Saturday, April 30, 2011

Ring Giveaway

This ring was very graciously donated for this giveaway by Khalima on Etsy. Please check out her shop! :-)

To Enter

Answer as many of these questions as you choose. Each one counts as an entry if it is posted in it's own comment. :-)

-What would you like to see more of on The Erratic Muse?

-Do you have any other ideas for ways to improve The Erratic Muse?

-How often do you read blogs per week?

-How many posts do you like to read every week?

Giveaway ends May 7th.

Thanks for entering,
Miss Pickwickian

Friday, April 29, 2011

The Cross Centered Life - C. J. Mahaney

The Cross Centered Life: Keeping the Gospel the Main Thing by C. J. Mahaney with Kevin Meath
Multnomah 2002

Rating: 7

What is the center of your life? Does this show in how you live? In everything you do, think, and act?

C. J. Mahaney brings Christianity straight back to the cross.

We often ignore the wonder and finished work of Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection with its power and implications.
The Cross Centered Life is dedicated to shifting our focus back on that most important truth. The book starts by restating the obvious and then moves through chapters on the sin of legalism, the sin of holding onto our guilt and shame, our feelings vs. reality, and then offers practical ways to keep our thoughts and actions centered on Christ crucified and now risen!

The book is well organized and easy to read in very short moments or in one sitting. The style is clear and engaging, although I felt like he was a little overly imaginative and creative for the book he was trying to write.
I think he’s trying to reach a very broad audience, and I can see this being an excellent book for new as well as experienced Christians of a wide age range.

Thanks for reading,
Miss Pickwickian

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Various things that have been occupying my brain and time...

Life is busy...
Here's a list of items I want to get to on this poor blog but I'm not. Sometime... When life slows down. ;-)

Book Reviews

-Seeing and Savoring Jesus Christ by John Piper
-The Cross Centered Life by C. J. Maheney
-Prayerbook of the Bible by Dietrich Bonhoeffer
-Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy by Eric Metaxas
-Reformed is Not Enough by Douglas Wilson
-Her Hand in Marriage by Douglas Wilson
-Let Me Be a Woman by Elisabeth Elliot

Movie Reviews

-Red Cliff 2008
-Agent of Grace 2000
-Megamind 2010
-Numerous others, but that's all I've watched recently.


-My sister is seriously getting good on portraits and other artwork. For my birthday she pen and inked and watercolored a beautiful picture from Howl's Moving Castle and Les Miz. She's now in the middle of a portrait of Dietrich Bonhoeffer. :-)

-Mumsie drew me an awesome portrait of Claus von Stauffenberg (not Tom Cruise...the real guy).

-My art is still in the cartoon stage. ;-) But I do want to work on another "picture book".


-An unhealthy addiction to the Howl's Moving Castle soundtrack.

-Some awesome hymns and Psalms we've been singing recently. Most notably, Mark Regan's arrangement of Rock of Ages. Love.

-My current interest in music from India.

-Ten minutes when I can write something songish in the midst of unquenchable inspiration.

Various other things.

-I have listened to some seriously good sermons recently. I would love to think through some of my notes!

-I am leaving for Poland in two months for a two week long missions trip! I can't believe it is this close.

-I am traveling a lot this year. Happy, sad, and excited. Get back to you on that...

-I have a looming and insane deadline on my nonfiction book that is totally stressing me out.

-I am a bad nonfiction writer.

-Romeo and Juliet meets Hamlet needs some work... And I'd love to ramble on about it.

-I have not opened Where Loyalties Lie in all of 2011.

-Les Miserables week seriously needs some planning! At least a blog button.

-I have four giveaways ready and planned... Now for posting and pictures.

Thanks for reading,
Miss Pickwickian

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The Charlatan's Boy - Jonathan Rogers

The Charlatan's Boy: A Novel by Jonathan Rogers
Waterbrook Press

Rating: 6

Jonathan Rogers has no qualms with creating his own intriguing words and grammar. The Charlatan's Boy is a lively, amusing, and somewhat rambling read from the first person perspective of an unusual orphan boy.

