Saturday, August 28, 2010


"The only man who never makes a mistake is the man who never does anything."
~ Theodore Roosevelt

"I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work."
~ Thomas Edison

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Inception (2010)

Directed and written by Christopher Nolan

Rating: 9+
Watch-ability: Very captivating.
Impact: 8

Watch Again: A must own. ;-)
Recommend It: Yes!

What to Expect

To be amazed. :-)

Faced paced, supremely acted, character, plot, and action driven.

There is some intense action scenes but they are very tasteful and clean. There is some mild language as well. Over all this is a very clean movie, especially for Leonardo DeCarpio.

My Squib

I don't know much to say except that I loved this movie!

I read the World Magazine review when it first came out and immediately wanted to see it. I exercised great self-control and didn't look up a single thing about it. I loved sitting down to a new story and not knowing a single thing about it except that it is good!

It was well worth the wait...even though it was a long one. We saved this movie to start at 11pm Friday night in the IMax theater in Seattle.

Certainly my favorite movie of the year so far (and that's saying something with Alice in Wonderland and Toy Story 3 :-).

Go out and see it if you haven't!

From the Movie

"And I will lead them on a merry chase." ~ Arthur
My favorite. :-)

An absolutely amazing cast. Wonderful acting.

Polka Dot also did a review of sorts with some awesome pictures.

Thanks for reading.
Miss Pickwickian

Monday, August 23, 2010

Beauty in the Bible

We've been going through an amazing Sunday school class on beauty and the arts. (You can read some about it here.) Our week on "story" was especially inspiring. It's been great. :-)

This past week we also got an awesome sermon on beauty! You should check it out!
Beauty in the Bible by Pastor Tuuri

I've been thinking about this a lot. I went back and read a post I did in February, Modern Mediocrity in Christian Art. I think its all mulling around still. There are so many interesting things to read on the subject...and frankly, I feel pretty dumb.

The main thing I understand is...Christians should take the arts seriously! (And that includes writing, by the way.)

So yeah...
Miss Pickwickian

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Book Giveaway!

The time has come!

The Book: The Art & Craft of Writing Christian Fiction by Jeff Gerke
Value: $15.29 (based on Amazon)
When: August 21st-September 10th
How to Enter:
1. Comment on this Post
2. Become a follower of The Erratic Muse (or already be one).
3. Post about the giveaway on your blog
4. Post the giveaway in your sidebar on your blog
Then comment and tell me what you did. Thanks!

More about this book:

My Review

Some Quotes from the Book

Amazon Reviews

About Jeff Gerke

Back cover...

"Jeff Gerke is so full of great writing advice that you just want to beat him up."
~Randall Ingermanson, "The Snowflake Guy"

Artist and Craftsman--as a Christian novelist, you're both.

You know the soaring creativity of the Creator and the serious discipline of the artisan. And you feel the impulse to excel in each.

So grab a steaming mug of your favorite hot drink and come learn the art and craft of Christian fiction from one of its master teachers.

You'll learn:

  • How to find your story amidst all your ideas
  • How to bring your characters onstage the first time
  • How to convert your telling to showing
  • How to handle profane characters in Christian fiction
  • How to use the dumb puppet trick
  • How to write for the (approving) Audience of One
  • And much more.

The Art & Craft of Writing Christian Fiction is the complete school of fiction from Jeff Gerke, popular writer's conference teacher, professional book doctor, and Christian novelist. It includes and expands upon his influential Fiction Writing Tip of the Week column at

If you have any more questions, feel free to go ahead an contact me. My email is Pickwickian.Forever(at)

I am very eager to get this book in the hands of more aspiring authors!

Please tell your friends about this giveaway! Spread the word to the writers for the world.
And thanks for participating,
Miss Pickwickian

Friday, August 20, 2010

Josh Groban is Josh Groban

Actually, there is more to this post. ;-)

My sister got Josh Groban's original album, Josh Groban, this year for her birthday. We've been listening to it a lot. Really. Like a lot.
And that's cool. I like it. Josh Groban is great in his realm. He has a seriously amazing voice and some of his songs are over the top. Love 'em.

But I am not a Josh Groban fan. I think the hype is starting to wear off, but I know a lot of people got turned away from his music by the crazy Grobanite fans. I confess I've been very tempted, but that's a bad reason to ignore a talented musician.

