sleep in between nurses' rounds.

Please continue praying for them as Livie's immunity will go down--that they don't have any infections or sicknesses. Also, she has a bone marrow test in January that will check for luekemic cells, and if it comes back OK, then--Livie is done with cancer!!

Thanks so much for all your prayers this year!

Monday, December 14, 2009

A Christmas of Classics 2009

To me, there are several tings that really enhance the Christmas season. One would be snow, of course, but we don't get a white Christmas very often in southwest Missouri. Maybe next year! (Although in Michigan, they consider it a "brown Christmas" if it's not snowing on Christmas Day.)


Another thing that makes me think of Christmas is curling up somewhere warm (preferably a fire) with a snuggly blanket, a mug of mint hot chocolate or chai tea, and a book--preferably an old book, with thick, yellow pages and that wonderful, musty smell. If you're like me, you wish that they made a perfume called "Old Book" or something! ;0)


So, to celebrate Christmas, every year I'm going to list some books that I enjoy and are my personal list of "classics". Some them really are considered classics, some (probably most) aren't, and some of them might not even fall into the "old books" category.




The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis

Lilith by George MacDonald

When a Man's a Man by Harold Bell Wright

Shepherd of the Hills by Harold Bell Wright

Brewster's Millions by George Barr McCutcheon

Penrod by Booth Tarkington

A Common Life by Jan Karon


I encourage you to check out some of these books. Harold Bell Wright is little known, but some of his books are amazing!! And McCutcheon and Tarkington's books are both hilarious.


(As a side note, we got our Christmas tree up, finally! Yay!)


Merry Christmas everyone!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Something Old, Something New...

Hey everyone, sorry for not posing as usual on Monday. Our internet was having issues, as well as I was gone all day doing something very exciting--wedding gown shopping!!

I actually already found the one I'd wanted online (Beautifully Modest is an excellent site) but the closest store that carried those was in St Louis. So, my wonderful, sweet family made a day of it. We all got up bout 6 and packed everything but the kitchen sink into the Suburban and trundled up to St Louis.

Of course, Mom, Hannah, and I were close to squealing as I tried my dress on and Hannah tried on some bridesmaids dresses. Dad and Josh were slightly bored, especially since after my dress fitting and lunch, us girls decided to do--what else?--more shopping!! Not that we really found much...grr. Do designers have something against wearable long-sleeved shirts for a girl who doesn't like the misses styles but who can't wear juniors?!? Oh well...I guess it's back to layering and hoodies. :0)

So, I got to bring home my wedding dress and it's safely ensconced in a closet. I'd tell y'all more about it but Justin reads my blog. :0) I'm sooo excited!!!!! That makes it so very real to me that we do, indeed, have a set-in-stone date!

Other news: Olivia started chemo again today--the Final Round!!!! Who-hoo! As of this morning she's doing pretty good. Please keep praying fo her during this last round--just a little bit longer until Miss O doesn't have to go through this anymore!

And lastly, I'm so glad it's Christmastime! Finally, a chance to blast Christmas music to my heart's content without someone complaining! I love the Christmas season, I really do. Everything about it is wonderful, and I am so thankful that God gave us a beautiful reason to celebrate.

Merry Christmas!!

Monday, November 30, 2009

The List by Robert Whitlow

Bonus book review, everyone! Next month, I'll be focusing on Christmas, so enjoy the last 2009 installment of my reviews.


Storyline: Renny Jacobson is a bored young Southern lawyer who dreams of enough money to fulfill his (many) wants. When his father dies, he leaves Renny a chest of papers, a post office box in Charlotte, and inheritance in an organization called the Covenant List.


Before long, Renny receives a letter in his post office box calling him to a meeting of the Covenant List. On his way, he meets a another person with interest in the List—a young woman whose father recently died, named Jo Johnson. Renny is immediately attracted to her, but when they meet with the others members of the List, they discover a problem. The Covenant List, formed in the late years of the Civil War, has only been passed from father to eldest son. No women are allowed to inherit their share in the List—which happens to be a Swiss bank account of substantial numbers.


Renny is ecstatic, but Jo cautions him to thoroughly look into the List before joining. Renny ignores her and signs his name into the ledger book of the List. But before too long, he has reason to suspect that the List is more than just a group hiding money. When Jo falls ill, Renny delves into the background of the List—and discovers a centuries old evil waiting to be unleashed.


My Thoughts:

The first half of the List was (I thought) somewhat boring. Jo is a Christian, Renny is not, so there are several conversations about God that seem cliché or awkward. Altogether, it seems like a lot of the first half is stilted and uncomfortable. However, towards the middle Whitlow begins to pick it up—and wow!


This book is all about the power of prayer while fighting spiritual evil. While Whitlow doesn't delve into the spiritually creepiness of it all as much as Peretti or Dekker, there's still enough to leave goosebumps crawling over your arms. And although at first, you may think, "Oh yeah right, no way that could happen", the more you read, the more you realize—this is happening today.


Maybe there's not a sinister List infused with the power of darkness, but there are spiritual battles swirling unseen around us. There are people, Christians and non-Christians alike, caught up in this battle. And for us Christians, we are duty-bound to use our prayers like swords for Christ.


Despite the stilted conversations and the slow first half, the powerful message carries this story along. I'd definitely suggest everyone read it.


Rating: four out of five stars

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Ideas On Opening Sentences

Hey everyone, Mary and Kyleigh requested that I follow up on my last week's post and post ideas on how to make your opening sentences those eye-grabbing one-liners.


Looking at the broadest picture, the first chapter is one of the most important ones in the entire book. Narrowing it a bit, the first paragraph is the most important part of the first chapter, as Jeannine brought up. But just as the first chapter convinces people to read the entire book; just as the first paragraph hooks people into reading the first chapter; so the first sentence irresistibly yanks your reader into the first paragraph...and the rest is history (as long as you write a good story).


*First off, picture the scene in as much detail in your head as you possibly can. What do you see? A room? A castle? What strikes you about it? Think of some kind of description, dialogue, or action that could be put in that setting.


*Description shouldn't be a description of the mundane. It's a description of what pops out of the mundane. Imagine a beautiful ballroom with gilt wallpaper, golden-upholstered chairs, golden everything! Blegh. Big whoop. Now imagine a tattered piece of old red cloth draped over a chair arm. Huh? Where did that come from and what's its significance? Why is it in the middle of such opulence?


Here's a good example, one that Mary left in the comments last week: The sides of the mist-slicked bridge were chest-high and solid, with no gaps or rails through which someone could fall - or be pushed. (Son of the Shield)


OK, that's a normal bridge and a normal description--until you get to those last three words. Whoa! Why would anyone want to push someone over a bridge? What's going on? Why is that significant?


*Dialogue can be a huge attention grabber. I'll admit, I tend to do it too much. Half of my chapters, not to mention my books start with dialogue (as Mary and I have gotten more and more into Daybreak, she's started calling me the "Dialogue Queen." :0)


But it can be very effective! If your opening scene is populated with people, the dialogue can introduce the character immediately and give a reader some insight into his/her personality. It can convey tension or relaxation or whatever the mood of the scene is, just through word choice.


Example: "Don't you dare touch that!" Carrie shrieked.


Why is she shrieking? Who is Carrie? Why is she telling someone not to touch something, and who is that someone/something?


*Action will drag your reader into the scene. This is another one that I like because it introduces the reader to someone right away, similar to dialogue. It also introduces tension because the reader is suddenly dropped right in the middle of this action, and they have no clue of what's going on.


Example: The man is running, running as fast as he can from a shadowy pursuer. (Daybreak)


Why is he running? Who is pursuing him, and what do they want from him?


And something else to remember: Ground your reader in the scene and try to introduce them to the main character no later than the second paragraph. These days, people want to know who to empathize with as soon as possible. Also, we tend to write closer to our characters' pov (deep third person pov instead of omniscient pov).


If you're stuck with and getting tired of trying to come up with a zinger first line, then move on by all means! The first draft is important for one thing--getting your idea on paper. After that, you can sweat and work to get it just right. Maybe in the course of writing, you'll come up with a perfect first line, or you'll have come to understand your setting and characters much better.


Challenge: Brainstorm your first scene and try to come up with an attention-grabbing first line. Let me know how it goes!!

Monday, November 23, 2009


Just a quick drop-in to say "hey" and let everyone know that I'm working on the first sentences post but probably won't get it up until tomorrow. Justin's leaving today to go back to Michigan and (even though it was a glorious four days with him) I'm semi-depressed he has to leave. :0(
However, I'm heartened by the knowledge that we had a wonderful time together with his family and mine. Also, it won't be too much longer until our wedding--we decided this weekend that the Big Date would be March 6th!!! So....I've got a lot of planning to do!! I'll keep everyone updated!

And, Miss Olivia is doing better. Yesterday she was feeling good with almost no fever. But they took cultures from blood in her throat and port site, and both of those are testing positive for staph infection. They were doing new cultures yesterday to make sure the tests weren't contaminated. Please pray for Olivia and her family (especially Tammy--she's worn out from trying to entertain an active 2-year-old in a hospital room!)

