Monday, August 29, 2011

A Timely Reminder

Today was the first day of my creative writing class. I really love teaching and I don’t do it as much as I should. There’s something invigorating about it. I love the challenge of keeping my students engaged and figuring out the best way to present the information to them. The best is when you see the light bulb go on. I love it. As much as I love sharing with my students, teaching has benefits for the teacher, especially when a writer teaches creative writing.

Introductions are often a part of my first lecture. I let the students say a little about themselves and I talk about myself, often giving them a few of my credentials and any other information that makes me a qualified teacher. As a part of my intro, especially since I teach at a Bible college, I often point out that some of the gifts God gives us are evident from childhood. And that was definitely the case for me.

I told my class how I fell in love with telling stories. My early beginnings in storytelling started at home. I told my sisters stories to help them go to sleep. For some reason, some of the women in my family have a hard time sleeping. I have a horrible time sleeping and so does my daughter. As child, I entertained my sisters and myself by telling them stories at night. Unfortunately, the exercise completely backfired. My sisters would often stay up to hear what happened next.

I made up the characters and most of my stories were serial. Each night I would pick up where I left off the night before. My sisters would often direct the story. They would say, “So what happened with this character?” (amazing what you can remember. Some days I can’t remember where I put my phone but I can remember this). Our bedtimes were filled with stories and sometimes I would talk all night. My mother wasn’t always happy about this.

I have years of storytelling experience. I’m sure my sisters would testify that my skills left something to be desired back then. Prayerfully, I’ve improved over the years. But in my heart, I’m still that little girl, telling stories. I’m still in love with making people happy with the tales I spin.

Teaching this class reminded me that I am a storyteller. That I was one before I even knew what that meant. I think every writer needs what happened to me today. They need a reminder of why they write and the joy of writing…or should I say, the joy of telling stories.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Happy About My Life: Off-times

It is so easy to complain, especially with the world the way it is right now. The tone of the world has turned negative. Generally, most people had hope but now it seems that panic and discontentment rules the day. Few are happy about life. Just in the last few weeks, we’ve seen a rash of murder-suicides, people who thought their lives were so horrible that death, and the death of their families, seemed like a better option. And this negativity is highly contagious.

I think the most dangerous thing is that this negativity is so common. Now it’s weird to have peace and joy, even among believers. I noticed this invasion of negativity in my own life. I found myself thinking how horrible my life was, and honestly, it’s not that bad. I actually have a great life, but the negativity of the world had my mind all skewed. I realized that I had to find a way to combat that negativity, so I decided to start focusing on the things I love about my life. Hopefully, reading my random list will help you feel better about your life.

I love the fact that… I can run errands during off-times.

The other day, I went in to the doctor because I was suffering with some sinus issues. The doctor put in for me to have a CT scan of my sinuses to see if there was an underlying problem.  I had to have blood work to make sure my liver could handle the imaging dye. This was a Friday at around 4:30pm. Since I was already in the hospital, I went to the lab.


It was packed. Every seat was filled and there was a line to check-in.  I took one look at the line and left.

Fast forward three days to Monday. I went to the lab at 4:30pm to get my blood work done and guess what? There was no one in the lab but the tech. It took me less than ten minutes to get the blood work done. Not many people can do that. I went to the commissary after that and there was more than one cashier with no customers.  

That may not seem like a big deal, but when I listen to others complain about how long they have to wait for simple things like post office trips and doctor’s appointments, I’m very thankful that’s not my reality.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Tea & Read: Blue Skies Tomorrow

Title: Blue Skies Tomorrow
Author: Sarah Sundin
Rating: Spend the Day Sleepy

There are a lot of new Christian fiction authors on the bookshelves right now. I guess that’s a good thing, but sometimes, it’s a little daunting. As a reviewer, I’m always looking for a new author, but it’s hard to figure out who’s worth the $12.99-$14.99 on the cover. A new author is a risk, and in the midst of so many “risks,” it’s good to have some good, dependable writers that delivers a great story every time. Sarah Sundin is one of those writers for me.

Sarah was a new author to me when I picked up her first book, A Distant Melody. And I was hooked. Blue Skies Tomorrow is the third book in the Wings of Glory series.  Just like the other books in the series, this one gets my top rating.