I enjoy how Josh Groban mixes classical and almost opera type quality to some of the pop music he sings. He certainly fills a unique place.

If you've been reading you know I am an Andrea Bocelli fan. :-)

Beka, a dear friend, compared the two singers very well (and she really likes both).
Josh Groban is milk chocolate, Andrea Bocelli is least 72%. Josh Groban is a young man, Andrea Bocelli is da man.

Yeah, anyways... Both have excellent talent.

Here's some videos with some pretty top quality milk chocolate. ;-) These are my three favorite Josh Groban songs.

Sorry about the creepy woman.... Couldn't find another video.

I sing to life! Awesome!
See translation for the entire song here.

Talk about dramatic?
Okay...You are allowed to be made sick by his fans. Gag...
This is 2007 in the hype of the Groban craze. Since then I think he's learned a little more grace and humility during stage performance. ;-)

If you can't stand it all, just listen. It's beautiful!

Love this song. Love, love, love!
After having said that, I think its a little romanticized... And I don't even like Van Gogh's art.
Sister says Vincent is my secret soul mate. ;-) Don't think so...

But I love this song!

Thanks for reading. Hopefully this added some beauty to your day!
Miss Pickwickian

Thursday, August 19, 2010

The Art and Craft of Writing Christian Fiction - Jeff Gerke

The Art and Craft of Writing Christian Fiction: The Complete Guide to Finding Your Story, Honing Your Skills, & Glorifying God in Your Novel by Jeff Gerke
Marcher Lord Press 2009

Rating: 9
Readability: 9
Impact: 10

Read it Again: I should refer to it every day. ;-)
Recommend it: YES!

What to Expect

The title is pretty self explanatory. :-)

Very applicable, funny, engaging, and practical this is probably the most influential writing book I've read (and I collect them).
Jeff Gerke is organized and direct, tackling difficult topics. This is a book for the twenty-first century! So much of Christian writing is riddled with problems or preachiness. Lets dig it out and have it lead the way, not follow the pack.
(There is some great Christian fiction out there, don't get me wrong!)

There is wisdom for newbie and experienced writers from beginning of the idea to the publication of the novel.

The book is divided into three sections.
Part 1: The Spiritual Heart of Writing Christian Fiction
Part 2: Strategizing Yourself, Strategizing Your Novel
Part 3: Writing Your Novel
Each of these sections is broken up into what he calls "Masteries", basically points, skills, or aspects to get under your belt.

My Squib

Loved this book! Can't recommend it enough.
It had so much I needed and was ready to hear. I'm extremely eager to apply it. He's directness and humor really made it an amazing read.

The only thing that slowed me down at all was the fact that he uses Star Wars for so many examples. Nothing wrong with that. Time for a confession...I've never watched Star Wars. So, yeah, sometimes I was lost.
He also uses "she" most of the time instead of "him". Just throws me off.

Confession number two...I had this book recommended to me before but I didn't buy it. And it was a pretty lame reason. The cover.
First, the capitalization oddities through me off, and then the color (orange is not my fav...but it sure looks nice with my blog, doesn't it?), and then the cup of dark liquid. I have mild allergies to chocolate and coffee, so seeing something so tasty on a book cover I couldn't have made me sad.
Lesson = I was dumb.

Read the book! It is AMAZING!

From the Book

"What you want is a reader who is so into the story that she forgets she's reading words and turning pages. You want her breathlessly moving beyond the sentences and directly onto the front row of the story. Your words cease to be ends in and of themselves and instead become the vehicle that conveys her into the reality you've created."

"Writing fiction is pretty much the coolest job in the world. And writing Christian fiction takes a cool job and turns it into a ministry and privileged. To serve God by imagining wonderful story people and telling amazing tales of adventure, woe, romance, and truth.
It doesn't get any better than that."

Look back for the give away of this awesome book!

Growing Pains?

I've been going through piles and piles of notes on my story (Where Loyalties Lie).

It began in February 2005 with a scene with Rackbrier. Since then it has seriously been all over the place. Literally the only names and characters that have staid the same are Emerald and Kadit. Both of these characters are now minor.

The Setting

I won't try to describe many of the interesting pictures of despair I've described over the years...We just won't go there. The main theme is its raining.

