Friday, March 31, 2006
Sunday night, Dateline (NBC) will be talking with Michael Baigent, author of The Jesus Papers in which he claims Jesus survived the crucifixion (thus meaning, of course, that He wasn't raised from the dead because according to Baigent, He never died):
Prayer is a powerful, powerful tool we have. With the faith of a mustard seed, we can say to a mountain, "Move!" and it will move. I implore you to grab onto that faith and to ask the Holy Spirit to open the eyes and ears and hearts of the viewers of Dateline and the readers of this book so that they may know the truth ... and with that truth, be set free.
"What if everything you think you know about Jesus is wrong? In The Jesus Papers, Michael Baigent reveals the truth about Jesus's life and crucifixion. Despite -- or rather because of -- all the celebration and veneration that have surrounded the figure of Jesus for centuries, Baigent asserts that Jesus and the circumstances leading to his death have been heavily mythologized.
As a religious historian and a leading expert in the field of arcane knowledge, Baigent has unequaled access to hidden archives, secret societies, Masonic records, and the private collections of antiquities traders and their moneyed clients. Using that access to full advantage, Baigent explores the religious and political climate in which Jesus was born and raised, examining not only the conflicts between the Romans and the Jews, but the strife within the different factions of the Jewish Zealot movement. He chronicles the migrations of Jesus's family, his subsequent exposure to other cultures, and the events, teachings, and influences that were most likely to have shaped his early years. Baigent also uncovers the inconsistencies and biases in the accounts of the major historians of Jesus's time, including Josephus, Pliny, and Tacitus. The enduring influence of these accounts in forming our most common conceptions of Jesus reveals that spin is not a new phenomenon.
Taking us back to sites that over the last twenty years he has meticulously explored, studied, and in some instances excavated for the first time, Baigent provides a detailed account of his groundbreaking discoveries, including many never-before-seen photos. The evidence he has uncovered has lead him to make shocking new assertions that threaten the conventional account of Jesus's life and death and shake the very foundation of Western thought, based as it is upon the assumption of Jesus's divinity. Ultimately, his investigation raises the hope that we may gain a new understanding of Jesus."
Pray that the Lord reveal His Glory. That He shut the mouth of the lion. That He put the broadcast and the book through the fire and that only the purest of truths be left. We each have the power given to us by the Holy Spirit to do this. If we did it corporately, think of the mountains we could move. The lives we could change. The glory we could bring to our Savior and God.
posted by Deeanne at 11:11 AM
Thursday, March 30, 2006
In continuing our discussion about snags authors run into when writing ... as a historical author, I spend an inordinate amount of time researching my books up front. But it isn't as if the research is all done and then I get to just write. This is due to what we discussed yesterday about how I don't know exactly what will occur in each and every scene--I only know what needs to be accomplished.
In Lady, my heroine is having a discussion with the hero in the kitchen. To keep them from simply standing there talking back and forth, I usually give my characters something to do with their hands. In this case, I decided my heroine would brew them some coffee. Then, I realized, I had no idea how they made coffee in 1849. I was pretty sure they didn't have perculators or anything.
So, I stopped writing and spent about an hour-and-a-half looking through my resources and on the internet to find out exactly how one makes coffee in primitive San Francisco, 1849. I found the answer in a tiny hardback about the size of a toddler's Bible (but it's over 1000 pages thick). It is called Beeton's Book of Household Management and is a reprint of a book published in 1861. It is comprised of information for the "mistress, housekeeper, cook, kitchen-maid, butler, footman, coachman, valet, upper and under maids, lady's maid, maid-of-all-work, laundry maid, nurse and nursemaid, etc."
It might not be a few years after 1849, but it was as close as I could find. The entire coffee thing was only about one paragraph in length and as it ends up, I think I scratched that scene, but I can't really remember. In any event, those kinds of things really slow down my writing. The good part is, once I find that little nugget, it really gives the scene a feel of authenticity.
posted by Deeanne at 1:09 PM
Wednesday, March 29, 2006
Don't Read This Unless You've Finished BRIDE
We've been discussing some of the snags authors run into while writing. Earlier this week, we talked about characters having a mind of their own. Today, I want to look at the actual events in the novel:
"Do you know exactly what is going to happen and when it's going to happen, or do events occur in the middle of your writing that you weren't expecting?"