Friday, November 20, 2009

Hey Everyone, please pray for Olivia. She was admitted to the hospital last night with flu-like symptoms including a fever of 104. Thanks and God bless!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Opening Lines

Ever picked up a book at random, opening it to the first page, and before you know it, you've read half the book in the store, just because the first line hooked you so quickly?


That's an ideal first line. The opening lines, but especially the first line, of a book is for two things: to capture the attention of the reader and raise story questions.


Take a look at these samples:


In a hole in the ground, there lived a hobbit~J.R.R. Tolkien, "The Hobbit"

This opening snags your attention because you want to know: what is a hobbit? Why do they live in holes? And, since it says "a hobbit" meaning a particular one, what does this hobbit have to do with the Story?

Because it raises Story questions, it captures your attention. Tolkien also answers these questions fairly quickly, but provides more so we are even more interested in the Story.


It is a truth universally acknowledged that a man of good fortune must be in want of a wife.~Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice

Why is the man in want of a wife? Who acknowledges this truth? Moreover, what in the WORLD does this have to do with a book with the heavy title of Pride and Prejudice? Again, story questions. And, it's a fun tongue-in-cheek opening. Sets the stage for Elizabeth Bennett's witticisms.


And some not so amazing openings, including one from a modern book:


Squire Trelawner, Dr. Livesey, and the rest of these gentlemen having asked me to write down the whole particulars about Treasure Island, from the beginning to the end, keeping nothing back but the bearings of the island, and not only because there is treasure not yet lifted, I take up my pen in the year of grace 17--, and go back to the time when my father kept the "Admiral Benbow" inn, and the brown old seaman, with the sabre-cut, first took up his lodging under our roof~Robert Louis Stevenson, "Treasure Island".

Ick! So there's an island, and some treasure. Whohoo. Makes me wonder if this guy is going to be this long-winded throughout the entire book!

Admission: I might be slightly biased on this one because I don't like Treasure Island. However, I think most of you will agree--it's not a great opening line because it reveals the entire purpose of the book. To me, it leaves no story questions big enough to make someone want to read the entire book.

Does it seem presumptuous to tackle one of the "master" storytellers? Sorry, Mr. Stevenson!


The wind howled like a wounded beast in the southwest~Brian Jacques, "High Rhulain".

Hmm. Do tell. Wake me up when the storm's over. Especially since this is--what?--one of numerous Brain Jacques books that starts with a storm.

That isn't to say that I don't like Brian Jacques' books. The Pearls of Lutra is very good, and Mossflower ranks pretty high in my top-favorites list. However, I do get tired of the multiple books opening with storms. Plus, it doesn't bring up any story questions to be answered.

A better one would be, "The wounded otter crouched on the shoreline, ignoring the wind buffeting her fur."


Ever since I first read about the opening sentence idea, my opening sentences are the ones I've worked on the hardest (next to my closing sentences). After all, what author wouldn't be flattered to know that their readers are going through half the book while still in the bookstore?

Friday, November 13, 2009

5th Round

Hey everyone!!! Olivia finished her 5th round of chemo today. She did a lot better than everyone expected with this round--it didn't make nearly so sick as they were afraid it might. The doctor is still deciding whether or not she gets to go home--we sure hope so!!
Thank you for all your prayers during this round.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Women of Valor Series by Elyse Larson

Book 1: For Such A Time

Storyline: Giselle Munier and Jean Thornton were like sisters from childhood. Now, Giselle is a Resistance worker in occupied France, and Jean works with the Red Cross in England. One day Jean hears that Giselle was captured by the Gestapo, tortured for information, then rescued and hidden in France by fellow resistants. Giselle's children, Angie and Jacquie, have been safely hidden on a farm—and no one knows where her husband Claude is.

Jean decides to undergo rigorous training by the British secret service, then head over to France and rescue her friend. But once she's over there, she discovers it's a difficult matter trying to get people out of occupied France. And even if she does succeed, will Giselle and the children be safe in England when there's a traitorous resistant shadowing them?

My Take:

On the technical side, this book wasn't all that well-written. For example, Jean tells her friend Marge her life history near the beginning of the book—even when Marge has known Jean for years. There were a few other technical mistakes, but none that are glaring.

The book dragged on and on between Giselle's rescue and the climax. I guessed the traitorous resistant at his first appearance. The women also have a slight feministic attitude, but that was typical for the time period I would think, since women had to take over the tasks that the men previously did.

But despite all that, it was a mildly satisfying read. I thought the section with Jean's training and rescuing Giselle was particularly well done. All the code words reminded me—it sounds bad to say it—of the old TV series Hogan's Heroes. But I know that it was very true of that time. That section, which comprised most of he middle of the book, was a good spy story.

I sympathized with both characters (though Giselle more). In a few short sections, I was very glad that the author didn't delve into the Nazis' brutality further. And Jean's short spurts of humor were pretty funny although her romance story felt a little thrown-in.

This book was, I think, a fairly accurate portrayal of the WWII times, and it was pretty enjoyable.

Rating: three out of five stars

Book 2: So Shall We Stand

Storyline: War widow Nella Killian, along with her friend Jean, discovered the body of a supposedly disturbed patient from a war hospital in the first book in the Women of Valor series, For Such A Time. It was ruled suicide. A few weeks later, Nella discovers a letter from the soldier in a book her father loaned to the hospital, hinting that the man was fully sane and had stumbled upon a Nazi plot that claimed his life.

Before too long, threats make their way into her hands. Nella decides to leave and go work as a Land Girl (women who took over men's farming jobs) on nearby Westmoreland manor. She's a day's journey from her parents and little girl, but her best friend Peggy Jones teaches the village school. While Nella tries to uncover the plot, she finds herself drawn to Bryan Westmoreland, the lord's son. Despite Peggy's precautions and her own uncertainty about Bryan's motives, she falls in love with him. Then she overhears him plotting with two men. It sounds like he's mixed up with Nazi spies. And one of Peggy's young students goes missing. In the final rush of everything, Nella realizes she should have listened to Peggy. Now she's put her family, Peggy and a young girl in danger.

My Take: This book was slightly more exciting than For Such a Time. Several red herrings are dropped in our way, but for an aware reader, they're not too difficult to figure out. The final twist about Bryan is the easiest one of the bunch. And there were also a lot of clichés and gushing, poorly worded choices.

We're also treated to a subplot about Peggy's troubles with the lady of the manor complaining about the way she's conducting school, and her own little romance with one of Bryan's gentry friends.

It was interesting to realize the potential for Nazi spies in England as well as English spies in Nazi-occupied countries. It wasn't anything I'd given much thought about, which made it for an interesting read. But on the whole, the book didn't ring very true to me. I didn't feel particularly drawn to any of the characters, though I sympathized a little with Nella's bitterness at God because of the death of her first husband. It felt very fake, and without the mystery, we'd be left without any story.

Rating: three of five stars

Monday, November 2, 2009

Enjoying Having Written VS Enjoying Writing

Some author once said that they enjoyed "having written."


I thought, that's not right! How can someone who writes for a living not enjoy the process of writing? Of putting words to paper?


I guess that comes from where my perspective is--which is enjoying it while I'm writing. If I didn't enjoy the physical action of tapping keys on my computer or moving a pen across paper; if I didn't enjoy seeing the scenes of the story unfold in my head like movies; if I didn't enjoy delving into a character's mind to see what drives them--then I wouldn't be writing today.


I honestly don't understand, with the commitments and hardships of writing, how anyone can enjoy having written but not enjoy writing. To me, there is such a joy, especially as my fingers move so fast I can barely keep up with them, and my thoughts flow from my brain to the page faster than I knew I could think.


There are hardships in writing, yes. There are times I want to tear my hair out in frustration (oh, no, wait I can't do that any more--Justin wouldn't like it if I pulled my hair out. :0) )  But without the joy that writing gives me I don't think I could get through the hard times. I'd have thrown in the towel a long, long time ago!


What about you? Do you enjoy writing, or do you enjoy reading over what you have written better?

Monday, October 26, 2009

The Bane of My Existence

Hey everyone!! How's this month been going for you?


It's been a nice, slow month around here, in terms of busyness. But I still can't believe that its time for another update--really, it can't have been a month already, can it? :0)


Justin moved to Michigan this month, as y'all know--and it's been sad and lonely without him. It's also been a wet, drippy, cloudy month, which doesn't help--can you say seasonal depression is here? LOL. I've actually not been too bad, beyond missing my guy. My family is hoping to go visit him soon *crosses fingers* but if not, he has five days off the weekend before Thanksgiving...yay!!! If y'all haven't seen them, hop over to his blog and look at pics from his adventures!


Miss Olivia is doing well. They had concerns about her liver earlier this month, but recent tests indicate that it's doing OK right now. And she's growing back hair!! Tammy said she has about a quarter inch of fuzz on her little bald head. :0) I'm not sure when she'll start the next round of chemotherapy, I'll be sure to update everyone on that. And please pray for her--this is the fifth round and the first of the most intense treatments she'll receive. But thankfully they're almost done!!!


