Deep POV: Confessions of a Christian Writer

The ramblings of an emergent-realistic-edgy-working-for-God-and-the-pay-isn’t-that-great-sometimes-confused-christian-fiction writer (uh, that would be me).

Friday, January 13, 2006

What's your perfect major?

As I am finally recovered from a nasty case of the flu, I find I have the energy to once more play. Here's one of those silly quizes, which I'm sure you'll want to take as well! The outcome was no surprise to me.





























What is your Perfect Major? (PLEASE RATE ME!!<3)
created with

Is your title a winner?

There's a cool test on here. It'll analyze your novel's title and tell you what the chances are that the title will be a winning one. So far, of the three novel titles I've analyzed, my latest novel, still being written, has scored highest with a 63.2% chance of being a best-selling title! Which is just fine by me. :-)

Try yours!

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Rejected by the Publishers

Rejected by the Publishers - New York Times:
"Submitted to 20 publishers and agents, the typed manuscripts of the opening chapters of two books were assumed to be the work of aspiring novelists. Of 21 replies, all but one were rejections. Sent by The Sunday Times of London, the manuscripts were the opening chapters of novels that won Booker Prizes in the 1970's. One was 'Holiday,' by Stanley Middleton; the other was 'In a Free State,' by Sir V. S. Naipaul, winner of the 2001 Nobel Prize in Literature. Mr. Middleton said he wasn't surprised. 'People don't seem to know what a good novel is nowadays,' he said. Mr. Naipaul said: 'To see something is well written and appetizingly written takes a lot of talent, and there is not a great deal of that around. With all the other forms of entertainment today, there are very few people around who would understand what a good paragraph is.'"

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Morgan, Gracie, and Noah-my three darlings! Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Dumb, dumb, dumb

Me, that is. I wondered where everyone had gone. Suddenly, I had no comments, none whatsoever. Had I committed some grave online faux pas that I couldn't remember? Maybe I went to someone else's blog without a hostess gift? Or stayed too long? Drank too much, uh, coffee?

Well, as it turns out, being very preoccupied these days with my three-month-old granddaughter (have I told you how utterly gorgeous she is?) and a new contract job (doing research), not to mention the normal Christmas stuff, I failed to check the moderation section of HaloScan where the comments are stored until approved by me. Which I'd set up. Of course.

So, my apologies if you commented and were greeted by stony silence! I enjoy the comments almost more than anything. I'll try to keep better track of them from now on. {Hangs head, walks away.}

Celebration in December

Merriest of Merry Christmases!

Geseende Kersfees, buon Natale, feliz Navidad, felix dies Nativitatis! Posted by Picasa

In case anyone is wondering, there isn't a Celebration of New Christian Fiction this month. I think people have enough to do in December without adding something extra so I did not try to recruit anyone for the job.

I do, however, need folks for 2006. If you've been a part of the Celebration in the past, you'll be hearing from me soon. :-) If you haven't, and you'd like to get involved, please e-mail me or leave a comment. I'll be glad to add you to the mailing list.

I'd like to do more next year to showcase our writing more so if you have ideas, be sure to let me know!

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Encouragement for Older Writers

Lexington Herald-Leader | 12/03/2005 | Retired nurse spins family story into her first book:
"A true story about a little girl swept away by floodwaters haunted Jan Watson for some 50 years.

What if the girl had lived? What would she have looked like? Where would life have taken her?

Watson, a retired Lexington nurse, took those imponderables and turned them into a work of fiction that has gained praise, support and editing expertise from no less than Jerry B. Jenkins, co-author of the bestselling Left Behind series of end-of-the-world novels.

Watson's first novel, Troublesome Creek, is now on bookstore shelves. Last year the manuscript won the Christian Writers Guild 'Operation First Novel' Contest, a nationwide competition to find unpublished talent in Christian fiction. The win brought Watson a $50,000 prize and a publishing deal with Tyndale House.

Watson said she can barely believe that something she wrote is available in the marketplace.

'How cool is that: To be 61 and sell your first book?' she said."
So, if you don't feel, as the saying goes, like a spring chicken, take heart! You, too, might get a book published even at your "advanced" age!

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Good Books and Recommended Reading

Brothers Judd Good Books and Recommended Reading

Here is a list of lists of recommended books from many different sources. Don't ever say you can't find something interesting to read!

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

C. S. Lewis Superstar

C. S. Lewis Superstar - Christianity Today Magazine:
"Clive Staples Lewis was anything but a classic evangelical, socially or theologically. He smoked cigarettes and a pipe, and he regularly visited pubs to drink beer with friends. Though he shared basic Christian beliefs with evangelicals, he didn't subscribe to biblical inerrancy or penal substitution. He believed in purgatory and baptismal regeneration. How did someone with such a checkered pedigree come to be a theological Elvis Presley, adored by evangelicals?"
I've always wondered about this. The article in Christianity Today attempts to provide an answer and they do a pretty good job. However, I suspect an additional answer is that many evangelicals have no clue what C.S. Lewis believed and some would be disturbed if they knew he did not share all of their beliefs. Biblical inerrancy, for example. That seems like a huge one.

