Believably Unbelievable

*My intention was to comment on my “currently reading” list, at least when I have something positive to say. I wrote this blog entry just before my computer died a couple of weeks ago and have now recovered it from the old hard drive.*

Daphne du Maurier is one of my favorite authors, one of the few I discovered AFTER seeing a movie made from her book. Rebecca, both the old Hitchcock version and the newer Masterpiece Theatre version, fascinated me. I read the book—and loved what I read. So on my many trips to the used book store, I’ve searched out her other novels.

Du Maurier is a master at first person storytelling. She draws the reader in from the first sentence with the voice of the character and the insinuations of something mysterious. I love the way history and suspense are woven together in most of her books.

I just finished The House on the Strand. The premise is kind of out there: “On vacation at an ancient manor house, a young man takes an experimental drug that transports him 600 years into the past—while leaving his body in the present.”

Can you imagine pitching that to an editor? It sounds crazy! And yet she makes it work. From page one, the reader is drawn into a past world, wondering why this modern man is in it and is he really in it and how did he get there. Interspersed between his trips to the past are snippets of his present life. Each era has its own problems. Each provides a kind of escape from the other. Each is filled with its own suspense, its own plot. And complications ensue when the worlds threaten to collide.

This book stretched the limits of my imagination. An unbelievable premise turned into a believable, enjoyable book, told by a credible first person. Books like hers inspire me to strive for a level above my current storytelling, my current level of craft. I can’t wait to find another Daphne du Maurier gem in the musty stacks of some used book sale.


Ready to Write

My new laptop is up and running. I’ve even recovered my old laptop’s hard drive (everything except email addresses). Thanksgiving is done. Christmas shopping is well underway.

And school reconvenes on Monday.

Ah. Music to my ears.

Although I’ve come to appreciate the time my children are not in school, by the time they go back, I’m ready. I’m ready for the familiarity of my routine, no matter how crazy. Ready to re-claim my house. Ready to settle down in the silence and write my little heart out.

My prayer has been that these past two weeks of “vacation” from working on my book (one week forced by the death of the aforementioned laptop, the other chosen to capitalize on the week off school for Thanksgiving) will make me more productive and creative when I begin again.

I hope so. At the moment, though, I can hardly remember where I left off. My characters (as I’ve heard other writers express) remain frozen in mid-stride, waiting for me to release them to finish their stories.

I can’t wait to see where they’ll take me next.



Don’t you love getting a “new” something? Something fresh, unsullied, full of possibilities?

I got my new laptop this week. A fresh hard drive. A working CDRW drive. A screen that isn’t hanging on by one hinge.

It’s good. It’s exciting. But it has also been time consuming. Setting everything just the way I like it. Linking my favorite websites. Loading my essential programs. I’m ready to get back to writing now.

But I still have the issue of my old hard drive—the one with two blog entries written but not posted. The one with the pictures of our England vacation. The one with emails and email addresses I don’t know how to find again.

We are working on recovering these, retrieving information and images I hate to lose. But they haven’t reappeared yet. So I write again, losing myself in what I can do rather than freting over what I cannot. I will do a victory dance if I get my information back. But if I don’t, I must still go on, trusting that the Lord holds even this in His hand. What I need, He will supply.

In His way.

In His time.



My laptop died Friday. After three years of faithful service it simply quit turning on. So, alas, I'm in mourning.

It's amazing how dependent I've become on the porability of writing, taking it with me to sports practices, to my husband's office, on vacation. Now I'm tethered to a desk again and it is hard. Hard to sit in this chair. Hard to make the time to be in that room.

A new one is on its way, but until it arrives, my word count decreases, my novel creeps along, and my blog is neglected.

Good-bye, dear laptop. You served me well.


My Thanks

Sometimes—ok, a lot—I get discouraged in the writing life. That’s when I need the reality of those who walk this road ahead of me. What a blessing that writers such as Brandilyn Collins, Randy Ingermanson, and the various contributors to the Charis Connection blog share the ups and downs of their own writing lives with the rest of us.

When Lori Copeland talks about a typical writing day—one where life gets in the way of words on the page—it helps me chill out and take things as they come. Apparently being published and having your kids out of the house doesn’t banish life from eating away at writing time. So I must learn to cope, sooner rather than later.

When Randy Ingermanson (in his wonderful e-zine, Advanced Fiction Writing) and Brandilyn Collins (on her blog, Forensics and Faith) confess that by the time they turn in a manuscript, they hate it, I don’t feel so discouraged about the novels sitting in the top of my closet, read and revised so many times that I can’t stand the thought of them.

When Deborah Raney talks of unplanned plotting, and Liz Curtis Higgs writes of the joy in the actual writing of our unique stories, I am able to take a deep breath and simply move to the next scene, the next chapter of whatever is before me.

So to all of these authors, and many more I’ve met and read, I want to say Thank You. Thank you for being honest, for not maintaining a shroud of secrecy over the hard things, and for encouraging one more writer not to quit.


The Kite Runner

This is my first ever attempt at a book review. I have to say, I’m doing it as much for me as for anyone out there reading this. In spite of my love of reading and even of literature classes, I have never done well at evaluating a book overall. I’m not really a big picture person. But I’m learning. I’m not sure I’m learning enough to put it all into words on a page, but I’m trying.

So, here goes.

The Kite Runner.

My husband and I picked up this book after a good review by Marvin Olasky, editor of World Magazine. I read the first fifty pages, intrigued, while I sat at our school book fair waiting for children to bring money to exchange for books. Then my husband took it over.

Intense and disturbing. That’s all he would say as he read. Intense and disturbing.

“But was it worth it?” I asked when he finished (he read three straight hours on Saturday.) I asked this for a reason—a reason like Cold Mountain, where I labored on and on only to hate the ending and want to chuck the book across the room. He considered his answer for a moment. “Yes, it was worth it.”

So I began, fifty pages in already.

This is a beautifully written book about a time too close to be remembered (the late seventies, early eighties) in a place far away (Afghanistan.) The words, the images, while definitely intense and disturbing in places, took me into a place I’d never been, never imagined I wanted to go, into a culture I knew nothing about. It is a story woven over a span of thirty-five years with unforgettable, real characters, in spite of their unfamiliar location.

The relationships between Amir and his father and their servants, Hassan and his father, Ali, intermingle with bitter and sweet, with truth and lies. Among life and death, wins and losses, normal days and extraordinary ones, Amir must deal with the choices he has made. They shape his life and his relationships. In the end, they define who he is. The story takes unexpected twists and turns and leads to a bittersweet but satisfying ending.  

It is an intense and disturbing book in that it shows the depravity of our hearts, but it also shows our capacity for forgiveness. It made me consider my actions, why I make the choices I make. I wept, not only for Amir and his life, but for the regrets I harbor in my own, as well. The only flaw here is that the forgiveness and redemption do not flow from their only true source: Christ.

But The Kite Runner was a beautiful, haunting read. One I don’t think I’ll ever forget.