As for writing, it is going slowly. I've been stuck forever on chapter four of The Second Crown and (I'm ashamed to admit) have been neglecting most writing in the worst manner! I think it's because Justin's gone and I've been busy moping... ;0) But I'm getting back to it. Soon I should be out of the rewriting section of TSC and hopefully the editing will progress quicker after that. Rewriting is hard with having to fit everything in, make sure it matches the story, etc...but I will finish it!


So, that's how I've been! And now, I'd better go to bed, because my family has several bushels of apples to turn into applesauce and butter tomorrow--it's going to be a loooonng, sticky (yuck!) day, but I'm sure that I'll appreciate it this coming year (especially the apple butter...mmhmm!)

Monday, October 19, 2009

Movies I Like Better Than the Books

Gasp! Did an author/book junkie really just write that title? Seriously? How could I admit to such a thing? It might be barely acceptable for me to say that I liked a movie that wasn't based on a book, but how could I ever say that there are movies I like better than the books that they're based off of?

Just kidding. We're all allowed our little idiosyncrasies.:0)

Lorna Doone

The book Lorna Doone, by R.D. Blackamore, is an old classic that I loved when I was younger. Recently, I watched the A&E film version of it and then revisited the book. I emerged wondering, How in the WORLD did I handle this? Granted, it was written in the first person pov of a basically uneducated Exmoor farmer in the 1400s. The author does a wonderful job of showing that John Ridd didn't have much schooling. But it created a style that was irritating for me to read. Plus, the movie was much easier to understand, since the author writes some words as if a person with a Westmoor accent was speaking them (think mole-talk in the Redwall books, but much worse).

The Princess Bride

OK, shoot me! Go for it! Yes, I do not like the book version of The Princess Bride by William Goldman.

I just reread it, thinking, "Oh, maybe now that I'm older and my sense of humor has been refined, I'll like it better."

I'm sad to report that though I found Fezzik and Inigo's backstories as delightful as ever, I still didn't care for the book as much. Maybe because, while it includes most of the funny quotes from the movie, they're spread out more, and I liked them one right after the other. Plus I kind of got tired of hearing the "author" breaking in--it slows up the action and just annoys me.

Something I did find funnier this time though--all the parenthetical explanations. (This was after blue jeans...) (This was before Europe but after Paris...) OK, yes, and Westley and Buttercup's dingy, overblown love story is funny, in a way.

But I just like the movie better. Excuse me while I go paint a target on my t-shirt. :0)

So there you have it--the secret confessions of an author. Anyone else want to chime in with their confessions? Is there a book that, for some reason, you just like the movie version better? :0)

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Justin's Job

Hey everyone,

I'd like to ask you to pray for Justin, me, and our families this week. Justin moved up to Michigan Sunday and started his new job today. While I'm super happy and excited for him, and know he's super happy and excited to be getting back into the weather stuff that he enjoys, it's really hard for both of us to be separated like this! :0( Saturday night was a very joyful, yet painful night for both of us.

But Marquette is a beautiful area (from what Justin's said and what I've seen looking through his motel window via webcam...thank the Lord for skype!) so I know that he'll enjoy it up there. And I'm confident that we'll both enjoy the chance, once we're married, to be together in such a pretty place. Just pray we have the patience to get through this time of separation, and that we'll discover new, beautiful ways to support and encourage each other even this far apart.

Also, please pray that Justin would be able to find an apartment up there. I know yesterday was a very frustrating, non-productive search for him.

I love you, sweetheart!

Monday, October 12, 2009

The Vanishing Sculptor by Donita K. Paul

Storyline: Tipper is a young woman with a mother whose mind wanders, an estate to manage, and a grand parrot, Sir Beccaroon, as her guardian. Everyone thinks that her father, the famous artist Verrin Schope, has abandoned them.

Tipper has been selling her father’s artwork to bring money into the household. Despite that, they’re still struggling. Then, inexplicably, Verrin reappears with a couple of wacky companions, his artistic skills better than before, and an urgent quest for three of his missing statues.

My Thoughts: Donita K. Paul has done it again!!

I’d grown to love all of her characters from the Dragonkeeper Chronicles—Kale, Bardon, Swamp-wizard Fenworth, Sir Dar, Toopka—and wasn’t sure I’d like a new book with new characters. But a couple of old friends showed up, much to my delight, and the author kept her old perfect mixture of high adventure and humor. In fact, there were several breathtaking scenes, a few heartwarming moments as Tipper and her father bond, and several exchanges involving Sir Beccaroon or the prissy artist Bealomondore that had me laughing out loud.

One thing I didn’t like (granted, it took up only one sentence of the book): a male friend gives Tipper a kiss on the cheek. Once again, my “unmarried couples kissing” thing.

Some of you might not like the whole “good wizards” and magic element, but I find that Donita K. Paul did very well with it. The good magic follows a very specific set of rules set by Wulder (God) and wizards are evil when they bend and twist the rules. Plus, a lot of the magic done by good wizards involves something useful, light, and fun. To me, that doesn’t make it so difficult as when the good guys consider always consider their magic serious. The part I like least about it is mindspeaking (although there's plenty of humor involved with the mindspeaking dragons), but the other stuff is fine.

And there are dragons. I love dragons! I find Donita's classification of the dragons according to sizes very cool and original, plus the different talents she gives to the minor dragons are always fun to read about (minor dragons are kitten-sized). I honestly wish I could have about a dozen minor dragons. :0)

If you appreciate good fantasy and humor, definitely check out this book and the others by Donita K. Paul (DragonSpell, DragonQuest, DragonKnight, DragonFire, DragonLight).

Rating: four and a half stars

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

4th Round

Hey all, just wanted to let you know that Olivia went to the hospital today to start her 4th round of chemotherapy.


This last round went really, really well--Livie got to come home early in September, after her 3rd round of chemo, and was allowed to stay home until she got a fever--which never happened. Her counts took a while to drop but then popped back up very quickly.


Please pray that this round would go as well, that she doesn't get sick, and that she'll be able to stay home again--it's so much easier for everyone and Livie is so much happier when she's at home.



Monday, October 5, 2009

Late To Bed, Late to Rise...

...accomplishes about the same thing as 'early to bed, early to rise' only at different times. ;0)


Ahh, the quiet solitude of the night....


I think that's when I work best. When the house is so quiet that I'm afraid I'll wake people up with the tapping of my keyboard. When, for the same reason, I stay glued to my computer and don't go gallivanting around in search of a drink, or needing to do laundry or dishes or the million other little things that call. Less distractions, thankfully! :0)


Yes, I'm one of those people. Those weird night-owls. The ones who function extremely well after 6 PM. The ones who detest getting out of bed before 11 AM. OK, so that stretches it for me. I usually get up before 10, even. Just don't expect me to fully wake up for a couple of hours, nor expect me to stay awake if the situation is remotely compatible with a nap (i.e., car ride, lull in the conversation, sitting at a table when no one's talking to me, etc).


Thank the Lord for giving me my daddy's ability to sleep wherever and whenever! :0)


I've never understood how my mom and brother can stand to be morning people. I heard a quote once that said, "Early morning cheerfulness is extremely obnoxious." YES!!! Let me be grumpy until I at least have a hot shower--then you can be as cheerful as you want! :0)


Mom always likes me to get up early and get stuff done. I'm of the attitude of, "What? I'd rather work longer into the day, because as long as I stay up late, there's still the same number of hours to get things done in!" Hehehe. No. Not according to my mom! :0) (Love you, Mumsie!)


Thank the Lord I'm marrying into a family who understands the late-night, late-morning concept. Although I must admit, Mom's slowly turning from a early-morning person to a sometimes-late-morning person.  And I think I've rubbed off on my friend Mary too. Mwahawhaw-haw-haw-HAW! :0D


So, all you late-nighters out there--you rock! And for you morning people--I'm sorry, where did y'all come from?!?!? Just remember, it's not always the early bird that catches the worm...sometimes it's the bird that stays up all night in order to catch the worm!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Some BIG News (Hint: Involving a Job and a Ring)

Well everyone, I have two big pieces of news, one of which I saved until the other happened.

First off, Justin got a call a couple of weeks ago from a NOAA weather office which he'd applied to, asking for an interview the very same day. He interviewed a couple of hours later, and they told him right off he had the job.

Getting a job so quickly is rather unusual--one of Justin's weather-buddies told him to expect about a year to get a job and half a dozen to a dozen interviews. So that was truly good, good news!!! :0)

And this weather office is somewhere, admittedly, I never thought about moving--Michigan! The Upper Peninsula, on the shores of Lake Superior, to be exact!!!

It's going to be soooo cold--and soooo much fun! The UP gets enough snow for snowmobiling (which neither of us have done), skiing (which I have never done) and outdoor iceskating! In the summer there are tons of bicycle and four-wheeler trails, plus some good hiking and camping spots. Plenty of stuff for outdoorsy people!! :0)

I think I'm reading y'alls' minds here; you're asking, "So, when are you getting married?" Which brings us to the second big piece of news....