Grady has no idea where he comes from or belongs. The only man he knows is a the showman and scoundrel, Floyd. The two travel through country towns putting on a variety of absurd shows where Grady performs as a wild Feechie, an ugly boy, or a head bump translator. All the while, he tries to come to terms with his trade, lack of identity, and the unreliableness of the most prominent person in his life, Floyd.

The book's humor helps balance the lack of a constant driving force and rising action. Many of the chapters dealing with new people and places, the book never mentions again, which give it a short store or memoir type of feel. The ending seems a bit tidy and out of the blue, but is fairly satisfactory. At least Floyd shows his true colors very clearly and Grady is happy, even if it's all highly unlikely.

Jonathan Rogers is a creative and spicy author. I look forward to watching what he publishes in the future and hope for a little better structure and conclusion.

Thanks for reading,
Miss Pickwickian

Necessary Note: I received a free copy of this book from Waterbrook Press for this review.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

My weakness for "Balle Balle"

Okay...Bride and Prejudice has more than it's share of faults. I know a lot of people who were just weirded out...
For me, the movie makes me happy but the characters are poorly drawn, some of the content is unnecessary, the romances is pretty lame, and the general flow of the movie is kind of a fail.

However, I love the music... Which is a big deal for me since I don't like most musicals at all.
This sort of music makes me happy (the pieces I like best are sometimes reminiscent of Slumdog Millionaire but happier).

The movie had an interesting premise and could have been great, but it wasn't. That doesn't mean the music can't be enjoyed. :-)

This is my official cleaning (and dancing) in the kitchen music.

The video has several moments of silence at the end. I couldn't find a better one unless you actually want to watch the movie scene. The movie scene is a beautiful wedding hubbub celebration. If you can't laugh and smile about it you need to lighten up. :-)

But unfortunately some of the dancing isn't all that chaste so I'm posting this instead...

Perhaps this post wasn't all that terribly edifying, but it might help you understand my psyche and how I cope with stress.

Thanks for reading,
Miss Pickwickian

Saturday, April 23, 2011

The Seven Words on the Cross - A Hymn

Jesus, in Thy Dying Woes
1. Jesus, in Thy dying woes
Even while Thy life-blood flows,
Craving pardon for Thy foes:
Hear us, holy Jesus.

2. Saviour, for our pardon sue
When our sins Thy pangs renew,
For we know not what we do:
Hear us, holy Jesus.

3. Oh, may we who mercy need
Be like Thee in heart and deed
When with wrong our spirits bleed:
Hear us, holy Jesus.

4. Jesus, pitying the sighs
Of the thief who near Thee dies,
Promising him Paradise:
Hear us, holy Jesus.

5. May we in our guilt and shame
Still Thy love and mercy claim,
Calling humbly on Thy name:
Hear us, holy Jesus.

6. May our hearts to Thee incline,
Looking from our cross to Thine,
Cheer our souls with hope divine:
Hear us, holy Jesus.

7. Jesus, loving to the end
Her whose heart Thy sorrows rend,
And Thy dearest human friend:
Hear us, holy Jesus.

8. May we in Thy sorrows share,
For Thy sake all peril dare,
And enjoy Thy tender care:
Hear us, holy Jesus.

9. May we all Thy loved ones be,
All one holy family,
Loving for the love of Thee:
Hear us, holy Jesus.

10. Jesus, whelmed in fears unknown,
With our evil left alone,
While no light from heaven is shown:
Hear us, holy Jesus.

11. When we vainly seem to pray
And our hope seems far away,
In the darkness be our Stay:
Hear us, holy Jesus.

12. Though no Father seem to hear,
Though no light our spirits cheer,
May we know that God is near:
Hear us, holy Jesus.

13. Jesus, in Thy thirst and pain,
While Thy wounds Thy life-blood drain,
Thirsting more our love to gain:
Hear us, holy Jesus.

14. Thirst for us in mercy still,
Satisfy Thy loving will:
All Thy holy work fulfil.
Hear us, holy Jesus.

15. May we thirst Thy love to know;
Lead us in our sin and woe
Where the healing waters flow:
Hear us, holy Jesus.

16. Jesus, all our ransom paid,
All Thy Father's will obeyed,
By Thy sufferings perfect made:
Hear us, holy Jesus.

17. Save us in our soul's distress,
Be our Help to cheer and bless
While we grow in holiness:
Hear us, holy Jesus.

18. Brighten all our heavenward way
With an ever holier ray
Till we pass to perfect day:
Hear us, holy Jesus.

19. Jesus, all Thy labour vast,
All Thy woe and conflict past,
Yielding up Thy soul at last:
Hear us, holy Jesus.

20. When the death shades round us lower,
Guard us from the Tempter's power,
Keep us in that trial hour:
Hear us, holy Jesus.

