Five Minutes Ago, I Was A Drunk Marine

I write Christian fiction, but I just finished a scene from the POV of a drunk Marine. I realize this might make it hard when I look for a publisher, but that's okay with me. I'll take my chances.

I've made a lot of mistakes in my life, and as a writer, I tend to draw from that place when I create my characters. I want to make them flawed--broken. As I write, I toss them in as much hot water as I can, making those flaws even more prominent. I want POVs that are marred and ugly (not always literally). I want a character that is 'real'...that people can relate to.

So, I took my main character...a man that was raised in church and knows right from wrong. I tossed him into a military dinner where and abundance of toasts are made. Despite his better judgment, he does what he is expected to do and swallows every bit of alcohol given to him. Drunk, beat up, unruly...he meets to the woman of his dreams who just happens to be a button-down Christian woman. Not exactly the best way to make a good first impression.

And I suppose that my novel may not make a good first impression to an inquiring publisher. In fact, a successful Christian writer told me so.


I want my stories to be the kind that breath truth. I don't want to paint pictures that are witty and interesting, yes...but fail to make an unbeliever relate to what is unfolding. Nearly every Christian novel has a 'come-to-Jesus' moment. But that's not enough for me. I want all the grit, sin, ugliness in my novel that is in the real world. Because only then...can the truth of what Jesus saves us from be brought to light.

So here is to you, drunken Captain Dalton. I raise my cup of Earl Grey to you and your shameful predicament. May you win the lovely nurse Jessup over...fall madly in love...and then lose it all on a bloody battlefield. Your story might not have a happy ending, but you'll die a hero (sober, too) Most importantly, may your life transform that of a reader's. That makes it all worth it, now doesn't it?


My God Doesn't Always Look Pretty

It is hard to paint a picture for someone about who God is and what His character is like. You can travel from one church to another, and doctrine will always provide a different picture, or a different angle. For me, learning who God is involved pain. I'm not claiming God inflicted the pain. But it was in that darkness that I caught a glimpse of who He is.

This is what I have learned...

From the beginning, even before Eve ever accepted the fruit from the serpent, God has been in a battle with Satan. Think on that: A Battle. God is not a King that sits idle on a throne, reigning over all creation. Yes, He is a King...and, yes, He reigns (make no mistake of that). But God is so much more. God is the Commander of the Angel Armies. God is a fighter, a warrior, a commander of fierce troops, seasoned and ready to go to battle.

No matter how wonderful it would be to look to God and see nothing but pretty colors and perfect, cheerful hymns, God is something much more powerful--and frightening--than that. His voice calms raging seas. That is a voice to be reckoned with! His orders move mountains; His hands hold the entire world in their palm; His breath brings life; there is nowhere you can hide from Him; He crushes His enemies; He is quick to love and forgive.

I know that God loves me and wants good things for me. But more than that, He wants me to learn to fight for Him/with Him. He needs me to learn to stand up in a battle that I cannot see with my eyes. God yearns for me to grow and mature through the dark moments in my life--for they are my training days. I understand that when I come out of the valley, I am going to be broken, battered and bruised. Life is really going to stink (it already does)...and bones might even be broken. I might feel that there is no way I can take one more step...that my strength is gone. But He LOVES me enough to allow me to walk through those dark times, simply because He SEES my value and worth. He KNOWS what I will be when I come out. He KNOWS how strong, how tough, how capable I will be.

God wants a warrior out of me, and a warrior needs trained--they cannot go into battle without it. A warrior that can lead is usually one that has already gone through one dark battle after the other--unafraid no longer. They know what their blood taste like. They know what the pain feels like. And they've learned to go without comforts.

So, here I am. Everything has been stripped away. My capabilities are nothing I can rely on. My life is out of my hands. Troubles fall heavy on my shoulders. I stand in my Father's shadows...I feel His jealousy for me...and I tremble in the fierce strength of His love. I will not set my eyes on the pretty things of the world--the comfort of abundance. I will not settle. I will not be distracted. Instead, I am going to lift my eyes to him, hold out my arms, and say, "Let it be."

