Monday, July 30, 2018

Joy Writers Summer Seminar

Our Summer Seminar for Joy Writers begins tomorrow. If you are in the Roswell area and interested in honing your writing skills and enjoying good fellowship, come by the Roswell Public Library. We will begin at 9:00 in the Bondurant Room.
The seminar will be led by our fearless leader, Eva McCollaum. You can find her blog here. Speak with her if you would like to join us, or come by.

We read Devil in a Blue Dress by Walter Mosley as our novel for the seminar this year.


Set in Los Angeles in 1948, the young black man easy-going Easy Rawlings, tells his story first hand. Recently fired due to racism, Easy is anxious to pay the mortgage on his home. In the first scene Easy meets DeWitt Albright, a white man  with pale eyes and pale skin, wearing off-white linen. For me the first scene sets up the book in a memorable way. DeWitt continues to live in my memory after several years. He is menacing from the get-go.
Easy reluctantly accepts money from DeWitt to find a young woman, Daphne Monet who likes to associate with black people. The reader watches as Easy Rawlings tries not to take the job, then slowly becomes entangled in trouble. Two of his associates are killed and he is drug further into a complicated web of intrigue spun by Daphne and her would-be love.
One reviewer mentions a favorite character from the book, Mouse who appears about two-thirds of the way through the novel. Mouse is brutal and quixotic, but he twice saves Easy's life. At the end of a passage where Easy and Mouse strike a deal to let Easy call the shots, Mouse says," Whatever you say Easy, Maybe you gonna show me how a poor man can live wit'out blood." It's a telling line and describes how Mouse survives.
I recommend this book if your read noir detective fiction. Read it for the characters, Easy, Mouse, DeWitt and a host of other well drawn people, read it for the setting, Los Angeles in 1948, and finally read it for a study of racism then and now.
Enough for now. Thanks for Reading, Bev

also posted at bacoots.com

Saturday, July 28, 2018

Fluffly not Stuffy

Early Summer Flowers
In 1972, Three Musketeers released an add campaign for their candy bar claiming it was, 'fluffy not stuffy.' It was an unusual idea for a candy bar. I thought of this add campaign when I heard someone say that God must want her fluffy since most of her efforts at exercise were dashed before they could begin. I laughed and thinking I might claim the line for myself.  Later, I found myself trying to explain to an occasional believer and dear friend, why the line tickled me so.
My friend was appalled at the lengths many believers would go to blame God for our lack of will power, and remarked, "You people are so eager to give yourselves excuses."
"No you see it's only funny because of that very reason," I began, but I smiled and shook my head. Before I could get far into the conversation, I realized that the comment was funny to me because it frivolously embodied several arguments/apologies, the fruits of the Spirit, free will and God's will, and to some extent, false humility.
Self-control is a fruit of the Spirit. The casual comment implied that God had not gifted the woman with that particular fruit. To my mind, that was a charming jumble of human-ness. While the fruits of the Spirit can be considered gifts of God, they are more closely the harvest in humans of a right relationship with God. In this passage in Galatians, Paul tells us what to expect as we humble ourselves before the Lord. He also tells us what we might look for in others to deepen our joy and quicken our hearts. Paul begins by calling us free, and gives us a discussion of the considerations of our free will, within God's will. "It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm then and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery," Galatians 5:1. He is speaking of being a slave to sin. In the comment about fluffy, we can see that we have sinned in so many ways, sinned by blaming God for our silliness, sinned by acts of the flesh which Paul lists, see Galatians 5:19-21, and sinned by using our free will to appease our appetites rather than seek a stronger relationship to God.
As for false humility, in claiming fluffiness, we are confessing our lack of perfection by the world's standards. But fluffiness is a cute way to describe something ugly. We are confessing, but not really. In his book, Humility, Andrew Murray puts it this way. "The call to humility has been too little regarded in the Church because its true nature and importance has been too little apprehended. It is not something which we bring to God, or which He bestows; it is simply the sense of entire nothingness which comes when we see how truly God is all, and in which we make way for God to be all." If God were truly all in our lives, our fluffiness would not be an issue because our self-ness would not be an issue. Whether we were fluffy of stuffy, would not be an issue.
For me, the over-arching point of Galatians 5 is that we are freed by Jesus. The Gospel message is true. Sometimes it is light as a fragrant Spring dawn. Free will in side of God's will is a concept best explained empirically and demonstrated in the fruits of the Spirit. We are free, but our will is lessened as we grow closer to God. Our petulant demands to do what we want to do, become memories. Our rights inside of God's will delight us. We are identified by our choices, good and bad and yet God loves us so, that He sent Jesus. We can make a joke at our own expense. We are free to laugh at ourselves knowing that what we mean is, God I long to do better and be better, but thank you Jesus for my freedom. Our gratitude overwhelms us.  