21. May Thy life and death supply
Grace to live and grace to die,
Grace to reach the home on high:
Hear us, holy Jesus.

By Thomas B. Pollock, 1870

Friday, April 22, 2011

Every age and hour

No. 26 (52) Chorale

In Meines Herzens Grunde,
In the bottom of my heart,
Dein Nam und Kreuz allein
your name and cross alone
funkelt all Zeit und Stunde,
shines forth every age and hour,
drauf kann ich frohlich sein.
for which I can be joyful.
Erschein mir in dem Bilde
Appear before me in the image,
zu Trost in meiner Not,
as comfort in my distress:
wie du, Herr Christ, so milde
how you, Lord Christ, so abundantly
Dich hast geblut'zu Tod!
did bleed to death!

~From Bach's St. John's Passion

Thursday, April 21, 2011

I hope growing up is a lifetime assignment...

I have been beyond the teenage years for three days and I still feel hopelessly slow-witted and immature.
Wasn't there supposed to be some magic positive advancement in my knowledge and conduct?

Seriously...I didn't expect it, but it would have been welcome. :-)

I'm not sure if I ever thought about who I would be at 20. If I had I would have hoped to be a much better Christian in my role as a daughter, sister, friend, witness, writer, and in every action I did. I also probably would have seen myself as published... All because once upon a time 20 seemed so old!

It's not.

And I'm thankful that it's not the deadline for change and growing up.
I still need a lot more time.

God is good...always.
He has all the threads of my life under control and He is there helping and teaching me to grow up. That's going to mean things I don't like, but I want to learn to love them, because they are from Him.

Thank you for reading,
Miss Pickwickian

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Random Humor

This video may or may not appeal to your sense of humor. It will at least help you understand my funny bone.

I very thoughtful post coming soon after this momentary interlude.

Thanks for reading,
Miss Pickwickian

Saturday, April 16, 2011

In which Erin makes me the perfect journal!

In case you didn't know already... I love Dietrich Bonhoeffer.

I'm not sure when we first met, but it was a long time ago.

I know he was iffy on some theology points and we don't know exactly where he landed, but he was extremely smart and knew how to write things that stick in my head. I just think he was amazing.

Awhile ago I approached Hesed Books and Gifts about sponsoring a giveaway. Not only has Erin donated two amazing journals coupled with gift cards for future giveaways, she custom made me this perfect journal!

This quote from Dietrich Bonhoeffer has always been a reminder to me-

When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die.
~ From The Cost of Discipleship

Considering the life that Bonhoeffer lived and how he died, this is very powerful.

These journals are awesome. They make the perfect gifts for all sort of people. Their thin so they fit in my purse or in-between the crowded books on my desk. The paper doesn't have lines so I can write as well as diagram. :-)

It contains 20 blank pages (so 40 front and back), has rounded corners, and a cover of recycled content cardstock. The design and colors are awesome. It measures 4.25"x5.5 and has eyelets to attach gift tags, ribbon, or a lanyard to the outside.

What makes me just totally love this shop is the custom designing. I can't believe I actually have a Dietrich Bonhoeffer journal with my favorite quote! :-)
You can see Erin's already made journals here. They only cost $4.75. :-)

I'll be doing a Shakespeare and custom made C.S. Lewis journal giveaway from Hesed Books and Gifts soon. Each journal will also have a gift certificate to Erin's amazing shop.

Here are a couple more Dietrich Bonhoeffer quotes that have influenced me...

I've been thinking about this one a lot recently-

We have learned a bit too late in the day that action springs not from thought but from a readiness for responsibility.

~From Letters and Papers from Prison

I think that actually applies to a lot of life.

The believer is neither a pessimist nor an optimist. To be either is illusory. The believer sees reality not in a certain light but as it is and believes only in God and God's power towards all and overall that is seen.