I have a hundred maps. Yesterday I sat down and made one that went along with the current story and plot.

As far as time period. Yikes! When I started that first scene with Rackbrier the feel was sort of Revolutionary War/1812 sorta thing...except wait! At the end of the third scene he puts on heavy armor and a claymore!
It fairly quickly changed to medieval. Then back to 1812. Then back to medieval. Then to the 1950s!
Today it's back to Revolutionary War/1812 sorta thing.
Still only single fire guns and knives and swords/sabers are still more applicable.

Still doing research on clothing and weaponry for this era.


I'm now counting on the before unheard of, Ramirez Delamare (once Ramriez Kenzel) and Lilly Ephramean (once Lilly Ceeza) as my POV characters.

My first writings were totally omniscient. Then I tried third person but did a lot of head jumping. Since nearly all my favorite books are in first person, I tried that. It didn't work with some of the plot elements. So, yeah, that's how we ended up with Ramirez and Lilly thoughts.

The Characters

Rackbrier of course is still here...
He began as Rakber Hoff, and a very fact-loving fellow indeed. :-)
He was basically a concoction of Inspector Javert, George Banks, and Sherlock Holmes with a dash of my favorite -- German World War II ace. ;-)
As you can imagine the resulting critter was a little odd with a few inconsistence. (But of course, very endearing. Especially the Inspector Javert part.)

Rakber Hoff is now Benryden Rackbrier and he's a little more defined...I hope. He lost his seat as the main character. Poor fellow.

Emerald's name changed about a million times, but she's back to Emerald again. Only now she's Emerald Fleischman instead of Emerald Dorsdoffin.

Other key characters are:

Ramirez Delamare (formally Ramirez Kenzel)

Lilly Ephramean (formally many things, including...Lilly/Margaret Ceeza/Lewq)

Dietrich DeElliot (formally Dietrich Craymore)

Judvor Lewq

Count Craignil Fleischman (formally Lord Dorsdoffin)

Duke Eldine

Captain Adion Delamare (formally Edion Kenzel)

Baron Grado Bouvier (formally Lord Bithron)

Juela Mentiroso, Kadit, Benaiah, Sir Wilken Lewq also all play backstage roles.

I've been currently trying to create some deeper character sketches. Some of these guys have so many in so many different places, and I just need one more definitive one I can refer too.

I've been reading Brandilyn Collins book Getting Into Character: Seven Secrets a Novelist Can Learn from Actors. It's great and its giving me some new ideas.

I've felt like I know my characters relatively well. I have mental conversations with them (all except Rackbrier. He's not sociable. And Ramirez, he thinks more then talks. Plus my modern garb scares his sense of fashion and propriety.)
I try to think like them or act like them on occasion.

But I need to do more.

Jeff Gerke's book The Art and Craft of Christian Fiction challenged me. What do my characters want? This should be part of the drive in the story. And it is. But lets get down to the gritty. Seriously, what do they want? How does this effect their actions?

I think I'm getting to the root of this in most of my characters...except Ramirez and Lilly. That's only my two POV characters, no big deal. Wrong! Big deal! This is not okay. I really need to hash this out.

The Plot

So I have a lot of writer's journals.
Some of them are full. Some of them are organized. Most of them are total chaos, with few and far between helpful info.
They are crammed with story ideas. Some stories I got pretty far into plotting and some are more then half written. Some of them are just a sentence of an idea.
But...basically all of them have been incorporated or pirated for my current story in someway.

If you've been reading, you know about Antony. Yeah, sore spot with sister. He was originally important to the plot, but when the focus changed from Rackbrier to other characters and when my sister would not let me bump him off he got archived for a later date.

In came Judvor. He is actually a 2010 addition, so a real newbie. He was originally brought in to fulfill some minor accomplishment that Antony had served. He quickly took charge of the situation and made his place in the world. He's now a very important fellow.

After reading through my old journals I discovered his former hideout. He was basically my character Tilman with a dash of Elliot Spencer.
Tilman was a hardworking farmer dude in a previous story that made it to about page 50 with a detailed plot outline before it got set on the back burner.
Judvor was even bringing in the same key plot elements that Tilman had to his story!
Little sneak.