Monday, June 11, 2018

Join us in Roswell, NM June 29 and June 30. I'll write more later. BEV

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Winter Sunrise
A new year, a new leaf, probably not, but I wanted to post. I've read (or more likely, listened to) so many good books over the last few months and I would like to share my thoughts on them, but not just now. Just now, I am wondering about conferences. I go to several every year. There are two Colorado writers conferences that I enjoy, Pikes Peak Writers in the spring and Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers in the fall. I also go to the New Mexico Hay conference, the New Mexico Crop Production Association conference, the New Mexico State University Pecan Conference and when I can spare the time the Presbytery, and Texas Wine Growers Association Conference. I'm still not sure what a wine grower is, but they have changed the name to wine grape grower, so all is well. And yes, I realize there is a disconnect in positioning Presbytery next to wine grape growers. Locally I attend the Joy Writers seminar in August and A Bookish Affair in June.
I relish conferences. I'm not sure why, but it's kind of like festivals, I like them also. There's a hopefulness about gathering with fellows in a field and learning from each other. There's conference food to be enjoyed or detested, and drink, because most of us are awkward in strange settings and maybe need a little something to loosen our tongue. There's new faces and a few familiar ones. There's entertainment and a break from daily life.
I am at the New Mexico Hay Conference. I like how it is scheduled during the winter, well outside of harvest. I look forward to going every year, and that lifts my spirits which are sometimes low after Christmas.
But this year, we had something truly special. Peggy Krantz  had a paint party concurrent with the conference and the conference text and presentations were given to us on a jump drive. I went to the paint party and painted (you guessed it) an alfalfa field. I don't even have to feel guilty for missing the conference, because I have all of it at my fingertips or at least on my computer. Unfortunately my wings will be clipped for the next six months as I am having knee surgeries and will not be able to travel out of state. Sigh.
I have enjoyed my time here, and look forward to the next. Any of you readers have a favorite conference?
As always, thanks for reading. Bev

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Fall-ing

Today in church we began a few weeks of study in Jeremiah. Though I will reflect on the message later in the week, for now I remember Jeremiah 12:5. If you have raced with runners and they have worn you out, how can you compete with horses? If you stumble in a peaceful land, what will you do in the thickets of the Jordan.
I pause on this and wonder. I wonder at our assumption of peace in the wake of the massacre at Sutherland Springs. I wonder at what we consider peace while parts of the world burn, and at the non-peace of those without homes after the devastation of the hurricanes. I wonder at those of us who fight, even within, or maybe especially within, our families for an extra portion, a special place or even an inheritance.
As for running, I wonder at our race towards advent and the Christmas season, to decorate, to buy gifts to prepare food, to think of everyone and leave no-one out. And still, where is peace, what is the race we should run, who am I in God's plan?
Today, I was late for first church services and so, elected not to teach children's church but to participate in second church services. Today, I spoke with the worship and fellowship committee about children's church. I told them I would not be available for the early part of next year. Today I cooked brisket and potted Amaryllis for Christmas gatherings. Today, I lost a cap on a tooth and cannot eat candy or anything really. Today I am sad. I am sad for our nation. I am sad for our veterans who struggle with illnesses and memories, most of us can't imagine. I am sad to give up children's church. I am sad because in our tiny church and churches throughout the nation we are preparing for horror, strengthening security and assuaging worries, instead of worshiping in the freedom our forefathers declared and our veterans fought for.
I understand the need to use our minds and God given logic to prepare and strengthen ourselves, but there is no man-made defense against unmitigated evil. There is God alone.
I am sad just now, but I am racing walkers, not even runners. I will put my trust in God and perhaps the horses and I shall soon play. That's all for now.
Happy writing, happy reading and happy trails.   