Don't get distracted. Don't shy away from the darkness. Run towards it when it comes your way, for there is no avoiding pain in life anyway. Hold to the truth that this was never the world you were created for from the start. Remember that God is still there, ready to help you when you need Him. But do not be distracted by the safe path. Become a warrior who learns that His grace is sufficient. Bend like a tree in a hurricane under the strength of His love; for His love refines. His love even hurts, at times. His love is not always comfortable.

And that is what God looks like to me. Mel Gibson in the Patriot. He fights fiercely for His children...but His children also end up fighting right along side him. That's my God. He trusts me, He wants me, to fight by His side. :) And together, we're a sweaty, dirty pair fighting with all the passion we've got.


I Shoot People

Not really! But I do shoot people with my camera. Aside from being a wife, mother and writer...I'm also a photographer. Over the weekend, I had the opportunity to photograph a band my husband is the lead singer for. I might be biased, but I think they are pretty awesome. I also might be biased, but I think the pictures came out fantastic! :) So, since it is sunny out and I don't want to write a true blog post, I'll just send whoever is interested over to my Giafoto Fine Art Photography blog page. Enjoy the pictures!!!


Facebook Needs A Conscience Filter

This past week, I've hated my facebook news feed. With the death of Osama bin Laden, everyone has had something to say. But this recent spike in current events isn't the only time facebook and other social networks have gotten foul-mouthed, opinionated, and offensive. It happens a lot. The wrong person gets kicked off American Idol (which I don't even watch), a nation suffers a natural disaster (including our own), that woman you met once at the park starts adamantly protesting against (fill in the blank here), or someone simply just woke up on the wrong side of the bed. All give reasons for people to write and post without a second thought. Sometimes, it sparks a heated debate among your friends, or those random people you knew way-back-when. Sometimes, you wake up the next day and burn with embarrassment...did you really just post that?

So, my solution is this: Facebook and Twitter need a conscience filter. You may still choose what you want to write, but it will fire a series of questions at you before you post any questionable status update. For instance:

1. Do you really want your parents to read that?
2. Have you any idea that those words may deeply wound a great deal of your friends?
3. Do you understand that you sound a tad-bit racist by saying that?
4. Should your friends really know THAT much personal information about you?
5. Does this reflect your faith in a good light?
6. After she read this, will your grandma smack you upside your head next time she sees you?
7. Does EVERYONE need to see THAT picture?
8. Are you belittling others with this post, just because you HAVE to let the world know how you feel on this issue?
9. Do you realize that you sound like a pompous donkey's backside right now?
10. It's a wonder you have any friends on here to begin with!

Really, just because it is so easy to fire off a status in under 60 seconds, does not mean we necessarily should. In the long run, you might wish you had invested in a time machine so you could go back to 20 minutes ago when you called that lady sitting next to you in the church pew, a big ole' ninny. ;) Or something worse.

"Watch the way you talk (or, in our case...type). Let nothing foul or dirty come out of your mouth. Say only what helps, each word a gift. Don't grieve God. Don't break His heart. " Ephesians 4:29-30 (Message)

"Make a clean break with all cutting, backbiting, profane talk. Be gentle with one another, sensitive. Forgive one another as quickly and thoroughly as God in Christ forgave you." Ephesians 4:32


Hop In And Follow Me Friday

Book Blogger Hop

Hop in and Follow me Friday are weekly meme's hosted by Parajunkee's View and Crazy-for-Books.

"Which book blogger would you most like to meet in real life?"

I don't think I would want to meet any blogger in real life. I am too much of an introvert and then would have to worry about what to say. But I suppose in an effort to answer the question correctly, I would choose BookGeek because she seems so nice. :)

What character in a book would
you most like to be? What character in a book would most like to date?

Oh, this is so easy! The characters are even in the same book! I would want to be Scarlett O'Hara for a few days...and date and marry Rhett Butler. However, I don't want to be caught in Gone With The Wind Forever, because, truthfully, I don't like Scarlett. It takes her two thick-bound novels to finally start to act like a decent human being. She marries three different men, nearly looses the one-true-love of her life, isn't the most amazing mother, and extremely money-hungry. So, I just want to be her temporarily. I would ruin her reputation, though. I would be too kind and loving...and when she got her body back, she would wonder why Rhett is so incredibly warm to her and beckons to her every call. She won't be able to walk down the Atlanta streets without people coming up to her and making cheery small talk. She'll be so mad. :)



The Raven's Bride: A Review

There is something that happens when one crosses south of the Mason-Dixon Line; something full of time and mystery. When you get out of the Yankee states and are finally able to fill your lungs with good, wholesome Southern air…it is like stepping back in time, to a place that consumes your imagination. But, if you are like me and seemingly stuck up North with no means yet to escape, then Lenore Hart’s newest book The Raven’s Bride is the next best thing.

