The Far Side of the Ocean

"If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the ocean, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast." - Psalm 139:9-10

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Location: Nashville, Tennessee

It started as a Nanowrimo challenge and evolved from there. My current work in process is a cozy mystery.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Moving On

If anyone takes a peek in here, just wanted to let you know I have moved over to a new blog: Behind the Mystery.

It's focused more on the writing side of my life, but that's not excised from, you know, life itself. Thanks for reading!

Thursday, December 31, 2009

What One Person Can Do

I grew up in a family of storytellers. My mother, who has a knack for making friends with just about everyone she meets, and my father, who spent 25 years in the Navy, provided plenty of material. Ideas, characters, and plots rattled around in my head.

I enjoyed English classes, and I wrote short stories. Then I graduated and stopped writing for the sheer enjoyment of it. Over my adult career my writing consisted of news items, press releases, some magazine articles, and more marketing collateral than I ever thought possible.

Sometimes I would start a story but it they were horrible, and I gave up. By that point I didn’t know how to write creatively anymore. It was a part of me that had grown rusty from disuse.

Then, in 2004, my brother moved in with me.

He thought it was ridiculous that I wasn’t writing. Of course I should be writing, and I should be writing what I wanted to write. He encouraged me to do NaNoWriMo – National Novel Writing Month. He gave me Stephen King’s On Writing. If someone called me while I was writing he told him or her I wasn’t available to talk. He honored the space I had to carve out of life to write. He never, not once, made me feel that the time I devoted to writing was wasted. He always encouraged. He still does.

I’m on my third manuscript now. The first two were cruddy, but that’s okay. It took me a while to figure out what I was doing and what I wanted to write. This one, though, might have a chance of seeing the light of day. But I wouldn’t have thought it was possible if it weren’t for him.

So today, on his birthday, I just want to say thanks for believing. It’s made a huge difference in my life.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Favorite Finds of 2009

In homage to every other list on the Web that presents the best of the year or decade, I offer my own favorites of 2009. There is no particular order of importance; it's just a melting pot of things I liked.

1. Dr. Who

Hats off to David Tennant, who got me through an awful case of H1N1. A special shout out to Netflix for bringing this great series into my home.

2. 500 Days of Summer

I didn't know what to expect when I walked into the theater. I laughed, I related, and I still remember it. The characters were spot on, and any film that manages to get The Smiths, The Pixies, and Hall and Oates in it is worth a look.

3. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
I'll make a confession. I do not like a lot of "Women's Fiction" books. My tastes run towards mysteries. But this well-crafted book spotlights intriguing characters on the island of Guernsey in the Channel during German occupation. I stayed up late to finish it.

4. Beth Moore's Esther: It's Tough Being a Woman
Our ladies class completed this study about the book of Esther this winter, and I cannot recommend it enough. It's deep, sound, intriguing, and soul-searching. The videos are great, and it was such a revelation to walk away and realize that my struggles as a woman are not mine alone. I loved getting so deep into a book of the Bible where God "is not in it, but He's all over it."

5. As Time Goes By

Another Netflix find. I kept coming back to this gentle British comedy when I needed to blow off steam and completely de-stress. Judi Dench and Geoffrey Palmer used to be in love before he was sent off to war and, through a letter gone awry, lost touch. They meet again 38 years later. It's witty and well-written with great performances. I recommend with a hot cup of tea.

6. CakeWrecks
If you want a laugh, go here. This blog of professional cakes that go horribly, hilariously wrong was one of my favorite Web finds this year. Personal favorites include the UK Wildcats logo mishap and wedding cakes gone wrong.

7. Charles Finch, author
In particular, I have enjoyed A Beautiful Blue Death and The September Society. Classic British* mysteries with plots I could not puzzle out. Kept me guessing until the end.

8. Intuitive Eating by Evelyn Tribole and Elise Resch
Weight Watchers, Weigh Down, South Beach, Spark Diets, SlimFast, eDiets, Thin Within ... this list could go on for a while. I've done the diet treadmill over and over. For my birthday this year I resolved to get healthier. I used the money I was about to throw towards Jenny Craig and signed up for sessions with a nutritional counselor. This is the book we've been working through. If you are miserably contemplating yet another diet scheme, get this book and read it first.

9. Elizabeth Gilbert's TED Conference talk
Are you a creative? Writer. Artist. Designer. Musician. Doesn't matter. Elizabeth presents a different way to look at creative genius and this inspiring talk will give you hope and encouragement about your talent.

10. Women of Hope Conference
This conference, put on by Healing Hands International, gave me a huge helping of good spiritual food. Held in Nashville, I attended the first one they had last year and came away so uplifted. The next one is January 23, is only $30 if you register before December 31, and honors a woman my church has helped in missions for many years. I'm so privileged to have access to events like this. If you are in town, go. You won't regret it.

