Tuesday, October 31, 2006

I love these silly things . . . How Scary Are you?

I don't know why I can't resist these quizes, but I can't.

And the first two people to report back with their "scary score" will get a hot-off-the-press copy of THE NATIVITY STORY! Just leave your name in the comments with your email addy so I can get your address.

I'm not scary? And shoot, I checked the "big, barking dog" answer . . .


You Are Not Scary

Everyone loves you. Isn't that sweet?

Boo hiss on the automatic shower cleaner

I wait all year for the chance to post this doggie trick-or-treat picture!
A few months ago I raved about the automatic shower cleaner--I saw it advertised in one of those magazines that travels on every flight, so I ordered one and hung it up.
As soon as we go through our last bottle, I'm tossing it out. First--I just read in Consumer Reports that they did an official test. Not only does it not clean well by itself, in some cases it left a shower in worse condition than before. It does leave the walls sticky. It puts little bumpy dots on glass that I can see, and it leaves the tile streaked.
That's strikes one and two. Strike three is the fact that one of my friends was changing the bottle and splashed the stuff onto her skin, suffering serious burns. To be fair, I've splashed myself, too, but my skin must be like saddle leather, because it didn't hurt me. Still, if you have sensitive skin . . .
So, you read it here. Save your money and stick to the old fashioned scrubbing of the shower. It's not as much fun as watching the little thingamajig whirl around, but it's more effective. And cheaper.
(Come to think of it, I can't think of anything I've ever ordered from the Skymall catalog that actually worked. The bra baby? No. The water leak detector? Not good. The shower cleaner? No.)
Next time I'm on a plane, I should read a book instead.

Monday, October 30, 2006

The Nativity Story Production and Design

Can you tell that I am jazzed about this film? Here's a clip that tells about the care they took to make sure the film has an authentic historical feel. This is the last clip I'll be posting for a while, but tomorrow I'll give you a link where you can watch all of them or paste the code into your own blog.

Okay--I've deleted the clips (because they can't all play at once), but if you'd like to see any of them again OR if you'd like to insert them into your own blog, you can see them and get code here: http://www.nativityresources.com/video.html.



Sunday, October 29, 2006

The Nativity Story Director

I'd also like you to meet Catherine Hardwicke, director of THE NATIVITY STORY.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Meet Mike Rich

I'd like to introduce you to Mike Rich, the screenwriter who wrote the screenplay for THE NATIVITY STORY. My novelization came AFTER his screenplay, and his work formed the basis for my novel.

Here's a video clip where you can "meet" Mike, who also wrote Finding Forrester, Radio, and The Rookie:

Friday, October 27, 2006

The Official Nativity Story Trailer

It occurred to me earlier today that I may have to delete previous video clips before posting a ew ne because Blogger wants to play all the videos on a page simultaneously. So be sure to check every day this week to see a different clip!

Here it is: the official trailer for The Nativity Story movie, which opens Dec. 1: (I had to remove it because of the simultaneous feature, but you can view it at http://www.thenativitystory.com.)


More Dog Stories

Someone asked the origin of Charley Gansky's name . . .

You might have guessed that novelist (http://www.altongansky.com ) Alton Gansky is one of my writing pals. Well, several years ago Al did me a favor and out of gratitude I said I'd name my next dog after him . . . never dreaming that there would be a next dog.

But there was. So Charley's official AKC name is "Windfalls Glorious Gansky." His breeder always called him "Chunky Charley" as a puppy, so around here he's known as "Charley Gansky."

"Charley Gansky" also makes an appearance in DOESN'T SHE LOOK GOOD? as an air conditioning repairman.

Babe is continuing to fit in well. The Daughter came home for a visit and remarked that Babe acted like she'd lived here forever.

I had to laugh this morning, though--hubby left the front door open and BOTH dogs ran out into the lawn--definitely a no no for my neighborhood. Charley came back in without too much trouble, but Babe insisted on racing to grab my neighbor's newspaper before she came in. Hmm, I thought, taking the paper from her, could someone have taught her to bring in the newspaper? I've never been able to teach that.

So when our newspapers arrived (I read the Tampa Tribune and the Wall Street Journal on weekdays), I put Babe on the leash and led her to the papers. Did she pick one up? No. She danced on them, grinned at me, and then tried to take them from my hand when I picked them up.

Oh, well. Given her penchant for newspapers, maybe this trick is within reach. She's good with sit, down, and belly. What fun it would be to send her out for the paper every morning--and it'd prevent me from scaring the neighbors by making a pre-makeup appearance!


Thursday, October 26, 2006

Babe Update

Okay, so I look like I've been run over by a train in this picture, but don't the dogs look beautiful? Babe and Charley Gansky, learning to enjoy each other's company.


Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Meet Mike Rich, screenwriter for The Nativity Story

From the Los Angeles Times:

Although it often plays a crucial role in Hollywood's onscreen dramas, faith falls somewhere down between humility and obesity on the scale of the industry's most public traits. That goes for its literal definition and its theological one, especially if you're a screenwriter hoping to get a movie made. (No, yelling "Dear God, how did my gritty drama script become a romantic comedy starring Mandy Moore?!" doesn't count.)