So yes, Judvor/Tilman changed the plot on me. He didn't change the huge element, but he enriched the story.

From 2005 there remains one stable element...The bad guys and the good guys fight.

In Review

I enjoyed looking over the old stuff way more then I thought I would. It was interesting to see where my story and me have been. I was impressed and sometimes disturbed at my creativity levels. Am I getting old? Is my imagination getting smothered?
Hopefully I'm just becoming a little more realistic. :-)

Although my writing started much earlier, I started serious writing journals in 2004.
Over the years my style has fluctuated and changed. I believe I'm back more towards 2004 then I am towards 2008. And I think that's a good thing. I hope I've made some big strides in maturing and will continue to do so, but I think I'm finally comfortable with my 'voice'.

I hope this has been growing pains, not waisted time or an outlet for insanity. ;-)

Now I really need to get something done!

I have so much to learn and so much to write!

Thanks for reading,
Miss Pickwickian

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

A Thousand Miles in a Million Years - Donald Miller

A Thousand Miles in a Million Years: What I Learned While Editing My Life by Donald Miller
Thomas Nelson, Inc

Rating: 9
Readability: 9
Impact: 10+

Read it Again: Yes, again and again
Recommend it: Yes! Go buy it here. Right now.

What to Expect

Donald Miller uses the concept story to show us the changes in life and in ourselves, while inspiring us to create an epic.

Even if you didn't like Blue Like Jazz you should give this one a try. Especially if what bothered you about his first book was its rambling, style, or "peace-loving" issues. Of course in my opinion Blue Like Jazz was totally awesome. ;-)

My Squib

This book resonated with me on every level.
What could be more awesome for a wanna-be-author then an amazing word smith directly applying the idea of Story to everyday life?

This is an amazing quick read that really helps you dig down and think.

His style is heart warming and honest. I seriously was teary eyed through the last 100 pages.

My only complaint is his need for a better proof reader...

(His writing is sometimes a little too 'honest' and/or borderline. Because of this I think its more directed towards 14+, but it certainly has principles that apply to everyone.)

Basically, a must read. :-)

Read Polka Dot's thoughts on A Million Miles in a Thousand Years here.

Thank you again, Ellen, for "introducing" me to Donald Miller! You are an awesome friend.

From the Book

I seriously copied so much of this book into my journal! Here is just enough to whet your appetite...

"The thing about trying to remember your life is it makes you wonder what any of it means. You get the feeling life means something, but you're not sure what. Life has a peculiar feel when you look back on it that it doesn't have when you're actually living it."

"Somehow we realize that great stories are told in conflict, but we are unwilling to embrace the potential greatness of the story we are actually in. We think God is unjust, rather than a master storyteller."

"I believe there is a Writer outside ourselves, plotting a better story for us, interacting with us, even, and whispering a better story into our consciousness."

"It wasn't necessary to win for the story to be great, it was necessary to sacrifice everything."

"It's interesting that in the Bible, in the book of Ecclesiastes, the only practical advice given about living a meaninful life is to find a job you like, enjoy your marriage, and obey God. It's as though God is saying, Write a good story, take somebody with you, and let me help."

"We live in a world where bad stories are told, stories that teach us life doesn't mean anything and that humanity has no great purpose. It's a good calling, then to speak a better story. How brightly a better story shines. How easily the world looks to it in wonder. How grateful we are to hear these stories, and how happy it makes us to repeat them."

From Paradise to Promise Land - T.D. Alexander

From Paradise to Promise Land: An Introduction to the Pentateuch by T. D. Alexander
Second Edition, Baker Academic and Paternoster: Thinking Faith

Rating: 8
Readability: 8
Impact: 8

Read it Again: Maybe the second section, yes.
Recommend It: Yes

What to Expect

Alexander's book is divided into two sections, Pentateuchal Criticism and The Main Themes of the Pentateuch.

Part 1: Pentateuchal Criticism deals with hypothesis on who wrote the Pentateuch, when it was written, and if it still applies.
I bogged down in this part. So many scholars arguing about the Bible when they don't even believe it. Probably important information...but pretty much a headache.
At first I was really wondering where he was going with it all. It kind of sounds like he's totally disregarding the fact that the Bible is the authoritative Word of God. His conclusion to Part 1, however, was well worth the slog threw the early pages.

