Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Google Earth--wow!

Google Earth...
If you have not had this experience yet, you must do it now...Fly to the Grand Canyon and take a tour...Oh, my! It's a free download from Google and it's very cool. For instance, I typed it "from New Orleans" to my home address, and not only did it map the entire journey, but it zoomed in on my lot! Caveat: the "earth" pictures are at least a couple of years old, because my house was a LOT and not a house, which it's been for three years .

Anyway, very cool . . . especially for writers who might have to write about journeys, terrain, etc. Enjoy!

P.S. Thanks to Randy Elrod at his Ethos blog for this tip.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Love My Book Club!

My neighborhood book club met tonight and we had a wonderful time, as usual. We discussed Nick Hornby's A Long Way Down, and I think it averaged a score of about two and one-half stars. Not one of our favorite books, mainly because we didn't care much for the characters . (And there's a lesson in that, I think . . . ) Brilliant concept, though.

Next month we'll be reading The Birth of Venus by Sarah Dunant. Looking forward to it--but mostly looking forward to finding some time to squeeze in some pleasure reading. I'm on such a tight deadline, plus I've had to go through two sets of first pages, plus I have edits coming back next week, plus I need to finish up my apologetics course . . . busy, busy.

Not to mention all the days I have marked as "out of town" on my calendar. Sigh.

Our book club has had great discussions about the following books:

First book: SNOW IN AUGUST by Pete Hamill
Date: PEACE LIKE A RIVER by Leif Enger (we loved it)
Date: THE PACT by Jodi Picoult (we loved it)
Date: PLAIN TRUTH by Jodi Picoult
Date: BIG STONE GAP by Adriana Trigiani
April 2004: "The Amateur Marriage" by Ann Tyler
May 4, 2004- "The Last Juror" by John Grisham
June 3, 2004- "Good Grief" by Lolly Winston
July 12, 2004- "The Rule of Four" by Ian Caldwell & Dustin Thomason
August 8, 2004- "Wonderful Years, Wonderful Years" by George Higgins
September 20, 2004- "Skinny Dip" by Carl Hiaasen
October 9, 2004- "The Lake of Dead Languages" by Carol Goodman
November 8, 2004- "The No.#1 Ladies Detective Agency" by Alexander Smith
December 13, 2004- "A Redbird Christmas" by Fannie Flag
January 10, 2005- "Whirlwind" by Michael Jaffee
February 7. 2005- "The Kite Runner" by Khaled Hosseini
March 7, 2005- "My Sister's Keeper" by Jodi Picoult
April 2005: "Life Expectancy" by Dean Koontz
May 2, 2005- "The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter" by Carson McCullers
June 6, 2005- "Blink" by Malcolm Gladwell
July 18, 2005- "State of Fear" by Michael Crichton
August 29, 2005- "A Long Way Down" by Nick Hornby
October 3, 2005: "The Birth of Venus" by Sarah Dunant

I'm sure there are others, but I didn't keep records and I can't remember them all.

Now, to explain at least one of my rules--I'll go with the "ing thing."

Never begin a sentence with an -ing construction that's physically impossible to accomplish with the rest of the sentence. Example: Slamming the locker door, she grabbed her algebra book.

See the problem? You can't simultaneously slam the door AND grab your book (without smashing your hand in the process.) Browne and King say that using too many -ing constructions is simply the mark of "unsophisticated" writing. Since I've become aware of them, I've pared them WAY down. (Twin sister to the -ing construction is to use "as" to do the same thing. Avoid it as well.)

And there you have one of Angie's favorite rules: watch that "ing thing."

Monday, August 29, 2005

Tennis Needs a Net

Robert Frost said it: "I would as soon write free verse as play tennis with the net down."

I don't often write poetry (though I have had my characters write bad poems on occasion), but I understand what Frost was saying: we need boundaries and goals.

Last weekend when I was in Philly teaching with my good buddy Nancy Rue, we'd often get tickled as we'd look over a manuscript together. She'd point out a passage that made her stumble, and I'd say something like, "Well, the rule for that is . . . "

I have a rule for almost everything--with cute names attached. "The ING thing." "The FAS rule." "The pencil rule."

I like my rules. They're clear, they give me direction, and they shape up my writing. Best of all, when you know the rules, you can know when it's appropriate to break them. And I've found that as long as I can convince an editor I've a good reason for breaking the rule, I can usually manage it.

