Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Writing Religiously: Prayer for Musicians and Artists

After five years of full-time enrollment I have graduated from seminary.

I was also ordained this weekend.

I'm a little wiped, so instead of any of my usually rambling, today I will share with you a prayer I found in the The Book of Common Prayer. Glean whatever inspiration you can.

For Church Musicians and Artists

O God, whom saints and angels delight to worship in heaven: Be ever present with your servants who seek through art and music to perfect the praises offered by your people on earth; and grant to them even now glimpses of your beauty, and make them worthy at length to behold it unveiled for evermore; through Jesus Christ our Lord.


Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Review: Armageddon Summer

Alas, the world didn’t end on Saturday. (Or maybe it did and I scheduled this post weeks ago o.0) But with all the end of days talk it seemed like a good time to review.

Armageddon Summer, by Bruce Coville and Jane Yolan.

Just the idea of these two YA greats writing together is awesome and the book doesn’t disappoint.

Mariana and Jed are two teens leading separate lives until their parents bring them together to spend the summer on Mount Weeupcut, awaiting the Apocalypse with the Believers, a Christian cult. Suffering, each of their parents finds solace and purpose at the church of Rev. Beelson, who preaches that this summer on July 27th the world is going to end. The only safe place from the Apocalypse will be the Mount, where 144 people can stay to wait out the impending doom and restart the world after it’s over. Both kids are reluctant to be there, but care about their parents. Together Mariana and Jed try to survive the summer and keep their families together. But when 144 is reached and more people want to break in or find their family members, can this story end without a tragedy?

This is a gripping read that keeps you on your toes. It also contains “understated pathos” when revealing how loss and tragedy affects people and families.

Another thing I love about this book is that those who believe in the apocalypse aren’t portrayed as cookie-cutter crazy. Though the impending apocalypse is seen as either unlikely or ridiculous, the Believers and Rev. Beelson are portrayed realistically as well-meaning and sympathetic characters. Any delight in the burning of the wicked sinners is seen through the narrators’ eyes as not keeping with Christian belief.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Writing Religiously: Harold Camping’s “Plan” for the End of the World*

So according to the leader of the theological cult “Family Radio”, the rapture is going to happen in a few short hours (May 21, 2011), then the world itself will end on October 21st of this year. Now, being a pastor and a man who is a mere week away from graduating seminary and being ordained I think old Gollum Harold is flat out wrong. But I do think he has a plan. So I’m posting this creative little piece today so that I can get a jump on the “rapture” that’s going to certainly happen latter today.

Here’s how I think Harold’s plan unfolded:

Prelude: While playing with my grandchildren, I discovered this really great hiding spot! No one would ever find me and a few hundred people if we hid here.

Phase #1: Begin telling my radio audience that I am working on a scam math formula that will predict from the Bible when the end of the world will take place.

Phase #2: Communicate to the suckers audience that I am very close, but need more money for research.

Phase #3: Announce the date of the “rapture,” and express my desire to the audience to warn the world about the coming judgment.

Phase #4: Ask for money.

Phase #5: Buy five or six inexpensive vans and a few billboards and tell the audience that their millions of dollars were sunk into these marketing tactics to get the word out.

Phase #6: Remind the audience that we did not spend millions for television ads because unlike the holy radio and blessed internet . . . television is evil . . . unless I’m making an appearance.

Phase #7: Round up my friends and family Gather with the faithful ones.

Phase #8: Hide in awesome spot mention in “Prelude.”

Phase #9: Make everyone think the rapture happened . . . and only a few hundred were saved.

Phase #10: Figure out a way to destroy the whole world by October 21st.

*I want to again reaffirm that I am not denigrating Christians here, but rather the theological cult that is known as “Family Radio” wherein Harold Camping has, on numerous occasions, told his listeners that the Church-age had come to an end, and that his listeners should leave the church and send in their money to “Family Radio.”

More on Fins

So the reason I was able to read Fins, by Ashley L Knight was because I won it in a contest. Remember the first time I talked about mermaids? And there was a contest? Totally won it. I feel a little proud about that, which is silly since I didn’t do anything.

Anyway, I was expecting to get just the book in the mail, but Ashley pulled out all the stops. The book came wrapped, with a envelope closed with an actual seal. How awesome is that? I was all set to heat up a knife to open it with, until I realized that it was my envelope, I wasn’t breaking into it, and so I could just tear the paper around the seal to keep it intact.

When I opened the envelope I found a lovely note in calligraphy. The book dedication was similarly done. I asked Ashley to make it out to my cousin Sarah, who loves books and who I’m going to give Fins to now that I’m finished.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Fins, by Ashley L Knight

I told you—mermaids are the new vampires. Even Stephanie Meyer is supposedly writing a mermaid book. If you want to get ahead of the curve though, read

Fins is a fast-paced, fun, easy read about a 17-year-old girl named Morgan who goes to spend the summer with her mother. Turns out though, her mother is a mermaid and so is she. Morgan soon finds herself in the middle of a deadly family feud that’s been going on since before she was born. She’d better find a way to end it soon or someone she loves is going to die.

