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So Much Stuff I Can't Recall

Sunday, April 30, 2006

Good Company

I recently had a visitor stop by from a Yahoo! search on "the waiting room review by lisa loomis". So Much Stuff I Can't Recall came in third on the list (despite never having had Lisa Loomis write a review of "The Waiting Room"). Sixth on the list was an archive set from another blog I frequent, faith*in*fiction (where Lisa Loomis didn't review "The Waiting Room", either).

I can't recall having come across another blog I know when reviewing my strange search rankings. But it's cool to be virtually associated with f*i*f.

If you throw quote marks around "The Waiting Room" and "Lisa Loomis" you wind up with a whopping zero search results. Almost makes me want to track Lisa down and have her write the darn review to fill this important consumer need.

Almost.

Mikesell : 6:41 PM : 2 snarky remarks

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Will I Be A Player?

Earlier this week I interviewed author Brandilyn Collins about her novel, Web of Lies. Shortly before that I finished reading her writing instruction book, Getting into Character. Today I finished reading an Advance Review Copy (ARC) of her forthcoming novel, Violet Dawn.

No, I'm not going do another 101 things you can do list. And this isn't going to turn into The Brandilyn Collins Show (unless she or Zondervan wants to underwrite that sort of thing; nudge, wink).

What I really want to do is be a character in her next book. Well, not so much be the character as play one on the internet. As revealed on the Forensics and Faith website earlier this month, folks were offered a fame-if-not-fortune opportunity to receive ARCs in exchange for auditioning as one of the characters who'd make in-character blog posts to the Scenes & Beans blog for the two upcoming books int the series.

So, I'm going to audition for the role of Wilbur Hucks. With a name like that how can I stay away? The fact he's a crotchety old man who'll show you his triple-bypass scar without warning only sweetens the pot. I'll keep you posted as to how that goes.

And if anyone would like to audition for a role but missed the first 50 ARCs, let me know and I'll pass mine along. Just don't give me any competition in the Wilbur department. I've got an appendectomy scar and I know how to use it -- so watch out!

Mikesell : 9:52 PM : 1 snarky remarks

Friday, April 28, 2006

Pack Those Bags Under Your Eyes

So, did you spend Spring Break (those of you who still get it) sitting around doing nothing because even with you and three friends going together you couldn't sell enough plasma to finance a decent road trip? And the rest of you, those of you who've almost accrued enough vacation time to take a week off (if you spend the first two days "sick"), are you feeling itchy to get out of Dodge?

Well, via the wonder of the Internets, here are a couple coffee break getaways to quell that hungering wanderlust:

Mikesell : 10:11 PM : 2 snarky remarks

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Book Chat with Brandilyn Collins

I had the pleasure of meeting author Brandilyn Collins at the Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference in Mount Hermon, Calif., earlier this month. In addition to receiving some wonderful criticism on my work-in-progress manuscript, I had lunch with her and her husband and daughter (and four other conference attendees). Was the meal burritos? The conference is still a blur. Anyhoo, a wonderful time was had by all, even Brandilyn's daughter who dealt magnificently with mom trying to set her up with writers from the teen track.

Brandilyn's latest book is Web of Lies, the fourth and apparently final (though WoL demonstrates that there may be some wiggle room here) book in the Hidden Faces series. Joining Annie Kingston in this outing is Chelsea Adams (a character readers said goodbye to in 2002's Dread Champion). When a killer strikes in broad daylight, the pressure is on Annie to help stop him before he kills again. The adrenaline spikes when Chelsea brings Annie a vision of a sadist with a penchant for spiders. And then a skeleton turns up practically in Annie's backyard. And then ... no, that would spoil the fun.