Again, the answer is yes and no. Yes, I--personally--plot out the entire novel from start to finish before I actually write the novel. (Though I've heard some authors write by the seat of their pants. They just sit down and start with the prologue, end with the epilogue and do no planning in between. I would never be able to do that.) My plots, though, are similar to outlines. I have Roman Numeral I with Points A, B, and C, etc. So, I know what needs to happen. What I don't know is how my characters are going to get from one point to the next.
So, that's the "no" part of that answer. (No, I don't know exactly what is going to happen.) I'll give you an example from Bride, but *WARNING, WARNING* if you have not read the book, this is definitely going to spoil it for you--so skip the rest of this post and we'll see you tomorrow. If you have read the book, you'll understand my illustration:
I knew when I was plotting the book that there would be a massacre at the end. I knew that someone needed to die. (I hate it when I read books where some big catastrophe happens and no one of consequence--to the reader--is immediately effected.) Once I knew I was going to kill someone off, I asked myself who would have the most emotional punch? Killing off the hero or heroine in a romance is not an option. After that, the obvious answer was: Sally. Drew's greatest fear was losing his loved ones, especially the babies. If we lost Sally and then Drew proved to the reader that he still loved God and was devastated, but not defeated, then we'd show the reader how far he had grown since the beginning of the book.
So, killing off Sally was one of my outline points. What took me by surprise, was Mary. I never, ever planned to kill her off. But when it came time to write that scene, I realized that somebody needed to be watching Sally when the Indians arrived. I didn't want Constance to be there. So, I sent her to the creek and left Sally with Mary.
Ends up, Mary was in the wrong place at the wrong time, and we lost her when we lost Sally. I was just as surprised as you.
Now, when BHP got a hold of the manuscript, they refused to let me kill off Sally. They felt it made the ending too dark and the reader would never be able to recover. Killing off Mary was bad enough, but Sally? No way.
I disagreed, and I kicked and screamed a little, but the boss won out. So, you can thank BHP for Sally's good health. Mary, however, I refused to revive. Otherwise, we'd have this huge massacre that devastated the entire colony and yet the O'Connors would walk away unscathed. I refused to budge.
And truly, they worked so hard at making me revive Sally that I don't think they were up to the task of convincing me to revive Mary. (Not that I'm hard to work with, or anything, it's just that I do have standards.)
So ... there's an inside peek to the workings of this author. Comments? From readers or other authors?
Next: Snags authors run into when writing historicals.
posted by Deeanne at 10:50 AM
Tuesday, March 28, 2006
My publisher, Bethany House, just sent me a copy of the ad they're going to be placing in magazines and such when The Measure of a Lady comes out in June. The graphic design artist who works on my ads is a really sweet gal by the name of Melinda. Didn't she do a great job?!
posted by Deeanne at 11:21 AM
Monday, March 27, 2006
We started a discussion on characters last week, which brought up these questions:
"Do you feel like your characters are friends, or acquaintances by the time you finish a book? People you know well, but maybe not 100%?"
Some characters I become really attached to and some I'm ready to "let go" of. I adored Drew, but by the end of Bride I was rather annoyed with Josh for holding onto his anger. I can't stand that. I'm one of these people that gets angry and then, *poof* it's over and all is well.
When Josh wallowed in his hurt, it exhausted me. ("All those negative vibes, man.") So, even though I am quite fond of Josh, I'm in no hurry to spend a whole 'nother year with him. So ... it may be a while before his story is written, if ever. (Mind you, I'm not saying NEVER, I'm just saying: not any time soon.)
"When you finish writing something do you feel--not like you know your character--but like you ARE your character?"