But I think what the author of this article, Bob Smietana, says is true. The perception is that there are not that many "brainy" or intellectual Christians around who can so eloquently defend the faith in a way that makes sense to the common man or woman. Lewis might fall out of fashion with some, but he'll remain a staple for most of us thanks to his intelligence and his imagination.

Lileks Once Again ...

LILEKS (James) the bleat:
"The worst part: Culling books. It’s hard work, and you feel a sense of shame when you find a good old book that once meant much; not only don’t you remember what it was about – I mean really about, not just jacket-copy blurb meaning – you’re consigning it to the storage room, a crypt from which it will never return. For decades I’ve had a book of Anthony Burgess’ book reviews on my shelf. I opened to the prologue, which has this entry about the reviewer’s inclination to go easy on his captives:

“Book-writing is hard on the brain and excruciating to the body; it engenders tobacco-addiction, an over-reliance on caffeine and Dexedrine, piles, dyspepsia, chronic anxiety, sexual impotence. Behind the new bad book one is asked to review lie untold misery and very little hope. One’s heart, stomach and anal tract go out to the doomed aspirant.”

-- Anthony Burgess, “Urgent Copy.”

Of course, I always assume the opposite, which is why I cannot read reviews. I apologize to reviewers, and beg their pity. I broke down a few weeks ago and noted a review in a rather prominent journal, written by a marvelous writer I have long admired, and while it was all quite flattering I took away one sentence that made me feel as if I have been on a great, steep, flaming, public decline for the last half decade. I do not think this was the author’s intention. But: it’s better for an author to be motivated by hunger than satiation; it’s the difference between, say, “Garp” and “Hotel New Hampshire.”"

I think I have to agree with Mr. Lileks about reading your reviews. Not that I've had that particular pleasure, but I do think I'll probably pass if and when the opportunity arises!

Good and Evil

LILEKS (James) the bleat

Christian writers please note. Here's what James Lileks said after he received two new purchases from Amazon: A boxed set of The Wizard of Oz, and Batman Begins:
"The Wizard of Oz is fraught with darkness, but cheery in mood and resolution; Batman Begins is soaked in decline, brave and determined without joy or defining triumph. Which ones came from a culture just getting over ten years of miserable economic performance, facing a world bristling with hostile collectivized militarism? I mean, for God’s sake, why, at the height of our civilization’s powers, can’t we make clear movies about good and evil and the triumph of civilized virtues?

Besides nine hours of the Lord of the Rings and six Star Wars movies and the Harry Potter stuff and also everything by Pixar."

Friday, November 18, 2005

Goth Meets the Brady Bunch?

Goth Meets the Brady Bunch? Must Be An Anne Rice Signing - 11/16/2005 - Publishers Weekly:
"It was a dark and stormy night…just the right atmosphere for former gothic novelist Anne Rice's booksigning at Anderson's Bookshop in Naperville, Ill., on Monday. It was Rice's seventh bookstore event on a multi-city tour for Christ the Lord, and a chance to see how her change-of-genre gamble from horror to faith fiction is playing with her fans. Was she nervous when she started the tour? 'No, determined,' Rice told RBL. 'Whatever happens, happens.'

The downpour didn't dampen the enthusiasm of the estimated 400 fans that packed Anderson's. It was a mixed crowd: Goth meets the Brady Bunch. Middle-aged housewives with kids and businessmen in suits lined up next to teens with skull t-shirts, nose rings, and black fishnets. Some purchased Rice's backlist, but Anderson's pre-sold more than 200 copies of Christ the Lord, and sales built from that at a steady clip."

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

November Celebration

Can you believe it? It's that time again, the time we get to tour the blogosphere and see what a bunch of great Christian writers/writers who are Christian ;-) are up to. And this month, thanks to Violet Nesdoly's brilliant suggestion, we also get Christmas gift selections from those same writers! How's that for helping with the shopping list?

Start by going here, then get out that credit card!

Monday, November 14, 2005

Just Write!

Just write! Posted by Picasa

Writing Fiction: Breaking the Rules:
"What we really have is techniques, developed by trial and error (especially error). They work for most of us, the way recipes work for most cooks. When you don't want to create an inedible mess, you stick with the recipe. When you're more confident and feel experimental, you can throw in more or less than a teaspoon of salt. (A cookbook I saw recently recommends a 'glug' of olive oil for most of its recipes.) The result may be yet another inedible mess, or a wonderful improvement.