And fun it is. Web of Lies is a well-crafted and -characterized novel. Heck, after Chapter 15 I had to remind myself to b r e a t h e (the tagline for Brandilyn's brand of "seatbelt suspense" is "don't forget to breathe" -- she's not exaggerating). There were a couple moments when I felt Annie was getting a bit angsty and victimy about the treatment she receives for being a Christian, but it didn't detract from the flow of the story (and was not outside of Annie's character, either). Longtime readers will no doubt be anticipating the "final twist" and they won't be disappointed; this one's a doozy -- it's burdened by some of the problems of a sci-fi time travel plotline, but it holds up well under analysis.

Prior to this I'd only read the first book in the Hidden Faces series, but WoL doesn't seem to have spoiled my future enjoyment of the intervening novels. If you haven't read any of the books (or the Chelsea Adams series), don't worry. Just fasten your seatbelt and keep your arms and legs inside the cabin until the ride comes to a full and complete stop. And that breathing thing? Seriously. Pack an oxygen tank or two.

As part of this month's Christian Fiction Blog Tour, Brandilyn Collins answered a half dozen questions for me. Read on:
  1. (with apologies to Steve Martin) We met at Mount Hermon earlier this month. What was it like meeting me for the first time?

    Quite wonderful, naturally. I had the honor of critiquing your manuscript, talking with you personally, and generally getting to know you a little bit. It's great to meet someone like you who's talented and working hard on the craft, and is receptive to new ideas.

    And--if you don't mind my saying so publicly, I was MOST impressed after Mount Hermon to receive a thank you note from you. Wow. Most females don't send thank you notes via mail anymore, must less a male. I read that card and thought, "Impressive. Somebody raised this boy right."


    [Far be it from me (and my tenuous place in the will) to diminish the effort my folks put into my upbringing, but the thank-you note idea came from Terry Whalin's blog, along with the notion of handing out business cards at conferences.]

  2. I always like when a DVD includes deleted scenes and outtakes. Were there any things in Web of Lies that were cut or didn't work out right the first time around?

    Nothing that was cut. I have lots of problems with writing, but one thing I don't do is write a scene only to cut it later. Seems like a royal waste of time to me. If it ain't needed, it ain't created in the first place.

    What did change was the Point of View. At first the entire story (well, other than the "bad guy" third person POV) was written in the first person POV of the protagonist, Annie. I just didn't know if I could mix first person and third person POVs for the various lead characters. But the story didn't work right without these other POVs.

    In the end I learned even more emphatically what I already knew: STORY RULES. Yeah, the "writing rules" say don't mix first and third POVs, esp. for your protagonists, but if that's absolutely what you must do for the story's sake, the reader's not gonna care. The reader cares about the story working.

  3. Detective Tim Blanche is going through life with a feminine surname. How much of a factor does that play in him being a jerk? (Not that people with feminine surnames are all jerks, but the man has issues.)

    Sheesh, Chris, leave it to you to think of this. I never even thought of his last name as being feminine. He's certainly not a feminine character. He's just . . . arrogant. And in Web of Lies he gets caught up in a situation that only makes his arrogance rise to the top.

    That's the problem with arrogance. When you think you have all the answers and are better than those around you, you end up focusing too much on yourself--to the detriment of others. Then if you're caught in a mistake, it's all the harder to admit. Tim Blanche is involved in a highly watched case, and he knows he has to make the right decisions, or he's really gonna be fried in the media. As a result, he ends up perhaps protecting his own reputation at the cost of doing the best for the investigation.

  4. You've done a great job of creating Barrister Court, but your description of Redding is pretty generic. What is the likelihood that real-life places like Whiskeytown Reservoir, Turtle Bay Exploration Park, the "big box" developments on Hilltop, houseboating on Lake Shasta, will provide "local flavor" in future books?

    Web of Lies is the last book in the Hidden Faces series, so there won't be any additional "local flavor." There's a bit more in book #3, Dead of Night, which features different surrounding areas and some roads. But I actually kept the city setting pretty generic on purpose, mostly because I wanted to focus on the immediate world of Annie's neighborhood.