Part 2: The Main Themes of the Pentateuch goes through Genesis-Deuteronomy discussing the main subjects and themes. I thoroughly enjoyed this section. After each chapter and theme discussion he would have a short section on New Testament Connections. I thought those sections were especially cool. :-)

T.D. Alexander is extremely well organized and understandable.

My Squib

This is the third book in my Ligonier course. Yeah! I'm making progress!

I really liked and learned from the second and largest section of the book.
While some of it was pretty basic, a lot of it helped me connect and think on a different level then before.

I also really enjoyed reading through all of the Pentateuch in a month. I confess I've never read through that section of the Bible that fast and it helped me put together Isreal's history as a whole much better.

From the Book

"The distinctiveness of the biblical laws is apparent when one compares the other ancient Near Eastern laws. In the earlier Laws of Hammurabi, a murderer is required only to make financial compensation to the victims family. This contrasts sharply with the biblical insistence of a life for a life. On the other hand, the non-biblical laws apply the death penalty to breaking and entering, looting at a fire, and theft. These examples reveal that in other cultures financial loss was sometimes treated more seriously than loss of life. The biblical laws consistently emphasis the human life is of greater value than material possessions."

"Holiness emanates from God; He is the sole sources of holiness. He alone endows other objects , places or people with holiness. Everything that is given to God or belongs to Him is holy."

"A natural extension of the belief that God is holy is the idea that holiness means wholeness or perfection. To be holy is to be unblemished or unmarred. It is to experience life in all its fullness as God had originally intended it to be."

"From the perspective of a Christian living in the twenty-first century AD these ancient writings continue to be highly relevant, especially given the NT proclamation that Jesus Christ is the son of Abraham and the son of David, who mediates God's blessing to all the nations of the earth."

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

By Darkness Hid - Jill Williamson

By Darkness Hid by Jill Williamson
Marcher Lord Press

Readability: 9
Impact: It certainly restored my faith in fantasy.

Read it Again:
Recommend It: Yes!

What to Expect

An interwoven story of two young people, Vrell and Achan, in an epic clash of good and evil.
A page turner for sure!

My Squib

I haven't tried to read any fantasy for years. Seriously.
In my "youth" (wink) I was a fantasy fanatic.
I read Lloyd Alexander, C. S. Lewis, and Tolkien. I enjoyed some other authors too. (Like Sigmund Brouwer's Wings of Dawn...amazing.) But pretty soon I lost faith in fantasy. Most of it was a weak recap of Lord of the Rings. A lot of it was cheesy, much poorly written, and most of it down right boring.
The only new fantasy I've read in the last several years has been Megan Whalen Turner.

I was able to meet Jill Williamson and hear part of her book in the Author Reading night at the OCW conference. My curiosity was pricked.
I bought the first book.
Why not give fantasy another try?

I am totally thrilled. This book is a treasure. I enjoyed all 500 pages. It was one of those stories that you have to keep reading but you don't want it to end. I thought the ending was cool, but I wasn't ready to be done with it yet!

I can't wait until my next pay check and I can buy book two.

Check out Jill Williamson's blog here.

By Darkness Hid has already won a Christy Award!
Read it and vote for By Darkness Hid for the 2010 Clive Staple Award. Here's how.

Buy By Darkness Hid here!

From the Book

Chapter 1

Achan stumbled through the darkness toward the barn. The morning cold sent shivers through his threadbare orange tunic. He clutched the a wooden milking pail to his side and held a flickering torch to light his way.

And now you must find it and read it yourself. :-)

Monday, August 16, 2010

More on Character...

So, if you've been around you know I've been thinking about characters and character development. (See Character vs. Plot.)

I've also been reading Jeff Gerke's amazing book The Art and Craft of Writing Christian Fiction. He's had some excellent chapters on character.
As a self proclaimed plot-first writer he starts and the basics and really gets into the depths of character creation. It has really made me think. I believe I've found some of the weak points in mine and its helping me mend them.

Here are some really cool quotes out of the book...

"Long after we forget the good feelings a work of fiction produces in us, after we forget the great special effects or the magnificent cinematography or the stirring soundtrack, we are left with the resonance of great characters.
Strong, believable, fully realized characters will make your fiction memorable. Even if you have the most brilliant premise and the best craftsmanship and the most wonderful cover design in the world, what will separate your fiction from the pack will be your characters."