Justin and I are now engaged!!!!!

He proposed last Thursday night (September 24th) at a pretty little park near Springfield. He'd mentioned that he wanted to go on a date, and my parents offered to chaperone us. And then Justin mentioned that we should go to Ritter Springs Park, since my parents had never been there (we'd gone out there once with Hannah).

So we went out there, and as we're walking down to the bridge Justin was talking about all the stuff he needed to get done before Michigan, and how he hoped we'd get engaged before he left but he wasn't sure, he needed to talk to his parents....and when we stopped on the bridge, I looked away for one second. Then I felt this tap on my shoulder.

I turned around and there was Justin on one knee, holding up a ring, asking me to marry him!!! It was SO COOL!!! And so sweet...He's the world's most amazing guy and I love him so, so much!

It truly has been an amazing summer, with our courtship bringing us closer together through hardships, and now we're engaged! Even though I knew it would happen sometime, it was so wonderful to actually have the ring on my finger and to be able to hold hands and to call Justin my fiance.

Love you, Justin...thank you for asking me to share your wonderful, adventurous life with you!

Monday, September 21, 2009

A Gripe About the Paranormal Fiction Craze

I am so sick of hearing about "paranormal" YA books. Especially vampire books, fluttering and flopping along in the wake of the highly successful Twilight series.


First off, why can't people be original? Feature something other than vampires, if paranormal fiction is necessary to write at all?


And secondly, I'm sickened that Christians are sucked into the mire of these books. No matter that they advocate sanctity of life or whatever. The first I ever heard of the Twilight series was last summer, when a girl in my cabin at Camp Barnabas was reading...I think it was the second one in the series. Anyway. A Christian camp! To say I was mildly shocked is a gross understatement.


What is it about these books that have appeal to Christians? I doubt that most Christians wouldn't be caught dead reading earlier authors of the genre (such as Ann Rice). Just because they happen to advocate something that Christians agree with...gag. It doesn't mean we have to give our whole-hearted support!


The whole idea to me of vampires existing and being "good" is ludicrous. Is our Christian culture so sunken as that?


Back in the days of silent and black and white film, there were the Dracula movies--and books--that portrayed vampires as evil. These were secular horror films that still recognized the evilness of vampires.


"Everything is permissible--but not everything is beneficial. Everything is permissible--but not everything is constructive." ~1st Corinthians 10:23


In my Bible (NIV), that verse is under the heading "The Believer's Freedom." Yes, the Bible doesn't specifically mention vampire or paranormal fiction. Yes, since we are Believers in Christ, and Christ has cleansed us, "everything is permissible." Christ can cover everything we've ever done and will do.


But "not everything is beneficial" or "constructive." How might you be harming yourself by reading these books? Where will it lead? What will it look like to non-believers who see you reading something like the Twilight series and think, "Oh, these Christians, they're just like me"?


The fact is, we're NOT "just like them." We're different, called to be different, marked to be different. We're to be in the world but not of the world.


Don't let yourselves be fooled by this trend. I truly believe that vampires are evil, witches are evil...and so is paranormal fiction, because it focuses on them.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Exposure by Brandilyn Collins

Storyline: Kaycee Raye is paranoid about multiple things. Rollercoasters. Bees. Darkness. Most of all, she’s frightened with the thought that someone is watching her every single instant.


She’d begun to conquer the fear, then her best friend died, leaving a young child behind. For the past year, Kaycee’s fears have taken on a life of their own. Her coping skills no longer help.


And it all starts one evening when she walks into her house and a camera goes off—with no one to press the button. Every one of her fears begin to stack up, paralyzing her. The local police think she’s crazy. Kaycee also has her doubts—until too many things happen too conveniently.


My Take: Wow! I read this book in three hours. Suspense is always difficult for me to put down (and obviously I had way too much time on my hands that day).


This book was well done. Even though it was somewhat short, I connected to the characters, especially the main character Kaycee, well. Kudos to Brandilyn Collins’ ingenious character building schemes!


It was also tense. I don’t think I relaxed a single bit while I was reading it. Definitely not a book I’ll revisit if I’m ever at home by myself right before bedtime.


I think everyone could connect to Kaycee well because she represents the fearful part of us. I mean, I connected with her fears of darkness and bees. And it made me examine why I particularly feared those things—both of mine are pretty tame compared to Kaycee’s. (I dislike darkness because I have poor night vision, and not being able to see things makes me jumpy. I dislike bees because they sting and hurt! Duh! :0) ) And I cheered happily at the end when Kaycee is well on her way to defeating those fears.


A couple of dislikes: description of lots of blood at a couple of points. I know this won’t be a problem for most people. I just happen to get sick at the sight of a lot of blood (and my imagination works too well to read that kind of description). And, it's definitely edgy Christian fiction.

On the whole, though, I really enjoyed this book. If you can handle heart-pounding suspense, go for it!


Rating: four and a half stars

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Favorite Summer Books

One of my goals this summer was to read 25 new books. I made it to 22. Out of all of those, my favorite were The Vanishing Sculptor by Donita K. Paul, Shadows of Lancaster County by Mindy Starns Clark, and 4:50 From Paddington by Agatha Christie.


Here are summaries:


Shadows of Lancaster County: Anna Bailey is not her real name, and California is not her real home. She moved from Pennsylvania following a tragedy within the Amish community she lived close to. She hoped to never go back.

But her brother has disappeared, and his wife frantically calls Anna, unsure of who else to turn to. Anna finds herself embroiled in a tangle of DNA experiments, family secrets, and the loving arms of God's mercy as she fights for her life. 

Genre: Modern-day United States, suspense


4:50 From Paddington: Elspeth McGillicudy did not have hallucinations. Ever. So the sight of seeing a woman strangled in the window of a passing train turns her to her old friend Jane Marple for help. But Miss Marple is far too old to go tottering about the English countryside by herself, so she enlists a young friend Lucy Eyelesbarrow to be her eyes as she sets her mind to solve the mystery.

Genre: Late 1940s England, murder mystery


The Vanishing Sculptor: Tipper Schope manages her parents' estate since her father disappeared several years ago and her mother has a fuzzy mind. Her guardian, a Grand Parrot named Sir Beccaroon, is always trying to help her, but sometimes Tipper just wishes she didn't have so many worries. Then her father reappears with a problem--Tipper sold three of his statues that were made from on of Wulder's Foundation Stones, and because of that all the portals in the world are becoming unstable.

Genre: Fantasy, same world as the DragonKeeper Chronicles (Dragonspell, Dragonquest, Dragonknight, Dragonfire, Dragonlight).


Check out these books if you have the chance, especially Shadows of Lancaster County, even if suspense isn't your normal genre. It is an amazing book!!


PS-Sorry for not posting on Monday--being a holiday it completely skipped my mind.

Monday, August 31, 2009

The End of Summer Adventures...but the Beginning of Others

Well everyone, tomorrow will be the first day of September, and since I'm no longer in school I count that as the official end of summer. It's been cool here the last couple of weeks (mostly 70s through low 80s) which is unheard of for August and I'm loving it! Now if it would just stay this way throughout September...the time for colorful leaves, bonfires with s'mores, hotdogs, and campfire pies, apples, jeans and long-sleeved t-shirts...and closing windows and turning on the heat so I don't freeze in the morning (hint, hint, Mom! :0P).


So what did I get done on my summer adventures list? Not as much as I would've liked to...but still, some good-sized goals.


*Get married

Well, this one was kind of a high reach anyway...which is OK. Justin and I have learned and grown together this summer, and it's been an amazing journey. I wouldn't have traded this summer for anything, Sweetheart!!! I love you!


*Finish Roliwyn

Yes!!! This was another big goal--and I made it! Roliwyn topped out at 101, 675 words. I'd say I just slightly surpassed my word goal, huh? :0)


*Go storm-chasing again

Didn't have to! June 9th, the storm came to us! Justin came over my house, and set up a mini weather station with his ham radio and computer. We had lots of fun listening to the radio, then checking radar, then running outside to try and see the storm moving in (since our house is surrounded by trees, that makes it slightly difficult). :0) Too much fun!

*Make 10 amazing catches in Frisbee

I made it to 13 yesterday in Frisbee--yes!!! Not too bad for a summer's worth of Frisbee games. I'd say my ability to catch hard throws improved this year.

*Introduce Justin to all of my relatives

He's met half of my mom's family and all but two of my dad's family. So that wasn't too bad either...

*Read 25 new books

This was so close to being accomplished! I read twenty-two, as of yesterday. Here's the books I read--and book reviews are coming up of all but the Agatha Christie's and the Mindy Starns Clark books (promise

I'll reread the Mindy Starns Clark books again soon and review them!)

