Monday, June 30, 2008


I have to quick let you know about another opportunity to win a signed copy of Summer Snow. Amber Miller is featuring an interview and giveaway at her blog this week. You should know the drill by now! Just click on the link and leave a comment. There are only five people in the drawing so far so your chances are great. And if you haven't already, read my post from yesterday... I'm so excited to spread the news about Trigger!

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Trigger Discussion

Aaron and I had the pleasure of entertaining last night. I love having people over! We turned on music and worked together in the kitchen, making homemade guacamole and salsa for an appetizer, a fresh walnut and feta salad with blueberries and greens from our garden, Greek peppers on the grill, sour cream mashed potatoes, and grilled sirloins smothered in a bubbly bleu cheese topping. For dessert I made a flourless chocolate torte with a mixed berry sauce and fresh whipped cream. Yum. We accented it all with a light Chenin Blanc to begin and an earthy, raspberry toned Zinfandel to finish. The night was simply lovely.

But I'm waxing a little too poetic about the food. While it's true that I love a long, leisurely meal (ours began at 6:30 and ended with dessert at 11:00), there's one thing I love even more: great conversation. And we enjoyed wonderful conversation with our friends last night.

Most of our discussion centered around a shared vision we have for the reconciliation of art and Christianity. Bob is a filmmaker whose most recent project, a series of shorts called Trigger, has just been produced by Zondervan. These brief vignettes are designed to be a launching pad for discussion: many questions are raised but few, if any, are answered. The point is to provoke discussion and get people thinking about issues that we would normally tend to ignore or gloss over.

Let me just say, the films are amazing. We watched a few last night and I was completely blown away. They are artistic and gripping, raw and honest. One of my favorites was a mosaic of photographs, dubbed over with a woman singing: "He's got the whole world in his hands." You know the verses, right? Have you ever heard the one about: "He's got the red light district in his hands?" How about: "He's got Osama bin Laden in his hands?" Wow. Pretty powerful stuff.

Anyway, I was so taken with their vision and their amazing product that I just had to blog about it. I can't encourage you enough to head on over to the Trigger website and check it out. Though Trigger is associated with Youth Specialties, I certainly wouldn't consider their audience limited to teenagers or college students. I would love to use these shorts as a launching pad for discussion in an adult Bible study, too. There is no doubt in my mind that it would trigger an extraordinarily real and meaningful discussion...

Tuesday, June 24, 2008


I'm done!

Woo-hoo!!! The final period is placed on my third novel! This doesn't mean I'm done-done, I still have edits to work through with my writing partner, my agent, and my publisher, but edits are managable. Right now I'm just thrilled that all the blood, sweat, and tears, all the gut-wrenching work of creating something out of nothing is complete. Praise the Lord.

Excuse me, I'm off to go celebrate...

Sunday, June 22, 2008


Tomorrow is The Day. I am getting this book done. Period. My hubby is taking the day off so I can work from sun-up to sunset, though I don't think it will take nearly that long. I truly am pages from the end. Anyway, in an effort to relax a bit and have some fun with the family, we took the afternoon off and headed to the zoo. What a fun way to spend a summer Sunday afternoon! Here I am trying to wake up the sleeping tigers with my two boys.

My little one would have gladly hopped in the cage and yanked the feline's tail. He fearless. But he sometimes makes his mommy very scared. Hmmm... What's wrong with that scenario?

At any rate, say a little prayer for me on Monday if you think about it! Though I'm feeling relaxed and stress-free right now, tomorrow may be a different story... :) Have a great week!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008


Okay, I am literally pages from the end of my third book. I should have had it done weeks ago, but hey, life gets in the way. And now for some reason I can't pull the trigger. I'm so close and I can't push myself to place that final period! Why?!?

A few intense sessions of personal psychoanalysis informed me that my life right now is a little too full of the emotions and struggles that emerge in the book. So yeah, that's holding me back. Life imitating art, or something like that. But I think there are other factors at play here... Like the fact that the weather is beautiful and I want to be outside. And my children are adorable and I want to play with them. Not to mention my friends are fun and entertaining, there are great books to be read, cool pools to be lounged beside, impromptu barbecues to attend... And if I'd just get my book done I'd be able to enjoy them all!

But I can't help but procrastinate. And in the spirit of embracing my procrastinistic (is that a word?) tendencies, I'd like to give you the top ten things I'd rather do than finish my book.
  1. Mess around on Facebook. What a time drain that is. I'm canceling my account tomorrow. Or maybe the next day...
  2. Shave my legs. It is summer after all.
  3. Daydream about our upcoming August vacation. We're driving to BC. Wait, did I say daydream? Maybe nightmare is a more accurate term... 30 hours in the car with two small children?!?
  4. Make and consume the ice cream bars I posted about a few days ago. Usually I lose weight in the summer. Not this year...
  5. Water my gardens. Totally unnecessary endeavor since Iowa is about to become another ocean.
  6. Hang out at the local pool. Yeah right. More like: save 4 year old from drowning, chase 2 year old across the kiddie pool, rescue abandoned kickboard from burly teenager about to clobber unsuspecting friend with it, break up fight over goggles, stop 2 year old from eating food off the ground, save 4 year old from drowning again...
  7. Unwind at girl's night out with an hour of yoga. Ahhhh... now that I truly love. Enough to fall asleep during the few minutes of total relaxation at the end. As long as I don't drool...
  8. Talk politics. Sure it usually turns into a knock-down, drag-out fight, but it's always a good way to raise my blood pressure. I've been thinking it's a little low.
  9. Doodle title possibilities all over the paper I'm supposed to be finishing my book on. Right now I'm hooked on The Body, Broken. Or The Body Broken. Hmmm... What do you think?
  10. Sit under the pergola in my backyard, surrounded by overflowing hanging baskets, whisky barrels, planter boxes, and flower pots, and pretend that I'm thinking hard about my book while I'm really thinking about absolutely nothing at all.
Speaking of which, the sun is setting, my children are in bed, there's a glass of Sauvignon Blanc with my name on it, and the torches are already lit around the pergola. I better sign off. I have some thinking to do...

