Monday, June 30, 2014

book review: behind the mask

I love the daily Kindle freebies. But the books are something of a gamble. Some of the books you snag for free are downright awful. Some are fabulous gems. Most fall somewhere in the middle.

I had been on a streak of mediocre to terrible as far as Kindle reading went. And then I started reading Behind the Mask by Elizabeth D. Michaels.

I knew from the start that it was going to be good. It began like a historical mystery, with a little bit of romance thrown in. That happens to be my favorite genre, so I was excited to find a new author who was actually good.

I guess I should have paid a bit more attention to the book description. The mystery only lasted through the first part of the book. Once it wrapped up, I thought the book over. It wasn't. Not even close.

Turns out the book was a saga. Seven hundred and ninety-two pages worth of saga. With a sequel to come. Wowza.

That's okay, though--it was a good saga. I'll probably get the sequel and read it too.

I'll admit that the twists didn't actually surprise me (I've read too many mysteries over the years--not many surprises left).  But since it was a saga rather than a straight-up mystery, it's more about the characters' journey anyway, so I'm not too bothered by that. I liked the characters enough to stay engaged throughout the whole thing.

It's available in paperback as well as Kindle (although the e-edition is certainly easier to tote around!).

If you're a fan of historical fiction, give it a try. (Amazon does offer the Kindle version in segments, although it ends up being more expensive overall to purchase it that way. However, it will let you try a part of it first to see if you like it before you commit to the whole thing. It's a nice option. Or you can just request a free sample--not sure how big of a sample they'll send, but it is free and at least gives you a preview.)

Disclaimer: The link is an affiliate link. 

Friday, June 27, 2014

Twitter tales

 Friday Phrases gives a prompt each week for people to post "micro-fiction" on Twitter. You can use the prompt or not (so far I've always used it). When I click through the #FP hashtag, I find it fascinating how different the stories all are. Some are light and humorous; some are dark and haunting. I'm often amazed at what people can fit into so few words. Being rather verbose by nature, I often find it hard to condense my thoughts down enough to fit into a tweet, but I think it's good for me to have to do so. And I pick up new followers each week I participate, and my tweets are being retweeted and favorited. I'll admit that those things make me smile. :)

Here are some of my Twitter tales:

She seemed so sweet and innocent at first, needing his help and protection. She robbed him blind. He forgave the theft but not the lies. (prompt: at first blush)

She wished she could go back, make different choices. But it was too late. She'd dug her own grave and had no way to claw back out now. (prompt: grave digging)

She scowled at the scenery whizzing by. He was excited about a new start; she already missed home. She'd make sure this never worked. (prompt: through the glass)

He watched through the glass. She never let up, bad cop all the way. He should go in, rein her in.
 He didn't move. This was too fun. (prompt: through the glass)

She'd seen it all through that dirty window.
She could never forget.
But he wouldn't either, and that's why she was still running. (prompt: through the glass)

If you find these interesting, let me know. I'll try to share here each week, for non-Twitter family and friends.

If you get a chance and are on Twitter, check out #FP. The creativity of the participants is really astounding!

Thursday, June 12, 2014

I get by with a little help from my friends...

So I talked a bit about faith communities in the previous post--about how we spur each other on (or sometimes carry each other along--I need the latter a fair amount if I'm honest). Sometimes we need someone quite literally to take our hands and guide us along the way. Other times it's more metaphorical.

A few weeks ago, I was the lucky recipient of a more symbolic hand-holding.

On Twitter, the hashtag #amwriting is a fun one to visit.  You can swap advice and tips, share a bit of your current project, or vent a little. On this particular occasion, I was most interested in the first and third of those things. It wasn't exactly going well. I had reread my work thus far several times, trying to get an idea of how the next scene should play out. I had turned on my favorite writing music. But nothing was coming to me.

Finally, in exasperation, I tweeted, "At the moment, #amstuck feels more apt than #amwriting." 

I think that is my most popular tweet to date. It was retweeted and favorited by several writers who could relate to the feeling. And I picked up several fellow writers as followers. lovely online pal (whom I'll call Campy) immediately responded. She offered to be a cheerleader, beta reader--whatever I needed, whatever would help. I didn't even know what would help at that point, but I appreciated her willingness to step in.

She then came up with the idea of doing a writing sprint together. We'd both set a timer, set our writing play list, and just write for that amount of time. Whatever came out. 

It honestly wasn't terribly different from what I'd been doing (or trying to do, rather) up to that point. And worked. There was something so powerful about knowing someone was out there, writing with me. I started typing...and I kept going. I ended up with over 800 words when all was said and done. And I know it had everything to do with the power of knowing someone was out there, doing it with me. 

The power of community--of being in this thing together. I love it. (Thanks again, Campy!)

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

stumbling in the dark

*resurrects blog again* (How many lives has this thing had anyway?)

Sorry. I've been busy with lots of other types of writing, which is good, but I didn't really mean to neglect this for so long. But then, I never do. So...oops.

Anyway...recapping the last several months would be ridiculous. Most of it is on Facebook or other social networks for those interested. I'll just pick up from here.

This was my Sunday.

A local church in town does kind of a "Narnia experience" type thing. They do one each month and cover each of the seven books. For the first one, in May, Nelson took Sarah to a local park where they ate the "beaver's supper" (fried fish and tea) and recreated the battle with water balloons. Book 2 was my turn. We crossed a river, ate a meal of shared sandwiches, and gave the children time to play in the river. There is also a discussion time.

Everything was going, um, swimmingly...until the leader announced that we would be staying there on the river bank until it got dark.

Wait, what? I knew I had to cross a river. No one mentioned I had to cross a river in the dark.

I'm not the most sure-footed of people (a childhood nickname of mine was Grace, and I can assure you it was completely sarcastic), and I don't see well at night. I hadn't minded the first river crossing (although I had stumbled a couple of times) because it was broad daylight, and I could see. But I didn't like this idea of going back across in the dark.

But they had bussed us there as a group, so it wasn't like I could bail early. I was stuck.

The leader made an analogy of a faith walk just before we started back across. We had to trust that he knew the way, even in the dark. Quite frankly, I trusted him to do just fine. It was myself I wasn't too sure about!

We started out. Sarah clung to me at first, but I think she finally decided she'd do better on her own. She and her walking stick moved on ahead of me a bit. I trudged behind, fumbling for safe rocks to plant my feet on and clinging to my walking stick.

I made it about halfway and panicked. I wasn't quite hyperventilating, but I sure came close.

Then a very kind and gracious lady from behind me stepped up and grabbed my hand. She proceeded to hold my hand the rest of the way, patiently keeping me upright and on the right path. Sadly, it was too dark to see her properly, and I was too busy trying to breathe and other such things to find out her name.

But we made it. God bless her.

And the area was truly beautiful at night. There were hundreds of lightening bugs, and they lit the trees behind us as we walked up the hill away from the river. Sarah said they made the trees look like crystal--she was rather awestruck.

 I pondered the leader's words about walking by faith even we can't see the path very well. If the river at night is a tangible example of that sort of faith, I clearly fail. Thankfully, though, even in matters of faith and spirituality there are people who can come alongside of us and hold us upright when we stumble. That is what the church is all about. We walk that path together.