But the story behind screenwriter Mike Rich's "The Nativity Story," a film that will have miraculously gone from script to screen in less than a year when it is released on Dec. 1, proves that some players in this unholy citadel of secular cynicism are still eager to take a major leap of, well, faith. Biblically inspired religious movies have been infrequent at best. As filmgoers, we think Monty Python as often as we do "The Greatest Story Ever Told" or Martin Scorsese's "Last Temptation of Christ." Mel Gibson's "The Passion of the Christ" should have changed all that, but despite grossing $600 million worldwide after it was released in February 2004, it was still interpreted as an anomaly. (If a film in any other genre had made as much, there'd have been a flood of knockoffs.)

But Rich and his UTA agent, Marty Bowen, saw potential. At the time that he read the dueling December 2004 Newsweek and Time cover stories on the birth of Jesus, the 47-year-old Rich had already carved himself a healthy screenwriting niche as a sports-adventure guy ( "The Rookie" and uncredited work on "Eight Below," "Miracle" and "Invincible"). Bowen suggested that his client bring his voice to some kind of biblical material. For Rich, going from pigskin and pucks to frankincense and myrrh had some parallels, if only in terms of the delicacy of the material.

"Sports fans are a demanding lot," Rich says. "But it's one thing to get something wrong with the 1980 U.S. Olympic hockey team. It's another thing to get something wrong with the Virgin Mary."Rich spent 2005 researching Jesus' birth. After five intensive weeks of writing (he did take Christmas off), Rich handed his first draft to Bowen just before New Year's Eve. Bowen, who had become restless in his agency role and hoped to create films that were an "antidote to cynicism," used Rich's screenplay as his springboard out of UTA, taking on the script as a producer with new partner Wyck Godfrey. With surprisingly little hesitation, New Line greenlighted the film in less than a month with the obvious stipulation that it be ready by Christmas. (Disney was actually going to co-finance, and had even shown Rich's screenplay to various clergy, before New Line decided to keep the high-risk, high-reward project.)

When director Catherine Hardwicke ("Thirteen," "Lords of Dogtown") came onto the project, she suggested that Rich add early scenes that showed Mary as the 14- or 15-year-old girl she likely was before having this monumental responsibility thrust upon her. In a remarkably selfless marketing ploy, 16-year-old Oscar-nominated actress Keisha Castle-Hughes ("Whale Rider"), who plays Mary, has just announced her own pregnancy.

Eleven years ago, Rich was a radio morning news anchor for KINK-FM in Portland, Ore., when his fourth spec, "Finding Forrester," won a Nicholl Fellowship and vaulted him into his second career. At the time, Bowen advised the green Rich to "make movies you'll be proud to show your grandchildren."

"That really resonated with me," Rich says. "There is still a place for earnestness."


To read another, earlier article about Mike, click here: http://www.absolutewrite.com/screenwriting/mike_rich.htm


Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Babe is Babalicious!

Well, life is just too funny around here these days. Babe and Charley are trying to figure out who's doing to be beta dog (since Mom is alpha). The top dog usually is always the first dog through the door, you know. So, yesterday I had the dogs outside and opened the door for them to come in. Babe is usually the first through the door, but Charley saw his chance for supremacy and took it. Babe, desperate to hold her place, raced through the door, slipped on the tile floor, and crashed into a table and chairs.

She wasn't hurt . . . well, maybe her pride.

Since yesterday was our first official work day, they're vying for spots in my office, too. Charley usually sits right behind me, facing the door (protector of the realm, you know). But Babe wanted that spot, so Charley moved into the actual doorway. For some reason Babe thought that was too close, so she wandered off. After a few minutes, I found her in my bedroom, where she had discovered a perfect Babe-sized settee.

This is sooo funny to me because Charley NEVER gets on the furniture unless there's a beloved human in it, in which case he will try to get into the human's lap. But look at Babe. Is she queenly or what?

BTW, if you are interested in historical fiction, I'm talking about it over on PASTtimes: http://www.favoritepastimes.blogspot.com/ . Stop by and say hello!


Monday, October 23, 2006

Sisterhood of Faith

I recently discovered this little devotional book called Sisterhood of Faith, by Shirley Brosius. It's 365 "life changing stories about women who made a difference" and it features lots of names I recognize as well as names I don't.

I'm not a flaming women's rights sort of person, but I do believe that women are often given short shrift -- and I have run into some unfortunate attitudes in Christendom.

I'll never forget one day when I was in college. I was in chapel, sitting in the pew and minding my own business, when I happened to overhear the conversation of two young men behind me. One of them must have been looking around the auditorium, because he said to his friend, "You know, it's a shame about all of these girls here. If they get an education, none of them are going to want to be submissive."

Acccckk! As if only the ignorant can be submissive . . . or as if knowledge leads to stubbornness? (Well, maybe in does in some cases, but the wise woman knows the value of appropriate roles.) This was in . . . well, probably 1977. Things have changed a lot since then, but not in all circles.

(For the record, I do believe that in a head-to-head irresolvable conflict, the wife should let the husband's opinion hold sway. But in 26 years of marriage, I think we've had maybe one irresolvable conflict.) And outside of marriage, Scripture says we are all to submit to each other, each one of us esteeming others better than ourselves. )

In any case, it was a delight to find this little book. I look forward to reading about contemporary and historical Christian women who have made a difference in the world.


Sunday, October 22, 2006

What is Beauty . . . really?

This video is a must-see for all women of any age. It reminds me how "unreal" the pictures in magazines are.