I often start out my book reviews assuring the reader that I am very picky about the books that I read. Too often, I’ve turned to the first line and not been able to be pulled in within the first few pages, let alone the first few paragraphs. However, Ms. Hart’s first haunting lines were as if the book suddenly drew back and took a deep breath, coming fully alive. I was captivated from the beginning. So much, in fact, that I would have gladly read this book in one sitting, if it had not been for my mommy duties that yelled, shouted, pooped, and begged for food (lovely, right?). As it was, I had to read it in two sittings.

Since fifth grade, I have been completely spellbound by Edgar Allan Poe. So, you can imagine my surprise when I picked up The Raven’s Bride at the library (yes, the library…but I will be buying my own copy now). I didn’t even have time to read the synopsis of the book because my two year-old son was busy typing on every keyboard he came across. Shamefully, I grabbed the book up because of the striking cover. But who hasn’t done that once or twice?

At home, I was thrilled to fully understand that this book was a first-person narrative told from the POV of Virginia Clemm, or Sissy Clemm Poe, the childhood bride of her first cousin, Edgar Allan Poe. I was sold. It didn’t hurt that the opening chapter unfurled with a haunting—reading with the same, eerie, spooky feel that so many of Poe’s very own works breathe with.

Ms. Hart takes her readers to another time—another place—and paints a picture so vivid and clear that I could, at times, smell the brandy on Poe’s breath; feel the rough bombazine against my skin; imagine the taste of salt and iron blood that Sissy tastes when she falls prey to consumption; and understand—no, feel—the same heart-wrenching pain and sorrow her beloved Poe must have felt as he suffers one victory, and yet, another defeat as he manically pursues his love and his dreams. It did not take much scope for the imagination to feel as if I had suddenly been dropped into the shoes of Mr. Poe’s beloved little wife.

Sissy Clemm loved ‘Eddy’, as she lovingly called him, nearly from the first moment she met him as an eight year-old girl. Eddy became her make-believe husband, and at the tender age of thirteen (young, even for those days) her real life husband. But the fairy tale she had imagined did not come true. At least not quite how she imagined. Eddy was driven to write—to create a well-known name for himself. But, as most writers know, this does not come easy. Eddy suffers one decline after another, only intermittent once and a while by a success. All the while, he must battle his inner-most demon: his desire to succumb to temptation and drain the city of every drop of alcohol he can find.

Sissy is Eddy's anchor—the one good thing that keeps him from completely slipping away. Because of this, she quickly matures from a naive child, to a strong, and capable woman. Though she endures extreme poverty, his husband’s unpredictable moods, and her frustration to make something of herself, as well, Sissy is the very picture of a man blessed by a good and supportive wife. She is an inspiration, of sorts. I felt no pity for her. Only admiration. I imagine it is only because of her that Edgar Poe turned out so many great works. What would the literary world look like now if Virginia had not been by his side?

As silly as it might sound, I feel lucky that I haphazardly snatched the first pretty book off the library shelf, all in an effort to shuttle my rambunctious kids out of the building before being tossed out. Having finished this book this afternoon, I do not feel but a twinge of guilt that the words of Ms. Hart caused me to be so completely entranced that I forgot all about my son’s doctor’s appointment. Instead, I feel as if I have just sat down with a wonderful, strong, powerful, charming woman and heard her story personally. If I close my eyes and am very still, I can imagine that Mrs. Poe is still sitting beside me, watching me, taking pleasure in how her story has left me breathless. To me, that is the mark of a great author—the ability to transport readers…or, in my case, bring the characters into the readers own home. Because, one day, that’s what I hope I will be able to do with my own haunt a reader with a story.