Learning almost any technique is really hard as long as you're keeping it in your conscious mind. Remember learning how to drive? If you still had to concentrate that hard every time you took the wheel, you'd sell your car. When I started learning a little Korean, deciphering hangul was physically exhausting. (I gained new sympathy for anyone with reading problems!) Time and practice have made it easier to recognize a sound or word at once, because it now goes on subconsciously.

The same is true with writing fiction. After a while you stop worrying about POV or narrative voice or the quality of the dialogue. Your subconscious writer is looking after the technical stuff, and your job becomes something like a stenographer's. You take down what's given to you, and sometimes you catch an error, but that's about it. When you stop thinking about technique, you've mastered it."
Crawford Kilian, a writing teacher, has a great blog going here called "Writing Fiction." I love his answer to the age-old question of writing rules .. obey them slavishly or ignore them to your detriment? What he says makes sense to me especially since it's the direction in which I see myself going. After writing steadily for a while, and spending an inordinate amount of time worrying over every punctuation mark, syllable, word, paragraph, and so on, I find myself just writing these days. Which is how I think it's meant to be.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Just for Fun: Middle Earth and You ;-)

Here's mine:


To which race of Middle Earth do you belong?
brought to you by Quizilla

Saturday, November 12, 2005

A Writing Book Recommendation

Whenever anyone asks me to recommend a writing book, the first one I always mention is Story by Robert McKee [see the Amazon link just to your right].Story was recommended to me by Brandilyn Collins. Being fairly new to writing on a regular basis (something I'd wanted to do for years, but always found an excuse not to do), I eagerly went out and bought the book only to find I couldn't get my mind wrapped around it. It took me another year of sloughing through my own writing, going down rabbit trails, creating improbable characters, dealing with a scintillating beginning, a *yawn* middle, and a muddled ending, before I realized I needed to take the time to read the darn thing.

I am so glad I did.

McKee's bio speaks for itself:
McKee is the most widely known and respected screenwriting lecturer in the world today. His former students' accomplishments are unmatched: They have won 26 Academy Awards, 124 Emmy Awards, 20 Writers Guild of America Awards, and 17 Directors Guild of America Awards and even Pulitzer Prizes for writing. Some recent notable former students to win or be nominated for Oscars include Akiva Goldsman (Winner - Best Writing: Adapted Screenplay) for his screenplay "A Beautiful Mind," Peter Jackson (writer/director of "Lord of the Rings I and II", Nominated - Best Picture) and many others.
Story is used as a textbook at major American universities as well as overseas. And for good reason. You won't find another book like this, one that richly details what story is all about, that dissects the concept, puts the parts under a microscope, and teaches you what works and what doesn't. It makes no difference that he's talking about screenplays. Writers of every genre flock to McKee's seminars in L.A., New York, and London to watch him explain their craft. And the best part? What he teaches is not formalistic. He gives you the pieces of the puzzle, but leaves each writer to put it together as best suits her/his style.

From McKee, for instance, I learned that there's no reason for the middle of a book to sag, as they are wont to do. Not if you plan. If you lay out your subplots so that one or several of them begin during the story's middle, you have Inciting Incidents [which, by their very nature, are exciting] to perk up that section of your novel where your main plot might otherwise plod along.

I learned the art of scenes "turning." Read McKee's words:
Look closely at each scene you've written and ask: What value is at stake in my character's life at this moment? Love? Truth? What? How is that value charged at the top of the scene? Positive? Negative? Some of both? Make a note. Next turn to the close of the scene and ask, Where is this value now? Positive? Negative? Both? Make a note and compare. If the answer you write down at the end of the scene is the same note you made at the opening, you now have another important question to ask: Why is this scene in my script?
This is a rich book, jam-packed with so much good information you'll read it not once but time and time again. It'll take your writing to a new level and, if you've found your excitement in your craft waning, pump up your enthusiasm. It's not a quick or an easy read. Think of it as a textbook, one that requires time and attention in order to master. But it is well worth your while to read it.

If I were on a desert island and had the choice of two books, it would definitely be my second pick!

Safe and Unsafe Books

Over on The Master's Artist, Deborah Gyapong has a wonderful post about safe and unsafe books (with thanks to Mark Bertrand who started the thread with his earlier post). Some of them can be good, some bad. What are you writing? A good, but book? A bad, but safe one? Or an unsafe book, good or bad?

Make sure you read the whole thing.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Another Anne Rice Interview

Bluefield Daily Telegraph:
"Rice's new burst of creativity stems from her return to Roman Catholicism - though she seems a most unlikely recruit. Leaving aside those past novels (the more erotic ones appeared under pseudonyms), she quit church as a teen and never looked back for decades. Her late husband was a convinced atheist; her son is a gay activist.