Friday, October 27, 2017

Nano Prep?

Ghost Story Night
We read, we told tall tales and we drank coffee. Thanks to all who came to the adventure last night, and thanks to Stellar Coffee Co. Wahoo. We writers, we shy introverts got out and out of our shell.
I enjoy ghost stories for many reasons. I enjoy the whimsy of earlier fables, with faeries and elves, goblins and anthropomorphized creatures. I don't much care for gore, but, if it's a good story, it's a good story, and we shared some good ones last night. I told my story, but stay tuned. I'll write it tomorrow and share it here.
But next week ... ah, next week begins National Novel Writing Month. I am excited to pull up an old story, a bedtime story I told my son. I will be turning it into a novel at long last. I've made a few stabs, but nothing stuck, so I'm starting over and pleased to be working on middle grade fantasy once again.
So this year I've found many offerings for nano prep. Hum. In this post I wanted to look at the idea of preparing for a romp, the romp that is nano. Is that a good idea?
I'm of two minds. My novel Gabby Care came out of nano, but I worked on it for a long time afterwards in edits and rewrites. I see that a bit more outlining and structure would have helped pre-nano, but I also know that the outlining as I went helped keep me focused during the month. I had a rough idea of the book and where it was headed, but the sequence and mystery evolved as I wrote. I wonder now, if I had a stronger system, would I have eliminated edits and confusion? Surely I would have. But would I have had as much fun? I doubt it.
This year I plan on using Scrivener. We'll see how that goes. I like bulletin boards and poster boards and index cards, basically anything I can touch and see, but so many folks recommend the software that I thought I'd finally try it.
I will dedicate a portion of this weekend to nano prep along with Monday and Tuesday. I am cutting it a bit close, but I think it will be enough. Basically, I'm slicing the nano-prep-pie down the middle. A little prep, a little Scrivener, a little ghost story. It's shaping up to be a great weekend.
Let me know what you think. Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Twisters

Prickly Smiles
One more day until Fright Night Superb. I was thinking about how ghost stories are told rather than read. Reading is fine, but there is a different element when someone knows her story and seeks to entertain. I aim for raconteur and seldom reach it, but the well-told-tale is a rich tradition in my family. All of my brothers and my sister also know how to speak a tall twister. It's a gift. As they spin, I sit silently taking mental notes, smiling, often jealous, usually enthralled in a strange dance of family solidarity, history and unexpected love - the kind that clots your throat and makes you want to run from the power of it. I truly love a good story.
Today, my son and I spoke of character driven story. He had read Eudora Welty's, A Worn Path. He said it had little or no plot but the character ... the character ... the character. "Yes," I said. "The character."
What about character in ghost stories? Is there much chance outside of a sketch, or is it all character and man's decay is the frightful part. From a Christian standpoint, so many characters are doomed, already in ghostly decay, save for the blood of the lamb. In the secular wold the picture is even grimmer for its superficial nature, and doing right for ... why exactly. A good feeling in my bones, perhaps. Admittedly, I'm not good with the secular end of the argument, so I'll stop here.
I think in a longer work character is central to a good tall tale. In a short work I am not convinced. By tomorrow, however, I may change my mind. Thanks for reading.