~From No Rusty Swords

Thanks for reading,
Miss Pickwickian

Les Miserables Event May 23rd-30th

As you may have noticed, I have postponed Les Miserables Week until May 23rd.

I am just dealing with a few too many deadlines, sickness, and writing projects. Those of you who have already sent in your essay-- Thank you! You will receive a special bonus for being the first and sorry about the delay. Those of you who have not sent in your essay, you still have a month!

I'll be recreating a button at some point and would greatly appreciate it if you would put one on your blog to spread the word. Perhaps I'll do a giveaway for it...

I am looking forward to spending more time with Les Miz and seeing what the rest of you come up with. :-)

Thanks for reading,
Miss Pickwickian

Thursday, April 14, 2011


Virtue is not the absense of vices or the avoidance of moral dangers; virtue is a vivid and separate thing, like pain or a particular smell.
~G. K. Chesterton

Tuesday, April 12, 2011


I'd heard this quote before, but I finally read it in context on Sunday.

....Where God tears great gaps we should not try to fill them with human words.

They should remain open.

Our only comfort is the God of the resurrection, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ...

~Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Monday, April 11, 2011

God Is - by Doug Wilson

God Is: How Christianity Explains Everything by Douglas Wilson

A reply to Christopher Hitchens' God is not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything

A short, chapter-by-chapter response to Hitchens' book before their debates shown in Collision. It's an interesting look into organized thinking and gentlemanly, but firm, intense debate. ;-) It includes some good laughs...

Doug Wilson's responses are good for some mulling over, not just for arguing with an atheist. This portion really stuck with me--

"Sinners are guilty and all sinners must die. What the cross does is provide us with a way of dying, with resurrection as a promised consequence. Jesus did not die so that we might live. He died so that we might die; He lived so that we might live. This is our hope, and this is our glory. And God in His kindness has authorized His people to extend this offer--full of grace--to people like Christopher Hitchens."

Thanks for reading,
Miss Pickwickian

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Working with Shakespeare

Thanks to Esmeralda and Polka Dot, I am retelling Romeo and Juliet is my screenplay project this month. This is giving me some unique challenges.

As I've mentioned, before I am a huge Shakespeare fan. Romeo and Juliet, however, is not my favorite play and West Side Story's retelling may have scarred me forever. ;-)

I just don't know what Shakespeare was trying to say with this play.
Is Romeo and Juliet's romance serious, even from the beginning? It seems so over the top. And Romeo and Juliet are the victims of the play--they do not drive a lot of the events like majority of Shakespeare's tragedies.

I feel like Shakespeare play retellings should stick with the message he was trying to communicate...but when I'm not sure what that was, I'm lost.

So, how do I cope with this? Could I mix two Shakespeare plays to spice things up and create something more original?

There are several similarities and contrasts in Romeo and Juliet and Hamlet that have always fascinated me. Could I combine these?
What if Romeo and Juliet were not the victims of the play, but truly drove some of the conflict?

I think my story is going to stray from many of the themes of Romeo and Juliet, but I hope I can still keep its essence. I also hope I can explore and borrow from Hamlet, which happens to be one of my favorite plays. ;-)

We'll see. I still have 9/10 to go in my script. I keep reminding myself this is an exercise and that it will not and would not be the next box office sellout. If I can keep my mood light while I am writing, the story will come much easier. And I can always edit, even major plot elements. Right?

Thanks for reading,
Miss Pickwickian

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

My Fail

The last week I have been sick, writing, neglecting this blog, and very uncreative feeling.

I got 14,000 words down on a non-fiction project. This project has a big deadline at the end of this week, and so the pressure and insanity are escalating. I will not go into my feelings on the manuscript because they would not be edifying. Instead we'll move on...

I have come to a realization that my biggest failure is almost continually in organization. This does not mean I'm a particularly unorganized person. My desk and bookshelves are extremely organized. It's more like a mental organization failure.

First off, I love way to many things...and when I love something I want to learn all about it and improve my own skills in the area. This is all well and good if you only like a few things, but when you have to obsess over everything related to everything, it get's pathetic. You end up being mildly mediocre at an impressive amount of oddities.