"The only thing that will make your fiction endure will be excellent characters."

~The Art and Craft of Writing Christian Fiction by Jeff Gerke

I'm going to do a give-a-way of this book, so check back. :-)
Thanks for reading,
Miss Pickwickian

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Change the World

Once you bring life into the world, you must protect it. We must protect it by changing the world.
~Elie Wiesel

Friday, August 13, 2010


So...I've been plotting recently.
My story has been in my brain long enough that it has got itself all discombobulated. I have too much stuff happening that isn't directly connected at the beginning. I have details I keep forgetting need to be revealed early on so I don't end up with surprises or info dumps.

Since I've finally decided on the time period and my POV characters, its time to get to business. I need to see how I switch back and forth from Lilly and Ramirez and how things work together.

I've been working on 3x5 cards so I can move scenes around and see how they fit. Its been easy to add info and to revise. When I'm finished with a scene the card can go in the done stack. Yes! I've accomplished something, even if it has to be revised a gazillion times.

After and extended session of plot explanation, my lovely sister drew her interpretation in a simple pie-graph. Hopefully this is not the feelings you will come away with when the book is a finished product. ;-)

This is my "story board" I've now had for some time. It's a timeline as well as concise versions of my character sketches. Originally I was going to put post-it-notes down the time line so I could moves stuff around and such, but I decided the 3x5 cards were working better for me. My boards have also proved rather hard to store, but they've been helpful.

This is Emerald.

This is Antony.
He's no longer a character in my story, but I like having him on my story board because he looks cool. ;-)
He wasn't serving my purposes. The only way he really fit into the story is if he died in this cool way... Well, my sister didn't like that. It happens that she'd grown pretty attached to Antony. Death threats ensued.
So I took him out and added another character in who behaves much better.
Antony will have to have a star role in a future story.

Those pics are Ramirez and Edion/Adion.

"The Inevitable"
This is the end of my timeline.

This is Rackbrier.
The picture is actually of a German World War II ace I've had a crush on since I was nine. The Blonde Night of Germany changed my life forever. ;-) This picture is of one of Erich Hartmann's buddies at his wedding.

This is my story board.

Thanks for reading,
Miss Pickwickian

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Plot vs. Character

Is it even a question? Obviously we need both.

I've been thinking a lot about this recently. I really wanted to go to a class at the OCW conference by James Scott Bell. This "Plot vs. Character" debate with Nick Harrison seemed my only opportunity. It got my mind turning.
(It also proves my point....I went to go see the characters speak, not particularly for their subject matter. ;-)

The debate was interesting, but it didn't really satisfy me. I don't think their will ever be a conclusion.

On the surface level, my first question is-- What classic (book that has withstood the test of time) is remembered for it's great plot elements?
I admit that I forget details rather easily. There is just to much coming in too keep it all straight. Any book I remember I certainly remember for the characters...even if I have no idea what they did. :-)

All things are propelled by character. Think about it. What happens without the action of someone's character? Plot cannot happen without characters. Characters make a plot. (They can make a very bad one by sitting around and eating Lucky Charms, but it's still there.)
The actions of the plot my not always be propelled by characters in the book's pages, but they were put into action by someone.

On a deeper level, my mind rambles...
Why do we write?
I believe we write because God created us in His image, and that is to be creative!

How does the world work? Did God create the plot of the world and then make the characters to fit the purpose? Or, did he create the characters predestined to fulfill His plot for the world?

Obviously we can only begin to attempt to imitate God and His creativity. Maybe this bares to no relation to plot vs. character at all. Maybe it does.

In conclusion.

It's pretty easy to tell if an author is a plot first or character first novelist. I didn't need anyone to tell me which side Nick Harrison and James Scott Bell would be on. You can tell by their writing. Is this a bad thing? I don't think so. We just need to like both the subject/plot and characters.
We all have different strong points and we all have so much we can learn from the other!
Many character first novelist would be lost without good plot advice and many plot first novelist would be.... Well, they'd be in pretty bad shape without some good characters!

I still haven't figured out if I'm a plot first or character first writer! Most of the time I think I'm a a character first.