    You raise a very good question, Chris, because this is an issue I go back and forth on. Where does an author leave the real world and jump into fiction? In my first two suspenses featuring Chelsea Adams, (Eyes of Elisha and Dread Champion), I created a fictional town smack in the middle of the California Bay Area. I did this because I didn't want to be bound by the police force in a real Bay Area town--everything from the color of the carpet in the station to the picky little details of how they, as opposed to their next-door city, would handle a case.

    Now with the Hidden Faces series, I've chosen a real city, but the action doesn't really take place in the city as much as around it. And "around it" is my fictional part, to a big extent. So what I ended up doing is creating the fictional world within the real world that I needed to best aid my stories, then including a bit of "disclaiming" in my notes to readers, saying what's real and what isn't. As a result, people who know Redding and expect to find a lot of local flavor aren't going to find it. This may be disappointing. The majority of readers, who don't know Redding, won't know the difference.

  5. Annie chalks up a lot of her conflict with Blanche to her Christianity (he doesn't like/respect me because I'm a Christian) as opposed to the fact that she's a woman, she's from out-of-town, she doesn't have his education--as well as simply his own ego (which does get brought up). How much of that is a) accurate and b) Annie projecting others' expectations and then finding ways she doesn't measure up? Do you see her maturing in this area (gaining a broader perspective of Blanche's prejudices and/or not caring what he thinks)?

    Another great question. Annie has not had a problem gaining respect from local law enforcement, so the question of gender or being from out of town really doesn't come into play. Annie sees Tim Blanche accurately--because he hasn't bothered to hide his cynicism about her faith. At the same time, as the underlying character arc in Web of Lies shows, Annie does have trouble understanding and believing her own sense of worth, and this, she needs to overcome. She does learn about herself in this book, but again, with Web of Lies, I ended the series, so we're not going to see her further growth. All in all, Annie's character arc from book #1, Brink of Death, to book #4, Web of Lies, spans about four years and takes her quite a ways in her maturation as a divorced mother and as a new Christian (in Brink of Death, she's not a Christian and has little understanding of Christianity).

    A series with character arcs in each book presents quite a few challenges. First, there's getting the balance just right as to how much the character grows within each book, and what weaknesses to leave for the next, and then there's the challenge of ending the series as a whole. The books generally end upbeat, but I'm not going to "fix" everything, even in the last book. The character's still got to have weaknesses, still have much to learn--because that's reality--even while my aim is to satisfy the reader with the growth to date.

  6. I've heard that you have to be really, really smart to write suspense fiction. What's your educational background/how did you learn to write, and what's your recommendation for those of us just starting out?

    Oh, ha-ha. Let me guess where you got this. Could it be our good friend the Snyde Guy (Mike Snyder) who royally put his foot in his mouth by telling me he wasn't "smart" enough to write certain other kinds of fiction so he thought he might try suspense? Now of course, his take on this conversation is a bit different. His is a conglomeration of much red-faced backpedaling after I blinked hard and suggested he might want to rephrase his opening line.

    By the way, the Snyde Guy IS smart, and he's written a great story. And no, it's not suspense. But it does have a clairvoyant dog.

    On second thought, maybe he's not all that smart.

    SG, that is. I'm sure the dog is brilliant.

    As for my own journey toward learning how to write, best thing is to direct you to the "How I Got Here" story on my blog, dubbed the NES for "Never-Ending Saga," as it took over 60 posts to tell. It's become quite infamous in our little blogdom world. Long? Yes. Smart? You betcha. Entertaining? Sure. With melodrama, cabinet-kicking, hopes shattered, dreams pursued, hooks at the end of chapters, and so much more. (This beginning to sound like one of those TV buy-now commercials.) You'll find the first post on Thursday, February 24, 2005.


To read Brandilyn's current blog post, visit Forensics & Faith. Enjoy!