But some critics thought her vampires' angst reflected the author's spiritual restlessness.

As Rice describes matters, there was “a yearning, a nostalgia, a grief” toward Catholicism but “I had this idea lodged in my head, I could never go back ... the longing was tremendous. The desire was tremendous.”

“I gradually realized I could return, that I believed again.”

After years of pondering, the climax occurred in 1998 at her home in New Orleans. Rice asked part-time assistant Amy Troxler, a parochial school religion teacher, to recommend a priest. Troxler immediately took Rice to the Rev. Dennis Hayes of Arabi, La., who became her spiritual director.

The move wasn't easy because “I was tortured by questions I couldn't resolve.” She told Hayes: “I'll do my best on the unresolved questions.” Among these are her church's ban on women priests and opposition to gay sex. She's convinced both will vanish eventually."
Note: I am currently reading Christ the Lord and very much enjoying it.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Every Writers' Dream

LILEKS (James) the bleat
"Six radio interviews today, including a nice one with a fellow who had not read the book. Didn't even have a review copy. That one went 25 minutes. He began with "How did you get the idea?" I have honed the answer in such a way that does not accurately reflect the book’s genesis, but is nevertheless accurate. The truth is that I was sitting in my editor's office after lunch in New York, full of an inordinate amount of beef and red wine, brainstorming. Since we were both lightheaded from digestion and indulgence, nothing was occurring to either of us. I excused myself to use the restroom, and en route to the well-appointed lavs of Random House, the idea just dropped into my skull, unbidden: the Gallery of Regrettable Parenting. Huzzah. Booyah. Et cetera. I pitched it when I returned, and that was that."
Wouldn't you love to be in such a position?

And if you're not reading James Lileks very amusing The Bleat every day, you don't know what you're missing.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Dining with the Deity

Dining with the Deity - Christianity Today Magazine:
"Whether Gregory's answers to hard questions are convincing or not, the bigger question might be: Will today's seeker be convinced by carefully packaged answers to difficult questions presented in an engaging format? The publisher is betting on it. As of September, WaterBrook had more than 210,000 copies of the book in print, its biggest printing for any book this year. Ditto for its marketing budget of $100,000, with ads in USA Today, Today's Christian, and Christianity Today. It's the type of book that many Christians will see as a way to witness to seeker friends. ('Have several on hand to give away to non-believers,' exhorts one reader on"
This is the "novel" everyone is talking about, a fictionalized account of a meeting between a man named Nick and Jesus. I put it in quotation marks because I'm not sure how much of a novel it really is seeing that it's intent is clearly to evangelize rather than entertain. I guess you can do both, but I am so conditioned now to think of a novel as not being a piece of propaganda that I automatically doubt what's been done here. Whatever it is, it's been successful, so I guess there's room for both ends of this particular continuum.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Writing Tip: Writing Rules

In the latest issue of his Advanced Fiction Writing E-zine, author and all-around-crazy-guy, Randy Ingermanson, gives a piece of advice to novelists that's well worth repeating:
When you're in Creating mode, you DO NOT WANT TO BE
BURDENED WITH RULES! If you get all hog-tied with
rules in Creating mode, you are going to die in a
rule-based writer's-block angst, and you'll deserve it.
When you are Creating, just write the darn story.
Blast that story out, baby!

Some people have trouble with that blasting thing. Some
people are just a wee bit retentive and can't bear to
let a mistake go without fixing it. I heard from a
friend today on how she learned to let go. She
scrunched up the window of her word processor so she
couldn't see what she was typing! Then she just whacked
out a scene. Hey, whatever works. I guess the only
thing I'd caution about with that method is to make
sure your fingers are on the home base keys, or you're
going to have one ugly mess of letters when you get
It took me awhile, but I finally learned this rule and now, when I'm laying down words on paper, I'm doing it happily, my internal editor kicked to the curb until the thing is done. All kinds of wonderful things emerge this way. And to do it the other way, worrying over every single word that hits the page, is to invite not only an agonizingly slow pace, but an attack of perfection paralysis that ends up getting you nowhere except deep into Doubt and Despair. Take my advice (and, more importantly, Randy's): Don't go there.

And if you haven't already (and, if you haven't what's wrong with you?), subscribe to Randy's e-zine by going here. It won't cost you a thing.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

NYT's Review of Anne Rice's Christ the Lord

New York Times Review--Link Below! Posted by Picasa

The family in Anne Rice's new novel has a secret. A really, really big one. These people have had a life-altering experience that they hide from their 7-year-old. When the boy raises questions - "But who were the men from the East, Mamma?" or "But what happened in Bethlehem?" - his relatives are mum.

But the boy begins to sense the truth. He notices he has unusual abilities. He can make it snow or raise the dead. He can sense the presence of angels. He also has dreams of terrible, fiery destruction and is visited by figure who calls himself the Prince of Chaos. By the end of "Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt," this young boy knows that he himself is the Prince of Peace.