As far as "becoming" my characters, I don't do that exactly. What I do is I become grumpy when things aren't going well for them (which is most of the novel, otherwise you have no conflict). So for me, turning off the computer is a lot easier than turning off the emotions I've drummed up while writing. (Kind of like when you are reading a book and one of the characters does something that you are not pleased about and after you close the book because it's time to cook dinner your displeasure still sort of hangs around? It's like that.)
Anyway, popping in a CD of praise songs or reading His Word will usually take care of that pretty quickly for me. What do you do when your feelings about a character spills over into everyday living?
Next: Do I know exactly what's going to happen in my novel and when it's going to happen?
posted by Deeanne at 11:36 AM
Friday, March 24, 2006
We've Been Found Out
Well, looks like our footloose and fancy-free days are over. My husband has just discovered I have a website. He was out of town on business and during our daily phone call asked me what my web address was because "a friend wanted to know." The next day when he called he was quite surprised:
"Hey, I went to your website. I didn't know it was so fancy."
"You've never been to my website??" I asked.
"No. Was I supposed to have?"
I said nothing.
"I saw your blog," he said. "And I read about that trip you took to Europe. Did you put all those pictures and stuff on there?"
"How do you know how to do all that?"
"I'm one smart cookie."
"You posted a photo of me without permission. I'm suing."
Then, he sends me an obscene email via my website because he was hoping it wouldn't reveal who it was from and he was hoping to freak me out. (And it would have, too, but all the emails show who is sending them. So, I knew right away.)
Well. I got another "anonymous" email from him tonight claiming I was his destiny because my favorite book is To Kill a Mockingbird and his favorite book is Death of a Hummingbird. Then he tells me that it's just like a woman not to realize how ticked off Josh would be when he got dumped. Then he says he doesn't need to read a book to know what the measure of a lady is: 36-26-32!
If he figures out how to post a comment, we're goners because I guarantee you he will use a fake username and will post outrageous things knowing that I have to be polite and politically correct.
... Oh, no! Oh, no! I just checked my emails. There was one from him. He's trying to figure out how to post comments. [insert Beethoven's 5th]
posted by Deeanne at 8:13 PM
I'm a columnist for Romancing the Blog and today was my day to post. So, I'll forward you over there for today. Monday, we'll talk more about "Characters Having a Life of Their Own."
Have a great weekend and don't forget to enter our contest!
posted by Deeanne at 11:52 AM
Thursday, March 23, 2006
Characters on the Loose
A couple of days ago, Barb brought up an interesting question:
"Do your characters ever change unexpectedly as you're writing? Like a good girl becomes a bad girl, or a bad guy a good guy? That sorta thing, when it's not what you planned?"
The answer is yes and no. I write the plot out completely before I write the book (so I know how it ends). Because of that, I have character arcs for my good guys and my bad guys. It would mess up the whole novel if somebody switched saddles on me mid-stream. What occasionally happens, though, is a character will react to some event in an unexpected way.
For example, in Bride, when Josh returned from England after being betrayed by his finacee, I was so surprised to see how his bitterness came out in his dialog and actions. He was not at all the free-spirit he had been when he left. That was something that just sort of "happened" and I had not planned it.
Tomorrow we'll talk about whether or not events in the book pan out differently than I had planned.
posted by Deeanne at 12:28 PM
Tuesday, March 21, 2006
The ARC (Advanced Reader's Copy) for Lady came in the mail yesterday. This is basically a copy of the book in Word printed up and bound. (No fancy chapter headings, no fancy font. Just a type written manuscript printed and bound.) The publisher will print up a small number of these and send them to reviewers (so they can review your book in a timely manner) and to booksellers (so they can read the book in advance and be familar with it when it arrives in their store--just in case they want to, like, put it on the front table or something).
This version of the book is a little different from the real version because these ARCs (pronounced "arks") are printed before the "technical" edit is done. (A technical editor makes sure all your nouns and verbs agree. She makes sure your characters eye color remains the same throughout the book. She queries you about any historical facts she questions. That kind of thing.)