How do you learn the rules of writing? Some rules you learn by instinct. Some you learn by reading books about writing. Some you learn from rule-happy teachers. Some you learn by experience. And some rules you invent yourself.

There are rules for writing and there are rules for life. As Christians, we've been given a book of rules--or, if you prefer a softer semantic, we've been given guidelines for living. Instructions from the Creator, who knows how we were meant to function best. Guidelines for a happy, healthy, and productive life.

So--the next time you're tempted to rip down the net and break every rule in the book (and believe me, I've seen students who gave it a try), think about that tennis game.

Ah. A new week. Love it!

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Magdalene Cover

For those of you who offered comments on the cover of my WIP, here's the latest incarnation. I love it! My Mary M. is older, not a prostitute, and yes, she'd had a hard life. That's why I think the picture is perfect.

Thanks so much for your comments and input!

Friday, August 26, 2005

Because It's Friday . . .

Because Lisa Samson has been graciously interviewing so many Christian novelists on her blog, "Author Intrusion," be sure to check out BJ Hoff's blog, "Grace Notes," on Monday, where Lisa will be the interviewee. (Links to the right).

And now, just because it's Friday . . .

You Know You're Addicted to Alias When...

At every fast food joint you go to, you order "the special, no pickles" regardless of the fact that you LIKE pickles.

You believe wearing a colorful wig and tight clothing can help you get away with anything.

You check the sides of old book pages for Russian characters.

Every time you see a black Mercedes, it reminds you of Sark.

You notice every Ford Focus on the road.

You use the phrase "There are just so many problems with this..." at every possible opportunity.

You have suspicions that your spouse may actually be a double.

Your non- Alias obsessed friends (like you have any of those left! Hah!) refuse to talk to you about Italians, prophecies, pickles, wigs, parent/daughter relationships, spies or anything else that might lead to a discussion about Alias.

You actually BUY a blue Ford Focus. (With gold rims, of course)

You wonder if Sark actually could be Irina's son.

You develop opinions and theories about this and other unanswered facets of the show, and spend a large amount of time formulating arguments for both sides of the debate...

The main question you ask yourself shopping is "Would Sydney wear something like this?"

You have seen every episode. Ever. More than 5 times a piece.

You went to see Daredevil just for Jennifer Garner. (NO, NO, NO.)

You flip out when you see Michael Vartan in One Hour Photo married to someone else.

The mention of weddings, rings, or two years just gets you incredibly ticked off.

If the topic of TV shows comes up, you automatically ask the person "Do you watch Alias?" and if they say they've never heard of it... you immediately end the conversation.

You hear the songs played in the show.. and you instinctively listen for the lines of the characters.. and know precisely when their lines occurred in the song.

Your history teacher mentions something about the KGB.. and you suddenly think "Irina?"

You have a codename that people actually call you by.

You think having no first name is a perfectly acceptable thing.

Old Asian men in wheelchairs creep you out.

You will never view epoxy in the same way again.

You find yourself trying to find good, compelling reasons to sway your significant other that your next child/pet should be named "Irina" or "Sydney."

You feel aggravated and insulted when you watch the episode of "Frasier" where Victor Garber plays Dr. Crane's British butler. ("Years of agent training and experience, wasted...")

You feel a strange urge to bite Mike Tyson's ear off every time you think of "Jimmy Kimmel Live."

Whenever you hear a truly interesting song, you immediately think of how that song would fit into a scene from Alias.

You find yourself criticizing the REAL CIA based solely on your knowledge of Alias.

You think Jerry Springer's guests have boring, uncomplicated family/friend relationships and easy, simple-to-fix personal problems.

You become incredibly irritated when people say, "That girl Sydney, doesn't she really report to someone else?" and can tell them exactly how many episodes behind the times they are.

You begin fantasizing about planting listening devices on your significant other's work clothes, just to see if you can find anything exciting/spy-worthy.

You know what J/I, S/V, S/W, Sarkney, Slark, slash, and shipper are, and have opinions on all of them.

Every time you hear the Nokia ringtone, you get excited even though there's no way it could be Vaughn.

You look for air vents you could crawl into incase of an emergency.

The only people you have on your AIM buddy list are people you've met through Alias

When you begin to doze off in history class and only snap back to attention when the teacher uses the words "Alliance" or "Covenant."

