Monday, March 26, 2012

Sealed With a Kiss

I was made to love. 

Weren't we all? Made in the image of our Creator.

I suppose that's why I love a great romantic story. Epic--as my teens would say.

I just finished a weekend of watching three full performances of Footloose. My son was in charge of stage left--RRRrrr. My daughter played the mother of the main character--Ren---and she was beautiful--RRRaaarrr.

Since my husband and I dated in the 1980's, I reveled in all the glory days and songs, costumes, and even silly old phrases and dance moves I'd forgotten. It was so EPIC! :o)

But one scene stands out for one reason....
the sweet anticipation of love discovered.

It's the scene on the bridge where Ren and Ariel sing the hit, Almost Paradise. Ren, the rebel, who challenges all the rules, loves Ariel, the preacher's daughter, who yearns for real love and deeper intimacy than the empty rules handed down to her as faith. Each night Ren and Ariel played it better and better--of course it helped that in real life this couple is already dating. But the kicker was on the third night of a packed auditorium when they finally lean closer, closer---and closer----and FINALLY KISS---I hear behind me somewhere a young girl's loud whisper of anticipation--"yES!"  Then a contented sigh that followed. Sweetness of two meant for each other.

My English teacher in high school said there were only three stories in the world---love, war, and death. Well, he might have been right, but I'll take LOVE every time!

We were made to love, to yearn, to seek....to hope.

And everyone in that auditorium knew it too--whether old, young, or in between.

I left the school with a contented sweet remembrance of days gone by---of love dreamed of, hoped for, prayed over.

Then during worship Sunday morning, I suddenly remembered that kiss. Often we tiptoe to the edge of it. Wonder what it might be like to plunge into a completely committed relationship with our Lord, lover of our souls. He yearns for us. He knocks on the doors of our hearts---and we tremble with all the same questions we have in love. Will He really love me for who I am? Can I really trust Him with all of me? How will I know it's really Him--the only One for me?

And when we lean in, closer, and seal it with a kiss---I think He says---yES!

Monday, March 19, 2012

What Makes a Book Hook You?




As a reader, what makes you reach for a book on the shelf?

I love Historical Fiction. As I browse Pinterest for pictures that move me, and catch my eye, I stumbled on one that made me think--great book cover! I clicked until I found the photographer's website. Her work was copyrighted, and guess what--she works for the book cover industry. It made me think about what catches a person's eye while browsing the bookshelves of the local bookstore.

It made me wonder...


What are readers looking for in a historical fiction?
What makes it great?


Well, I'm unagented. I'm unpubbed. I'm a quasi-newbie. BUT, I am a reader. So, I'm answering as a reader.

First.
When I browse a bookshelf, I look at the cover. Like a great antique needs some original patina, to me, a great historical should have a sense of patina on the book cover. Patina forms on the surface, produced by age, wear, exposure, or polishing. I like a little something more original than "girl in field". I like the cover to have some level of intrigue. Sometimes less is more, like not showing the heroine's face--it begs the question, what is she like? It makes me want to know what formed the patina of her character.

Second.
I read the back cover and hope for something different than what's been overdone in the past. I love a well written story about a prairie school teacher, but I'd be more likely to read it if it had a fresh twist. I want to read a story about a time and place I love--or a place I have never been--or a place that has some little known history that runs through the plot line. I can also be drawn in by an interesting occupation of the hero or heroine--especially one that will reveal the historical times. One of my favorites is Tamera Alexander's From a Distance.

Third.
I like a full length novel I can sink my teeth into. I love well developed characters that are believable. Once I've made my purchase, nothing will disappoint me more than characters who do or say things that don't ring true with a well thought out character. I like characters who rise up off the flat page and become more than black and white print on the page. A great character can do unbelievable things--and we can still believe it.

Fourth.
I like a writer who can keep the reader--ME--engaged through the middle. I have trouble with distractions or sagging middles. I probably have some ADD, so if that happens, I might not finish the book--and I certainly won't buy another book from that author unless it comes highly recommended. I'm always intrigued by an author who can weave well in the middle--without me guessing what will happen next--which I always try to do. So, I love it when I'm wrong and something even more interesting that I imagined starts to unfold.

Fifth.
I love it when the theme is one that isn't trite, or worn out. But, that said, I'd read any well written book with the theme: she can't trust him, he has a haunted past, she's a widow, he's a man out to redeem himself, etc--IF, they are written well. But, recently, I was excited to read a book with a great look at colonial America's struggle with the theme of liberty. This was Love Finds You in Annapolis, MD by Roseanna M. White. The lessons her characters learned were not only timeless, but something we could stand to remember more often than we might, two hundred plus years later. It made me ponder. It made me thankful. I came away pushed and stretched.

Theses are things I am striving for in my writing, looking for on the shelf, and hoping for in my reading.

So, what do YOU look for in a book?