Also, these ARCs are printed up before I've given it the "final, final" read-through. So, in the case of Lady, I tightened up the opening scene quite a bit. The ARC doesn't reflect that. I changed some of the sentence structure throughout to make sure the book had a good "flow" to it. The ARC doesn't reflect that. I fixed the spot in the book where I forgot what color hair my character had and changed it from brown to black (or maybe it was black to brown--I can't remember). The ARC doesn't reflect that. I fixed what the technical editor asked me to fix. The ARC doesn't reflect that.
So ... that's what an ARC is. It also means that the real book is being put in the que for actual production. I'm starting to get excited!
posted by Deeanne at 11:42 AM
Monday, March 20, 2006
I've spent the entire weekend researching. I have read three thesis papers about the small town I am researching and am also making my way through four huge books that I purchased from the Historical Society. Each book is the size of an encyclopedia and about 400 pages long. I just finished the one on "Public Buildings, Historical Events & Early Businesses."
One down, three to go. Meanwhile, I have this book I'm supposed to be writing!!
Don't forget to enter our contest. I will be posting the winner of last month's contest soon. Our first two winners never responded, but I have heard from Alternate #3 and so I will have her photo for you and the answer to last month's question sometime this week.
posted by Deeanne at 11:49 AM
Friday, March 17, 2006
Going on site to research a book always brings some unexpected surprises. I drove to the small Texas town my 2007 book will be set in. First stop is always the library. Then the Historical Society. Between those two places, you gather the names of people in the community who are "in the know" and start calling on them. Along the way you stop at every historical marker you see, read it and take notes.
I met some pretty colorful characters. One fella wanted to show me a few artifacts he had out in the old brick yard. I figured we'd get in the car and drive over. Nope. The mode of transportation was a bit more exciting than that (see above photo).
And I bet y'all thought all us Texans still ride horses everywhere. Horses. Ha! ;-)
posted by Deeanne at 11:04 AM
Tuesday, March 14, 2006
Out of Office
I'm going to take a quick road trip to the small Texas town that my current book (by "current" I mean the one I am currently writing and the one that will come to a store near you in 2007) takes place in. I'm at the point in the book that I can't go any further until I do a real, live visit to the actual locale.
So, I will be back Friday and will let you know how it went. See ya then!
posted by Deeanne at 8:17 AM
Monday, March 13, 2006
There was a front page article in the Religion section of the Houston Chronicle this weekend about "Christian Friction." It featured some of our local authors who are writing edgy inspirational. I have yet to read any of the authors mentioned, but plan to stop by the book store and pick some of their stuff up.
I was especially encouraged to see that the article cited Book Industry Trends 2005 who predicted a 50 percent increase in religious book sales over the next five years. That's great news!
Here's the article. Thoughts?
posted by Deeanne at 2:05 PM
Friday, March 10, 2006
The mood is festive here in the Gist household as this is the last day of school before Spring Break. The college girl will be home soon, the three high schoolers have early release after their midterms today and the hubby is cutting out of work early.
Since I'm behind on writing book #3 and hubby has to work next week as well, we have no special plans to go anywhere. But the kids will be goin' and blowin' all week with their friends, I'm sure. I don't anticipate accomplishing much since the drums and electric guitars and keyboards and computers and TV will all be going at once. My only hope is to get up early and work like a trojan until they all roll out of bed in the mid-afternoons.
Have a great weekend and I'll see you Monday.
posted by Deeanne at 10:19 AM
Thursday, March 09, 2006
Well, I was asked to be a small group leader (facilitator would be more accurate, actually) for our ladies' Bible study this semester. I almost always say no to these types of things because if I said yes to everything, I'd get myself spread too thin. Besides, I'd never led one before and I wasn't certain I could do a very good job.
But, I prayed about it and ended up saying yes. We are on Week 5 now and I am having such a good time. All those skills I learned at Texas A&M with my education degree came rushing back and the next thing I knew we were all huddling around a map of Palestine and tracing the steps Christ took; we were looking up definitions in a Bible Dictionary; we were applying things taught in the New Testament to our lives today. It's just been so amazing.