Double Minds-Terri Blackstock
The Genesis of Shannara: The Gypsy Morph-Terry Brooks (reviewed) 7/13/09)
Death On the Nile; 4:5o From Paddington; Appointment With Death; A Murder Is Announced; At Bertram Hotel; The Mirror Crack'd From Side to Side; Pocketful of Rye; The Moving Finger-Agatha Christie
Shadows of Lancaster County; Whispers of the Bayou-Mindy Starns Clark
Exposure; Dark Pursuit-Brandylin Collins
Lunatic-Ted Dekker

City of Ember; People of Sparks-Jean DuPrau
Elisha's Bones-Don Hoesel
For Such A Time; So Shall We Stand-Elyse Larson
The Vanishing Sculptor-Donita K. Paul
Breach of Trust-DiAnn Mills (reviewed 8/10/09)


*Prove to Jake T that I'm not too chicken to go off their rope swing into their pond

When their pond was high enough for swimming, it was way too cold to I guess this will have to wait for a while yet.


Hope y'all had a great summer and accomplished your own goals (and many thanks to Anna from Apricotpie for giving me this idea on her blog True Love Is Hardcore.)

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Higher Than A Kite

Explanation of title: I'M FINISHED WITH DRAFT ONE OF ROLIWYN!!!!!


You know, I'm sure that the only thing that will ever surpass how I'm feeling right now is being married--well, and Mom says having a baby. :0P


Whohoo!!! Today was my deadline, and I started out with one chapter left to write. Incidentally, I'd already written all the chapters through 30, and the epilogue and chapter 32--so this one was right smack dab in the middle! :0D Chapter 31, the climax! WOW! I feel like I was in that battle myself.


What a writer's high! As my friend Mary said, "I think you'll be able to ride this one a couple of days!" I'm so crazy, my brain feels absolutely shot. Seriously. I will either not be able to sleep at all tonight because I'll be so excited, or I'll conk out about 10 because my mind is so overwhelmed. I haven't been excited like this in a writing sense since the WftS (Writing for the Soul) conference!!


I honestly can't believe that I'm 2o and have 2 books on my hands--all in various stages of editing, but hey! They're still 2 books! And multiple other book ideas, my next two planned out, etc. This is so weird to think about.


All in all, so far this has been an amazing good-news week! Besides finishing Roliwyn on deadline, we found out that Livie has been accepted into the St. Jude's program in Springfield, much closer! (St. Jude's is a good hospital for children and they and a Springfield hospital have gone together to create this program.) And, Justin now has a (temporary) job roofing...he had his first day today and is sooo tired out. We're still waiting to hear about a meteorology job. Whohoo! It's been a good week, compared to some!




OK, next writing goal: have The Second Crown I; The Quest finished by the end of this year and ready to ship out to publishers.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Short Writing Update

This is going to be a very short post--just thought that I'd let you know that I've been working like a madwoman on Roliwyn. That book is occupying all of my awake hours whether in a physical sit-in-front-of-the-computer-screen-and-write way, or in a mental where-am-I-going-next way. I passed my goal of 90,000 words with a whoosh and am at 94,000 currently. I have 2 more chapters excluding the epilogue (sorry, Mary, I said including the epilogue at Frisbee on Sunday but I'd forgotten an important plot point).

My deadline is Wednesday, August 26th, 2009. Self-imposed, that is. That will be the 2nd year anniversary of working on the book.

Now, you may ask: why in the world is she writing this blog post when she should be working on Roliwyn?

My answer: I'm wondering the same thing! :0)

Have a great week, y'all!

Monday, August 17, 2009

My Thoughts on Social Networking

I've had I-don't-know-how-many people tell me, "You should get Facebook." Now, Twitter seems to be the big thing too.


I don't have a problem with Facebook most of the time, as long as people use their time on it wisely. However, I know families where everyone has a Facebook, and they tend to spend more time on the computer than interacting as a family. And failing finals just because you were on Facebook all night playing Mafia? That's just plain irresponsible.


It's also been lauded as a wonderful promotional tool for authors. On Rachelle Gardner's blog not too long ago, some authors reported seeing their blog traffic jump--even to 75%!!


Personally, though, I don't know that I could get a Facebook. The more I hear of it, the more fun it sounds. I've always had a weakness for playing games with friends. And chatting with them.


It's just that email, regular internet surfing, and my blog are distractions enough for me (like right now, while I'm writing this blog I should really be working on Roliwyn). And I have this awful habit of checking email every five minutes, unless I just leave it open in the tab bar so I get an alert when new messages come in. Not that many messages come in anymore, since everyone's on Facebook instead of email. Hey pals, don't forget about me! :0)


But it also seems kind of impersonal to me. You're posting up stuff that every one of your "friends" can read instead of taking the time to personalize the messages to all of your buddies.


An editor at the Writing for the Soul conference I attended in February told me that if I was seeking publication, I should be a disciplined writer enough to ignore Facebook even if I had it. But even disciplined authors who have multiple books published confess that it's a temptation.


And it would be one more "thing" to do on the computer, tempting me away from the life I'm determined to lead--as an author, yes, because that part of me can never change. But there are other callings I have in life--friend, daughter, sister...before too long, wife....and in the future, mother. God has given me all these callings and I really don't feel like I can truly obey Him unless I follow all of these and also take care of my health.


Which means not staying up until five a.m. on Facebook. :0)

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Book Review: Breach of Trust by DiAnn Mills

Storyline: Breach of Trust by DiAnn Mills is a romantic suspense, with a bit of a different twist.


The protagonist, Paige Rogers, is the librarian in Split Creek, Oklahoma, a tiny little town in the middle of nowhere.


We immediately assume she’s different than most of the folks around her—for one thing, she carries a Beretta pistol in her car. For another, she severely hates the Republican running for governor’s office, Daniel Kreary. And despite some obvious advances from the town’s handsome football coach, Miles, Paige repeatedly speaks of her disinterest. She spends her days working at the library and helping her friend Voleta balance her checkbooks.


Then we discover she’s an ex-CIA operative who was on the same team as Kreary. They went through a horribly botched mission that left Paige in the hospital. She discovered that Kreary had sold out to the enemy. After finding out that she knows his secret, Kreary blackmails her into leaving the CIA, taking on a new identity, and living in this tiny little town.


And now, he’s after her again.


My Take: I’m a fan of anything suspense. This was a bit more romance than I usually enjoy. But it was a decent read. There were just a few things I disliked.


One—I dislike it when couples in books kiss before they’re engaged, especially Christian couples, without extenuating circumstances. A kiss is a sacred thing, not something we should throw around to anyone.

However, I enjoyed watching her relationship develop with Miles. You really gotta love somebody to get on a Harley with them!! :0)


Two—Paige wonders about her role as a CIA operative and a Christian. At one point in the book, she thinks about her former methods of getting information from men with disgust. But a couple chapters later, the author has her in a short, tight dress and flirting with a man for information. To me, this was an unbelievable step for Paige to take—especially since a few pages before, she’s irritated with her friend Voleta because Voleta’s wearing tight, revealing clothing.


So technically, there were (I felt) a few flaws in the storytelling. But I did appreciate that the story made me think about the danger CIA operatives—and others—go through to keep our country safe.


I think this was a pretty good book. I’d definitely recommend it. It has some endearing small-town scenes in it, a pretty good plot, and a

couple of surprising twists. Enjoy your reading!


Rating: Four out of five stars

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Update on Olivia

Hey everyone

Thanks for your prayers. Livie's improved some over the last couple of days. However, there are some things she still needs prayer for. She's not vomiting because they have her on a nutrition IV. Her gut and lungs are inflamed from fluid leaking into them because her blood can't retain fluid, and her blood can't clot at all. They have her on medication for all of these problems, but it's better than they were thinking yesterday. They think that these problems were caused by the chemo treatments, and once her counts start going up, she should improve. She's also off the pain IV.

Justin, Hannah, and Jacob are up there with Tammy and Livie right now. Justin said this afternoon that other than being a little swollen from the extra fluid, she's pretty much normal little Miss O. I guess one of her newest things is to grunt and blow raspberries at the nurses to let them know they're not welcome. :0) When they put a sponge inside her mouth to wet it this morning (she's not allowed to drink or eat, and the IV gets her everything she needs) she bit off half of the sponge...still being ornery Olivia!!

Please continue to pray for this goofy little girl!

Monday, August 3, 2009

Urgent Prayer Request for Olivia

Hey everyone,


Olivia went back to KC last Wednesday for chemotherapy. This round was supposed to be a tough one, and they expected flu-like symptoms. The flu-like symptoms are almost constant right now, and she's on an pain meds IV drip because she's in constant, horrible pain. They're also giving her antibiotics because her immunity level is down, and the doctors have ordered CAT scans for her chest and tummy to make sure there aren't any other problems.


Please, please pray. They're very worried about her right now.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Writing Daybreak part 2: My Cast

Mary posted a blog today about her characters in Daybreak, the urban fantasy novel we're co-authoring. So I thought I'd do the same. Check out Mary's blog to get an idea of her characters!


~Brehlia: a precise, sarcastic 20-year-old, Brehlia is studying hard to become a Judge, one of the lawmakers of the land. She's driven by a desire to defeat evil. Her family is dead, all from murder, and she wants answers. That's what leads her to meet Shelt and Shelt's fence, Paran.