(Now through April 30, Borders Rewards members (free membership) can save 30% off Web of Lies--or any other novel--at Borders, Borders Express, or Waldenbooks with this coupon. Non-members can still save 10%; so if you're in the witness protection program--or on the run from aliens that track you through corporate databases--you're in luck, too! Amazon has the book for 23% off, though you'd have to buy two and a half copies to qualify for free shipping.)

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Mikesell : 2:02 AM : 9 snarky remarks

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

It's 10 o'Clock ... Do You Know Where My Blog Post Is?

Slow news day today ... without sugar and caffeine amping up the bloodflow I've been slogging through the day.

I did find a Union/76 station in Junction City selling Regular Unleaded for $2.85/gal. That's almost a dime less than some of the "cheap gas" places in Eugene. So I got 10 gallons and saved a buck. What's gas going for in your neck of the deforested woods?

Tomorrow I'll have an interview with novelist Brandilyn Collins. (I've been tweaking it all day; if my arteries don't collapse before midnight I'll post it then.)

Mikesell : 11:02 PM : 5 snarky remarks

Not So Fast

This past Sunday our pastor challenged us to make a 21-day "Daniel Fast." (see Daniel 1:8-16) So I'm mostly on fruits, vegetables, whole grains, etc. No meat. No coffee/soda. No candy. For three weeks.

Now I'm not one to fast with a gloomy face, but is it really "fair" that Dina-the-birthday-girl chose to go to the Roadhouse for dinner tonight? She has filet mignon, I have steamed broccoli and a bacon-bitsless baked potato. I mean, c'mon!

Now I suppose there's room for specualation as to whether Daniel would have partaken of Ben & Jerry's Baklava ice cream. However, the Bible passage specifies that Daniel refused to eat "the king's food." Since Ben & Jerry were giving free scoops of ice cream out to whoever showed up, king's men or hoi polloi, I'm not sweating it.

Mikesell : 12:11 AM : 3 snarky remarks

Monday, April 24, 2006

No Takers, Eh?

So, no one wants a free Caribou Coffee gift cert? <sigh> Well, if anyone changes their mind, lemme know. First come, first served.

Here's another freebie opportunity for y'all to pass by: tomorrow is Ben & Jerry's Free Cone Day. It's also Dina's birthday, so you can guess where we'll be celebrating.

Phil's Job Day recap: 2 racecar drivers, 2 motocross racers, 1 pop-star, 1 basketball player (female), 1 basketball/football player (male), 1 lumberjack. I went to kindergarten with a kid who frequently brought a briefcase to school; Davey Simpkins, wherever you are, I salute you.

Mikesell : 10:30 PM : 2 snarky remarks

Job Day

Today was "Job Day" for Phil's kindergarten class. He went as a racecar driver (1 2). Dina cut out logos from the Sunday ads and packing-taped them to the shirt; I think it came out quite nicely. As we walked out to the bus, Phil commented on how he "liked this shirt better by the second." So 7,500 points for Dina.

I dug the steering wheel out of Phil's toypile so no one would confuse him in his logofied shirt with Captain Amazing. No points for me, I know.

Yeah, he has no helmet. If we could have found where we stashed his bicycle helmet last fall and attached a visor (and more logos) to it, he would have. But apparently we put the helmet somewhere safe so we wouldn't lose it -- worked out well, didn't it?

What do you want to be when you grow up?

Mikesell : 10:09 AM : 0 snarky remarks

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Fly Boy

This afternoon Phil asked if he could go out and fly his kite. As it was not raining, not cold out, and there haven't been any mountain lion sightings lately, Phil got his wish.

Unfortunately there wasn't much in the way of wind, so the kite depended on what Phil could generate by running. As these pictures (1, 2) show (if you can see the cyan-winged airplane Phil's towing), he did pretty good as long as he kept running. Then came the inevitable crashes.

Will he believe us next time we tell him he needs a steady wind to keep his kite aloft? Doubtful. Of course, he's been quiet since he came back inside, so maybe no wind isn't such a bad deal after all.