*Suddenly occurred to me that quite a few things on this list are British. I make no apologies. :)

Sunday, August 02, 2009

In the Swamp

So I spent most of this past week in Gainesville, Florida, at the Anhinga Writers' Conference. I have returned completely exhausted with too many thoughts running around in my head. I opted for the mystery writer's track but after a while decided to just hop around and take classes based more on the topic and the feedback I got from other attendees as to dynamic, helpful speakers. Here are some of my notes for the week:

1. I am not a 3:30 a.m. kind of gal. Due to a fluke my departing flight to Florida got moved to much, much earlier than I would like. On the other hand, I was amazed at how busy the airport was at 4:30 a.m. - the lines were so long I barely made it on the plane.

2. The human brain (or mine, anyway) can only take in so much information. After sitting through panels and classes from 8 a.m. to sometimes 9:30 p.m. I hit overload. I couldn't do it all.

3. I got to meet Charlaine Harris, creator of the Sookie Stackhouse mysteries that HBO's True Blood series is based on. I'm not a huge fan of that series, but I do like her Aurora Teagarden series. She was very encouraging. In a line with perhaps a 100 people behind me waiting for her to sign books, she took the time to ask me what I was working on and told me not to give up. She also attended several of the classes I was in. It was a great lesson to see that even when you are at the top of your game you need to be open to learning something.

4. Apparently if you wanted to get cereal in the morning you had to do so by covert stealth that involved charming a specific waiter. Otherwise, you were left with the tiny muffins (which I was allergic to).

5. It rained every day I was there. Big, dripping, downpours. And then the sun would pop out like clockwork. As a side note, Spanish moss just gives a place some kind of atmosphere, doesn't it?

6. As I don't have anything beyond basic cable, I was excited about the chance to enjoy a vast plethora of channels in my hotel room. Of course, I was never in the room, but when I did have the rare occasion I discovered ... Pierce Brosnan singing in Momma Mia. It seemed to be on every time I turned on the TV. I came back to Nashville with Waterloo stuck in my head.

7. I never really crossed paths with those on the Poet track. They seemed to stick to themselves and had an artistic air about them I really couldn't quite put my finger on. 

8. At the session and signing that Charlaine did, I got a tiny taste of just how fiercesome vampire fans can be. Some were obviously quite passionate about what was happening to the story line. There was one woman there who kept carrying around a very strange, somewhat creepy doll - it was a little man who perched on her arm. I was irrationally fascinated by it.

9. I had quite the cab ride going to the airport - I think the driver had hair that was bigger than mine - and that is saying something in that swampy humidity. The first sign I saw in the cab was the sticker that said, "Each Puke $100." He never left the cab to help my with my bag, just popped the trunk and told me to shove it in among the spare tire and some other junk back there. 

10. Apparently Hamish missed me quite a bit while I was gone. I'm shocked. I didn't think he would even notice I was away (in this respect he is very much like a cat; mostly, he acts like a puppy). But right now he is conked out on the end of my bed, dreamily twitching. 

11. I sat through an interesting law enforcement panel that included a police detective, a CSI, an FBI agent, and an attorney general. When I asked them if there were any misconceptions that they run across as to why people commit murder (in reference to books and TV getting it wrong), they just kind of laughed and then the detective leaned forward and said, "Sex and money." That was it. Another woman asked what they thought of amateur sleuths. The reply was, "Keep it in fiction." I'm not quite sure I gleaned a lot of technical knowledge from the panel, but I did come away with a healthy respect for law enforcement. They go through a lot.

12. I really enjoyed meeting the delightful Rhys Bowen and attending her classes. I like her Evan Evans and Her Royal Spyness series. She gave some good, concrete aids regarding structure and her exercises helped me spot some problem areas I've wrestled with. And it was nice to hear an accent from across the Pond again. 

Overall, it was an intensive few days, and I met some lovely people. But now ... I could really use a vacation.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Goodness, it has been a while

With a tip of the hat to Becky, I am picking up her meme to get some of my writing juices flowing…

What was I doing 10 years ago?

Hmm. 1998. I had just started work as a communication coordinator for a software training company. I had finished working at Gospel Advocate, where, at that time, when we wanted to send an e-mail I had to write it out on a piece of paper and walk it over to our IT guy. He would then send it out from the one account we had in the building. That job obviously didn’t feature Internet capabilities.

I shared a three bedroom townhouse with Christy and Cheri and every weekend was full of out-of-town trips, in-town guests, movies, eating out, hearing live music in little coffee shops, singles group get togethers, and so on. Looking back, I’m relieved now that I don’t feel that pressure to have to schedule every minute of the weekend and weeknights with social activity.

List 5 things you had to do today.

  1. Drink my breakfast shake.
  2. Make sure the phone bill got paid.
  3. Make sure the cleaners got paid.
  4. Meet with co-workers about some web concepts.
  5. Start the day with a prayer.

Snacks I enjoy:

I am constant and loyal to my Nacho Cheese flavored Doritos with Lays Jalepeno Cheddar cheese dip. It’s very cheesy, but don’t knock it til you’ve tried it.