~Linx: Linx used to be a slave/thief, owned by one of the best crimelords in Anjier. But, hating the life that they lead, he and three friends escaped. Through various adventures (soon to be chronicled in Nightfall) they meet up with Mavrik, who convinces them to help him with the Veritas Resistance.


~Garrett: Brehlia's brother's best friend, the Warrior Garrett is the only one she feels like she can turn to. He knows and exploits this. He lies to Brehlia and misleads her in her search for answers, because he's convinced that if she knew the truth about him, she'd never forgive him. Plus, he'd have to kill her too, and he really does care enough about her not to want to do that.


All these people are fascinating to write about. It amazes me to unfold their story, like watching a flower bud open day after day--there's always new surprises. Just like with any of my characters.


OK, now I have to run--Mary just emailed me the 4h chapter in Daybreak. YAY!!!!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Writing Daybreak

It's so annoying to be stuck on a wip when you're sooo close to finishing!!!! I have only a few more chapters in Roliwyn and then I may add a second completed book to my resume. :0)


However, the last few weeks of stuck-ness hasn't yet resulted in too much frustration. I've been busy on another project, the result of my writer friend Mary and me putting our orchestra Friday writer's conferences to good use a year and a half ago.


We devised a world called Anjier. It's tropical, so the people use solar power, making it an urban fantasy world of sorts. We have regular swords, crossbows, switchblades, and a slew of weapons we made up (lirenswords, ankerons, rulknives, karknives...). They had buslike vehicles called vecs and cool solar-powered motorcycles. We focused on the country of Menaa, particularly the capitol city of Reluan. Interesting events are happening right now in Reluan...particuarly, a rebellion called the Veritas Resistance by the members of it and the Resurrection Rebels by its enemies.


I came up with two girl characters, Brehlia (studying to become a Judge) and Shelt (a thief). Mary came up with the idea of telling the story by switching between their povs every chapter. To make it fair, we asked our friend Wyatt to pick a number between 1-10, and whoever was closest to the number got to write Shelt's character (because naturally we thought she would be the funnest one). Mary got Shelt. I was slightly disappointed until I realized Brehlia's possibilities.


We came up with a rudimentary plot, some other characters, and I began writing a story for two of the other characters to explain how they got to where they where. We came up with a name for it--Daybreak, because it was about a country breaking out from the nobility's oppression. Then for some reason, it petered out. Mary became involved in writing her first fantasy novel, Son of the Shield, and I cracked down on starting Roliwyn.


Not too long ago, however, I emailed her and asked, "Whatever happened to Daybreak? I looked at our notes the other day, and we had some good stuff going."


"I wondered that too," she replied.


The long and short of it was that we emailed each other some notes, fleshed out the storyline and the characters, and I dashed out a first chapter in Breh's pov and emailed to her. She responded with the second chapter, in Shelt's pov...and now I supose that means I probably need to get her the third chapter... :0) We also have ideas for a prequel (Nightfall) and a sequel (Eclipse). So I guess in all we'll have a trilogy...I <3 trilogies so it works perfectly! :0)


I'll keep y'all posted on Daybreak as well as Roliwyn.


God Bless!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Book Review: The Gypsy Morph by Terry Brooks

*I'm starting something new--the second Monday of every month will be a review of a book. I'll try to do some fantasy, but it will also be many suspense/thriller type books. I'll also feature it on my shelfari widget at the side. Enjoy!*


Storyline: The world as we know it is falling apart. Poisoned by years of nuclear, the earth is slowly dying. Strange creatures—Lizards, Spiders, and Croaks among others—have emerged, former humans that are mutated by the radiation. And demons are determined to wipe out humanity forever.

Out of it all, an elf-boy named Kirisin has come into possession of the magic known as the Elfstones. He must place the elvish city into an Elfstone known as the Loden and transport it to a safe place.

A boy named Hawk discovers that he is the Gypsy Morph, a creature made of wild magic, who is the only hope for humankind.

And two Knights of the Word, Angel Perez and Logan Tom, are tasked with defending these two boys, bringing them together, and helping them to a place of safety.

Tracking them all is Findo Gask, a demon with a horde at his command.

My Take: To say I was mildly impressed by the technical part of this book is an understatement. Brooks’ writing is amazing—he knows how to drop one character’s storyline in the middle of an exciting part, to pick up another character’s storyline. He flawlessly sticks to his viewpoint character in scenes. And to credit his editors, I noticed no spelling or grammatical mistakes.

But the storyline was…OK. It was an interesting twist on apocalyptic times. This is the third in a series, so I know I was missing parts of the story.

But I think the main thing I disliked was the fact that Brooks’ writing is incredibly dark and humanistic. There are demons, but there is no supernatural “good” being to counteract them—we only have magic that both sides can use.

Brooks’ worlds (both in the Shannara books and his Landover series) revolve on magic. If I’m reading books with magic, I prefer ones like Tolkien, where magic is only a tool, and the good guys use it as little as possible. Plus, there are differences to Gandalf’s magic versus the Balrog’s. There’s no difference between Logan and Angel’s and Findo Gask’s.

However, Brooks had a conversation between Logan and Kirisin that I found extremely interesting. In one scene, Logan abandons his staff to rescue Kirisin using only his sneaking skills. That, Logan explains, is because he wanted to prove to himself that he didn’t have to use the magic. Logan explains that their magic (Kirisin’s Elfstones and his Word magic) is an integral part of who they are. However, they must be extremely careful with it, because the more they use it, the more it consumes them.

“It [the magic] erodes the defenses you create to keep it from overwhelming you, from stealing your soul. Do you think I exaggerate? Think again. Magic can do that. It does do that. It is an addicting, corrupting influence, and the more you use it, the more it makes you want to use it.”

Sounds very, very truthful to me.

While I dislike Brooks’ stories for having such a huge magical element in them, I admire the fact that most of his writing is connected and interwoven. That said, I was still not impressed with the storyline.

Rating: two out of five stars

Friday, July 10, 2009

Writers Aren't Mathematical

LOL, read a funny thing two days ago on Mary DeMuth's blog, in an interview with Randy Ingermason.


Mary was asking Randy what three pieces of advice he would give to authors. His third piece of advice was something like:


"Most authors can't count, so if you only give them two points, they probably won't notice."


How true is that last statement! :0) Of course, not Randy Ingermason--he's a physicist. But that would definitely fit me. I can't do anything with math beyond simple addition and subtraction in my head. I can't even add a long string of two-digit numbers together on paper very well!


Now Justin can add as fast as anyone could want! He's so extremely smart in math and science, I'm slightly jealous. ;0)


Anyway, hop over to both Randy and Mary's blogs at some point. I can't do Randy's Snowflake method of building a story, but he does have a lot of other good stuff, and Mary's blog is full of useful information!

Monday, July 6, 2009

Fourth Madness and Homecoming

Hey all! Hope you had a fun-filled Fourth of July!!

Friday, the 3rd, we played Frisbee in the morning, then went over to the H's house (Si, Joanna, Jerusha) for lunch and games. A bunch of us played Apples to Apples--it may be simple, but I absolutely love that game!! Words, y'know. ;0) Hannah (my sister) got Jake pretty good; for ... she put in the word "tractor" and it had just the desired effect. It made Jake irritated!


Then some of the older kids (Justin, me, Joy, Si, Monica, Rob, Josh, Sarah, Jake) went to I Love America, a big celebration thingy put on by the James River Assembly of God church. There wasn't much to do but walk around, which we did, and listen to the bands playing. W watched one band, Press Play, on the big screens they set up. Ick. Josh and Si just critiqued Press Play's performance the entire time, so that's what made it worth it standing there.


Then the Ts and I headed over to their grandparents for supper, and we watched the ILA fireworks from there. Good stuff! Explosions, pretty colors--yes, Fourth of July is the only time I turn into a pyromaniac! Unfortunately my camera has decided to be an uncooperative little beast, so I have no pics. That was a very late night, since Josh wanted to stay for the Leeland concert (lucky!) and the traffic out of ILA was horrible.


Then last night we had the S's, T's, Rachel and Colin C, and part of my dad's family here for a real Fourth celebration! Sort of...we played Frisbee, got hot and sweaty as usual, but after supper it really cooled down and even rained, so the boys and their explosive toys kinda got a little damp.


For Miss Olivia, good news!!! She got to come home yesterday! She has another bone marrow aspiration Wednesday, so they'll go back up to KC then, and depending on her counts she'll either get to come back home for a couple more days or start another round of chemo. I'm so happy that God allowed her to come home for a bit!!


Roliwyn is going super well. I'm at 81, 000 words approximately, only 9,000 more to go! Yes!! And it's just picking up the pace on being written. I wrote  2 1/2 pages Saturday in 30 minutes!


I can't believe that my twentieth birthday is just around the corner...eeek! I can't be THAT old, can I?!?!? :0) Random interesting fact: I believe that I will be as old as it took Walt Disney to make Snow White. Yes, yes...a store of random things doth an author's mind make...