You record every episode, then go out and buy the DVDs as well.

You dream about Irina Derevko at least once a week.

Sweiss does not sound like a candy bar to you

You assume that anyone who wears dark eyeliner is evil.

You meet a nice person and immediately become suspicious of their motives.

You constantly try to figure out ways to get Jack and Irina back together.

You actually get these jokes and pass them on to other friends who are addicted to Alias.

Angie here again--frankly, I'm always wondering where Sydney keeps her wig boxes . . . her apartment should be filled with them!

Get Your Own Addicted Meme Here

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Sentiment vs. Sentimentality

I used to be confused by those two terms-which is not a good thing, because sentiment (i.e., emotion) in a novel is a Good Thing, while sentimentality is not. Then I heard the difference explained this way: sentimentality almost always goes for the "expected" thing, often to the point of cliche. A depiction of true sentiment will cover new territory.

So--I've become an Alias freak. Never watched it on TV, but I've rented the DVDs and I am enthralled by the writing. Never a dull moment, never a plot thread wrapped up without another one being strung out.

Anyway, in season one (I think) Vaughn and Sydney are being attracted to each other. You know Vaughn wants to declare his feelings, but is he going to do it in a sentimental way? Of course not.

They're together and he shows her a watch--the watch his much-admired-and-killed-in-the-line-of-duty-father gave to him. "You see this watch?" he says. "My dad gave it to me. He said you could set your heart by this watch.'

Sydney looks at him, waiting.

Vaughn continues: "The thing is, this watch stopped on October first. That's the day we met."

And Sydney looks at him and smiles and says ,"Me, too."

Why is this great dialogue? Because 1) It's unexpected. 2) It's not "on the nose." It's not tit for tat. Sydney responds to what he's thinking, (I think I love you), not what he's saying.

I saw another great exchange today. Sydney and Vaughn are together, and Syd confesses that she lied to Vaughn about a co-worker. She says she pretty much grew up alone, so she's not used to being accountable to someone, and she's sorry she lied.

And Vaughn cocks a brow and you're not sure if he's going to be angry or forgiving or hurt or irritated . . . and then he offers her a bite of his ice cream, then he stands and offers her his hand. Invisible dialogue, pure sentiment, not gushy sentimentality.

Most of us have a little writer in us that is contantly predicting what a character will say--and in a lot of movies and TV shows, I find myself able to parrot dialogue right along with the characters because the setup and following lines are just so predictable. I've never been able to do that with Alias. And that's a delight.

I'm a fan. As if you couldn't tell.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Cover choices?

Back at work today, and battling a host of silly problems that can be distracting--for one, the computer is sluggish and I'm fighting what I call "sticky keys"-in short, the keyboard isn't responding like it should, which means every other word is missing a letter. Ack!

But--the work is coming, steadily and surely. And my editor sent me two proposed covers--which do you find most appealing for a novel about Mary Magdalene? "Hooded Mary"(lower left) or "Curly Mary" (upper right)? One "for what it's worth" note--no devout Jewish woman would go out with her head uncovered. And since there is NO biblical evidence to indicate Mary M. was a prostitute, she follows a different path in my book . . .

Just leave me a comment and I'll report back to my editor. Thanks for your help!

Sunday, August 21, 2005

St. Pete Times Article

Today is my son's 21st birthday. I feel a little like this mama hippo. (VBG).

The St. Petersburg Times, my hometown paper, did an article on me today. Here's a link to it:
  • St. Pete Times Article

  • Have returned from Philly, safe and sound, and am ready to get to work . . . tomorrow.

    That's what Mondays are for. Today is for birthday cake.

    Saturday, August 20, 2005

    New Release!

    Last week, just before heading out to Philly, I received a hot-off-the-press copy of the Women of Faith Ficiton Collection. This is a deliciously thick (912 pages) compilation of three WOF novels--Sand Pebbles by Patricia Hickman, Child of Grace by Lori Copeland, and The Pearl, by yours truly. Best of all, is currently selling it for less than fourteen bucks. Since that's the usual price of just one book, that's a deal. (VBG)

    Last day of the Philly conference--we've been having a great time in the Nangie class. We have some great students who are learning a lot, I think. Some talented folks.

    Friday, August 19, 2005

    Oh, no!

