Monthly Archives: August 2015

Rejection – Feel the Burn!

“If you pray for something, you must be willing to take what God, in His infinite love and knowledge, gives to you as an answer.” ~ Pastor Jim Jarrett


 

As a fiction writer, I have voices in my head. It’s perfectly normal. A ride to San Francisco on the BART sends my fingers flying with tidbits of scenes. An errant observation by a toddler to his mother and I have my phone out to capture the words.
My writing style is different than a majority of the traditionally published Christian fiction writers. For those not involved in writing, a traditionally published author usually has an agent and their book is produced by a publisher. There is also the monumental move for writers into indie or self-publishing. I’d love to be picked by an agent or editor, who, upon reading or hearing my idea, would push a contract in my direction and send a limo to take me to the airport.dream

However, I have a ways to go.

Case in point: I entered a short story contest earlier this year in the Young Adult (YA) category. The story came from my heart, equal parts of complete fiction and bits of my life. Life got busy (doesn’t it always?) and I had actually forgotten about entering the contest until a random email popped up notifying me I was a semi-finalist. WHAT?!

So I did what anyone in my situation would do:

squeeeee

I scoured the feedback the judges provided. I edited for my use of the word “that,” which I have a tendency to throw in. Two writers gave me critiques before I resubmitted for the final round. Admittedly, I was excited when I hit the “Send” button. Based on the semi-finalist judges’ comments, I had a good chance of winning!

And a couple of days ago, I got the email I’ve been waiting for!!!
I hate to be the bearer of sad news, but your story was not selected as a finalist…

crying_baby-1680x1050

Even the most seasoned writer will say rejection stings every single time and I agree. I received one sentence in regards to the judge’s perception of both my weakness and strong point. While the negative feedback given was ambivalent and bruised my writer’s heart, I am choosing to take the positive feedback and keep moving forward. It’s not the first time I’ve been rejected and certainly won’t be the last. God gave me stories, so I’ll continue to write them down – I’ll be faithful to the path God has put in front of me.

And the voices in my head!

Advertisements

The Epic Great Race

The Great Race is one of those films that your parents or grandparents saw and tell you, “You HAVE to watch this!” And you say you will and never quite get to it. Lemme tell you…

 

                            watch the great race

 

I saw this movie for the first time back when I was in high school. I tried so hard not to like the slapstick comedy, fascinate over Natalie Wood’s outfits, giggle at the pugs…Oh the pugs!

 

pugs

 

Let me go backwards a bit and give you the synopsis. Released in 1965, the white-suited and quintessential hero, appropriately named “The Great Leslie,” is played by Tony Curtis. He convinces auto makers that a race from New York to Paris will boost auto sales. He is accompanied by his stoic “man,” Hezekiah, in a race against his mustached, dressed-in-black, arch-rival, Professor Fate. Professor Fate (Jack Lemmon) has his own sidekick, Max (Peter Falk), and they vow to beat Leslie to the finish line. Everything about the characters is over-the-top.

 

                                  the-great-race-o

 

The theatrical feminist, Maggie Dubois, is played by the beautiful Natalie Wood. She bullies a newspaper into hiring her to cover the race (read: her shrill voice and silly antics = bullies). When her car breaks down, Leslie offers her a ride. Thus, he ends up hauling her around the rest of the race.

 

I never thought my girls would like this movie. It’s too “everything” for them: too many musicals, too much silliness, too many costume changes for Maggie Dubois. I was so very wrong. When given the opportunity, both Thing 1 and Thing 2 gladly pop in the DVD and let ‘er rip. There isn’t any age that wouldn’t enjoy this movie and its unbridled fun.

 

If you happen to be a fan of Laurel and Hardy or the Three Stooges, then you will undoubtedly adore The Great Race.

 

                                   natalie wood


Self-Confessed Nerd and/or Geek

I’ve been to a Battlestar Galactica convention. It’s true. I am a nerd you read about who dressed up like their favorite character (but I missed the competition time). Don’t laugh! It was absolutely one of the geekiest and most fun weekends I’ve had!

Geek term: “Squee” – to make a high pitched noise associated with excitement.

squeeeee

For hours, I waited in line with friends to see the “new” Star Wars movies when the first one was released in 1999. I had to work, so I didn’t spend the night in a tent, but fully supported my friends who did! I’ve attended too many midnight showings to count and had tears of joy when the latest Star Wars trailer hit the web. Yes…I cried. It was magical to me! Needless to say, I enjoy a good flick.