Christ the Lord" is written in the first person. How dare Ms. Rice appropriate the voice of young Jesus? She is best known for maudlin, histrionic vampire tales, so the innocence of a 7-year-old would not seem to come naturally. But Ms. Rice makes the transition much more easily than might be expected. And she delivers the only shock effects still available to her, after a career-length cavalcade of kinks: piety and moderation.
The review is here, but you need to be signed up to read the NYT--free and everyone should have such access otherwise how are you going to read the book reviews?

I am looking forward to reading the book! It sounds great.

Scandalous Truths: New Book about Susan Howatch

Scandalous Truths:
Susan Howatch’s global bestsellers have appeared regularly since the 1970s, but a radical shift in her subject matter in the ’80s made reviewers and then academics adjust their glasses and stare hard at her pages. Howatch carried her loyal following of gothic and family saga readers into unexpected psychological and theological depths, while raising to a new level her experiments with narrative technique. She also introduced to her readers a character only half alive in Trollope, the Anglican Church. The twentieth-century church revealed in Howatch’s later fiction is a huge, sometimes monstrous, sometimes life-giving creature whose various dimensions make it entirely engaging and weirdly central to the centerless postmodern world.

Scandalous Truths provides a way into Howatch’s world by presenting for the first time some of her own articulations of her guiding principles, and by allowing a group of scholars to engage in a wide-ranging discussion of her art. A decade of scholarly presentations and articles now culminates in this book.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

NaNoWriMo Tool


If you're participating in the month-long writing event known as NaNoWriMo, you might find this helpful.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Clerical Novels

Mitford Rules - Books & Culture

Great article about the new Jan Karon book, due out soon. I've always been a fan of her books and have read each one at least twice--which I've also done with many of Susan Howatch's books. Since Ms. Howatch also writes about clergy (in her more recent novels) I guess that makes me a fan of clerical novels. Now, thanks to the article, I have some new novels to read.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Interview with Anne Rice

The Gospel According to Anne - Newsweek Entertainment -
"'For the last six months,' she says, 'people have been sending e-mails saying, 'What are you doing next?' And I've told them, 'You may not want what I'm doing next'.' We'll know soon. In two weeks, Anne Rice, the chronicler of vampires, witches and‚-under the pseudonym "A. N. Roquelaure—of soft-core S&M encounters, will publish 'Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt,' a novel about the 7-year-old Jesus, narrated by Christ himself. 'I promised,' she says, 'that from now on I would write only for the Lord.' It's the most startling public turnaround since Bob Dylan's 'Slow Train Coming' announced that he'd been born again."

I just reserved my copy of the book at my local library! Wish I could buy it, but it just isn't possible right now--maybe later, when the finances improve!

Be sure to read the whole interview.

Update: There's apparently a lot of interest in this story. I say that because my stats took a huge jump of about 300% after the story was posted and, for the next few days, everywhere I went, people were discussing it. Unfortunately, on some of the Christian writers' lists I am part of, the discussion has been less than edifying. Some people seem to feel that they can freely judge the sincerity of Ms. Rice's return to her Catholic roots not to mention her right to exercise her imagination. The word "blasphemy" has been used. This reminds me of the saying that Christians shoot their wounded. Wouldn't we want to encourage Ms. Rice in her walk with the Lord just as we'd encourage anyone else? And aren't there a number of scriptures in the New Testament that discourage judging another person?

Friday, October 21, 2005

The Trades

The Trades:
"Nevertheless, what began to disillusion me about the Monastery of Harmless Entertainment was that they advocated the rather ludicrous idea that G- and PG-rated material is inherently superior in moral quality to PG-13- or R-rated material. They thoroughly believed that family-friendly material is intrinsically of higher moral value than R-rated material that explores darker truth. I found this to be totally incongruent with the texts of Scripture. The story of Noah and the ark -- a story that you can tell in any child's Sunday school class -- is not of higher moral value than, say, the story of David -- a man so consumed with lust that he commits murder and steals his victim's wife."
This is a review of a book called Behind the Screen. After reading the excerpts from the book, it seems to me that every artist calling himself/herself a Christian ought to be reading it!

ALL-TIME 100 Novels

A fun link I picked up from Infuze Magazine.

This top one hundred list dates from 1923, which is when Time first began.

How many have you read?

The Complete List | TIME Magazine - ALL-TIME 100 Novels


And here is a list of the Top 100 novels as compiled by writers in 54 countries. It's quite different, but also contains many of my favorites.

And here's a Random House list.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005


I have been a fan of Google's since the beginning. Being such an information junkie, it was perfect for me. However, this has bothered me for some time.