God Bless! :0)

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Consuming Time

Writing is all about time. Time you’re willing to invest in spinning a tale that may or may not be published, according to the whims of your editors. Time that you’re willing to give up something else in order to write the tale that may or may not be accepted according to the whims of your editors.

That paints a pretty bleary picture, doesn’t it?

I think that people spend far too much time on their writing. There’s the blog that must be posted every day, or every other day. There’s Twittering and Facebooking that must be done. There’s that article to attend to, and this essay, and blah blah blah. Plus, nowadays writing several books a year is normal!!

Four books a year?!?!?!? I’ve only been writing seriously for 7-1/2 years, and I used to finish a book a month when I was 12. How? By forgoing almost all family and play-time, parked on my computer pounding out words, and producing truly, truly inferior work. That only lasted about six months. I was soon sick of sitting, and I discovered that I really wanted to be with my family—to have human interaction. I needed it.

I think that was the genesis of my social-butterfly side. ;0)

It took me three and a half years to complete the first draft of my first "real" book. By real, I mean no plagiarizing, no 2-D characters, no artificial plot contrivances. To date, I'm still working on the editing for The Second Crown.  This edit is going to be my final draft, and then hopefully it will find a cozy home on a publisher's desk. I've been willing to invest a lot in The Second Crown, but there were also other things I invested my time in, willingly or unwillingly. Piano lessons, schoolwork, orchestra, Frisbee, H2Os, making a movie, just hanging with friends, emailing, talking on the phone, blogging, watching movies, being with my family.

Now that I know my writing processes a bit better, my second book, Roliwyn, looks like it's going to be first-draft complete in two years, or a little over. And while some things have been dropped from my list, others, like my writing lessons and my courtship with Justin, have hopped onboard. Some things, such as spending time with Justin and his family and my family, now take priority, which is as it should be. 

I think our culture is focused too much on "quantity over quality." Seriously. Four books a year? C'mon! No one can write like that and produce serious quality work.

Example: Ted Dekker's books that come out last year; Adam, Renegade, Chaos, Kiss, Sinner...and me out here, I can't remember the last one. Anyway, I read all of them. In fact, I think I've read almost all of Dekker's books now. And while he still remains one of my favorite authors, I think that the quality of his writing went downhill. Especially when I finished Sinner. It just didn't seem to have to same zip and bite as a regular Dekker novel does. I, Thr3e, or Saint...creepy!! I think my favorite one that released last year was Kiss. It was a lot more like Blink, my favorite ever Dekker novel. But even Kiss didn't seem as well-rounded to me as Blink.

And I know there are other authors who do the same. My point I guess is, we're investing time into quantity of work, not quality. When I'm a published author, I hope to write, homeschool my kids (eventually), storm-chase, have plenty of hang-out time, take care of my house, etc, still be able to get a decent amount of sleep, and not have to take injections of caffeine every morning.

This is something I'm adamant about...I'm going to take a couple of years to write a book if I have to. I hope to stay ahead in this, and maybe by the time The Lerem Trilogy is published, I'll have several other books to hand in (if the publishers wants them) or shop around. The point is, I'm not only going to be a writer. That's not going to be my main identifier. I'm also going to be a friend, a wife, a homeschool mother, a daughter, a sister, a child of God.

Yes, God has called me to write. I'm going to. But he's also called me to be many things. I'm going to invest time in all of them. And I encourage you to do the same.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Livie's Doing Better

Hey guys, Livie's doing better this morning. Justin said they have her temperature down, and she's able to rest. No word on if they know what caused it. Thanks for the prayers!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Prayer For Livie

Hey all,

Livie developed a high fever today. This is going to set her back a bit on her treatments. They're doing everything they can to figure out why she got a fever, and also giving her platelets to boost her clotting abilities before her bone marrow aspiration tomorrow. Please pray for everyone, especially Bob and Tammy.

Also, she's not going to get to come home as soon as we thought, because once her platelets bottom out, they stay in a sort of "danger zone" for up to a couple of weeks. Livie's birthday is coming up this Friday, so I know it's going to be very difficult for everyone to miss her b-day.

Thanks y'all for your prayers.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Good News For Livie!

Hey everyone, good news for Miss Olivia!! Justin told me yesterday that the hospital said she could come home for a few days after her platelets rise a bit more. She can stay at home until her platelet level rises above a thousand, then she'll go back for more treatment.
This round of chemo went as good as possible, so thanks for all your prayers!!
(And sorry I haven't been posting much this's been a wild week, plus my Windows Live Writer isn't working for some odd reason.)
Check out Tammy's latest post on the Caringbridge site.
God Bless!

Friday, June 12, 2009

Update on Livie

Yesterday Livie had an IV port in her chest put in today, plus a spinal tap and a shot of chemo in her spine. Justin told me this morning that even after a restless, tough night, Tammy said that Livie seemed to be doing OK. She was eating and signing and seemed to be in less pain. They put an IV of chemo in her port today.

We're going up to see Bob, Tammy, and Livie tomorrow. Please pray for all of us--it's going to be so hard to see Livie hurting!!! Sarah's going to stay with Tammy and Bob's going to come home.

Within the next week and a half, Livie's going to dip down, and her immune system is going to basically shut off because of everything going on in her body. They're going to have to be extremely careful so she doesn't get sick, now or then. Please pray that she'll have an as easy as possible time with the chemo.

Thank y'all so much for your prayers so far. It's very comforting to know that our brothers and sisters in Christ are wrapping everyone in prayer.

God bless!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Prayer Request For Miss Olivia



Well, the news came yesterday late afternoon--Miss Olivia, Justin's little sister who has Down Syndrome, has leukemia (AML). Child leukemia is easier to cure, but it's still cancer...and it's still hard to go through.

This has been a possibility because of her weak immune system. Lately, Miss Livie's been having trouble with being sickish, and her blood cells count has been super low. They thought that changing her diet helped, but then her platelet count dropped like crazy. After several blood tests, and a trip up to Kansas City to get a bone marrow test, it was confirmed yesterday that she had leukemia.

Tammy and Bob took Livie to a children's hospital in KC today, and from the sound of it it's been one frustration after another. They were going to put a central line for a chemotherapy IV into her chest today, but her platelets were too low. When they tried to do a blood transfusion to get her platelet count up, she was too dehydrated from not having anything to eat or drink most of the day in prep for surgery.

Tammy's planning to stay with Livie through the treatment, which means 5-6 months of staying up in KC. Bob's going to go back and forth so he can try to get some work done. All the kids (Josh through Jonah) are staying at the house. Josh is working and Justin is trying to get a job and Sarah should go back to school this fall (though I don't think she will).

I'm planning on being there, just to help out, make meals, whatever needs to be done. I also want so hard to support Justin, and just be someone he can turn to when he needs to. I know I'm going to need to lean on the Lord so I can be strong for Justin--because I'm going to have to push aside some of my wants for this. The biggest one is even just thinking about moving our wedding plans aside, or changing them. It's not about us. I'm not dwelling on the wedding plans and stuff much, because it's not the important thing here. Olivia's needs and the T's needs are the extremely important thing. But I know, broken person that I am, that I will have days where I'm wanting to be selfish. Please pray that Justin and I will both have the Godly strength to push past our own selfishness.

And please, please pray for Olivia's healing. It makes me sick to think about her going through chemo. I love the little goofy gal like crazy.

She's such a little sweetheart, I honestly don't think anyone could spend 5 minutes with her and not come away loving her for the rest of their lives.

If you'd like to see updates from the Ts themselves, they have a site set up for Miss Livie here.

God Bless!!

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Christian Fantasy Is Rising!!!