Saturday, October 21, 2006

A new addition to the Hunt Family

Photo: Allison Bottke shows Charley her new book. Photo: BABE

We interrupt this regular blog to bring you exciting breaking news--BABE is on her way! We had our first meeting with Southern States mastiff rescue, and within the hour, we heard that BABE is on her way for a trial meeting. If she gets along well with the men and with Charley, she's our new girl.
Update: It's official, Babe is home. Babe needs to get used to men, but once we get her over that quirk, I think we'll be all settled in. She's two years old, Charley is almost four, so that's a good span.

It's so lovely to hear eight big feet again. How to describe a mastiff walking across a tile floor? My sister in law says it sounds like people walking through your house in slippers. shush-shush-shush. (VBG)

The rational part of my brain keeps questioning WHY I've brought another 200 pound drooly dog into my very clean house . . . . (she drools more than any mastiff I've ever had, but that might be because she's nervous).

But when it comes to animals, rational never wins. Good thing I have a swiffer wet mop . . .


What Sort of Writer Should You Be?

So I found this cute little quiz on the internet, and it says I should write science fiction? Well, some of my novels may have that "what if" element, but I prefer to do what I'm doing--which is pretty much indefinable, I suppose.

You can take the quiz through the link at the bottom. Enjoy!

P.S. Anybody have any recommendations for November's book of the month? We'll do THE NATIVITY STORY in December, so November is wide open.

P.S.S. Guess what arrived today? My hot-off-the-press copy of THE NATIVITY STORY. It's beautiful!


You Should Be a Science Fiction Writer

Your ideas are very strange, and people often wonder what planet you're from.
And while you may have some problems being "normal," you'll have no problems writing sci-fi.
Whether it's epic films, important novels, or vivid comics...
Your own little universe could leave an important mark on the world!

Friday, October 20, 2006

“Tell Someone . . . the Entire Story.”

I've written another column for my newspaper gig. This is still rough, but I'd be interested in your feedback. (The youth pastor's wife part of me comes out in this one!)

Angela Hunt

For months now, almost every time I’ve opened a magazine I’ve seen a colorful ad, complete with postcards, urging me to “tell someone” that cervical cancer is caused by “certain strains of a common virus.” The ad, which is also featured in a nearly ubiquitous television commercial, might lead you to believe that science has just discovered that cervical cancer is caused by the human papillomavirus, or HPV.

The ads would have you believe that the HPV virus is common (it is) and lurking to assault the unwary at every turn (it isn’t). I visited a web page where one woman wrote in to complain that the ads led her to believe that “catching” HPV was as simple as picking up a common cold.
Wrong. HPV is a sexually transmitted disease, and its link to cervical cancer has been well-established. In a 1985 book, 1250 Health Care Questions Women Ask, Dr. Joel McIlhaney wrote, “This explains what doctors have known for years about the character of cervical cancer: it is more likely to occur in women who started having intercourse early and who have had many sexual partners . . . If she has had two sexual partners, she has doubled her chance of having this type of change of her cervix. If she has three sexual partners during her lifetime, she has three times the normal risk. This pattern continues up to as many sexual partners a woman might have . . .”
Why the sudden publicity about HPV? Simple. Merck, a pharmaceutical company, has developed Gardasil, a vaccine for four strains of the HPV virus, two of which cause 70 percent of cervical cancer cases. The company stands to make a boatload of money off the vaccine, which will cost between $350-500 per vaccination.
The fine print: in order for Gardasil to be effective, it should be administered before a woman becomes sexually active. A federal advisory panel recommended that the three-dose vaccine be given to all eleven and twelve year old girls. Never mind that the rate of cervical cancer is dropping; never mind that the virus is defeated by most people’s immune systems without causing any symptoms whatsoever.
Never mind that advocates want to vaccinate nearly four million girls to prevent a cancer that will affect less than ten thousand women this year.
Never mind that there are more than 100 types of HPV, and Gardasil only protects against four. Other strains of HPV can cause other cancers. I would list them, but if you’re like me, you’re reading this over your breakfast.
A few years ago, a friend and I had a discussion about our teenage daughters. We were both devoted mothers who did not want our children to be sexually active, but we chose completely different approaches. I gave my daughter advice and instruction. She gave her daughters advice, instruction, and the birth control pill.
In our friendly debate, I said, “Don’t you think that giving your daughters the pill is like saying: “This is a lovely car. I don’t want you to drive it until you are married, but here’s a seat belt and a crash helmet in case you decide to take it for a spin.”
She laughed and said, “I think that’s more realistic than saying, ‘Stay out of the garage!’”
Is it? Given our sexually-themed culture (seen any teen movies lately?), I can understand why a parent might think it logical to provide their children with contraceptives and vaccinations.
But what are we teaching by providing such things? We cannot remove all of the consequences—there are other strains of HPV and other sexually transmitted diseases--so we may be fostering a false sense of invulnerability.
I’m of the opinion that we get what we honor . . . and, to a large degree, what we expect. No mere human is perfect and we all have our weaknesses. But part of growing wise includes learning how to exercise self-control.
A 1952 biography of Dwight D. Eisenhower revealed that he had once been a heavy smoker. Due to health concerns, he quit. The book’s author asked Eisenhower if he found it difficult to be in a room filled with smokers. Was he tempted? Didn’t other people’s enjoyment make him yearn for the cigarettes he’d given up?
The President replied, “No, I just think, I had the will power to quit, and they haven’t.”
So yes, tell someone. Find someone close to you and tell them that you believe in their ability to make good decisions.
P.S. I couldn't fit this into the article seamlessly (and I had a word limit), but there are also risks to the vaccine. One, if a woman who receives it has been exposed to HPV (and she could have been without knowing it), it will cause a "cancer precursor"--in other words, her cervix will show abnormal cells, a flag for cervical cancer. Second, in the trial, five women who received the vaccination around the time they conceived a child gave birth to children with birth defects.
Oh, yeah. The federal agency stopped just short of REQUIRING this vaccine for female children, but it's on the list of recommended vaccines. Parents--keep an eye on this one. Everyone, spread the word.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Akeelah and the Sabbath Week