InformationWeek > Google > Major Book Publishers Sue Google > October 19, 2005:
"Google Inc. on Wednesday was sued by a major publishing association for digitizing library books without the permissions of copyright holders, the second such suit filed against the search engine giant.

The Association of American Publishers, based in Washington, D.C., sued the Mountain View, Calif., company on behalf of members The McGraw-Hill Companies, Pearson Education, Penguin Group (USA), Simon & Schuster and John Wiley & Sons. The suit seeks a court declaration that Google infringes the rights of copyright holders when it scans entire books and stores the digitized versions in its massive database. The trade group also wants a court order requiring Google to first obtain permission from copyright holders.

Patricia Schroeder, AAP president and a former Colorado congresswoman, said the suit was filed after talks broke down. The AAP had proposed that Google use each book's unique ID number to determine if the work is under copyright, and then seek permission from the book's owner. For more than 30 years, most books have carried an ISBN identification number, which is machine readable.

Google, according to Schroeder, refused."

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

October Celebration is up!

Check out October's Celebration at Dee Stewart's site here! If you need something to read, you'll find a wide assortment of short stories and novel excerpts!

Monday, October 17, 2005

Jeremy Robinson and POD Publishing

A POD success story (yes, it's a novel): Interview with Jeremy Robinson:
"Can you tell us a little about the Christian market, and if you were trying to sell your book to that market.

As I mentioned, it is a Christian book in the sense that it involves Jesus in a positive way, but the way I chose to write it (and the way I choose to write in general) is for a mass market audience. I didn't censor myself or my characters because I might offend other Christians. I don't see how an author can truly portray the real world while censoring what characters do and say.

That said, I have only heard good things from Christians who have read it and all have found the cursing, drinking and violence to be in good taste and necessary to the story."

Sunday, October 16, 2005

An Excerpt from my Novel, "Unseen"

Dee Stewart, who's hosting the October Celebration of New Christian fiction, had a great idea. She asked people to post something of their work, a short story, an excerpt from a novel, anything like that. Here's mine. :-)

The following is from a novel entitled Unseen. This is chapter one, scene one. I like to give each chapter a title even if I don't use them in the final book because it helps me remember what's going on. This chapter is entitled "A Good Person." Since I do not write for the CBA, there is some language in the scene, but I edited out the one word I thought might be offensive to some! Enjoy!
A Good Person

“No, I’m not crazy, I did see something!”

Tapping on the brakes, Jon rubbed his fogged up windscreen, watching as someone struggled in the SUV up ahead, someone constrained by a rather large man, someone fighting like mad to get free. He strained forward, trying to see through a hard rain that had been falling ever since he left the house. No, it wasn’t his imagination or the effects of the damn drugs. Someone needed help.

Bloody hell. Already, I’m in trouble.

Against strict orders, he’d abandoned his flat on the beach house’s third floor, though he didn’t blame Parker for imposing such rules. When you’d tried to kill yourself less than a week ago, it made perfect sense that your brother would want you near, especially after he’d trekked all the way to London to snatch you from the jaws of death. Given that, the sleeping pills and tranquilizers that Elisabeth provided—kept under lock and key by a very jittery Parker—made perfect sense too. Still, even while doped up, he’d been climbing the walls and didn’t think a quick trip to the sweet shop for a Crunchie would do any harm. That had led him to abandon not only his flat, but his two o’clock dosage as well.

Parker’s going to be furious.

At the next stop sign, he knew he ought to turn right and go to the shop a few miles up the road then get back to the house before his brother finished his Christmas shopping. He steeled himself to make the turn, to be sensible, the sadder-but-wiser plonker who’d given up melodrama in search of inner tranquility. After all, he owed Parker that, didn’t he?

Jon watched as the SUV went straight, debated two seconds and then followed.

Such impulsive behavior often got him in trouble, but what if someone in that car had been kidnapped and he’d ignored it? God knows, he’d be dead right now if people hadn’t cared enough to follow him. And, yes, as long as he was making comparisons, a stranger had helped him too, had in fact walked right into Act Three of his little tragedy, and given him reason to live.

In the middle of the next block, the SUV’s taillights flickered a few times, then came on for good. Jon slowed too, watching the boy inside—and he believed that it was a boy—jerk against the arm that held him. Father and son having a row? Quite possibly, but something about the quality of the boy’s efforts to free himself told him otherwise.

Just then, the SUV’s passenger door flew open and a boy, maybe twelve or thirteen, shot out of the car. Jon caught a glimpse of terror in dark eyes and knew he’d been right. The driver’s door slammed open at almost the same moment and a large man in a brown pinstripe suit followed, yelling something Jon could not make out.

Bloody hell!

Jon set the car in neutral. He grabbed his mobile, flung open the door, and leapt out, following them. As rained pelted him in the face, he dialed 999. “Hey! Stop!”