If I were a millionaire:

I would be completely debt-free and make sure my family was provided for. Then I would invest a chunk of it for the future, set up a fund for missionaries, and get out there and travel, travel, travel….

Places I’ve lived:

In chronological order-

Enid, Oklahoma

Norfolk, Virginia,

San Diego, California

Atsugi, Japan

(back to San Diego)

Searcy, Arkansas

Nashville, Tennessee

Peterhead, Scotland

(back to Nashville, where I currently reside)


I tag everyone who wants something to write about today. Just tag me so I can read yours.



Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Down the Up Staircase

Last week I missed the top step at work and fell down the stairs. I’m not sure why I missed it. The next thing I knew I was falling and saw the concrete rushing up at me. I remember thinking that I didn’t want to hit my face. Then I landed kind of weird about eight steps down on my knees and side and left wrist.

After getting picked up by concerned co-workers and assuring them I was okay I drove home. By the time I hit Bellevue I couldn’t use my left hand. I was really starting to hurt, and when I finally hobbled in the door I was in tears.

Younger Bro was great. He assessed the damage, packed up his backpack for a long wait in the ER, and took me to the hospital.

The wait in the admission area wasn’t bad, but then they took me back to the examining room and just kind of left me there for about an hour and a half. There was absolutely nothing in the little room to read. I hurt too much to investigate any of the cabinets, and there weren’t even any medical charts on the wall. Just me and four walls.

So I lay there and prayed and thought about how ridiculous it was that it took all of this for me to give God my complete, undivided attention. Not the prayers on my way to work or before I fall asleep or in the busyness of the day, but just time to talk to God and go before Him to offer specific people and situations to Him.

I turned out to be okay with a contused thumb and a lot of bumps and bruises, but it was a painful lesson in learning, once again, how much I need to continually make God the center of my life.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” – Phil. 4:6-7

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Monday, May 19, 2008

50 Odd Things

1. Do you like blue cheese? No

2. Have you ever smoked heroin? Good grief, no.

3. Do you own a gun? Nope.

4. What flavor do you add to your drink at Sonic? I’m allergic to most of the flavors, sadly.

5. Do you get nervous before Dr. appts? Absolutely.

6. What do you think of hot dogs? I’ve not devoted much thought to hot dogs.

7. Favorite Christmas song? O Holy Night

8. What do you prefer to drink in the morning? Coffee

9. Can you do push ups? Perhaps a couple. If forced.

8. What do you order at Starbucks? Skinny vanilla latte

11. What's your favorite piece of jewelry? The Mackintosh jewelry the church gave me in Scotland as a going away present.

 12. Favorite hobby? Reading

11. How do you eat your eggs? Scrambled dry

14. Do you have A.D.D.? No

15. What’s one trait that you hate about yourself? There are things I dislike, but I don’t hate them.

16. Middle name? Michelle – after the Beatle’s song…

17. Name 3 thoughts at this exact moment. I want a bagel. I’m hungry. I want a bagel.

18. Name 3 things you bought yesterday? Gas. Doritos. Gum.

19. Three drinks you regularly drink? Snapple Diet Green Tea, A & W Diet Root Beer, water

20. Current worry right now? Actually rather peaceful at the moment.

21. Current hate right now? That tunic/legging look.

22. Favorite place to be? On a boat in the water… ;-)

23. How did you bring in the New Years? Ah, that was not a fun night this year.

24. Where would you like to go? No way I could begin to name where I want to go, but I’m headed to Australia in August!

25. Name three people who will complete this. n/a

26. Do you own slippers? Huh? House shoes? I’ve got a pair of those.

27. What shirt are you wearing? Green with a sort of leafy motif.

28. Do you like sleeping on satin sheets? No – they get really hot and don’t breathe.

29. Can you whistle? Barely.

30. Favorite colors? Green.

31. Would you be a pirate? Who wouldn’t want to be a pirate?

32. What songs do you sing in the shower? I am a human iPod Shuffle in the shower; it could be anything.

33. Favorite girl's name? Anne.

34. Favorite boy's name? Joshua

35. What's in your pocket right now? Lint.

36. Last thing that made you laugh? Probably something said in the production meeting this morning.

37. Best bed sheets as a child? Holly Hobbie

38. Worst injury you've ever had? Broken finger from football. Hurt worse than breaking both my ankles.

39. Do you love where you live? I love my house.

40. How many TV’s do you have? One

41. Who is your loudest friend? I’m not answering this one…

42. How many dogs do you have? One - Hamish. He may look like a cat, but he’s really a puppy inside.

43. What are you thrilled about right now? There are bagels in the kitchen…

44. Do you have a crush on someone? Oh, yes.

45. What is your favorite book? Practically impossible to answer this one.

46. What is your favorite candy? Cadbury Caramel Milk Chocolate.

47. Favorite Sports Team? Nope.

48. What song do you want played at your funeral? This World is Not My Home

49. What were you doing 12 AM last night? Completely conked out

50. What was the first thing you thought of when you woke up? I hope Younger Bro doesn’t use all the hot water…