If you were to peruse my Netflix account, my “See It Again” is chalk-full of rampant geek. Firefly, Star Trek, Neverending Story, Labyrinth, Dr. Who, X-Files. Give me an alternate universe, a fairy tale or something set in space and I’m usually game!

This doesn’t mean there aren’t some classic sci-fi failures. I refuse to watch Sharknado. It’s never going to happen. And I only watched Mega-Lava-Something-Or-Other because there was an actress who I liked cast as a main character (it didn’t help the plot, though).

I had a conversation with a Christian writer friend earlier this year about our love of fairy tale remakes. She preferred Cinderella while I gravitated towards Maleficent. It’s not that either of us was wrong, per se, but our tastes simply parted at the fork in the road. She didn’t like the portrayal of Prince Philip while I took to task on the heavy CGI and lack of story development (I concede the relationship with Prince Charming and his dad was fantastic).

The recent expansion of the dystopian genre in book, film and television has been exciting to me. Some extraordinary stories have made huge profit and created a far-reaching crowd. It’s been nice to watch the Hunger Games trilogy and know Katniss is not going to drop the f-bomb.

Katniss

I admit, although I didn’t prefer the Divergent books (oooh, don’t get me started on the last one and sudden point of view changes!), I was just as disappointed as Thing 1 was when we watched the Insurgent and the film depicts Tris and Four hooking up. I know it was “implied,” but in the books, it is a HUGE hang-up for Tris and an even bigger let down for the viewers who weren’t expecting anything of the sort.

I challenge you to get your geek on! Embrace your inner nerd! And use exclamation points because editors and English teachers alike flinch at the sight!!!

Let me know if you’d like a particular review of a movie, book or television show. I would LOVE a good excuse to watch or read!

I like the Bible


The Other Beauty and the Beast

I had intended to go see Fantastic Four this past weekend. However, after reading reviews and having friends warn me, this tweet (from the director and it’s already been deleted) was brought to my attention and saved me two hours of grief:

 

josh-trank-tweet

Oh, Netflix, how I love thee! I was bummed about the movie and kinda bored when I clicked on Beauty and the Beast. Must’ve been distracted too, since I tend to try and stay away from shows from the CW. But imagine my surprise when I liked the first one! Then I clicked the second. And third. And then my family was already asleep and I was like…

 

Netflix

As a kid, I grew up with this version on television:

 BATBBlackWhite01

 So, you can see why I wasn’t exactly jonesing to get back into a cheesy story line. But fast forward the plot to 2012 and update the main characters! Catherine “Cat” Chandler is a New York Police detective who witnessed her mother’s murder. She falls in love with Vincent Kelly, an ex-soldier who has been hiding from the secret government organization that turned him into a genetically altered beast. Be still my conspiracy and sci-fi lovin’ heart!

 Beauty-and-the-Beast-New(some serious fierce stares right there)

 

I’ve only made it through the first two seasons, but they each have twenty-two episodes! Holy binge watching, Batman! I’ll be hitting season three via Hulu soon and season four was ordered by the CW, so I’m set for a while.

 

Unlike the vast majority of the shows on the CW, Cat dresses like a relatively “normal” adult. Her shirts don’t flutter or show off cleavage and she wears boots to work. Vincent does have some gratuitous shirtless scenes in Season 1, but it’s not over-the-top(less). And yes, the characters do have sex, but again, there is much less skin than the average PG-13 movie. I was pleasantly surprised. Expect bouts of self-deprivation and loathing – again, it’s the CW. A mild dose of excessive drama is par for the course. Oh yes, and add in a masquerade. Another bonus of television? No swearing! Wait…I think the “b” word comes out a couple of times (in two seasons).

 

All in all, I never expected to get sucked into the vortex that is Beauty and the Beast. It’s nowhere close to any of my top favorites, but it’s palatable and that’s good.

mehgif


Not your Grandma’s Fiction

I read a funny comment in a Christian writer’s forum that I stalk…I mean “frequently read:”

“I think the perception of today’s kids is that Christian Fiction is their great-grandmas’ reading material. We need YA that can excite youth, and most of them go to public schools. They have required reading for English that may be shocking, depending on the agenda of the teacher and/or English dept.” –  Nike Chillemi

grandma_meme

There was a light bulb moment when I read this. Finally, someone who is saying what I’m saying! This comes on the heels of my stories and novel proposal being rejected time and time again.