And the gals in my group are so animated. They all do their homework and they participate and they ask questions. They really have a hunger and thirst for His Word. I never knew leading a group could be such a blessing.
So what about you? Are you doing a Bible study right now?
posted by Deeanne at 1:41 PM
Wednesday, March 08, 2006
Feature of the Month
This month the Blog Alliance is featuring Brenda Coulter's, A Family Forever.
"When a man who's sworn to protect his dead brother's fiancee discovers she's pregnant, he marries her, convinced that God will honor his good intentions and make the couple fall in love. But can it really be that simple?"
It's a Love Inspired by Steeple Hill and available in stores now.
posted by Deeanne at 12:43 PM
Monday, March 06, 2006
Home Again, Home Again
Since I ran out of money in Amsterdam, I had to travel 27 hours straight (and alone) this last leg of my journey home to Norway. I nibbled on the cheese and crackers I had stashed away, and tried--unsuccessfully--to sleep in my seat on the ferry to Denmark. Then I nibbled on more cheese and crackers, and tried--unsuccessfully--to sleep in my seat on the train to Norway.
When the train finally pulled into my home town (Stavanger), I was exhausted and had been without food and water for several hours. I couldn't call my parents to pick me up because I had no money (there were no cell phones back in 1981). Besides that, my parents weren't home. They had gone back to the States for a visit and weren't due for another week. (I'd returned a week early since I ran out of money.)
The walk from the train station to our house was way too far for me to attempt, so I dug around in my pockets and came up with some dust bunnies and a couple of Dutch coins. I boarded a city bus and dropped the Dutch coins in the little money receptacle by the driver. He became very agitated and started yelling at me in Norwegian. (I was suppose to use Norwegian kroner. This would have been like me trying to pay for a US bus trip across town with Canadian coins. Not a good thing.)
I had no idea what he was saying or any idea how to communicate I needed him to take me home for free. I was so hungry and so tired and so close to being home that I burst into tears. Now remember, I haven't showered or slept for 27 hours; I had that gargantuan backpack on and I had no way to get home. The girl in line behind me dropped my fare in the coin receptacle then gave the bus driver what-for. I have no idea what she said, but I was so over the top with fatigue, I started crying more. (I did manage to say "Takk," though.)
I cried all the way home. When I got off the bus, I walked the half mile to our empty house. My mom had hidden a key in a magnetic holder in the dryer vent. Unfortunately, I was too short to reach the dryer vent, and thus the key.
Yet another breakdown. I went next door--backpack and all--where a family by the name of Gist lived. They weren't merely neighbors. They also happen to be the parents of the boy I was madly in love with (though we were only dating at the time, not engaged). My future father-in-law answered the door. I didn't say "hello." I didn't say "I'm home." I just kept crying and said, "I can't reach the key!"
My father-in-law still tells the story of me arriving at their doorstep looking for all the world like a homeless waif. My boyfriend, Greg, was not in town, either. He was working in the States for the summer. But his little brother was home. (I use the word "little" lightly. His brother wasn't 6'5" like Greg, but was 6'1" or thereabouts.) His brother walked me home, retrieved the key from the dryer vent, unlocked the door and let me in.
And guess what was waiting for me on the entryway bureau? Thirteen letters from my sweet, adorable, beloved boyfriend. My world turned from pathetic to fantabulous in the blink of an eye. I thanked Greg's brother for walking me home. He made me promise to come over for dinner that night (which I did, only to find out my future father-in-law was totally annoyed. Seems while I had been receiving all these letters--and would continue to do so all summer long--Greg had not bothered to write his mom or dad at all. Not even once. Not good.) Anyhoo, I scooped up my letters, filled my very own tub with warm water and bubbles and spent the next hour reading letter after letter from my man.
Instead of removing the picture from my scrapbook and posting it on the blog, I thought these pages deserved to be scanned and posted in their entirety so you could see what Dee-as-a-twenty-year-old-in-love did on the final pages of her scrapbook.