    I came back to my hotel room tonight and did a little web surfing . . . only to find that Michael Vaughan/Michael Vartan is (probably) leaving Alias--they killed him off! Oh, no! I have just begun watching the show on DVD and am halfway through season two. I really like the Vaughn character and the thought of him leaving . . . well, it's sort of like watching M*A*S*H with no Hawkeye.

    I can only hope (and I do) that it's one of those awful internet rumors . . .

    Wednesday, August 17, 2005

    Headed off to Philly

    Is that not the biggest cat you have ever seen?

    I am headed off to Philly today to teach with my good friend, Nancy Rue. We're doing a critique clinic for Marlene Bagnull, director of the Philadelphia Christian Writer's Conference. Marlene's brainchild was to put our names together and create a class called "Nangie." We even have tee-shirts!

    Have a great weekend.

    Tuesday, August 16, 2005

    The Desert--Gritty enough

    I've been hearing some talk lately about new and "gritty" fiction in the CBA. Well, frankly, I'm not sure what's new about it. We've had realistic fiction in the Christian publishing industry for years--in fact, some of my first novels were VERY gritty (it's not for nothing medieval times were called the Dark Ages.)

    In the last few years, I've read Christian novels about child abuse, spouse abuse, divorce, prostitution, alcoholism, drug abuse, homosexuality, adultery, mental illness, death--all areas are open to Christian fiction and have been for ages.

    I've also published 105 books in the Christian market, from Nelson/WestBow, Bethany, Zondervan, Multnomah, Standard, Chariot, Tyndale House, and Steeple Hill, and never have I been handed a list of topics or words I wasn't allowed to employ. Now, something like that may exist, but I suspect it's merely part of writer's guidelines for a new publishing house or for new writers. And don't scores of secular publishing houses have guidelines that state what they will and won't publish?

    I've always been given remarkable freedom. My editors have trusted me, and in return, I've trusted the wisdom of my editors.

    Because when it gets down to it, Christian publishers and Christian writers are not "normal" people. We are publishing books first and foremost for the glory of God. Creating art is but a means to that end. We don't follow the ways of the world; we follow Jesus Christ. And part of that following involves adhering to a standard of holy living. We live, not to please ourselves or to exercise our rights, but to lay our rights at the feet of the cross in the hope that we may serve Him who gave his all for us.

    Because, you see, writing is not about the exercise of my freedom--it's an exercise of communication to reach readers--readers I love. Yes, love, and that's an active verb. Loving my readers means being careful to choose words that will reach them, not offend them. Loving people means showing Christ to them.

    That doesn't mean we don't tackle tough topics; we do. But it means I'm going to do my best to approach those topics in a way that doesn't leave my readers feeling violated.

    If being gritty or realistic means including words or sexual acts that would offend the sensibilities of most of my readers (and not all of them are Christian), then I don't want to exercise that freedom. It's about love, you see. It's about working first to fulfill my calling to please my Lord.

    I've offended people without meaning to--one woman once wrote me to say that she'd taken only one book (one of mine) on her vacation, and because it was about a woman having an affair, she didn't want to read it, so I ruined her vacation! Sometimes, without meaning to, we can cross a line--mainly because readers have lines in different places.

    Writers surely have lines in different places, too. But as long as I'm writing for Christian publishers, I'm certainly going to respect their standards. I believe they're appropriate standards for a Christian writer no matter who he/she is writing for.

    Saturday, August 13, 2005

    Dogs, dogs, dogs

    Photo: Charley and Nancy Rue

    I don't usually post on Saturdays--well, maybe I do, but it's a fluke because Saturday is my Sabbath. Nothing that looks like work. Which is why this post is about dogs.

    I'm a dog person, as you might have guessed. Most of the adorable pics on my blogs have come to me over the net, but today's pics are my dogs--I'm a mastiff person. King of the canines.

    In fact, I have devoted some of my website to my dogs--but it's a hidden link, which you won't find on my pages. But here it is, if you're interested:

    We had a bit of a scare this week. Sadie, affectionally known as "Satan" by our friends because she tries to eat anyone who comes to the house (I'm not kidding), began to, um, pee indiscriminately all over the kitchen (thank heaven for tile floors). She's nine, which is pretty geriatric for a mastiff. I took her to the vet, thinking that if her kidneys had begun to fail, we might be looking at the end. But the vet gave us antibiotics and drew blood, then later called to say that Sadie was as healthy as a horse.