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

My Favorite Summer Dessert

Even though we've had lots of rain lately, I am jumping headlong into summer. My jeans are packed away and my kids are wearing flipflops and tanktops (I just love pudgy toddler arms in sleeveless shirts!) We're grilling outside, staying up late, drinking raspberry lemonade, and roasting hot dogs over the fire pit in my brother's backyard. My four-year-old is partial to "marshmallows and chocolate and graham crackers all squished together." (For some reason, the word s'more seems beyond him.)

Though it was dreary today, yesterday was hot and gorgeous--we went to the pool for the first time this season, and managed to get good and exhausted (and just a little sunburnt). And going to the pool made me crave my favorite summertime treat. It's simple, delicious, and you can bet my freezer will be crammed with it for the next few months. I thought I'd share the recipe with you. Enjoy!

* * * * *

Ice Cream Bars

6 tbsp. butter
1/2 cup corn syrup
4 tbsp. brown sugar
1/2 cup peanut butter
5 cups Rice Krispies
chocolate sauce
1/2 gallon of ice cream (any flavor, I'm a big fan of Rocky Road)

-Melt the butter in a saucepan. Add the corn syrup and brown sugar. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. When the sugar is dissolved and the mixture is beginning to thicken, remove from heat. Add the peanut butter and Rice Krispies. Mix well. Press 1/2 of the Rice Krispies mixture onto a cookie sheet lined with waxed paper. Drizzle a layer of chocolate sauce on top. Soften ice cream and spread evenly over the Rice Krispies. Top with the remaining Rice Krispies mix. Press together. Freeze for an hour at least. Remove the bars from the freezer and cut into individual size servings. Wrap each bar with plastic wrap. Freeze until ready to eat.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Ursula, Under

I have reviews on the brain. No surprise there: I'm revved up because my publicist emailed me this morning to let me know that two new reviews of Summer Snow have been posted: one at TitleTrakk and one at Novel Reviews. They're good ones!

Anyway, I can't help loving a review. Even a bad one. I suppose there is something inherently conversational about art of any sort (it's intended for an audience, after all), and I just plain enjoy hearing what someone has to say about my meager offerings. Although, I could have done without one teenager's take on Leaves ("it sucked!"). Oh well, someone's bound to hate my stuff.

Enough blabbing. Today, in the spirit of reviews, I thought I'd write a quick review of the most recent book I've read: Ursula, Under. I had the pleasure of hearing Ingrid Hill speak at the Calvin Festival of Faith and Writing and I bought her book while I was there. It's taken me a while to complete... but more on that later. I'd like to do more book reviews as time goes on, so maybe this will just be the first in a long line. We'll see.

From the publisher:
One of the most widely praised and rapturously entertaining first novels in recent years begins with a little girl falling down an abandoned mineshaft in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Her name is Ursula Wong, she’s part Chinese, part Finnish, only two years old, and soon the dangerous effort to rescue her has an entire country glued to the TV. As it follows that effort, Ursula, Under re-creates the chain of ancestors, across two thousand years, whose lives culminate in the fragile miracle of a little girl underground: a Chinese alchemist in the third century bc, the orphaned playmate to a seventeenth- century Swedish queen, Ursula's great-great-grandfather who was the casualty of a mining accident that eerily foreshadows Ursula’s dilemma, and many more. A work of symphonic richness and profound empathy, Ursula, Under dramatically demonstrates that no one is truly alone.
My review:
Ursula, Under is indeed a rich tapestry. Filled with fascinating historical vignettes and a collection of diverse stories, the book weaves through several generations to prove the deep worth of one little girl. The prose is lovely in places, and each individual story is captivating in its own right. However, I had a difficult time staying interested in Ursula, Under and it took me weeks to finally finish the book. I read several books while I was reading Ursula (including Angela Hunt's newest books, Doesn't She Look Natural? and She Always Wore Red, a light Kristin Billerbeck novel, Mischa Berlinski's Fieldwork, and I started Michael Chabon's The Amazing Adventures of Cavalier and Clay.) Usually I read two books at a time, but it's rare for me to complete so many before finishing one I've started. I chalk this up to the fact that Hill had so many sub-stories going on in Ursula, that I forgot to care about the main plotline: a little girl in a well. The book read like a series of short stories instead of a novel, and each time we came back to the present day plot, I had to remind myself what was going on. Don't get me wrong, the book was enjoyable. But ultimately, I wasn't emotionally involved and therefore didn't feel compelled to stay up for "just one more chapter..."

Thursday, June 5, 2008


Lena Nelson Dooley at A Christian Writer's World is giving away another copy of Summer Snow. If you missed your chance during Michelle's giveaway last week, you can still win a copy from Lena by posting a comment after my interview. I'm actually sending the book out this time so it will be a signed copy. Just click on the link above and leave a comment. Good luck!

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Ready for change?

Republican... Democrat... Who cares? I think that it's absolutely thrilling that in my lifetime we have seen two unlikely presidential hopefuls capture the imaginations of a nation: a woman and a minority. Politics can be a really sticky issue, and I tend to get myself in trouble when I begin to share my views, but I just had to give Barack Obama a nod today. Welcome to the presidential race, Mr. Obama.