I've been trying to take a "sabbath week" every seventh week--this is my first, and I'm enjoying it. I purposely decided to take the week after my deadline, which has been a much-needed break. I'm not sure I'll be able to take one every seven weeks, but one between projects feels really good. I have cleaned out files and watched movies and played with the dog . . . Much more of this and I will be BORED.

I just watched Akeelah and the Bee . . . and it's a good thing I didn't see this one in the theater, because I would have cried all my makeup off. No, it's not a sad movie. It's a happy movie, with a great upbeat ending, but the themes just moved me so that I sat here and sobbed through all the good stuff. Even as I sat here blowing my nose, I knew my crying made no sense. I was sobbing while Akeelah prepped for the spelling bee, which is sort of like weeping through the scenes where Rocky is running up and down the beach before the next big fight. Illogical, I know. But this is a sweet movie, and I heartily recommend it.
I also love Angela Bassett, who plays the Mom, and I'd seen the star, Keke Palmer, in Medea's Family Reunion. She's a wonderful child actress.



Wednesday, October 18, 2006

A heart for Jerusalem

As the current Palestinian leader continues to vow that Hamas will never recognize Israel's right to exist, I watched a video on the web. I'm also currently reading Joel Rosenberg's EPICENTER, which correctly interprets the prophet Ezekiel--we are heading for a clash in the Middle East which was predicted long before Christ. Russia and the Arab nations, minus Iraq and Egypt, will come against Israel . . . and God will intervene. It's all in the Scriptures. (It's also portrayed in one of my novels, BY DAWN'S EARLY LIGHT, co-written with Grant Jeffrey.)

(BTW, Joel's book EPICENTER is a nonfiction book in which he explains how he came to write his prophetic novels. It's great reading!)

If you have a heart for the place and people of Jerusalem, visit this web site and watch the video yourself: http://films.izfone.com/.

Pray for the peace of the Holy City!


Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Have You Seen Juanita?

This is a GREAT idea!

Photo: Steve, Angie, Wayne of the CWG.


My pal Stephen Bly of Winchester, Idaho, award winning author of 100 books, has so gotten into his newest character’s life, that he’s caught up in the search to find Juanita, the girl of rodeo cowboy Hap Bowman’s dreams. “An idiot obsession,” Hap’s roping partner, Laramie, chides. But Hap and Steve keep looking anyway. And so does Bly’s family, friends and fans. He’s listed her description on the home page of http://www.OneStepOvertheBorder.com :
raven dark hair, dark eyes, has a petite birthmark the shape of a horse’s head under her right ear. She lived in sight of the Rio Grande and spent time with 12-year-old Hap Bowman in Central Wyoming, summer of 1988 and is 31 years old now.

Bly’s hoping to see “Have you seen my Juanita?” signs pop up everywhere—on websites and message boards, in waiting rooms and bulletin boards, on car bumpers and t-shirts, at rest stops and stuck to magnetic surfaces. “Maybe we really will find her,” Bly says, “If so, she’ll be featured on our website for sure.”

One Step Over the Border is a romp, a road adventure. It's CowboyLit that has inspired a blog by Hap Bowman, a Juanita Sightings page, and an audio poetry reading. Bly’s three sons are working on a video for the site and they’ve gotten the whole family involved in the production. There’s even a free “Have You Seen My Juanita?” Search Kit ready to send to those who e-mail cowboy Hap at HapBowman@yahoo.com with their snail mail address.

Bly’s no stranger to getting heavily involved into his characters. In Paperback Writer a distracted detective rides along with his author, serving as alter ego and companion in troubles on the road. “Life imitates art, they say,” Bly muses. “I care so much for my characters I find it hard to let them go. But also my desire is for the reader to find their own real life discoveries, to be encouraged in their own struggles, by the vicarious ‘entering into’ the quests of my fictional characters.”

The story of Hap’s search to find his Juanita, in the book One Step Over the Border, releases June 2007, by Center Street/Hachette Book Group, USA. Pre-orders are now available through www.blybooks.com and soon will be via

www.amazon.com or your favorite online bookstore.


Stephen or Janet Bly, P.O. Box 157, Winchester, ID, 83555

ph: 208-924-5885

e-mail: stephen@blybooks.com or janet@blybooks.com

website: www.blybooks.com

Monday, October 16, 2006


Fairlawn #1, aka "Doesn't She Look Good?" was promised on October 15th . . . and about ten minutes ago, at 8:08 p.m. on Sunday night, I clicked "send" and off it went to my editor.

Now I feel like collapsing. I feel like I've run a marathon. This last week has been filled with ten hour days, and I've been editing in my sleep. Now I'm so dizzy that I can't honestly tell you whether the book is good or if it's pure garbage, but at least it is now out of my hands and into my editors'.