    Which confirms what we've known all along. She's too onery to get sick. I could tell you about the 12 weeks I took her to the canine psychotherapist, but you'd think I was making it up. (VBG)

    My best buddy, the dog-love of my life, was Justus, who we lost two years ago. I now have a replacement puppy who I love dearly, but he's quite a different temperament. He's lively, and very attached to his mama (that'd be me). (Dog by the window is Justus.)

    When I was writing Unspoken, I tossed out a few ideas to some writer friends and I was frankly amazed that so many people honestly doubted animals' ability to think, feel emotion, even to decieve. I laughed--just from owning my dogs, I know that animals do those three things and much more! (Well, at the moment I can't think of how my dogs have deceived me, but there's a great true story about how Koko the gorilla once lied to her trainer. And I know my dogs have made messes they really wish I wouldn't find.)

    There's a special that's making the rounds on cable TV--I think it's called "Jane Goodall's When Animals Speak" or something like that. Watch it if you can. It's amazing, and puts me in awe of what God has given animals to do . . . and how little we really understand them.

    Well, I've rambled long enough. It's Saturday and I have a house to clean. Have a blessed weekend!

    Friday, August 12, 2005

    You Gotta Try New Things . . .

    They assure me no beagles were harmed in the shooting of that photo . . .

    I try a new technique in every book--after you've written so many novels, you have to try new things or you tend to repeat yourself.

    For instance, in UNCHARTED, I used a far-out metaphor and a setting I'd never seen in Christian fiction. Not in the last 100 years, anyway.

    In THE NOVELIST, I wrote two novels--it's the story of God working on me as I worked on a novelist who worked on her book. Like a three-dimensional chess board; one move affected all three layers.

    In UNSPOKEN, I used a talking gorilla as a main character. Enough said. (VBG)

    In MAGDALENE, I thought I would try to write most of the novel in skaz: Russian in origin, skaz differs from other first-person narratives in that it attempts to "give the illusion of spontaneous speech" (Prince 88). Although a carefully prepared and highly polished text, a successful skaz leaves the reader with the impression of listening to an unrehearsed, rambling monologue such as one might hear from an excited or talkative stranger on a train or in a bar.

    Examples are : Huck Finn, Catcher in the Rye, Stephen King's Dolores Claiborne.

    HOWEVER--after working at it for a couple of hours, I decided to ditch the skaz. I think it'd work great if I were writing a teenager or an insane woman, but it tended to jar me out of the present story. Also, I think a second draft is too late to try to work it in. Skaz seems to be something you need to have in mind from page one.

    So--sometimes, I guess, knowing what won't work is as important as knowing what will. One of my friends mentioned Koontz' LIFE EXPECTANCY (which I loved), and while I don't think that's skaz, it does contain direct address--the character speaks to the reader. That sounds like a technique that will work in MAGDALENE, except that Mary won't be speaking to the reader, but to her judge.

    Ordered a new book today from Amazon--called THE TRICK OF IT, by Michael Frayn. I read an excerpt this morning and it was hilarious (aubergine underpants?!) . About a paranoid expert in literary criticism who has devoted his life to the study of this one female novelist. Anyway, they meet, fall in love, and marry, but he's torn between his love for her talent and his jealousy of it. He tries to master "the trick of it" (novel writing), but it's beyond him.

    I love this paragraph, which the narrator writes to his friend. He's concerned that the novelist is inserting the story of their love affair into her WIP:

    "What? Are my underpants aubergine? Of course they're not aubergine! Don't you know anything about my taste at all? But she may be saying they're aubergine! That's what they do, these people. They embroider, they improve on the truth--they tell lies."

    LOL! Anyway, this epistolary novel sounds like a hoot and I can't wait to read it.

    Happy Friday!

    Thursday, August 11, 2005

    Something New on the Net

    Photo: What a picture of support!

    I'd like to formally announce the grand opening of "Charis Connection," a blog especially geared for people who are interested in reading and/or writing fiction from a Christian perspective. I wish I could claim the idea, as I think it's a grand one, but suffice it to say that a great team of honest-to-goodness multi-published experts have assembled to comment on the art of writing, the work of reading, and life in general. You'll find columns to make you think, comments to make you cheer, and remarks to make you laugh. [Those will probably be mine. I've had a chance to preview some of the things coming up, and in comparison my ramblings feel like those of a woman who sits around all day making motorboat sounds with her lips. (VBG) ]

    The URL is Be sure to check it out, bookmark the page, and leave your comments. And remember to thank these busy professionals who have agreed to take the time to participate!