All my story ideas begin with a name and character. He wants something or is in the middle of something horrid. Then I have to go back and actually fashion a plot. This makes me think I'm a character first novelist.

But sometimes...I really feel like a plot first. I have this horrible habit of having things happen to my protagonist. Wretched or wonderful things are happening, but my character hasn't really done much to get those going. This is especially prominent with my female characters. There's a intricate plot going on, but its happening to the character.

Maybe I'm just equally bad at both. ;-)

Have any thoughts on plot vs. character?

Thanks for reading this ramble.
Miss Pickwickian

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Passion and Purity - Elisabeth Elliot

Passion and Purity: Learning to Bring Your Love Life under Christ's Control by Elizabeth Elliot
Kelsey Hough

Rating: 9
Impact: 9

Read it Again: Certainly!
Recommend it: Highly

What to Expect

Elisabeth Elliot does a beautiful job of weaving her love story with Jim Elliot into a book inspiring one to purity. The book is divided into concise, applicable chapters. Its a delightful, easy read.

She deals openly and honestly with temptation. Our culture needs this!
Unfortunately she does gives us more details then necessary from Jim's love letters at the end of the book. This, I think, will keep it out of the hands of younger men and woman that could really use her wisdom from the beginning of all this guy/gal stuff.

My Squib

This book was so good for me!

Elisabeth Elliot excels at giving you the obvious, but difficult to completely grasp, truth in an understandable and applicable manner. I think she has a similar gift as C.S. Lewis in this aspect.

I have been able to read several of her other books in the past as well as Jim Elliot's published journals. It was very interesting to hear about their romance from her perspective. Jim Elliot has always been an inspiration to me.

This book was encouraging, inspiring, and convicting. Excellent for anyone considering marriage, preparing for marriage in the future, or even married couples.

I was greatly blessed by it.

Thank you, Aisha, for reading through this with me and for all our great discussions!

From the Book

"Does this story seem strange? Does it stretch to the breaking point and early twenty-first century credulity? If it does, perhaps it is because there is an idea of honor that has largely been lost.
Honor is fidelity to a system of fixed values and relations. Is there anything today, even in the imagination of Christians, for which we are willing to pay the price of self-sacrifice? Any ideal left, any clear cut goal, any control of passion?
Surely there is somewhere, but it is hard to find."

"We are not meant to die merely in order to be dead.
God could not want that for the creatures to whom He has given the breath of life.
We die in order to live."

Jim and Elisabeth Elliot
Wedding Day!

Monday, August 9, 2010

Phantastes - George MacDonald

Phantastes by George MacDonald
Wm. B Eerdmans Publishing Co.

Rating: 8
Readability: 7
Impact: 7

Read it Again: I certainly think it would be interesting at some point.
Recommend It: Yes, if you want an unusual read.

What to Expect

A novel typical of George MacDonald's fantasy sends you on an interesting ride through the random yet profound, romantic symbolism of a tale of the inner and outer journey.

My Squib

Everyone remotely interested in fantasy should read George MacDonald.
How ever bazaar and romanticized his work may be, he is truly deserves the title "the father of fantasy".
So many great authors have been profoundly influenced by his work. C.S. Lewis and G.K. Chesterton attribute much of their inspiration to him.

I have never been a fantasy fanatic. I have read a lot of George MacDonald's more "Gothic" novels, but this is actually my first fantasy of his.
Like his other books, it took me about 50 pages to get hooked. From then on it was an easy read.

If you can get over the fact that we no think of fairies as rather childish experiences and so forth, you will enjoy this book to a greater degree.

It has some very cool symbolism, incredible stories, utter bazaarness, innocent romance, and a pure portrayal of honor.

I don't really feel like I caught all of it (but who says he meant for everything to be allegorical?). I really enjoyed it.

Thank you, Hadley, for recommending it and letting me borrow it!

From the Book

I admit that I copied an awful lot of this book out. Most of George MacDonald's writing bothers me. A lot of it is choppy. Some of it just seems absurd. But every once in awhile he really hits something absolutely beautiful.
I can't begin to copy those passages here. I encourage you to pick up the book yourself and fine those few, but precious, gold mines.