Mikesell : 6:56 PM : 0 snarky remarks

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Do You Caribou?

Caribou Coffee recently had an online promo where you could win free iTunes (or other fabulous prizes). I wound up with a gift cert for a free drink (any kind, any size). Unfortunately, Caribou doesn't have any outlets west of the Rockies.

So, if you're reading my blog this weekend (or before noon on Monday) and would like the gift cert (good for $5 off Caribou merchandise if you'd rather that than a drink), leave me a comment and your e-mail address (if I don't already have it). I'll select a winner at random on Monday evening, and will follow up to get mailing address particulars.

The gift cert expires May 7, so if/when I contact you, don't dilly-dally (dilly or dally if you must, but not both).

Mikesell : 8:55 PM : 0 snarky remarks

Friday, April 21, 2006

Lookee Who That Is

Over the past week, I've been watching Star Trek III and IV. I picked them up at Fred Meyer on my way down to Mount Hermon, seven bucks each. (Star Trek V was also available, but $7 was a bit pricey for that outing.)

Trek-III has a special place in my heart; not because it's a great movie (as an odd numbered movie, it can't be), but because I won tickets to the premiere on a radio call-in show. Only time that's happened for me. Question had to do with where the James Bond movie Dr. No was set. As this was 1984, years before imdb.com could give you the answer in a couple clicks, my method for arriving at the correct answer was as follows: 1) Grab soundtrack album off shelf. 2) Note one of the tracks from Dr. No is "Kingston Calypso." 3) Grab the "K" volume of the Junior Encyclopaedia Britannica and look up "Kingston." (We also had an "official" set of the EB, but the Junior edition was quicker.) 4) Call the radio station. 5) Repeat #4 until you get through. 6) Answer the question: Jamaica.

Now, however, I like Trek-III because of a couple bit roles, or rather, who was chosen to fill those bit roles. Like dicovering Dan Ackroyd has a bit part in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, or Maury Chaykin was in WarGames and My Cousin Vinny, I was thrilled to discover that underneath his rubberized Klingon make-up, Maltz was played by John Larroquette. Miguel Ferrer played the First Officer on board the USS Excelsior and was a heck of a lot easier to recognize.

No surprise appearances in Trek-IV (John Schuck made the opening credits), though I was amused that the Michael Okuda trivia track included mention of a film-crew member's finger playing a crucial role when Sulu flips on the windshield wipers of his helicopter. The trivia tracks on both movies (all the Trek movies, really) were a lot of fun. Oh, look, you can see all the way from the SF Bay to Maui when the humpback whales are released.

Come across a surprise special guest star recently that tops the ones listed above? Leave me a snarky remark.

Mikesell : 8:11 PM : 0 snarky remarks

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Joining the Club

This afternoon I sent in my membership fee to the ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers). I don't know if it's an association, a society, a cabal, or what; guess I'll find out when they send me my beret.

I've also completed a revised draft of my short story "The Fortunate Purgatory of Arthur MacArthur," for the Dragons, Knights & Angels contest. If I haven't already sent you a copy and you'd like to critique it (and you aren't affiliated with DKA), lemme know.

And if you haven't heard about Brandilyn Collins' grassroots marketing effort for her forthcoming novel, Violet Dawn, check out the link earlier in this sentence. As of this morning she had room for a few more potential participants, so jump on it if you're interested. I'll have an interview with Brandilyn on the blog next week for her current novel, Web of Lies. Stay tuned.

Mikesell : 8:10 PM : 2 snarky remarks

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Lost Luncheon

On the trip down to Mount Hermon last week I stopped in San Jose to see my sister and visit a few of the old neighborhoods. One thing I neglected to mention was getting together with a couple friends for lunch at the California Noodle House, one of the old haunts when I used to work for NurseWeek Magazine.Catching up was great because both Shirley and Renee are doing well. The noodles were wonderful as always (as long as you remember to ask for them without cilantro). And, thankfully, no one asked for a knife (long story, and not mine to tell).