I always feel terrible comparing something to Twilight, but it’s almost impossible nowadays when dealing with paranormal romance. I’ll only say that if you enjoyed anything at all about Twilight you’ll like this book. However, Fins is tighter, has less gag-y romance and a strong female lead. Morgan doesn’t just sit around waiting for things to happen; she’s not going to rest until she’s sure her family’s safe.

The only criticism I would have is that I’d like more development. The story could be fleshed out a bit more, as seen in moments of exposition. There’s a lot of mystery and prophecy and it seems like you get told one fact only to find out ten pages later the opposite is true. A little more breathing room would solve this.

At the same time I don’t think the book’s target audience, teenagers, is going to mind that much. In fact I think this is a great book for reluctant readers.

My mother read the book before I did and she gives it two thumbs up. Quotes from my mother:

“A great book.” “I loved it.” “Do you have any more books like that one?”

She was also very pleased to know there’d be two more books after this one. The book mentioned that vampires also exist, so here’s hoping Morgan gets to stick it to some bloodsuckers.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Writing Religiously: The To-Do List

Every single author I know has an extensive To-Do list. Whether published or unpublished, expert or novice all us writers have more ideas than we have time to record them. Here’s my current list:

1. Finish co-writing JPCA with Kevin D.
2. Write the next Untold Alliances audio drama
3. Finish writing The Shade novels.
4. Pursue A Simple Proposal film?
5. Rewrite Untold
6. Decide if I want to write Untold 2, 3, 4, 5 or conflate it into one or two more novels, or end it with the single book.

This list only represents the things which I might have an audience and/or a publisher for. If I listed all the ideas for stories, short films and projects swimming around in my head I’d fill a couple of pages.

So why do writers have an insurmountable list of projects? A list which will most certainly never be completed?

I think it’s so that only the good stuff gets through. The things we love get written. The things we only like get pushed to the bottom of the list, or incorporated into the stories and characters we truly love.

So make your list, envision all your projects as pet goats, and choose the ones that you wouldn’t mind sacrificing to the blood-thirsty god of mediocre ideas . . . and feed those that remain.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Yes, I sent this

Dear Sir or Madam:

This cover letter is to express my interest in becoming your temporary Junior Publishing Data Analyst at Marvel Comics.

My educational experience as an English major and previous career as an English teacher have provided me with excellent written and verbal communications skills. I currently exercise these skills on a volunteer basis as a copy editor for Living City Magazine.

Additionally, I have substantial experience working in fast-paced office environments. As a program assistant at SUNY New Paltz I coordinated with multiple departments in order to plan and run five three-day orientation programs for incoming freshmen. During one summer I assumed the office managing responsiblities for two month when the office secretary became ill. I am computer-savvy and easily able to learn new programs and tasks, am proficient in Microsoft office, and familiar with completing typical clerical tasks including filing, database management, program planning and answering phone queries.

I’ve always imagined that if I were a mutant my powers would involve filing and database management, which I would use to help Professor X run the X-Men as smoothly as possible. As your Junior Data Analyst I would easily input and update data as well as look for ways for my job to be done more efficiently. Anything I could to take some burden off the Fantastic Four’s shoulders during this trying time would be a privilege.

Thank you for your consideration.



Friday, May 6, 2011

A Day Late and a Dollar Short: Grammarrrrrrr...

My real-life job consists of editing things. I translate Legalese into plain English. Sometimes, the lawyers try to translate my finished edits back into Legalese. And my boss is getting sick of it.

My Captain!Boss has been having a hellish tug with the legal staff over their insistence upon ruining all her comprehensible English. Specifically, with the use of bullets. So she carved the following upon a stone tablet and sent it up to them, along with thunder and lightening and the promise of wrath:

Plain Language Rule # 5,369.7

We do NOT punctuate bullets. They do not have:

  • Commas

  • Semicolons

  • Periods
If you have a sentence that modifies a lengthy bullet, your choices are:

  • Put it in parentheses

  • Re-write the thought

  • See me

This rule applies to:

  • Doctors

  • Lawyers

  • Bureaucratic Chiefs

The Grammar Goddess

She then printed out copies of this most-high commandment and slapped it on my cubicle wall.

I'm thinking she's reached the end of her tether...

Also, a follow up to last week's post about the Pennsylvania teacher who was 'outed' as an erotica romance writer.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Writing Religiously: J-E-L-L-O

I'm not going to make a habit of this . . . but I find this video to be inspiring. (And transcendent).

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