For example- I love words.
This means that I have to read inordinate amounts of fiction, history, poetry, letters, song lyrics, literary fiction, classics, screenplays, stage-plays, theology, teaching, etc, etc...
Oh yes, and it means I have to write about all those things too.

No worky.

Especially if you have forty sheep, work in a home business, obsess over music, help clean and organize a house, try to cultivate friendships, have a big family, adore all forms of art, and simply can't remember anything because you love to much stuff!

I can write in a day. But I haven't figured out how to write, clean the house, and get hay delivered in a day. I can spend time with friends in a day, but I haven't figured out how to spend time with friends, read a book, and work at home in a day.

My pathetic mental juggling abilities are most evident when I sit down to write. I have a two page squib on identity and I can't figure out where to start unless it's with a five-hundred page introduction on systematic theology.

I like to know stuff and learn more about it, but I haven't quite mastered getting it in order in my head.

I want think so things make sense.
Instead I try to organize something and I can't figure out how I can mention it without talking about every single thing it relates to.
I'm a big picture person without a good telescope.

This is why I love reading authors who can handle this properly! C.S. Lewis, Elisabeth Elliot, Doug Wilson, and so many other writers give me such a good example of clear thinking. They make clear thinking and arguing so obvious.

So, my new campaign is learning how to think and present ideas that make sense!

And part of that is going to be cutting and hacking at my interests and schedule so I can make the most important things get done and get done well.

Wow...Thanks for reading that unclear ramble.
Tomorrow I'll try to share some of my Script Frenzy idea, if that's any consolation.

Thanks for reading,
Miss Pickwickian

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Becoming Familiar with Les Miserables

Les Miserables is for everyone. As far as musicals go, it is in a class of it's own. There is no way to explain it....except that Les Miz is a beautiful, beautiful story that includes sadness, but is ultimately a story about deep characters and good news.

"There is a flame that never dies."
Bracelet by Foxwise
One of the multiple prizes for the essay contest.

Les Miserables week is approaching and I hope some of you are working on your essays for the contest. :-)

If you aren't a Les Miz fan yet, you still have time. :-) Here are a few ways to learn about the story--

Victor Hugo's unabridged book is obviously the best way to go. :-) This is a serious time investment, but Hugo is an intriguing writer even when he's telling you about the history of the sewers of Paris for 40 pages.

If you start the book and find yourself getting lost...or if you're not ready for the time commitment...check out one of the below--

Focus on the Family has a very good dramatized audio adaption. It gives the wonderful overall flavor of the book and the central themes. It is washed over to be a little more family friendly...which does make it loose some of the actual power of the story for Fantine. Otherwise it is much truer to the book than movie versions. Brian Blessed does a wonderful job as Jean Valjean.

I think it's about $10. You can see it here on Amazon.

Liam Neeson and Geoffery Rush create interesting characters in the 1998 movie production, but, as far as I can see, the movie totally misses the central themes of the book. There are a few amazing moments, but they just don't follow-through. It's a good movie, but doesn't really give the truth about Victor Hugo's story.

I've seen older movie versions as well. Some followed the book a bit better, but for some reason Jean Valjean always has to hit Javert to get away which really bothers me.

The 10th Anniversary Dream Cast is my favorite musical recording and movie performance. However, it is if your not familiar with the story you will have to fill in the gaps.

The 25th Anniversary Musical movie performance is probably the easiest to acquire. It's currently in most Redboxes and in Netflix. This is the unabridged musical and includes more acting than the 10th. It's very good, but at least Jean Valjean and Marius are far superior in the 10th Anniversary edition. (That may just be personal opinion...)

There are of course other very good musical recordings as well, but if you are unfamiliar with the story it's best to see who's singing to sort things out.

Wikipedia on the book here.
Wikipedia on the musical here.

Another avenue is to accost a Les Miz fan and asks them why it's so cool. Most of us are pretty eager to jump up and down and scream :-)

Let me know if you have other suggestions or questions.

Thanks for reading,
Miss Pickwickian

Friday, April 1, 2011

Giveaway Winner!

Congratulations Ashley!

You can contact me at pickwickian.forever(at)gmail(dot)com

Thank you all who participated and spread the word.

Special thanks to Bookish Charm. You are amazing!

Thanks for reading,
Miss Pickwickian