I got tickled watching the word count at the end. The book flirted with the 100,000 number constantly. It'd be 100,300 words, then dip down to 99,9979, then rise up to 100,232, then go down . . . all because I was cutting snippets here, adding snippets there. I think the final word count was just over 100,000. Or maybe it was 99,999. I don't remember (and right now, I don't care.)

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go collapse. Tomorrow I'm going to clean off my desk. And then I think I'll read . . . for fun. Maybe surf the web. Maybe sit outside and breathe the nice fall air . . .

I'm done. Until the next round or revisions, this one from my editors.
P.S. About the photo . . . want to guess who it is? Hint: both guys are novelists. (And the tattoos aren't permanent.)


Sunday, October 15, 2006

Nichole Nordeman

A few years ago I traveled a bit with the Women of Faith team. That's where I met and heard Nichole Nordeman for the first time. Nichole is a lovely young lady who sings like an angel, but it was her music that blew me away. She's a true lyricist, and her words are not only profound and lovely, but they are spiritually deep and show real maturity.

She charmed us all with stories of how she bought a "space bag"--you know, those plastic bag vacuum gizmos shown on TV that can flatten a comforter to a pancake?--and got a little carried away, then she sang songs that just brought me to tears. Even now, I love to start work with a couple of Nichole's songs--they lift me right up to the throne room of heaven.

Here are a couple of the songs that move me to the center of my being (well, snippets from the songs):

From "Tremble:"

Have I come too casually? Because it seems to me
There's something I've neglected
How does one approach a Deity with informality
And still protect the Sacred?
Oh, let me not forget to tremble . . .

This one, "Legacy," is so convicting:

I don't mind if you've got something nice to say about me
And I enjoy an accolade like the rest
And you could take my picture and hang it in a gallery
Of all the Who's Who's and So-and-So's
That used to be the best at such and such
It wouldn't matter much

I want to leave a legacy,
How will they remember me?
Did I choose to love?
Did I point to You enough
To make a mark on things . . .
I want to leave an offering
A child of mercy and grace
Who blessed Your name unapologetically
And leave that kind of legacy . . .

And finally, this is now my favorite worship song. So simple, so elegant and profound--"Holy":

How many roads did I travel
Before I walked down one that led me to You?
And how many dreams did unravel
Before I believed in a hope that was true?
How long? How far?
What was meant to fulfill only emptied me still
And all You ever wanted . . .

Only me, on my knees, singing Holy, holy
And somehow all that matters now is You are Holy, Holy . . .

If you haven't heard Nichole, be sure to check out her music. You'll be blessed. (All songs above written by Nichole Nordeman.)


Saturday, October 14, 2006

Icons Will Play

What do your computer icons do when you're not looking? Tee hee.

Watch them at play here: here.

P.S. Happy birthday to my hubby!


Photos: Regis Philbin, my hubby, and Justus
Next photo: my hubby and his friend Charlie from Ohio

Friday, October 13, 2006

The WIP Update

Photo: my fictional Fairlawn Funeral Home

I have pre-written all my blog posts for this week because it's the final week before deadline and the WIP needs nearly all my attention. I assigned myself a 47-page-a-day quota for this final edit, and I've done something different this time. I knew the first sections would go quickly because they were polished. So instead of moving forward onto new pages when I finished at five o'clock or so, I've been going back over these pages and doing a few of the things Donald Maass told us to do--like inserting "zingers" in dialogue, looking for spots to insert humor, looking to enhance "turning points" in a scene. It's been fun, and I've been grateful for the extra time.

The last half of the manuscript, though, isn't nearly as polished as the first half was, so I expect to be working long and hard as the week nears its end. This book, now titled "Doesn't She Look Good?" has to be sent in first thing Monday morning on the 16th . . . or maybe even on Sunday night. I'll make my editor happy and come in early.

In any case, the book is coming, I''ve really fallen in love with these characters, and I'm glad I get to write about them through two more books.

P.S. Archaeologists say they have discovered bones of an ancient giant camel that stood as tall as a modern-day elephant. Wow! Wonder how long that guy could go without water?


Thursday, October 12, 2006

Sacred Space

My friend Annie Jones (wonderful novelist!) told me a story about Fred Rogers last week (Yes, the "Mr. Rogers Neighborhood" guy). Seems when Fred was in seminary and learning all about how to preach, he attended a small church and heard another man preach. The minister didn't follow the "how to preach" rules and the subject matter didn't inspire Fred. He sat in his pew and mentally tore the message apart . . . and then he noticed that the woman beside him was totally enthralled. "That's just what I needed to hear today," she whispered to Fred Rogers.

And Fred said that's when he realized the "space" between a minister (or writer or singer) and a listener (or reader) is sacred. From that day forward he promised to not insert himself into someone else's sacred space. He could celebrate the fact that someone, somewhere needed to hear that message.

When I was a music major in college, I was nearly ruined for church music. I couldn't listen to another singer or choir without noticing (and quietly cringing) every time I heard a note that was sharp or flat or a vibrato that went way out of control. The little I knew--and this is when intellect can become a dangerous thing--fostered a critical spirit within me.

And then I realized that all the joy of church music had vanished for me. To restore it, I had to learn to zip the lip of my inner critic . . . just as Fred Rogers did. I didn't know about the concept of "sacred space" back then, but I wish I had.