"...some strange melodious bird took up its song, and sang, not an ordinary bird-song, with constant repetition of the same melody, but what sounded like a continuous strain, in which one thought was expressed, deepening in intensity as it evolved in progress.
It sounded like a welcome already overshadowed with the coming farewell. As in all sweetest music, a tinge of sadness was in every note. Nor do we know how much of the pleasures even of life we owe to the intermingled sorrows.
Joy cannot unfold the deepest truths, although deepest truths be deepest joy.
Cometh white-robed Sorrow, stooping and wan, and flingeth wide the doors she may not enter. Almost we linger with Sorrow for very love."

"He was in fact a poet without words; the more absorbed and endangered, that the springing waters were dammed back into his soul, where, finding no utterance, they grew, and swelled, and undermined.
He used to lie on his coach, and read a tale of a poem, till the book dropped from his hand, but he dreamed on, he knew not whether awake or asleep, until the opposite roof grew upon his sense and turned golden in the sunrise."

"O light of dead and dying days!
O love; in glory go,
In a rosy, misty, and moony maze,
O'er the pathless peaks of snow.

But what is left for the cold gray soul,
That moans like a wounded dove?
One wine is left in the broken bowl-
'Tis- to love, and love, and love.

Better to sit at the waters' birth,
Than a sea of waves to win;
To live in love that floweth forth,
Than the love that cometh in.

Be thy heart a well of love, my child,
Flowing, and free, and sure;
For a cistern of love, through undefiled,
Keeps not the spirit pure."

"If I mistake not, he will make you weep till your tears are dry forever. Tears are the only cure for weeping."

Oregon Christian Writer's Conference (Part 2)

So...I learned so much! I hope I can keep it all crammed in my head and apply it. I did take a lot of great notes. Hopefully I can do some summaries in the weeks to come. It would be good review for me. Writing out things always helps cement them.


I really have no idea how to hit any of the amazing things that happened this week.

I met James Scott Bell.
I brought Plot and Structure and Revision and Self-Editing and got them autographed. Yeah! (If you want to write and don't know those books you should check him out. I've never got hooked on his fiction, but his writing books are extremely good. Plus, he's a cool person and speaker.)

I met Hillary Manton Lodge.
I bought
Plain Jayne and got it signed. I'm normally not in to Amish fiction, but this one looked pretty spicy.
And guess what guys? Check out my side bar, Hillary Manton Lodge is following my blog!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I met Jill Williamson.
I only could afford the first book in her series, Blood of Kings. So now I have an awesome, autographed copy of her Christy Award winning,
By Darkness Hid. Hopefully I can acquire the second book soon.

I met Christina Berry.
Who amazingly lives in the same microscopic town as me! I bought her book
Familiar Stranger.

I met Leslie Gould.
In fact, I was in her coaching class! She taught an absolutely amazing class and I got some extremely helpful critics on my story. I am so excited and encouraged. She is awesome. :-)

I met Jeff Gerke. (Fiction pen name Jefferson Scott.)
And he made me the happiest person alive by reading some story and saying "It wasn't terrible." Seriously, I can never remember being so elated in my life! (I'm dead serious here.)
I was also able to purchase his book
The Art and Craft of Writing Christian Fiction. It's actually the only new book I've started reading, and it is totally amazing. (I'm still in the middle of three or four I don't want to drop just because I got some new ones.)
Marcher Lord Press
Where the Map Ends

I met so many other totally awesome people I'm not mentioning. Seriously. It was so great. So many people worked so hard to help us all grow and have a wonderful time.

One young lady I met was Rachel. She is just getting ready to launch her blog, The Jesus Adventure. Stop by and follow or encourage her!

Life has been intense.

The night I got home from the conference we went to an outdoor play of Twelfth Night. My sister posted about it. Check it out. It was really good and it's still playing for the next few weeks in Hillsboro. I've always loved Twelfth Night and is was wonderful to see it live.

I'm so inspired to sit down and write, but my computer is sick with a virus. :-P I guess life has been to crazy anyways, but I am determined to amend my schedule so I can and will write everyday!

I've probably bored you by now....
So farewell for the present,
Miss Pickwickian

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Oregon Christian Writer's Conference (Part 1)

Okay everyone!
The conference was totally and absolutely amazing!
Much, much more to come. Just wanted to let you all know...


Miss Pickwickian