The Words on my Desk

The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis – The best book I’ve read in a long time. It has totally rocked my faith and honestly saved me from a bout of bitterness at the present circumstances of life.

With God in Russia by Walter J. Ciszek, S.J. – The fascinating true story of Father Ziszek who was falsely accused in 1940 of being an American Spy and sentenced to hard labor in a Russian prison camp in Siberia. He would remain imprisoned for 23 years.

The Secrets of a Freelance Writer by Robert W. Bly – This book (or my version of it, anyway) is a bit outdated as it was printed before the boom of online social media, but it still gives practical tips for how we writers can actually make a little bit of money at this freelance gig. Because friends, I need a new computer. Mine is hobbling toward the finish line and really, at 745 in computer years, she’s lived a long, happy life. But it’s time for a replacement and before that can happen I need some money.

Wild Things: The Art of Nurturing Boys by Stephen James and David Thomas – I haven’t started this one, but The MOB Society will be leading us through it during this month’s Book Club. Check it out if you want to be involved. I’m looking forward to it!

Bonhoeffer: Paster, Martyr, Prophet, Spy by Eric Metaxes – I’ve been slowly making my way through this book. It’s wordy, but it is so, so good. It’s given me a GREAT glimpse into the world of Nazi Germany, which has helped further bolster the historical nature of my own novel. In addition, the story of Bonhoeffer’s life is challenging and fascinating.

How to Write a Book Proposal by Michael Larsen – The time has come for me to get down to the dirty business of getting my book published and part of that process is writing a book proposal. This is not the fun part of the process, I might add, but it is necessary.

Write the Perfect Book Proposal by Jeff Herman and Deborah M. Adams – See above.


So that’s what I’m reading. How about you? What words are sitting on your desk top, or beside your bed, or on your couch or kitchen countertop or wherever it is that you get lost in a book?

And now I’m back

Oh hi there! How are you? Me? Oh, I’m fine, thanks. Now that I’ve finally finished all three books in The Hunger Games Trilogy. I read them on my iPad. I don’t know how many pages the books were, but on the iPad, all three books totaled 15, 215 pages. I swiped my iPad screen 15, 215 times in the last four days.

My eyes hurt.

Yep. I took the plunge. I started The Hunger Games Saturday night and I finished the third book, Mockingjay, last night around midnight. I have done absolutely nothing in between those times. Except turn thirty-four, which I largely ignored anyway, so no big deal.

So my take on the books: I was skeptical when I went in to the series. I didn’t want to like it but, alas, I did like it. I had to fight through the first five chapters of the first book, which I found to be painfully boring. I almost gave it all up, but once the story finally picked up, I was hooked.

From a story standpoint, the books were great. There was a love triangle, lots of action and fantastic descriptions that pulled me right into the world of Panem. I could see it and smell it and feel the terror of it all.

That is great storytelling.

My suspicions that it isn’t the most grammatically sound piece of literature were correct, but I see the freedom that the author took with creative license and I could appreciate it. There were a few paragraphs that were overly fragmented in my opinion and a couple of times I laughed out loud at the, perhaps, overly judicious use of creative license, but overall I understood why she wrote the book the way she did and why an editor didn’t change it.

About half-way through the book I started to feel a bit squicky about the idea of watching the movie. There was this nagging idea that the author was making a pretty braod social statement, but I couldn’t quite put my finger on what it was. But all I could think was that The Hunger Games were meant to be a thing of entertainment. People from the Capitol watched children killing each other as a means to entertain themselves.

Doesn’t it seem odd that we would want to watch the movie in that context?

By the end of the series, though, I got it – I saw exactly where the author wanted to lead us, which made watching the movie version of the book less offensive to me (though I still don’t know if I’ll see it). The Hunger Games is supposed to be an allegory of war. It’s a loose allegory and I think it’s meant to be an extreme picture on purpose.

We send young people into battle and they have to fight to the death with the knowledge that really, there can only be one victor. But in the battle, the good guys and the bad guys get muddied and soon, everyone kind of looks alike, because the battle for survival makes us all act in desperation.

Just as in a war, the end results of The Hunger Games are devastating. The victor is never the same, having seen and done things that are unspeakable. The families of the victims are forever left without their child and every community is ultimately affected with the horror of it all.

But who is the Capitol supposed to represent? This is something I had a hard time figuring out. Maybe it’s not a representation of any one thing or group of people, but on occasion I got a vague sense that maybe the Capitol was supposed to represent America and it felt a bit underhanded.

Other times, however, that didn’t seem to be the case at all.

In the end, it was one more story that leads us to believe that the only answer is a sort of Utopian society, where a new race of peace loving people is the only hope for the world. A nice thought, I suppose.

But in the end it’s all just fiction, isn’t it?

So what do you think? I realize I’m roughly two years late to this conversation. I’m edgy like that.

*eye roll*

In all honestly, though, before I read the books I truly had no idea what they were about so I’ve read nothing on the subject. What message did you take from The Hunger Games?

A few of my favorite things

seasonal_peppermint_mochaAs I begin seriously working on my novel again, I’ve spent some time reading through the books that bring me the most inspiration.  Books that move my heart, make me laugh, make me cry and make me think that I could maybe, possibly write prose so poetic you feel as if you’re standing in the middle of the action.  Here are a few of the books that move me:

The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver: I read this book in college and remember being stunned at the magic that sprang forth from each page.  This book is a tragedy from start to finish, but it’s also poetry in motion.  It’s so beautifully written that you don’t notice the heartache until it’s right on top of you.

The Girl with the Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier: I love this book.  It is also tragic, but in a less blatant form.  It’s a historical novel, which is my favorite kind of book and the imagery is so vivid that you feel like you’re a part of the Vermeer painting yourself.