It seems I get together with different segments of Phil's "NurseWeek Aunties" every few years -- Phil was about 20 months old last time we saw the Bay Area aunties; Renee and Shirley are on the left, Aunties Young and Margie on the right. (We saw the Seattle aunties when he was just shy of three years old -- and yes, that's Shirley to the right of Reese and Kat.) Time flies (and to be in Phil photo op, so does Shirley).

If anyone happens to know Renee's e-mail address, please send it to me (feel free to make a snarky remark about me losing it again, but don't post the address in the comments). Or let her know her picture's up on the blog (finally); maybe she'll bookmark the site and drop me a line sometime (hint hint).

Mikesell : 1:30 AM : 0 snarky remarks

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Busy Day

I was up last night 'til 1a working on a story for the Dragons, Knights & Angels contest. Phil crawled in bed with us at 3a with a high fever. We were out of Children's Tylenol, so we made do with cold compresses and sleep. At 7a I drove into town for some chewables (and a Starbucks Doubleshot from the check-out line cooler).

Back home at 9a, I set Phil up with breakfast, some Tylenol and a Kim Possible marathon. Then I started working on some job applications (can't use Mount Hermon as an excuse anymore). I crashed for a few hours in the late afternoon when Dina was able to take over supervising Phil's convalescence.

The boy's doing better now. KP saved the world (a lot). And I'm back to work on "The Fortunate Purgatory of Arthur MacArthur." Or I will be as soon as I post this blog entry.

Right

About

Now.

Mikesell : 12:25 AM : 0 snarky remarks

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Blogged Too Soon

While I was wrapping up the previous post it started to hail outside.

As these pictures demonstrate -- 1, 2 -- we wound up with a White Easter after all.

Mikesell : 5:21 PM : 3 snarky remarks

I'm Dreaming of a White Easter (Almost)

Yesterday afternoon as we headed out to the Easter party at the Triangle Lake Grange it was snowing. Yes. Mid-April, snow. It didn't stick and today was a balmy 51*F in Eugene.

Phil brought home an Easter card from Kindergarten on Friday (featuring the PostSeder OviLepus), which pretty much summarizes our festive greetings to you and yours.And next year, if you're on church on Easter Sunday and your pastor greets you with the traditional "He is risen!", instead of the usual response ("He is risen, indeed!"), consider these alternatives:

He is risen!Bonus points if you use the last response in Minnesota.

Mikesell : 4:42 PM : 2 snarky remarks

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Rock-Hard Abs

If pain necessarily equals gain, then expect to see my exercise book/DVD, "Seven Days to Rock-Hard Abs: The Coughing Up Phlegm Method," being pitched on late-nite TV in the very near future. Five more days of this and I'm sure to be washboard tight.

<cough> Ow. <cough> Owwww.

Oh yeah, looking good.

Mikesell : 8:52 AM : 0 snarky remarks

Friday, April 14, 2006

A Little of This, A Little of That

This
Before my folks left for California the other day, I took a couple shots of them with Phil.
That
This afternoon a happy little deer family was noshing on the shrubbery outside our side door. They were initially on the near side of the road, but spooked a bit when I opened the door to snap the picture. Then a pickup truck went zooming by and they all took off for the far bushes.

I've come down with a post-conference cold, so if you've seen some postings of mine out on the web that seem a bit more random than usual, I blame having a 102*F temperature. The fever broke about 4am this morning so I'm feeling much better now. Still some sinus issues ... and lack of sleep ... but all in all, not too bad.

Mikesell : 7:36 PM : 3 snarky remarks

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Fear of Kites (a mount hermon recap)

Most of what happened at Mount Hermon will stay at Mount Hermon, if only because of all the you had to be there moments. F'rinstance, is mishearing someone say they have a "fear of kites" all that funny? (They meant heights, of course.) It was at the moment, but there's likely a support group online somewhere that will take offense if too much a deal is made about it.