In a time of peril, can they find the courage to confront their fears and embrace a love that lasts?

When her husband becomes a casualty of the war in the Pacific, Helen Carlisle throws herself into volunteering for the war effort to conceal her feelings. But keeping up appearances as the grieving widow of a hometown hero is taking its toll. Soon something is going to give.

Lt. Raymond Novak prefers the pulpit to the cockpit. His stateside job training B-17 pilots allows him the luxury of a personal life--and a convenient excuse to ignore his deepest fear. When the beautiful Helen catches his eye and captures his heart, he is determined to win her hand.

But when Ray and Helen are called upon to step out in faith and put their reputations and their lives on the line, can they meet the challenges that face them? And can their young love survive until blue skies return?

Filled with drama, daring, and all the romance of the WWII era, Blue Skies Tomorrow is the captivating final book in the popular Wings of Glory series.

I most appreciate the fact that Sundin brings us realistic people. One of my pet peeves about some historicals in Christian fiction is that the protagonists’ issues seem so shallow or cliché. I find myself having to suspend my disbelief often to wrap my brain around some of the internal struggles I come across. But this is not a problem with Sundin’s characters. They have real, heart-wrenching problems.  They have to make hard decisions and find themselves in challenging situations.

One would think that with the challenging issues Sundin deals with in her books that these books would be dark and depressing. Not so. Sundin beautifully weaves romance into her stories, each issue tempered with hope.

Blue Skies Tomorrow taps into multiple emotions. From a downright sweet romance between Ray and Helen to anger with the injustices some of the characters suffer to hope, which something I love about Sundin’s. They are soaking with hope even with such challenging issues.

I’m sure by the time Sundin’s new series, Wings of the Nightingale, comes out, there will be even more new Christian fiction authors available for me to read. And I’m sure Sundin’s new series will a wonderful, risk-free buy and I will be happy to add them all to my collection.  

Monday, August 8, 2011

Really Terrible Movies I Love

I have been sick the last couple of days last week and pretty much in bed the whole time. Since I was too sick to think straight, read or knit, the TV has been my entertainment. My normal choice of mindless TV programing is some sort of true crime TV. Dateline ID, 48 Hours, FBI Criminal Pursuit and On the Case with Paula Zahn. But after three days of being sick, I couldn’t watch anymore.

I wandered beyond my normal channels and stumbled across one of my favorite movies: Big Trouble in Little China. Okay, not high art in any case, but it’s like watching a car wreck. You just can’t look away. And I managed to catch it right at the beginning. Kurt Russell in rare form.

There are a couple of movies that I love that are really terrible movies. They are so hokey, so corny that they should have never been made. But yet I watch them every time I find them on TV. So here is my R.T.M.I.L list (Really Terrible Movies I Love), in no particular order.

1. Independence Day. “Does anybody have any more missiles?” This movie has so many plot problems I would have to write more than one blog about them. But how can you argue with mass carnage? My favorite scene? When the alien captures the president’s (Bill Paxton) mind. “Release me.”
2. The Fifth Element. Bruce Willis is an okay actor, but he was absolutely terrible in this movie. So was Milla Jovovich but how could you not love the blue opera singer. Or Chris Tucker? “Coby? Coby?”Hilarious.
3. Total Recall. Any Arnold Schwarzenegger movie is a waste of a movie ticket except True Lies. Any movie he’s in is bad. I don’t know how he stayed in Hollywood as long as he did. From all his paltry acting exploits, however, he managed to give the movie world a gem. This movie is so ridiculous that it’s hilarious. “Quaid, open your mind.”
4. League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. Sean Connery has the opposite of Arnold Schwarzenegger. Any movie Sean is in is better. How could you not love that accent? The plot in this movie was lacking, but the special effects made up for it. Captain Nemo and the Nautilus are the hotness.
5. Big Trouble in Little China. This movie is so random that it shouldn’t even be shown on cable but it’s so funny! And it’s got the random fake Rayden in it. It’s also good faor some okay fight scenes. “It’s all in the reflexes.”

What are some of your favorite terrible movies?