One of my friends told me about her son, who's an excellent musician. She quietly bemoaned the fact that he didn't enjoy playing in some of his school bands because they "weren't good enough." He wants to "save himself" for more professional groups. I suspect he will some day "change his tune."

Ah, how the Lord delights in humbling his children. If we don't humble ourselves, He will do what it takes to remind us that we are servants . . . for it's in service that true joy lies. And it's in the "sacred space" between author and reader, preacher and hearer, singer and listener, that the Spirit works.


Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Classy Authors

I have this shtick I frequently do on what makes a classy author . . . and then I read the following reprinted in the Christian retail industry's magazine, Aspiring Retail. Ann Landers wrote this, and it's priceless:

What is Class?

Class never runs scared. It is sure-footed and confident in the knowledge that you can meet life head on and handle whatever comes along.

Class never makes excuses. It takes its lumps and learns from past mistakes.

Class is considerate of others. It knows that good manners are nothing more than a series of small sacrifices.

Class bespeaks an aristocracy that has nothing to do with ancestors or money.

Class never tries to build itself up by tearing others down. Class is already up and need not strive to look better by making others look worse.

Class can "walk with kings and keep its virtue and talk with crowds and keep the common touch." Everyone is comfortable with the person who has class because he is comfortable with himself.

If you have class you don't need much of anything else. If you don't have it, no matter what else you have, it doesn't make much difference.

Kathleen Samuelson, the editor who quoted Ann Landers in Aspiring Retail, says she keeps a copy of the above "in my heart to remember when I hear or read something hurtful, inaccurate, or discouraging."

I think it's apt not only in that situation, but every morning as a reminder. Class is simply walking as Jesus walked. It's knowing that we are children of the King and instructed to walk in love with our brothers and sisters as we reach out in compassion to the world.

Lord, grant us a little class today. (Landers' schtick is better than mine!)


Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Marley and Me

My book club met last week to discuss John Grogan's MARLEY AND ME. If you haven't read this book, you simply HAVE to, especially if you love animals. We hardly ever give five-star ratings, but I think six out of eight of us gave the book five stars . . . and Becky even went out and got a puppy!

Warm, funny, and yes, it will draw a few tears. Marley and Me is not to be missed!

Maybe I should write a book called CHARLEY AND ME . . . LOL!

BTW: Update on our next mastiff adoption: got a phone call from the lady who has to do our "home visit," and she's on vacation until this coming weekend. (Probably a good thing, because I have to hold a baby shower here on Thursday night.) So stay tuned!


Monday, October 09, 2006

Rene's Big News

Happy Columbus Day!

Some of you may know my friend, Rene Gutteridge, author of Scoop, Boo, and Boo Who?. Rene is a darling, first of all, and second, she just wrote me to share some big news that thrills me! She's just been selected to do a novelization of the new movie The Ultimate Gift. I hadn't heard of this project, but after watching the trailer, I can't wait to see the movie! You can watch the trailer here:


The story is about a spoiled rich kid who hates his grandfather . . . and before he can collect his inheritance, he has to follow twelve steps and receive twelve "gifts" (of character). Big name stars in this movie, including James Garner and Brian Dennehey.

I'm so excited for Rene--and excited about this movie! Look for it in the Spring and be sure to check out the web site!

BTW, I have heard so many good things about FACING THE GIANTS, out now and in theaters. Try to get out to support the film if you can.


Sunday, October 08, 2006

I like you!

Feeling a little down in the dumps? Visit this website: Pick Me Up


Saturday, October 07, 2006

BOM: Questions and Answers

And now . . . your questions and answers about THE PROPOSAL . . . or whatever else you asked. :-)

Betsy asked what I learned about God during the writing of this book: I'd like to sound spiritual and say I learned something amazing, but this book was more about educating myself--and my readers--about the dangers of abortion and other life issues. Theodora, my protagonist, learns that it's best to consult the Lord before flying off in pursuit of a dream, but that's something I've been learning all my life. The writing of this book was a nice reminder, though.

Christy asked: Do you happen to know the mechanism of breast cancer after abortion? I guess I'm mostly wondering if having a spontaneous abortion (miscarriage) also puts you at higher risk for breast cancer. Is it due to a body's reaction to the loss of pregnancy or is it something related to the performed abortion procedure? Thanks!

Actually, it's neither. As I understand it, when a woman becomes pregnant, her breast cells begin to change so that she'll be able to nurse when the baby is born. When the pregnancy is terminated before the birth (and before the breast cell change is complete), the cells are left in a state of flux. This, it is supposed, is what may make them more susceptible to cancer (which is uncontrolled cell growth).

Now--if a woman miscarries, does this leave her in the same situation? See the official explanation below from www.abortionbreastcancer.com :

A never-pregnant woman has a network of primitive, immature and
cancer-vulnerable breast cells which make up her milk glands. It is only in the
third trimester of pregnancy - after 32 weeks gestation - that her cells start
to mature and are fashioned into milk producing tissue whose cells are cancer

When a woman becomes pregnant, her breasts enlarge. This
occurs because a hormone called estradiol, a type of estrogen, causes both the
normal and pre-cancerous cells in the breast to multiply terrifically. This
process is called “proliferation.” By 7 to 8 weeks gestation, the estradiol
level has increased by 500% over what it was at the time of conception.
If the pregnancy is carried to term, a second process called “differentiation”
takes place. Differentiation is the shaping of cells into milk producing tissue.
It shuts off the cell multiplication process. This takes place at approximately
32 weeks gestation.