Anna Karenina by Lev Tolstoy: I love this novel.  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again.  This book makes me happy.  And sad.  But mostly happy.

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte:  Another beautiful tale of love and tragedy.  After reading this book I often find myself writing Thee and Thou as if it’s natural, every day language…

Aside from books, here are a few more of my favorite things.

Coffeemate Peppermint Mocha Creamer: I was positive that this was only a holiday flavoring offered for Christmas so every time I go to the store I buy more of this in the fear that they’re going to yank it off the shelves.  So far they haven’t, but I’m not taking any chances.  I’ve got seven bottles of it in my fridge.

You know that moment when you walk into your kids’ rooms after lights out and they’re sound asleep, their mouths open and their faces peaceful?  You lean down and smell their hair and breathe in the scents of lavendar and lotion, then you gently kiss their soft, squishy cheeks.

That is so my favorite thing.

My seven year old says the funniest things.  My favorite from just this morning was when I pulled out the nail clippers to tackle the claws he likes to call toes.

“No!  Don’t clip my toenails!” he cried.  “Why?” I asked.  “Because they’re my weapons,” came the reply.  “I need them in case Tia and Landon start attacking me.”

Listening to his reasoning is definately one of my favorite things.

Sleeping.  Last night I slept eight and a half hours uninterrupted.  I’m fairly certain I didn’t move the entire night.  And that is one of my favorite things.

What are a few of your favorite things?

The Star, A Book and A Monkey…not necessarily in that order

Monkey has been a part of our family for two years now.  He was adopted on Landon’s first brithday and it was love at first sight…or bite – whatever.


Since that time, Monkey (sometimes referred to as Steve) has been a mere extension of Landon’s skinny little arm.  Two peas in a pod, they are.  Napping together, playing together, living together.  Yes.  They are the best of friends.  Bosom buddies! 





Recently, Monkey (Steve) had a bit of a medical crisis.  His leg began separating itself from his body.  It was touch and go there for awhile.  We didn’t know if he would make it.  The unfortunate snag stretched from mid-knee to the under arm.  We prayed, we said our goodbyes, we prepared Landon for the worst.  But he refused to give up hope.  He believed in Monkey and so the rest of us did as well.

But just to be safe, we adopted a knew Monkey.  Larry.  Just kidding.  The new Monkey doesn’t have a name. The new Monkey looks exactly the same.  Except, of course, for the fact that he doesn’t smell like spit and pee.  And his leg is fully attached.  And his color is even throughout.

Landon took one look and with utter disdain tossed new Monkey aside.  Like a red headed step child.  Unwanted, unloved, unreturnable because I lost the receipt…

We decided to give Monkey (Steve) one last chance at life.  Thanks to the skillful hands of his surgeon (Grandma Bebe) Monkey pulled through.  In fact, he’s as good as new.  You know, besides the fact that he smells like spit and pee, his leg fluff is distorted and thin and his coloring is extremely faded.  It doesn’t matter to Landon, though.  He loves Monkey (Steve) unconditionally.



Switching gears – abruptly.

Sloan is in public school.  This is not a decision we took lightly and we spent a lot of time discussing this choice.  And we are, for the most part, very happy with the choice we made.  It’s right for our family right now.


It does require quite a bit of vigilance.  I knew this going in so I try not to let myself get overly exasperated when I feel…well, exasperated with the public school.  Since Sloan began reading, and reading quite well, I’ve found myself more and more annoyed at the books he brings home from the library.  In fact, I can’t think of a single one I’ve been happy with in several months.

It started with the book about Werewolves he checked out around Halloween.  Nice.

Let’s begin by discussing The Diary of a Wimpy Kid.  I get it, these books are popular and in general, I don’t think they’re bad.  BUT.  My kid is seven.  Does he really need to be reading about the nuances of middle school?  And the material in and of itself is just so silly and trivial.  Why are we dumbing down books for our youngest readers?  I don’t get it.  What happened to writing books that were filled with adventure and imagination instead of potty words and stick figures?

Lee and I did read through the Wimpy Kid books and ultimately decided Sloan could check them out, but we are talking through them with him, discussing issues such as the boys trying to hide things from their parents and how that’s not something that we agree with.  It’s lead to teachable moments, but I still find it annoying to have to deal with such nonsense.

THEN *deep breaths* he brought home this gem.  A book he will promptly be returning to the library with firm instructions not to ever bring home again.  We made it clear that he wasn’t in trouble and that it wasn’t his fault, but that some books just aren’t worth the time.  And a book about a giant piece of p00p that punches people?!  Definately not worth the time.

There’s no easy way to put this: THIS BOOK IS STUPID.  It’s stupid and I don’t even understand why a school library would stock it on their shelves.  Most of the words aren’t even spelled right (Laffs for Laughs, Akshuns for Actions).  Seriously?!  Am I the only person who finds this somewhat appalling that an early reader would be allowed to take home such nonsense?

Then there’s the small little “subliminal message” they hid on Page 76: “Think for yourself.  Question Authority.  Read banned books!  Kids have the same constitutional rights as grown-ups!!!”

Oh sure it’s all tongue in cheek, but here’s the thing…IT’S NOT FUNNY NOR IS IT CUTE.

Let’s just say I’m talking myself off a cliff right now.


Switching gears – let’s get happy again.

I had two separate conversations last week that brought a smile to my face and laughter to my heart.  The first went like this:

“I need to reschedule our meeting for tomorrow.  My daughter’s preschool is doing a live Nativity play and she is the star.”

“Oh really?  Your daughter is going to be baby Jesus?”

The second conversation went like this:

“Tia was the Star in her Nativity play last week.”

“Oh really?  Tia was Mary?”


She was The Star.  Literally.


She was The Star and yes.  She was the star!

Peace Out.