Up ahead, the man caught up with the boy and grabbed him by the arm, spinning him around. He backhanded him so hard the boy crumpled at his feet.

“What do you think you’re doing?” Jon shouted in fury, images from his own recent problems imprinted suddenly onto the frightening scene.

The man jerked around to stare at him, his face contorted with a rage that seemed almost maniacal. “Get away! This is between me and the whore!”

He remembered right then that people often die when they put themselves in the middle of domestic disputes. This exceedingly pissed off man looked to be around six-two, which gave him a two-inch and perhaps fifty-pound advantage. Damn, what was he thinking? How ironic it would be to die on the streets of Redondo Beach when he’d failed to do the job in England.

Then he had another thought. Muddled as he was, thanks to the pills and every bloody thing in his life, he’d dialed the wrong emergency number. In the States, it was 911, not 999. The phone still as his ear, he heard nothing except a static hiss. Which made him an absolute washout as a superhero.

Bracing himself against a sudden fit of trembling, Jon looked the other man in the eye. “Yes,” he said in a loud voice to the imaginary person who’d suddenly come onto the line, “I need help. I’m at Bettencourt and Diamond. There’s a man here attacking a boy.” He listened with complete attention to his make-believe rescuer. “No, I don’t know anything except he’s dangerous.” Like a soap opera star, he looked down the street with grave intensity, hoping the man bought his act. “They’re only three blocks away? Yes, please, would you send them over straight away? Thanks.” He folded the mobile and dropped it into his pocket.

With a curse, the man turned, sprinting for his car. Jon watched as he slipped once, made it back to the SUV, and, wheels spinning, took off in a shower of water.

Relieved, Jon went to where the boy knelt on the soggy ground. Wiping the rain from his eyes, he crouched next to him. “Are you all right?”

A boy with a cherubic face raised his head to stare at Jon, sodden brown curls framing finely drawn features, skin the color of almonds, long, wet eyelashes, a spattering of freckles—well, damn, he’d jumped straight out of a Botticelli painting. “Yeah, I’m fine,” this angelic child said in a hesitant whisper

“You’re just a baby. Was he trying to abduct you?”

“I’m fifteen.”

“You couldn’t possibly be.”

“I am. I just look young.”

“You’ve been hurt.” Jon pointed to the corner of his mouth, where a stream of pinkish blood, diluted by the rain, ran down his chin.

The boy touched the spot. “I’m okay.”

“You keep saying that, but it’s not true.” He’d lied so often himself he could see it easily in others. “I could take you to the emergency room. It’s just around—”

“No.” The boy seemed to make an effort to rouse himself. “Did you … was that real, about the police?”

“You’re sharp. No, just an improvisation.”


Jon helped him stand and could feel how he trembled. “It’s miserable out here. Can I drop you somewhere?”

The boy looked right to left before his gaze returned to Jon. “No, thanks. That’s okay.”

“What’s your name?”


Yes, definitely Botticelli. “Dante, you look quite shaken. I’m not a doctor, but I think you need to get warm, right away. You’re probably suffering from shock. Do you have somewhere to go or someone to pick you up? A parent, for instance?”

“No parent.” Dante studied the ground under him as if the pavement needed his personal inspection. “I can’t go back to where I was. Not right now.”

A cold trickle of water trailed down Jon’s back. He shivered, mind made up, then he pointed west. “See that gray, three-story beach house? I live there in a flat on the third floor. Why don’t you come with me and get dried off?”

Dante looked him over as if a second attack might be eminent. “You didn’t tell me your name.”

“It’s Jon Girard. Sorry. I’m a bit rattled, which makes me believe you must be too.”

“Why’d you do it?”

“Help you out? Well, what was I supposed to do? Drive away?”

“Lots of people would’ve.”

Jon blew out air. “I see your point. Well, I’m not a saint, but I certainly won’t hurt you either. In fact, I’m only about six years older than you although it seems like it should be ten.”

Dante looked down at his soggy clothes. “Okay, but your car’ll get wet.”

“I’ll risk it.”


With great relief, Jon escorted Dante back to his car. He’d somehow managed to stay alive and still behave like a good person, a rare victory. Maybe things would turn around just as everyone kept saying. Maybe life would be worth living.


Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Preposterous Proposals Pontification

Recently, in a writers' discussion list, someone made the statement that anyone who wrote the book first and then the proposal was ... well, he didn't call such people fools, but he came very close. The list and the person who made this statement will remain anonymous since I have no wish to pick a fight. Nor am I going to argue with him where nonfiction is concerned because I know nothing about the process involved in nonfiction books or book proposals. But his flat statement that (I am paraphrasing) you'll remain unpublished if you insist on writing the book first and doing the proposal afterwards just ... well, it ticked me off.