Likewise the "American Association of Gray Sweashirt Guys of America" doesn't need me making fun of the appellation any more than Christopher Fisher did. (Of course, now I've upset West Virginians who think I'm mocking their mountain range.)

And while porpoise can do nothing but increase the humor quotient of a story, the word itself only has the special connotations I'm thinking of for a half dozen MH attendees. Plus it needs Mike Snyder's body language to really sell it.

And Dave Long's "Armed Robbery" anecdote, as told at MH at any rate, is decidely not-CBA-approved. (A boy really shouldn't do that to his mother.) Sure, he could clean it up, but it would lose something in the process.

These are the moments Mount Hermon is made of. I can get turned down by editors and agents for the price of postage. I can get "send it to me when it's ready" for the same price, too. The critiques were helpful, but except for the lack of postage the transaction is remarkably similar (you give them the pages, the critiquer gives you the comments); even using dramatic verbs like foist or flung doesn't make the exchange very interesting. Odd moments like when you realize you're eating scrambled eggs on soggy Doritos, are just that: odd. Work them into a story sometime, but don't confuse them for the story itself.

So while I could tell you "9 Things You Should Do to Build Emotional Intensity in Fiction" or "3 Essentials for Memorable Characters," even that wouldn't be any more exciting that reading it out of a book. The book would most likely be better written, to boot. Though it might not include the word porpoise.

Mikesell : 1:36 PM : 4 snarky remarks

I'm Home

I got back from Santa Cruz this afternoon (well, Redding, where I spent last night). Spent evening with family; you see how well you rate.

More blogging tomorrow.

Mikesell : 1:04 AM : 1 snarky remarks

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Top o' the World

There are 400+ attendees of the conference from all over the country and Canada; it turns out I went to junior high school with one of them. I last saw Juli Bowen in 1982; technically I still haven’t seen her since she’s gotten married in the interim and now has a different last name. Still, it's a pretty cool deal.

Better yet, I got my book proposal critiques back this afternoon.

<drumroll please>

Brandilyn Collins: "Well-written," "Needs better structure."

James Scott Bell: "Well-written," "Has possibilities, with rewrite."

So I've got some work to do, but the encouragement is nice. And they haven't asked me to leave the conference. Which is nice, too.

Mikesell : 12:24 AM : 0 snarky remarks

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Live from Mt. Hermon

Good day today. I got over to Scotts Valley early so I cruised around town and Santa Cruz for a while before checking in at Mt. Hermon. Saw a lot of things that triggered memories, some things that I had forgotten I'd forgotten.

Tonight we had a good keynote address from Kay Marshall Strom. Top four things she's learned from attending Mt. Hermon:
  1. Listen and be teachable
  2. Don't confuse milestones with goals
  3. The basics matter a whole lot
  4. Fix your eyes on a long-term plan
Don't you feel smart now.

Before the keynote, several people I've met online led us in worship
(l-r: Jeanne Damoff, Christopher Fisher, Mrs. and Mr. Mike Snyder) Afterwards, there was a meet and greet where I briefly met and gret Dave Long (center) as well as members of the band (and Jennifer, Jeanne Damoff's friend, far left).

Mikesell : 12:06 AM : 3 snarky remarks

Friday, April 07, 2006

On the Road

I headed out of Eugene yesterday morning at 11:15 in a little red Ford rental. Good news: the iPod FM transmitter works great and I don't have to use the tipsy extension unit.

At a little after 4pm I stopped in Yreka and met fellow conference goer Katy Popa and her husband, George. Thanks for the coffee and chocolate chip cookies, guys!

Last night was spent in Sacramento, tonight I'm staying at my sister Julia's condo. More on my day later, but here's a picture of what the house I grew up in looks like these days.