Now, I will say that many published authors will talk/write about how they went through the same thing and to not give up. Full disclosure here – I am not giving up trying to publish my books. But, I’ve seem to hit a wall in how my writing is perceived.

Let me explain this way; when I was growing up, my mom tried to get me interested in Christian music. The problem was that I detested the options she presented because it was not my flavor of music. It was like being handed a cone with vanilla ice cream when I wanted mint chip (or vanilla/chocolate cake if you’re lactose intolerant). It wasn’t that I didn’t like the message, it was so very boring and unlike the songs on the radio.

When I read Nike’s quote, along with a blog posted by Chip McGregor link (head nod to Steve Laube link for addressing the same), it harkened back to the days that I used a recorder to tape over my mom’s choice of music. At the time, it was the only type of music available to me and it took me years and years to get over the fact that there are some astounding Christian bands that suit my taste. I had associated “Christian” music with guitars and “la-la” lyrics about how everyone loves everyone and deer and angels when, in fact, somewhere along the line, bands stepped out and were the torch bearers for sublime sounds. Jars of Clay self-titled album still gets me in the feels!

Jars of Clay emotion

There are some radically different Christian fictions books now out for readers to enjoy. They stretch the gambit of sci-fi to dystopia, cozy mysteries to Amish romance, suspense/thrillers to contemporary. While we writers pour out our hearts, the market is vastly different than it was even ten years ago. I believe there are even Amish zombies in space!

doge not grandma

If you’re a Christian fiction writer reading this blog, I challenge you to stretch yourself! You have the opportunity to reach those who think Christian fiction involves only wildflowers and strapping men named Brad/Chad (sorry if you’re name is Brad or Chad. I mean I’m not sorry you were given that name, but it was convenient to use your name here. I sacrifice your good name for convenience). God is using your words, so be faithful and creative!

If you are a reader, dip your toe into the array that has become Christian fiction. You can find yourself in a speculative future or hunkered in a World War II hospital.

This time, it’s not your grandma’s Christian fiction market!

Cat reading


Where there is smoke…

I’d fully intended to go see Fantastic 4 over the weekend and wow you with a review, but the smoke from the nearby wildland fires keep me inside as much as possible. As proof, here is a picture of the sunrise this morning from my kitchen window:

 sunrise(keep in mind that I’m more than an hour away from the closest fire)

 My request for you is that you pray for the firefighters in the area as the fires have minimal containment. Pray for their safety and rest. There have already been three firefighters who have given the ultimate sacrifice – their lives.

 

Also, keep the people who have breathing issues in your prayers. It has become debilitating for some.

 

Above all, even though I pray for relief and rain, I know that God is sovereign and has His plan for Northern California, the state and even our nation. God bless the men and women working to protect others.

 


 

Information per CalFire:

 

Fork Complex, Trinity County, 15,184 acres – 9% contained

River Complex, Trinity County, 12,524 acres – 8% contained

South Complex, Trinity County, 15,026 acres – 3% contained

Route Complex, Humboldt & Trinity County, 15,862 acres – 10% contained

Mad River Complex, Trinity County, 17,041 acres – 20% contained

 

Picture from the Shasta-Trinity National Forest Ironside Mountain Lookout:

Lookout

And South Complex smoke view from Big Bar. River Complex smoke is also seen in the background:

Lookout2(courtesy of Shasta-Trinity NF twitter feed)


Golightly, I Say!

Tiffanys opener

This year, I finally watched Breakfast at Tiffany’s. I’d heard about this classic throughout my life, along with listening to songs of the same title and reading debates on the official Tiffany Blue color. After taking a class at Mount Hermon by James Scott Bell on his “write from the middle” approach, I thought to myself that those classics must have something that I need to learn! Besides, what’s the point of watching JSB compare Casablanca to Lethal Weapon if I can’t learn the techniques and use them?

 

Cue up the Netflix account and start the movie! I had no idea what to expect – no inkling of the plot or setting, or even the characters’ names. The intro and slow music made me skeptical, but I was determined. Something was to be gleaned! I needed to find the magic bean!

Tiffanys gracious

Here’s the synopsis: “Based on Truman Capote’s novella, this is the story of a young, jet- setting woman in New York City who meets a young man when he moves into her apartment building. He is being kept by a wealthy, older woman, but wants to be a writer. She is working as a high-priced escort and searching for a rich, older man to marry. The opening scene has her window-shopping at Tiffany’s at six in the morning, after being up all night on a date.”