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Launching & New Beginnings

Posies & Petals GC by lubsy1uk

Posies & Petals GC, a photo by lubsy1uk on Flickr.

Spring has sprung in our neck of the woods here in Indiana. The daffodils are blooming and the pond frogs are singing--and my oldest daughter is preparing for graduation. The blog-front will be quieter for the next several months until we launch her and the open house is over in June. My heart is full and brimming as I think of the blessings of these last 18 years, and I can see that the launching is not really an end, but a beginning!

My writing goals are sitting on the back burner for now. I plan to critique my crit partner's latest chapters, and finish plotting out the last half of my book. Once my daughter graduates and begins her summer job, I'll be able to pick up my writing and look toward the Fall and ACFW conference in Dallas. I'd love to have the last half of my current WIP completed by then. So, as my 16 year old gets his license and my 18 year old daughter jumps from the nest to stretch her wings, my hope is that writing may help fill my moments. 

Happy Spring time to all. I pray your endings are only the start of great beginnings!

What are your new beginnings?  Writing goals? 

Saturday, March 3, 2012

This I Believe....

...about copyright law and the digital age...

Reading copyright law and TOU (Terms of Use) policies on popular websites where copyrighted material might be shared, is worse than using MS-DOS, or doing your own long form income taxes--I'd rather read about the Kreb's cycle or the immune response, or scan the package insert (PI) for disclaimers on safe prescription drug use!! Even the most conscientious user of publicly posted information on the web could make an unintended error in interpretation.


I know, because after reading Jennifer Hudson Taylor's blogpost yesterday at Hartline, I read the attached discussion of the current law and fine print of TOU from Pinterest and Tumblr. Ugh! Seriously, you'd need a law degree or retainer for a copyright lawyer to interpret these things!


Anyone who used MS-DOS, dreamed of a user-friendly world where the not-so-tech-geek with average intelligence could use a home computer not only with ease, but with enjoyment. I hope copyright law and TOU policies will one day catch up with the complexities of the world wide web.


The first laws in America were passed in 1783--229 years ago!


Taken from (to give proper credit): 
NOTABLE DATES IN AMERICAN COPYRIGHT
"compiled by Benjamin W. Rudd 
January 8, 1783. The earliest copyright statute 
in the United States was passed by the General 
Court of Connecticut under the title 'An Act 
for the Encouragement of Literature and 
Genius.' Dr. Noah Webster, famed lexicog- 
rapher and one of Connecticut's most distin- 
guished men, was directly instrumental in secur- 
ing its enactment." (source: http://www.cpyright.gov/history/dates.pdf )

Many states quickly passed laws of their own. I'm quite certain Noah Webster never dreamed of the world wide web. I'm not an expert in copyright law, but just an average person with the desire to abide by the law. I believe the intent of copyright law was designed to give credit to the original artist or author who produced published written works and protect him or her from others who would infringe upon the author's right to gain from their own works. 

The first Federal copyright law was passed in 1790 and had provisions for limitations: the period of protection was for only 14 years and an author could renew his protection at the end of the first term "if he was still living."  The very fact of limitation implies that there might be exceptions and circumstances affecting the provisions. Certainly the first framers of this law didn't comprehend that the average life span would stretched to seventy plus years. Nor did they comprehend a digital world where Pinterest boards might be popularly viewed as something akin to sharing a favorite magazine clipping with friends--a paperless way to organize previously clipped recipes, pictures, articles, and research.

The article linked in Jennifer's blog yesterday was from a lawyer, who was similarly confused about the TOU policy for Pinterest in regards to copyright interpretation. Now, if a lawyer is unclear, what are the rest of us supposed to think? Ignore the public chat, or take down all my boards and jump off Pinterest for good? I'd like to hope there is a happy middle ground where user friendly policies can be understood and used. 


In writing nonfiction works, if the author quotes a source, she should put it in quotes or give credit to the source. In research and educational works, we are required and taught to site works properly in the bibliography. All this to give credit where credit is due. So, are public websites like Pinterest, where the original source can be linked, or the pathway to the original can be followed--is this like crediting the source? 


I don't have the legal answers.


I haven't decided what to do about Pinterest, but I've stopped pinning until I decide. I've pulled my "follow me on Pinterest" button on my blog until I learn more. I did send an email to a photographer to ask permission to pin or post her work on my boards and blog.


I did read the TOU on Tumblr. In the five years Tumblr was been up and running their website states they've had over 10,000,000,000 posts--I believe that's TRILLIONS!!  Do you really think that the number of potential authors, photographers, artists involved would like trillions of emails requesting permission to use those trillions of items for personal enjoyment and nonprofit use?? So, what actual percent of repinned, or reposted material needs a formal permission from the originator? If the originator doesn't block his or her work from being shared or pinned online, does that imply permission?


Answer please....someone...tell us in plain English....


Until then, Lord, please hasten the day where TOU's and copyright law won't give me the headache that MS-DOS and the IRS do!