Mikesell : 12:20 AM : 2 snarky remarks

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Righteous Rocker #2

For the second week in a row iTunes Music Store is giving away a song by a Christian recording artist. Or is that a recording artist who's a Christian?

Anyhoo, Plumb's Blush (Only You) is not only available for free download, but it ain't too shabby a song, either, even if it has a bit much of the Sixpence sound at the beginning.

King Jimbo says, "Thou shalt checketh it out."

UPDATE: My sister Julia pointed out that the "Free Download" page says the song costs $0.99. If iTunes pops up a window wanting to confirm your purchase, click "cancel" and wait 'til later in the week when this should be fixed. If you do try to download the song while it still says it costs a buck and it doesn't charge you, please leave a note in the comments. (I "bought" the song with free download credits last month, so I don't get the standard "do you want to buy this" window.)

Mikesell : 12:28 PM : 2 snarky remarks

Monday, April 03, 2006

Crunch Time

...and I'm not talkin' sit ups.

In thirty-six hours or so I'll be heading down to the Santa Cruz area for the Mt. Hermon Christian Writers Conference. Tomorrow will be filled with housecleaning (my folks are coming up to help Dina with Phil), laundry, packing, prepping materials to hand out should an editor/agent look my way during the conference, and other last minute things that are bound to crop up.

Then it's down I-5 on Wednesday. I've got a coffee/cookie break scheduled in Yreka with a friend who'll be coming down to the conference on the 6th. Overnighting in Sacramento. Overnighting the next night in San Jose with my sister.

And then it begins.

Special note for A.P.: I'll try and blog a time or two from the conference so y'all can see what a fantastic miserable time we're having. I'm sure we'll all wish we were trapped in an office filing tax returns. Yeah, that's the ticket. Woe is us.

Mikesell : 11:45 PM : 3 snarky remarks

Sunday, April 02, 2006

90 Countries

As of this morning, visitors from 40% of the world's nations have stopped by my blog. Kenya was the 90th country, with Mongolia and the Maldives stopping by earlier in the week.

The world map is beginning to to look filled up. (North Korea, don't be such a hater; you're messing up my Pacific Rim.)

I'm sure the Dept. of Homeland Security would have a jolly old time if they stopped by my World66 profile. To generate the map, I've selected "Been There" for each of the countries. If they take things at face value, I've been to Central Asia, the Indian Ocean and Eastern Africa all without having my passport scanned. That could spell trouble, possibly with a capital Guantanamo.

NB: As I was writing this, someone from Grenada stopped by. Traveling westward, it looks like I'm almost home. (But I never left, Mr. Homeland Security Guy ... honest!)

Mikesell : 6:25 PM : 0 snarky remarks

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Ready, Set, Punt!

I ran soundboard this afternoon for a memorial service at church. Toward the end of last year one of the church's two display monitors burnt out, and last month we replaced it with a multimedia projector. Unfortunately we haven't gotten the adapters that will allow us to run S-video into the projector from the soundbooth. And, unfortunately the family of the deceased wanted to play a DVD tribute mid-way through the service.

If I had brought the VGA adapter I have for my PowerBook it wouldn't have been a problem. But I didn't, so it was.

Of course we discover this when the soloist needs me to mooch him a guitar cable from the high school classroom so I can give him a soundcheck, and the visiting minister needs help with our over-the-ear cordless mike.

Fortunately the person who burned the DVD made multiple copies. So we wound up attaching a DVD player to the projector on the platform, and I had the PowerBook connected to the soundboard, each with their own DVD. During a prayer a friend of the family snuck up on stage while I lowered the house lights.

"Amen."

I run one-two-three off on my fingers and we both push play.

It's up ... it's high enough ... it's long enough ... it's ... it's ... it's ... IT'S GOOD!

And no one went wild. Because, of course, it was a somber occasion and when the soundguy has his act together, he goes unnoticed. It took me a while, but by the time the service started I had it together. I know, I was surprised, too.

Mikesell : 10:20 PM : 0 snarky remarks