If the pregnancy is aborted, the woman is left with more undifferentiated -- and therefore cancer-vulnerable cells -- than she had before she was pregnant. On the other hand, a full term pregnancy leaves a woman with more milk producing differentiated cells, which means that she has fewer cancer-vulnerable cells in her breasts than she did before the pregnancy.
In contrast, research has shown that most miscarriages do not raise breast cancer
risk. This is due to a lack of estrogen overexposure. Miscarriages are frequently precipitated by a decline in the production of progesterone which is needed to maintain a pregnancy. Estrogen is made from progesterone, so the levels of each hormone rise and fall together during pregnancy.

For a thorough biological explanation of the abortion-breast cancer link, see this second website for the Breast Cancer Prevention Institute, http://www.bcpinstitute.org/ and click on its online booklet, “Breast Cancer Risks and Prevention.”
For further reading, visit this link: http://www.abortionbreastcancer.com/start/ .

On another front--good news! MAGDALENE may be optioned by a movie company! We're currently discussing details . . .


Friday, October 06, 2006

BOM: The Results/Reader Reaction

Because THE PROPOSAL was timely and concerned a political and social issue, I did lots of radio interviews when the novel released. Dozens. The book won an Angel Award from Excellence in Media and received several nice reviews.

Did the book sell well? Not really. Maybe it was the black cover, maybe it was because this was a change of genres for me, maybe the book was ahead of its time. I don't know, but I'm convinced the book reached those it was meant to reach. It is still out there, of course (with Amazon's used book sales, books never die), and its message is still important.

I received several letters from women who'd had abortions and had never heard of the ABC link. I advised them to give their doctors a complete medical history and to be vigilant in their monthly BSEs.

Here are some snippets from reviews: "Although the plot is fictitious, abortion's link to breast cancer is not. Hunt's ability to combine startling data with an exciting story line makes for an intriguing medical mystery. This book is sure to be a hit with mystery fans as well as with readers interested in its medical connotations." --Bookstore Journal.

"Hunt's research on the issue is solid and makes a persuasive case that Christians must continue to exert political pressure, or other truths may also remain buried . . . " --Hawaii Catholic Herald.

"The story, fast-paced, suspenseful and entertaining, features a novie writer who stumbles on to a conspiracy to suppress medical discoveries linking abortion and breast cancer. The author, while acknowledging the plight of the unborn, tries to direct our attention to the fact that abortion not only kills the baby, but may eventually kill the mother as well." --Aspire

"Hunt has done her own research into this subject and found several sources to support her novel. The subject of abortion is an emotional one, and as documents support its link with breast cancer, the repercussions of making this information public are obvious. A decrease in abortions will cost money, would stop fetal-cell research and would alter many political stands. By choosing this subject for her book, Hunt has succeeded in finding a platform for intelligent pro-life argument without making the heroes of the story look like insane zealots." --"Reading Room."

"THE PROPOSAL is lively, readable, and rather amusing, particularly in its portrait of the feckless Theodora." --John Mort, for Booklist.

Tomorrow: your questions and answers. Does anybody have any?

~~Angie, happy to report, BTW, that the WIP is A-OK.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

BOM: The Editing

To tell you the truth, I don't remember much about the editing. I do remember that a male and a female editor worked on it--I think the female handed it off to the male because of the genre.

Or, LOL, maybe I've repressed the memories! In any case, tomorrow we'll look at the reader reaction and reviews.

BTW, the theatrical trailer for THE NATIVITY STORY has just been released. I watched it and got goosebumps. To see it, go to http://www.thenativitystory.com , then click on "videos."


Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Saints and Soldiers

I'd like to interrupt the regularly-scheduled BOM event to tell you about a movie I watched tonight: Saints and Soldiers. If you watched the DVD series "Band of Brothers," about WWII, you may recall a scene where the German army killed a large group of American prisoners.

This movie, based on factual events, centers on a handful of men who escaped that historic mass murder. They are behind enemy lines when they discover a British flyer who has intelligence that he needs to get to the Allied forces in order to save many lives.

There are five men--and one of them is a believer, one of them is a skeptic. I won't say anything else, except that this is one of the most powerful, least preachy movies I have ever seen. The Christian character is genuine, authentic, and completely human.
Netflix it today, or look for it at the video rental store (do they still call them "video" stores even though almost everything is on DVD? ) Suitable for teenagers, too.
(I didn't recognize a single actor, but they all did a great job! I was impressed.)

BOM: The Writing

Writing THE PROPOSAL was more difficult than I'd anticipated. I encountered the problem of profanity--or, shall I say, the lack of it. I don't think I'd find it as challenging today as I did back then, but I was less experienced in 1995.

I had two characters, you see, who were thuggy low lifes. (Low lives?) And I wanted to write them realistically, but I wanted to eschew profanity in my book. When they were chopping off a man's finger, I couldn't have them say, "Oh, darn it."

Why do I want to avoid profanity in my work? Bottom line: Because it bothers a lot of readers. I was once at a secular conference where someone asked Diana Gabaldon (whose books I like) why she used so much profanity in her novels. Diana replied that SHE doesn't use it, but her characters do. But I walked away from that talk realizing that to readers, it's all the same. It doesn't matter who uses it, it's being used, and it offends a lot of people. (My book club once read a book of Carl Haissen's, and we would have loved the story, but his language put us off--and we are not a "Christian" book club. We're readers, period.)

