Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Musings of an Almost-Married Author

I'm halfway in shock--good shock, mind--as I type this. Because it's almost here! I have a little under two weeks to go until I'm married!!!!!

As I look back at this year, I laugh. Justin and I thought we were so much in love at the beginning of last year. And we were, don't get me wrong--but now, our love has matured and grown like I'd never imagined it could before. This last summer was tough, but I will always treasure it for the lessons it taught me.

And even though they haven't happened yet, I'm treasuring the times ahead. Wow! There's so much to think about and do in the next couple of weeks. My dress is hemmed and at the cleaners right now to be de-wrinkled. I have Justin's wonderfully man-sized ring tucked away in my dresser drawer awaiting March 6th. Oh yeah, and a little tip from the inside: buy stock in Great Value brand pineapple sherbet. :0) Mom and I are buying sherbet for the punch--we need about 20 tubs of it, and so far we've bought two Wal-Marts out of it and only have 12! :0)

Flowers are set, decorations are set--my poor mom is about ready to forgo basket-weaving for the rest of her life, I think. She was awesome and made 16 different baskets for the wedding and reception decorations. I love my parents! Of course my dad is playfully grumbling about looking forward to the end of the wedding because he'll finally get his wife back.

And for those wondering, yes, we're stressing--a little. Mostly though I think we're doing well and keeping up with our planning.

Once we get back to Michigan, I know that Justin and I'll have a great time--I'm looking forward to going places together and doing things with him--but most of all I'm looking forward to just being with Justin and being his wife.

I'm so thankful that God blessed me with Justin and the prospect of a life with him. Justin's amazing in his support, encouragement and godliness. I'm definitely looking forward to living life with him!

So, this will be the last Magical Ink post until April 5th. Then I will be back at it, and we'll see what I come up with then to talk about! Have fun chattering amongst yourselves for the month of March.

God bless!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Favorite Books/Authors Quiz

Top 3 authors:

1. J.R.R. Tolkien

2. Sharon Hinck

3. Mindy Starns Clark

Top 3 male characters:

1. Kieran from The Sword of Lyric Series by Sharon Hinck

2. Sterling MacRae from Escape the Sunrise by Susan May Warren

3. Boromir from The Lord of the Rings

Top 3 female characters:

1. Jo Tulip from The Smart Chick Mysteries by Mindy Starns Clark

2. Kale from The Dragon Keeper Chronicles by Donita K Paul

3.Elizabeth Bennett from Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

Top 30 fiction books in no particular order:

1. The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien

2. The Restorer's Son by Sharon Hinck

3. Blink by Ted Dekker

4. The Silver Chair by C. S. Lewis

5. Blind Dates Can Be Murder by Mindy Starns Clark

6. The Shadows of Lancaster County by Mindy Starns Clark

7. The Ordinary Princess by M. M. Kaye

8. Mara, Daughter of the Nile by Eloise Jarvis McGraw

9. Shepherd of the Hills by Harold Bell Wright

10. The Uncrowned King by Harold Bell Wright

11. The Princess and Curdie by George MacDonald

12. The Dream Thief by Stephen Lawhead

13. Hostage Lands by Douglas Bond

14. Dragonspell by Donita K Paul

15. Dragonknight by Donita K Paul

16. The Blue Castle by L.M. Montgomery

17. The Singer Trilogy by Calvin Miller

18. Fireflies in December by Jennifer E. Valent

19. Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen

20. The Guardian by Dee Henderson

21. Vanish by Tom Pawlik

22. North! Or Be Eaten by Andrew Peterson

23. The Curse of the Spider King by Wayne Thomas Batson and Christopher Hopper

24. Flee the Night by Susan May Warren

25. 4:50 From Paddington by Agatha Christie

26. A Thousand Tomorrows by Karen Kingsbury

27. When A Man's A Man by Harold Bell Wright

28. The Mitford Books by Jan Karon

29. MissMatch Erynn Mangum

30. Snoopy's Guide to the Writing Life compiled by Monte Schultz

Top 3 books most recently read:

1. North! Or Be Eaten by Andrew Peterson

2. Double Trouble by Susan Mary Warren

3. The Dragon King Trilogy by Stephen Lawhead

Worst 3 books ever read:

1. The Princess Bride by William Goldman

2. Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson

3. Red Badge of Courage

Top 5 scenes from any book:

1. When Kieran and The One battle, The Restorer's Son

2. Any one of Sir Beccaroon's conversations with Wizard Fenworth, The Vanishing Sculptor

3. Gandalf's conversation with Frodo about Gollum having some good in him, The Fellowship of the Ring

4. When Lacy threatens Micah with a fork, Flee the Night

5. When Ryan proposes to Laurie, Matchpoint

The book(s) that made me cry the most:

1. Whichever book it is in the Mitford Series when Miss Sadie dies

2. A Thousand Tomorrows by Karen Kingsbury—the whole entire thing

3. Saint by Ted Dekker—when it describes the mindwashing methods used on Johnny

4. A Sword for the Immerland King by F.W. Faller, particularly when King Sandihar and Verclan die

5. The Lord of the Rings, particularly any time when Sam proves his loyalty to Frodo

The book(s) that made me laugh the most:

1. MissMatch by Erynn Mangum (gotta love Laurie!)

2. The Restorer's Son by Sharon Hinck (primarily because Kieran is so sarcastic and gets himself into so many awkward situations)

3. The Trouble With Tulip by Mindy Starns Clark (gotta love Jo too!)

4. Castle Craneycrowe by George Barr McCutcheon

5. The Scarlet Pimpernel by Baroness Orczy (explanation of last two—old "romantic" style of writing, which is so overblown it's hysterically funny sometimes)

The book(s) that made me feel the best at the end:

1. Flee the Night by Susan May Warren

2. Shadows of Lancaster County by Mindy Starns Clark

3. Dragonspell by Donita K Paul

4. The Scarlet Pimpernel by Baroness Orczy

5. Blink by Ted Dekker

Contemporary or Historical?

1. Contemporary

Science Fiction, Fantasy, or Horror?

1. Fantasy, without a doubt—the tiniest bit of scifi—and I can't think of any books I've read that could be labeled "horror", not even Vanish and that's the creepiest book I've read in a long time

Hardback or Trade Paperback or Mass Market Paperback?

1. Old hardback, like 1920s or earlier hardback. Other than that, paperback

Barnes & Noble or Amazon?

Barnes and Noble used!!!

Bookmark or Dog-ear?

Dog-ear—you can tell the books I read all the time because they're falling apart. My books are well-loved…

Alphabetize by author, alphabetize by title, or organize not at all?

By author's last name, exactly like a library

Star Wars or Star Trek?

Neither—read one Star Wars book and was not impressed…

Keep, Throw Away, or Sell?

Keep almost every book I buy—if not, sell. I don't think I've ever thrown a book away

Keep dust-jacket or toss it?

Keep it.

Read with dustjacket or remove it?

1. Remove it

Little Women or Anne of Green Gables?

I'm not particularly fond of either.

Short story or novel?

1. Both!

Stop reading when tired or at chapter breaks?

When tired

It was a dark and stormy night or Once upon a time?

Once upon a time, usually

Tear Jerker or Belly Laugh?

Both, because it shows the true worth of an author to be able to draw his readers into the story so much that he gets physical reactions like laughs or tears.

Charlotte, Emily, or Anne Brontë?

Only read Jane Eyre, and that's all I want to read even though I semi-sorta liked it.

Buy or Borrow?

Both!

Buying choice: Book Reviews, Recommendation, or Browse?

All!

Collection (short stories by the same author) or Anthology (short stories by different authors)?

Both—just give me something to read!!!

Crane or Conrad?

Yuck. Never heard of Conrad, but The Red Badge of Courage was awful!

Standalone or Series?

1. Both!

Tidy ending or Cliffhanger?

Mostly tidy endings, especially if the sequel's not coming out for another year!

Morning reading, afternoon reading, or nighttime reading?

Nighttime unless it's something creepy like Vanish or The Curse of the Spider King

Favorite genre series?

Lord of the Rings! (I take it this means your favorite series from your favorite genre).

New or used?

1. That's tough to choose! I love the feel and smell of an old book, but then again there's also a certain excitement when you smell fresh paper and ink too…

Favorite book of which nobody else has heard?

Lonoma's Map and A Sword For the Immerland King—no one seems to have heard of F.W. Faller, which is really sad cause he's a great author!

Monday, February 8, 2010

The Prophet of Yonwood and The Diamond of Darkhold by Jeanne DuPrau

Oops! Hey everyone, I forgot my order of monthly posts! :0) Here's what was supposed to run last week!

The Prophet of Yonwood

Storyline: Nickie travels to Yonwood to help her aunt Crystal clean out her great-grandfather's house. Nickie wants to stay in Yonwood—she imagines a sleepy little town will be a lot better than Philadelphia, where she and her mother live in an apartment.