This approach makes perfect sense, of course, if you're a published author in the middle of a satisfying relationship with a publisher. Why would you go to the trouble of writing a novel first when you could put together a book proposal and get it sold before the fact? Of course, even then, we have to assume you're the type of writer who can, in fact, write the exact book you propose. Is that simply a matter of discipline? I think not. If you get to page 110 in your carefully laid out plan and suddenly Scarlett--realizing that both Rhett and Ashley are boring old fools--decides she's being called into the monastic life, well, oops! That isn't what the scintillating proposal said, is it? Is that a lack of discipline? Or is that creativity? In either case, that could be a problem. So, if you're a published author with a good relationship, etc., etc., and you can stick to your proposal, then this gentleman's idea has merit.

Let's talk about the unpublished fiction writers. The guy who made this statement wants us to pitch our idea to Dave Long, Mick Silva, or any of the other great acquisitions editors out there who don't know us from Adam? Okay, Mick Silva does know me; not well, but he knows something about me. Even so, is he going to trust that I will come back to him six months from now with said manuscript in hand even though I'm unproven in his eyes? Is he going to say, "That Pat is such a swell person. Yeah, sure, she'll do what she says she'll do. I trust her!" Ya think? I'm thinking he won't have his job very long if he's so darn gullible. I might be able to write the most compelling book proposal on the planet, but that doesn't mean I can write the book it's pitching. Does it? What am I missing here?

The problem, in my humble-and-open-to-being-totally-wrong opinion is that people get an idea in their head, one that works for them. Then they start pontificating. Actually, at first, they're probably just talking, telling people their experiences, but soon enough, it turns into their own personal gospel according to [fill in your name]. They make broader and broader statements about their particular idea until it takes on a life of its own. And it's at that point that they risk ticking off others ... as this gentleman did with me. Because the truth is that nothing works for everyone, that for every single documented case of a previously unknown fiction writer who soared to the top of the NYT Bestseller list right after she got her $500K advance (all thanks to an amazing book proposal) there are ten thousand writers whose book proposals got drop-kicked right off the hysterically laughing editors' desks.

So, what's the lesson? Tell people your ideas, definitely. We all need to hear things that may or may not help. Just keep a large helping of humility nearby while you're doing so. Admit that perhaps you might be wrong, that your idea may not be for everyone. Outside of the Gospel, few things really are.

C.S. Lewis's Attitude about Christian Fiction

Clergy hope 'Lion, Witch, Wardrobe' a draw:
"Lewis' stepson Douglas Gresham, the film's co-producer, told the audience that Lewis didn't set out to write 'a Christian book.'''

But Lewis, whom Gresham referred to by his nickname, Jack, was profoundly influenced by his own religious beliefs. 'Jack didn't write a Christian book, but Jack was a man committed to his Christianity,' Gresham said. 'His fiction is informed by his deep Christian faith.''' (Emphasis added.)

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

New Writing Friend

Along with my crit partner, Elleann, setting up her very own blog, she and I have recently acquired a new writing friend, Lisa. In one of those not-to-be-missed moments of "coincidence," the Lord brought us together and we've been humming along ever since, talking writing, critiquing each other, chatting about Lost, the FiF contest, and all sorts of crazy things. Although Lisa writes creative nonfiction rather than fiction, one of the most inspiring things she does (other than raise four daughters!), is write and submit pieces on a regular basis. Here's something she submitted to The Rose & Thorn, which has just been published. It's called The Wall and I recommend it!

Friday, October 07, 2005

Being an Older Female Novelist

Cindarella at Sixty
"Getting things straight is a constant preoccupation for the novelist, making characters consistent, plot logical, blending facts with fiction so the joins don't show. It all takes practice. Duncker knew she wanted to be a writer from the age of 12, but when I grew up I just wanted to write well rather than "be a writer"” and set about educating myself. My first published novel is the third or fourth full-length completed book, she tells. This echoes Quigley's experience: "I'’ve got what I would call a couple of practice novels. Now I know for a fact they weren'’t publishable, though at the time I thought they were fantastic. And Hilary Mantel in Issue 17 advises twentysomethings wanting to write an autobiographical novel to wait until they are at least 40, while Salman Rushdie has suggested no one should attempt to write a novel before the age of 50"
When I was feeling a bit discouraged about an upcoming birthday and my still unpublished status at such an "advanced" age, my crit partner and good friend, Elleann, pointed me to this article in a British magazine called Mslexia. If you're the "wrong" side of forty, it'll be well worth your while.

And check out Elleann's new blog, BlogFish!

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Morgan, Gracie, and Noah-my darling three. :-) Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Grace Marie

Grace Marie, born 7:03 PM on September 13th--8 pounds, 21 inches, totally beautiful! Posted by Picasa