    Publisher's Weekly Touts Christian Chick Lit

    Part I:
    She's All That (Spa Girls Collection)Kristin Billerbeck. Integrity, paper (256p) ISBN 1-59145-328-3

    Christian chick-lit star Billerbeck has moved on from her popular Ashley Stockingdale trilogy with an engaging new novel that features struggling fashion designer Lilly Jacobs, and her two best friends Morgan and Poppy. The trio met at Stanford, and they couldn't be more different. Morgan's the down-to-earth daughter of a wealthy diamond dealer, while Poppy is a tie-dye-sporting chiropractor who's always prattling on about nutrition and energy. Now in their late 20s, the three are still best friends, and they make periodic trips to a spa when life gets too rough.

    As the novel opens, Lilly's just been passed over for a promotion, and discovers her boyfriend has been two-timing. She decides it's time to launch her own couture company. Along the way, Morgan gets ensnared in a curious May-December romance, and Lilly falls for a gold-digging Brit she meets at church. As if her plate weren't full enough, Lilly's birth mother, who abandoned her as a baby, turns up out of the blue; what's more, $20,000 of Lilly's start-up money vanishes. But all's well that ends well: Lilly finds true love and is trumpeted as the next Vera Wang. Snappy dialogue and lovable characters make this novel a winner. (Oct. 4)

    Cheering for my pal Kristin! You go, girlfriend!

    Part II: The most important part of any book is the beginning. I'm second-drafting and have this for an opening. Whaddya think? Does it grab you?

    Silence, as thick as wool, wraps itself around me as I enter the judgment hall. When I fold my hands, the chink of my chains shatters the quiet.

    The tribune looks up from the rolls of parchment on his desk, his eyes narrow with annoyance. I don’t blame him. I am not a Roman citizen, so I have no right to a trial. Besides, I have already confessed and am ready to die.

    My appearance here is a formality, an exercise in Roman diligence before the application of Roman justice.

    The tribune’s eyes flick automatically over my form, register my sober tunic and veil, then return to an unfurled parchment in his hand. “State your name for the record.”

    “Mary,” I say, using the Greek form for his benefit. “But my people call me Miryam. Miryam of Magdala.”

    Hope that works! If not, there's always draft three!

    Wednesday, August 10, 2005

    Muzzy Ramblings

    Had a migraine today, so took one of the wonder pills and am now left with that washed-out muzzy feeling . . . so you'll have to bear with this post which will probably make no sense.

    Did you know that you can buy "around the world" plane tickets? And apparently you can get a better deal buying first class than coach. Or so says the Wall Street Journal. I didn't know that.

    Did you know that doctors use rib bones to repair holes in the skull because ribs GROW BACK? Ha! Now I understand why God took that rib from Adam. Amazing. I didn't know that until last night.

    Did you know that neither Luke nor Mark were among the twelve disciples? I did know that. Did you know that John Mark wrote his gospel first, and he wrote the stories as Peter related them? I didn't know that until last week.

    Did you know that it's likely the Upper Room was located in John Mark's mother's house? And that the church at Jerusalem met there (apparently) often after Pentecost? I've just learned that.

    Did you know that Roman soldiers enlisted for terms of 25 years? And they weren't allowed to marry during that time. Of course, that didn't stop them from having children with common law wives, but technically, no marriage allowed. I didn't know that--in fact, without that common law marriage reality, the plot of my WIP would be ruined.

    (Nothing worse than sketching out the plot of a historical novel, finishing the first draft, and discovering that historically, it couldn't have happened. That's why I do lots of ongoing research--my WIP will have a five page bibliography.

    Did you know that says that split infinitives are a "superstition?" Here's the quote: "Split infinitives have been the cause of much controversy among teachers and grammarians, but the notion that they are ungrammatical is simply a myth: in his famous book Modern English Usage, Henry Fowler listed them among 'superstitions'!" I lost a point on my last theology paper because of two split infinitives.

    Do you know the word quisling? I love it. I'd love to use it, but I don't think my editor will let me. I regularly lose "moue" and "lagniappe." (Wise editor says I don't want to send my readers running for a dictionary.)