And guess what? I married that precious man the very next year (which was 23+ years ago) and he gave me four wonderful children. Who says there's no such thing as "happily ever after?"
posted by Deeanne at 12:43 AM
Friday, March 03, 2006
Well, we've been to Norway, Denmark, Germany, Austria, Italy, Switzerland, France and today we make a stop in: Holland. DJ and I went to take a tour of the Heineken Brewery (which my boyfriend insisted was a must see), but it was closed. So, we went to Anne Frank's house. Closed. So we went on a canal ride. The guide didn't speak English.
So, we did what any American-bred college girls would do in a crisis: We went shopping. That's the good news. The bad news is: I spent every single bit of money I had. Literally. I had nothing left and I was 27 hours from home ("home" at the time, was Stavanger, Norway).
DJ, sweet soul that she is, bought me some bread, cheese, orange juice and mineral water. Then she gave me a hug, put me on a ferry and sent me home. She headed to England where her dad was stationed. At the end of the summer, we'd meet up again state-side at our apartment at Texas A&M.
For my shadow box, I bought this:Monday: The surprise I had awaiting me when I finally made it back to Norway.
posted by Deeanne at 11:48 AM
Thursday, March 02, 2006
This was my second time to visit Paris. (For those of you just joining us, we started this trip in Norway, 1981.) The first time I went to Paris, I stayed two weeks with my sister and her husband. They lived in Paris because my sister studied mime under Marcel Marceau. (My sister is really talented. Her husband is a fencer and jouster--but that's a whole 'nother story.)
This visit, I only had time for the tip of the iceburg: Eiffel Tower, Notre-Dame, Opera House. There are soooooo many things to see, it is hard to say what my favorites are, but I have to admit that Notre-Dame is an incredibly fascinating place.
The carved portals are mind-boggling, especially the central one that depicts the Last Judgment and has personifications of vices and virtues on the embrasures along with statues of the apostles. Paradise and Hell are carved around the curve of the arch. That gallery of statues running across the front of the cathedral are the 28 kings of Israel and Judaea.
Inside is this AMAZING circular stained-glass window depicting Christ in the act of benediction. He is surrounded by apostles, wise virgins and foolish virgins. Every piece of architecture and every sculpture has a special significance. Best of all, you had but to walk into the cathedral to feel the presence of the Lord. I could have spent hours and hours there.
Paris also has a miniature Statue of Liberty. It is about 35 feet high and mounted next to the Pont de Grenelle along the banks of the river Seine.
No visit to Paris would be complete without a visit to the Eiffel Tower. So, of course, we went. The photo above was taken way across the street from the Tower.
Here is what I got for my shadow box. The photo I have propped behind my miniature is one that I took from the second level of the actual Tower:Tomorrow: Amsterdam. Those of you who haven't entered our contest, be sure to do so!
posted by Deeanne at 12:43 PM
Wednesday, March 01, 2006
I lied. I said we were going to Paris today. But I forgot, we stopped off in Switzerland first. We actually spent 5 days there. (For more details on our jog through Europe, click here.) Interlaken, Switzerland had a youth hostel called "Balmar's" that was very popular with the Americans. So popular, in fact, we'd been hearing about it from other backpackers throughout our whole trip.
When we arrived, we found that Balmar's lived up to its legend. They had a juke box with American songs, a VCR that they played American movies on (for free) every night, a vending machine with cold soft drinks (an unheard of in Europe), English speaking owners and lots of American coeds. We immediately met up with a couple of guys from Penn State and a girl from Texas University. First thing on the agenda: a game of Spades.
Throughout the week, DJ and I visited neighboring towns, rode a horse-and-buggy, went up to the top of a mountain via a gondola and hiked down on foot, ate some Swiss chocolate and generally had a wonderfully relaxing week in the seat of one of the most beautiful of God's creations.
Here's what I picked up in Switzerland for my shadow box:Tomorrow ... two American girls in Paris--I promise!
posted by Deeanne at 10:57 AM
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