 

And when the dialog starts, it’s cunning and machine-gun paced. When I finally figured out that Holly was a call-girl and Paul/Fred was a Boy Toy, it was more of an “Oh! This-makes-more-sense-now!” moment. Neither dress in skimpy clothes or flinging themselves at their “marks.” As a matter of fact, these two dress to the nines (with the exception of Holly’s long nightshirt and Paul’s shirtless shot). Breakfast at Tiffany’s manages to be funny without being racy or explicit.

Tiffanys masks

I liked the movie so much, that I invited Thing 1 (14 years old) to watch it with me. To my surprise, she loved it as much as I did. That being said, I understand that some of my readers don’t want to subject their teens to movies with smoking, drinking/partying and exposure to the oldest profession. The only other sexual reference was a fully clad stripper. Thing 1 and I discussed the fact that Holly and Paul/Fred were paid and the lack of love in that type of arrangement. I used that mark as a jump-off for conversation as to how the Bible says that sex is only for marriage.

 

“Just look at how hollow these two end up,” was my point.

score for mom

I’d recommend this movie for 14 year olds and up with the clear disclaimer on the main character’s occupations. And you’d need a heart of stone not to love Cat.

Tiffanys cat


Save the Drama Fo’ Yo’ Mama

I was a dramatic teenager…I can admit that now (and hear my mom cackling at me for admitting the truth). This is evidenced by my poems in an old journal that I wrote during my high school years. Let me clarify: this was not a “journaling” journal. This green notebook, with my mom’s name scribbled off of the front, was strictly for poems of my own creation and song lyrics that struck a proverbial chord in my oft melancholic heart.

 

As proof of my angst, I present to you a smattering of poem titles. Be forewarned, you may work up a tear or two.

            Blue Life

            Then I Smiled

            To Meet You

            All The Time

            Forget Me Not

And the epically titled:

            Lonesome Tears

 

crying applause

 

Looking back through these poems, some of them are painful to read because of the cliché rhymes and lack of originality. That said, this was a pivotal time in my life that I felt like I was a wallflower, destined to be ignored by the male species in the public high school I attended. As an adult, I understand that I was somewhat of a pariah because I was known as a…

Prude

 

I did, in fact, have a couple of short term boyfriends. However, I had a truckload of crushes. That left fertilized ground for the green journal of longing. In turn, I wrote and poured my feelings onto paper. Now I hope that none of these poems will ever see the light of day (EVER), but they fulfilled a need in me to seek paper to pen.

 

Every artist starts with a spark: finger-color painting masterpieces, lop-sided clay bowls, fledgling stories that ripped off a Cinderella plotline. Did you know that Vincent Van Gogh only sold one painting during his lifetime and more than 900 paintings were not sold or made famous until after his death? Or that J.K. Rowling was rejected by the first twelve publishers she submitted to? Often, there is failure before the goal is reached.

 

I felt the need to share this with my readers (all six of you) to encourage you, no matter where you are at in your life. If you are facing a job change, writing a book or faced with personal change, the task can seem monumental. I get this…I’ve been rejected by every editor and publisher that I’ve talked or submitted to so far. Yeah, it stings, but I also know that God inspired my stories and that makes me keep plugging away.

I think I can

 

Many people quote Jeremiah 29:11 in regards to the future, but I find the following verses to be much more appropriate for my own future:

Jeremiah 29:12, 13: Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.

 


Jebraun Clifford

dream.write.repeat

David N. Alderman

A Place Where Fiction And Faith Meet

sacredgroundstickyfloors

Resting in Jesus in the midst of lunacy.

Quills & Inkblotts

Because the world needs good stories

For Such a Time as This

I want to be a salt shaker, light bearer, city-on-a-hill dweller

Rosemary E. Johnson

Dragon Writer

Kelsey Messner

Compelling Christian Fiction

Pursue Magazine

Embrace your uniqueness. Tap into your potential. Pursue the impossible.

tarajohnsonauthor

Courage, freedom and joy: stories that heal.

Crafting Mysteries & Suspense

Mystery author Cathy Elliott talks a bit about writing mysteries, life, faith, and the delights of quilting in "The Occasional Blog."

Of Rhythm and Dreams

life in poetry

loved by I am

a twenty-first century girl following the eternal Savior

Leslie H. Stobbe Literary

CHEERING ON AUTHORS IS HIS MISSION