She has three goals for the time she'll be in Yonwood: make her ancestor's house her home; fall in love; and help the world. When she arrives, though, she finds that the town is anything but sleepy. A girl is hiding in the house's closet—a man searches the heavens for signs of extraterrestrial life—a boy is fascinated with snakes—and a woman has recently seen a vision of disaster—and the townsfolk are determined to eradicate evil in their midst so that they may be protected from the disaster.

When Nickie decides to help Brenda, the woman spearheading the effort to eliminate evil, she finds herself over her head.

My Take:

The only interest I found in this book was the origin of Ember and it's location. Other than that, there's not much of a reason to read it.

It seems to portray God as some grouchy man in the sky. While the book does speak a tidbit of truth in saying God dislikes things that take our love away from Him, the "Christians" in it are portrayed as people who don't know what they're doing and who try to bully others into being "saved" with prophecies of doom. There's no mention of repentance and acceptance of God's sacrifice for us. Certain things in the town are forbidden, like singing, dogs, and romance novels (the book does show Nickie looking at and reading romance novels left by her friend Amanda. From what the author could have done, the account is relatively chaste—it just was unnecessary for a kids' book). Anyone refusing to obey these "laws" has a humming bracelet put on them and is ostracized by the townspeople.

And in the end, we still don't know where the vision came from.

It really tells me that believers have to show grace to the world around us, lest we be taken as bullies determined to take away the enjoyment of life.

Rating: two out of five stars

The Diamond of Darkhold

Storyline: Lina is unsatisfied with her life aboveground. Everything is too hard—there's no electricity, no running water—and no messages to carry. It's cold, there's thunderstorms, wolves, and many other dangers.

Then Doon trades a match for a book from a roamer. Though there are only eight pages left, he finds hints of a useful treasure left in Ember. He and Lina plot a secret mission back to Ember so they can retrieve the treasure and maybe some other supplies that could help the people of Sparks through the winter.

Things take an unexpected turn when they discover other people living in Ember. But they can't last long—the city is mostly dead. Doon and Lina have to find the treasure, before it's too late—not only for them, but for the people of Sparks, too.

My Take:

One thing I really didn't like: at one point, two kids from Sparks (Torren and Kenny) and one Emberite girl (Lizzie) decide to go after Lina and Doon. Lizzie thinks that Lina and Doon might have run off together somewhere to "set things up like a real home." While she goes into no detail, just that little tidbit was very unnecessary for a kid's book.

On the technical side, there's nothing wrong with this story.

Doon and Lina's shenanigans without telling adults are getting a little old. Other than that, it's just as good of a read as any other the other books. It's fast-paced and exciting, and has several good-sized obstacles they must overcome to read their goal. Their discovery leads to an easier life for their people.

Once again, Doon's experimenting and curiosity is well done. It's his experimenting that leads to learning how to use what they've found to improve their situation.

It's definitely time to take a break from the Ember books.

Rating: three out of five stars

Monday, February 1, 2010

The Safeness of Christian Fiction

I'm disappointed in the "edgier" Christian fiction that I'm hearing about these days. It seems that some Christian authors are pushing for a more "secular" feel in their fiction, including all the bad stuff that's the reason I primarily read Christian novels.

When I'm reading a secular book, I brace myself for the cussing or other trash that I'm likely to come across, especially if its a young adult or adult book. I don't feel like I'm relaxing as I read the book because I'm constantly watching for something (and if I find that there's a lot of that trash, I ditch the book).

In Christian fiction, I like being able to relax. I like being able to lower my guard and enjoy the story without worrying about the junk.

Unfortunately, it seems like that's changing. While I haven't read any books that contain these things explicitly, I've heard of them. Usually, they're not popular books. But it saddens me that Christian authors are putting such trash in their books (I mean, OK, I can handle a reference or two to "un-kosher" topics. But don't dwell on it or make it graphic!). And what really disappoints me is when Christian bloggers feature book excerpts or something on their blog that contains foul language. Seriously, it doesn't make it better if you use a star or a dash to take out the middle or last letters. Everyone knows what that means, folks!

People try to justify it by saying that it's "the real world." I know there are ways to show that someone cussed without actually using the words. I've done it, and I don't have my believing characters do it.

Why is this even an issue? It's the same principle as I talked about in my Gripe About Paranormal Fiction post last year, how "everything is permissible, but not everything is beneficial." So we're not going to be exiled forever if we write or read a book with language, intimacy, or over-the-top gore in it. But there are private things, and there are forbidden things, and we're not God-honoring if we dwell on those topics.

I'm not a writer to be a follower--especially of the world. I'm a writer because GOD called me to be one and gave me this talent. So, if God gave me this, why should I do something that is plainly dishonoring him?

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