    Well, here's to a new day and a clear head. If you care about the status of the WIP, the last two days have been spent in triage, tomorrow begins Draft Two. Will be working at a pace of 16 pages per day . . . that equals many hours on end. (Think about it.)


    Sunday, August 07, 2005

    The Truths Hidden Behind the Pictures

    Sometimes an obvious truth can jump out at you . . .

    If you've attended one of my fiction classes, you know that I'm big into Myers-Briggs as a personality analyzer/character creator. I've seen dozens of personality tests, and the MB simply the most accurate and the most simple. And if you've been in one of my character workshops, you know that we always analyze Jesus in class.

    Now don't tell me that since Jesus was perfect he can't be analyzed. The Myers-Briggs test doesn't analyze a person's perfection, it analyzes personality and Jesus, who was fully man and fully God, definitely had a personality. So--I'll try to make this brief--here are the four definitive Myers-Briggs questions:
    1. Extrovert or introvert? The deciding factor is 'where do you go to relax? To a party or do you need to be alone?' Scripture repeatedly tells us that Jesus went off by himself, so this indicates an I for introversion.
    2. Intuiter or sensor? Meaning did He base his decisions on things he picked up through his senses, or a gut feeling? This one is a little tricky because you're dealing with an omniscient mind, but I think Jesus went with his gut instincts. Appearances can be deceiving. Call that one for N.
    3. Thinker or feeler? Again, this one is a little tricky, but Scripture tells us again and again that He was "moved with compassion." Yes, he knew everything about people, but he was never ruled by what he knew. He felt, deeply and truly. Even though He knew Lazarus was only temporarily dead, still Jesus wept. Indicates an F.
    4. Finally: judger or perceiver? (Translated: "piler" or "filer?") Did he fly by the figurative seat of his pants or was he more organized? I'm going to vote for organization. Remember the feeding of the 5,000 men? He made them all sit down in groups of fifty. Very well organized, not pell mell chaos. Jesus was the creator, and we see definite order in creation. Indicates a J.

    So--I think Jesus's personality probably best fits the profile of an INFJ. I could type out lots of material about INFJs, but listen to this excerpt from Please Understand Me:

    "As with all NFs, the ministry holds attraction, athough the INFJ must develop an extroverted role here which requires a great deal of energy. INFJs may be attracted to writing as a profession, and often they use language which contains an unusual degree of imagery. They are masters of the metaphor, and both their verbal and written communications tend to be elegant and complex. Their great talent for language is usually directed toward people . . ."

    My point--and I do have one--is that Jesus would have been a great novelist. (VBG). For what is a novel? It is a microcosm that says "life is like this." It is not real life, it is one author's view of life tied to his or her guiding principles. A novel is an extended metaphor.

    When I wrote Unspoken, I wanted to talk about how Creation and the animal kingdom testify to the creator's power, genius, and love at every hand. When I worked on The Novelist, I wanted to demonstrate how God's sovereignty and man's free will operate in tandem. In Magdalene, I want to illustrate the power of forgiveness . . . and the destructive power of a hard heart.

    Jesus was a master of metaphor. I've been reading C.S. Lewis for the past few days, and I think he must have been an INFJ. He is such an intelligent thinker, but he brings his great intellect to bear in simple, digestible bits by saying, "x is like y." And suddenly a great and complicated matter is amazingly simple.

    So--as you read this week, look for the metaphors hidden in the story. As you write, look for places to picture great and lofty truths in simple pictures.

    The face of God might appear to you when you least expect it.

    Friday, August 05, 2005

    First Draft Done!

    Whee! Getting away for a couple of days really helped me this week! My first draft for MAGDALENE is done and boy, is it a mess. But I can clean up a mess. It's creating something from nothing that's hard.

    My favorite thing (writing tip ahead) about Microsoft Word is that "insert comment" feature. I'm a HUGE believer in not stopping to self-edit, so when I know I need to remind myself of something--say Mary puts on the shawl Quintus has given her, but he hasn't actually given it to her--I insert a comment that says "write a scene earlier where Quinn gives M. a shawl." And it appears like a beautiful little balloon in the margin.

    So now I have a manuscript that is filled with colorful balloons and all my "peeve" words in all caps--THAT, WAS, WERE, LOOKED AT, etc. And Monday we begin the fun part--filling in all the gaps and taking out all the caps. Second draft, here we come.

    In the meantime, there IS the weekend . . . have a great one!