When I was at the writer's conference, I asked people what they thought Christian fantasy publishing would look like in the future. Most said a variant of, "It won't be as popular as other genres, but it will rise a bit."
Correct me if I'm wrong, but there are already many Christian fantasy/sci-fi/spec fiction stories being published. One of my best friends, Mary, has had a fantasy poem, "The Knight On the Old North Shore" published with Mindflights. I don't particularly like Mindflights, because they tend to publish edgier/weirder stuff than I like to see from a Christian publication. However, the important thing is that it's OUT THERE.
I know an editor named Jeff Gerke started Marcher Lord Press, which is a small POD publishing company specializing in Christian fantasy--once again, they seem, from what I've looked at on the website, to publish more edgier stuff.
I also researched it yesterday online and discovered that there's more Christian fantasy out there than even I thought--however, most people get fed up with traditional publishers not accepting fantasy, and decide to self-publish it.
But there is hope yet!! I know for mainstream Christian fiction, there's a trend toward fantasy especially in the children's fiction market. Sharon Hinck's The Sword of Lyric series is the only fantasy that NavPress, to date, has published. (And I personally love the middle one in the series, The Restorer's Journey. Someday on Shelfari I'll write a good review on it). Wayne Thomas Batson (Door Within Trilogy), Brian Davis (Oracles of Fire), and Donita K. Paul (The DragonKeeper Chronicles) are all teen/young adult fantasy writers with a Christian viewpoint, and Donita and Wayne have been published by two big Christian companies (Thomas Nelson and Waterbrook). And some of the big companies are getting into graphic novels and manga, both of which seem to predominantly be in the speculative genre.
I once read somewhere (I have no idea where) that an editor said something like, "Many of the young people I meet who are writing are writing fantasy." That's quite a trend. I know my generation is growing up on it--I know several young men who that is all they will read, and I know many others kids who show a preference for fantasy. In my area alone, there are three young adults who are writing Christian fantasy (myself, Mary, and a girl Mary knows from orchestra).
The popularity of fantasy is showing-I know this is a secular example, but look at the massive popularity of books like Christopher Paolini's Eragon series. For the Christian example, Brian Davis, Wayne Thomas Batson, and Donita K. Paul are all very popular writers.
Studies show that women of empty nest years are the ones who predominantly read. Once my generation hits there, gone will be the days of prairie romances. We'll be filling our minds not with wide open grasses and sod houses, but swords and castles. Well, mostly. I'm sure that there will still be work for you other genre writers. :0) (OK, I'll admit, I do like reading a good thriller or mystery or romantic suspense, and even a comedic romance/chick lit or two. Straight romance...ehh, I'm not so fond of it right now. That may change sometime, but somehow I kind of doubt it).
So yes, I believe that the market for Christian fantasy is rising, and rightly so. I do unfortunately think that publishers who accept fantasy are looking for something much too "new", which leads to very strange writing at times. But, because everyone is trying to do something "new", that opens it up for more "traditional" fantasy authors, like my style, which I believe is classified as epic/high fantasy. The tradition of The Lord of the Rings and The Chronicles of Narnia, for those less sub-genre savvy. :0)
I personally think that J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis are the best Christian fantasy authors ever, and that no one can beat them (although admittedly F.W. Faller in his Portals of Tesslandria series does touch upon some of Lewis and Tolkien's genius). And I think that, even as fantasy rises in popularity and authors come up with very good "new" ideas, that type of fantasy, as well as just the speculative genre in general, is going to hold the hearts of generations to come.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Some Pics to Make You Smile

Mom took this some time ago, and its my computer background right now. The flipflops on the left are Justin's, and on the the right are mine. Yes, he is seriously that much bigger than me. :0)

Miss Olivia, Justin's little sister who has Down Syndrome. Isn't she soooo cute??!

Sarah T took this of her two youngest brothers (Noah, the one on the left, and Jonah) on their family vacation in May. Noah has the "Joe Cool" thing down perfectly!

Yes, this is Justin's immediate family (and me...I love big families!!). :0) Let's see, how to introduce everyone...OK, Ben is on the far left in the green shirt. Next to him (salmon-colored shirt) is Hannah. Jake is right behind Hannah. Tammy (Mrs. T) is on Hannah's right, and on Tammy's right is Sarah. The two little cute guys in front of Sarah and me are Noah (blue plaid shirt) and Jonah (orange plaid shirt). The tall guy behind Sarah and me is Josh. On my right is Joseph (green striped shirt) and on Justin's right is Bob (Mr. T) and Olivia.

Monday, June 1, 2009

So Much More to Do!!

I started going back and looking at The Second Crown the other day. Since Roliwyn is almost finished, I've been thinking about ways to improve TSC when I start editing it. Unfortunately, I think God had a few more in-depth ideas than just some simple pov and dialogue tag edits. :0S
It started out when I got an idea about a week ago on something that had been bothering me for a while--why are they all fighting about this one fiefdom, Greenhalle? Then it popped into my head. They're concerned because in Lerem (the fantasy country) the nobles' influence in the court is directly proportional to the amount of land they hold. Hence, since Greenhalle is the second largest fiefdom in Lerem (next to Rege, the king's fiefdom) it is the most important piece of land a noble could possess.
So far, so good right? Well, you know how when you watch popcorn start popping in one of the old poppers, and it's just one kernel, then another, then another, then all of a sudden a whole bunch start popping like crazy? That pretty much describes my brain these past few days. One thing led to another...which led to another...which led to infinitum....
I know that these changes are for the better. I know that they'll allow me to make a tighter, more intriguing story. But doggone it! I want to be done with TSC!!! And the book just won't die! :0)
I know that there comes a point when you have to say, "That's it. It's as good as it's going to get." But I feel like I haven't reached that point yet. In fact, I know I haven't reached that point yet. So I, griping and complaining, said, "OK, OK. I guess these changes have to be put in to make a better story. Fine. I'll just make The Second Crown my life's work!!" :0) Just kidding. I'm sure that reworking the story while I edit it will keep my interest up. I actually needed something to boost my interest in it...I've been dragging my feet on Roliwyn because I said that once I finished the first draft on it, I had to go back to TSC and finish editing. And I'm soooooo tired of TSC. So maybe revamping the story a bit will keep my interest going long enough to get it edited.
So, hopefully, hopefully soon I'll be able to proclaim on this blog: "The Second Crown is finished! Done! Forever and again finalized!" Then will come editing Roliwyn, and shopping the Lerem Trilogy (for lack of a better title) around to editors as I begin work on NightSword. Then after NightSword comes Downfall and Blackwing's Revenge (my newest additions to my Absor Chronicles series, which tells the history of my world Absor and at this point contains two trilogies [The Elyar Trilogy and The Rangers of Truen trilogy] as well as a series of eight [The Guardian Sagas] and six or seven stand-alones).
Sound like I have my work cut out for me? You bet! And I wouldn't change it for anything (despite some declarations to the contrary you may hear once in a while...) :0)

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Adventures Await!

Roliwyn Update: I wrote over 2,00o words in three days (at Josh and Hannah's end of the year orchestra concerts, which went well btw). So I am now at 72,511 words in Roliwyn! Whohoo! Only 17,489 more words to go and I'll hit my goal!
I was inspired by my Apricotpie friend Anna's blog to post some of the things I want to get done this summer. My adventure list, I guess you could call it!
OK, here they are:
1) Get married.
2) Finish Roliwyn
3) Go stormchasing again, although it's kind of unlikely since the good storm season is kind of over...
4) Make 10 amazing catches in Frisbee
5) Introduce Justin to all my relatives
6) Read 25 new books
7) Prove to Jake T that I'm not too chicken to go off the rope swing into their pond

Friday, May 22, 2009

Justin's Graduation!

Last Saturday was a super exciting day for the Ts and me...Justin graduated from college!!!!
What a long, fun, exhausting day! :0)
They decided to drive up there the day of graduation, and Justin had an honors convocation at 9:00 my mom dragged me out of bed at 4:30 to get ready. Gag. I'm scary in the early, early morning, trust me. The rest of my family was heading out for track Nationals (congrats to Josh and Hannah for their great events) so we all left at 5:00, me driving the GMC into town. I talked to Justin the entire way in cause he wanted to make sure I stayed awake.
So I met them at 5:30, got into the shuttle bus, and tried to sleep on the 3 1/2 hour drive up to Columbia. Didn't work. For some odd reason I couldn't sleep for the longest time. I mean, I was comfy...but for some reason sleep just wouldn't come. Oh yes, and Justin liked my new "I heart my meteorologist" t-shirt...I wore it that day for the first time.
After we got to Columbia, we dropped Justin off at school and ran to his apartment to change into dressy clothes. I conveniently forgot my high heeled shoes and wore my flipflops the entire day. :0)
But then it was cold at the convocation! I was glad I'd had the sense to grab my jacket, but my legs froze. *Note to self-do not wear that dress outdoors in 60-degree weather again unless you have brown leggings to go with it!*
After the convocation, we had Justin's commencement ceremony, which was thankfully indoors and only an hour long! :0) I sat and used my handy little notepad feature on my phone to write a half page in Roliwyn during the speaker's boring, rambly speech. After the commencement we went to Golden Corral for lunch with Justin's grandparents. Then his grandparents wanted to see his apartment, so we went over there for a while.
Then I gave Justin his graduation gifts. I'd say his favorite was the Pet Tornado.
I wish I could get pictures off my phone, cause I took one of him playing with it on the way home. I bet he played with it for 20 minutes! :0D
Oh yes, and on the way home we watched Home Alone 1. Yes, I'd never seen it before. Yes, I know my movie experiences were sadly lacking. Sort of. I cringed every time something happened to someone's feet. Definitely a movie that gets better if you watch it when you're super tired. But it was hilarious in that when my brother Josh was little, I remember people asking if he was...however you spell the kid's name who played Kevin...did I just admit I don't know how to spell something? :0) Anyway, my brother used to look just like Kevin, let's put it that way. So watching the movie was hilarious from that standpoint.
Justin and me

Officially graduated!

I wish I had more pics, but these are pretty good. Someday I'll have to post the family pic. :0)
Now, all that remains to be decided is is Justin goes to grad school or tries to apply for (cross your fingers) a job close by. That's what we want, anyway. It'd be great to stick around our families and friends. But, we'll see what God has in store for us. I'll keep ya updated on that too.


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