I have since come up with ways to work around this problem, but it was a challenge in the beginning. (The ways around? Lots of options: Change the character to someone more urbane. Change the camera focus while the profanity is being spewed. Focus on a detail, zoom in tightly, work the violence with mood rather than explicit language. Like I said, it takes MORE creativity and skill to write without settling for the most obvious profanity or obscenity.)

Sorry to digress. Back to the writing.

Two years ago I taught the fiction track at the Florida Christian Writer's Conference. It was a class of about forty, and we spent a lot of time together, so I attempted something different. I brought forty copies of THE PROPOSAL to class, taught a lesson on self-editing, and gave the class homework: to take a copy and self-edit the first chapter of THE PROPOSAL using what I'd taught them in class.

The next day they came in, and I walked them through the first few pages, showing how we could easily tighten dialogue, get rid of words that didn't work, heighten the mood. One of my students raised her hand and said, "How did this get published?" I laughed. "It's a good story," I told her, "and I've improved a lot since I wrote this. You'll improve, too, the more you write."
(Aside: actually, I could pick up ANY novel and edit it. Almost anything can be tightened.)

It is a good story--the issue is important, the risks were real, and, after all, it's about a writer at a writers' conference, something I can easily relate to. But if I had it to rewrite, I'm sure there'd be a lot of words left on the cutting room floor . . . and some thug scenes written from an entirely different perspective.

Tomorrow: the editing


Tuesday, October 03, 2006

BOM: The Research

Researching THE PROPOSAL was fairly straightforward. I had to delve into breast cancer, the events that provoke changes in breast tissue, genetics, abortion, medical care and treatment. (In fact, I did so much research on breast cancer that I later wrote Gentle Touch/A Time to Mend using much of the same material, only updated.) I also had to research the Washington D.C. area, where Theo Russell lived, and fetal tissue research. I also unconvered some truly grisly research done with human fetuses--not for the faint of heart, I assure you.

I also had to learn how to write a thriller. Not knowing much back then about my now handy-dandy plot skeleton, I found a book that literally said, "Write one scene in your hero's POV. Now write a scene in the antagonist's POV." It was follow the dots, but I was willing to follow them. (Later, I threw that book away.)

BTW, do you know the difference between a mystery and a thriller? It's simple, but lots of people don't think about it. In a mystery, the reader doesn't know who the bad guy is. With the detective, the reader is supposed to assemble the clues and rejoice (ta da!) at the end when the hero puts the pieces together and reveals the criminal. The fun is in solving the puzzle.

In a thriller, you have scenes from the hero's POV and the bad guy's POV--and the reader watches them approach each other from two separate tracks. The reader knows that a confrontation between these two is coming, and at first, it looks like the bad guy holds all the cards. We watch and wait for the confrontation between good and evil.

So--I had to do medical research, location research, and basic "how to write" research. Enough to keep me busy for at least a week. :-)

Tomorrow: The writing


Monday, October 02, 2006

BOM: How the Idea Germinated

How did I come up with the idea for THE PROPOSAL?

A little backstory might be in order. You might know that I began in nonfiction. For five years I wrote magazine articles, catalog copy, all kinds of things before I even thought about writing a book--and then I wrote nonfiction books and picture books. So I have always been geared toward factual things, which is probably why my novels have a real basis in fact (and, incidentally, why I don't write fantasy).

So--one year I attended the national convention of Concerned Women for America. My memory's a little foggy, but I think I went at the behest of Tyndale House, who wanted me to nose around and see if I heard about any hot topics that might make an interesting book.

I did attend lots of seminars on everything from sex education to venereal diseases. (Isn't memory strange? I remember the turquoise dress I wore and that I kept the TV on all night for white noise in the hotel room, but I can't remember where the convention was held. But I digress.)

I did hear a lawyer, Scott Summerall, speak on what has come to be known as the "ABC link:" the abortion/breast cancer link. Statistics indicate that women who have abortions before they ever give birth to a child have a greater tendency to develop breast cancer than other women. Why is this so significant? Simple. Doctors will freely tell you about all sorts of things that increase a woman's tendency to develop breast cancer such as never bearing children, having a high fat diet, being overweight, etc., yet NO ONE wants to admit that abortion also increases a woman's chance for breast cancer.

In fact, the topic almost never makes the news unless some new scientific study comes out that disputes this information--but on closer study, most of these new studies aren't truly applicable--they compare apples to oranges, they use control groups that are too young to develop breast cancer, etc.

I came away with that conference with a burdened feeling. The pro-abortion forces are always saying that women have a right to abortion because it's a women's health issue, but the ABC link is also a women's health issue--a BIG one--and no one wanted to talk about it.

So I wondered what would happen if a writer stumbled across this information . . . and certain forces tried to stop her from publishing her book? Of course I needed extremely powerful opposing forces, so instead of merely stopping with NARAL, I created a group that was using tissue from aborted fetuses to treat patients with Parkinsons, etc.

And so the idea was born. THE PROPOSAL would be my first contemporary novel and my first thriller--a genre that posed its own unique challenges, as I'd been writing historicals until this point.

Tomorrow: the research