Monday, November 19, 2012

I know it's been a very long time since I wrote last, but things have been happening.  My official website is now live.  Check it out at  I'll still keep this blog for random posts of various kinds, but the website will be a nice central hub for everything.  My mom and I have been working on getting a new edition of our children's book, An Amazing Alphabetic Anthology, out and available.  You'll notice it's been added to the nifty widget on the right.  Also, I'm featured all this week on DelSheree Gladden's blog, The Edible Bookshelf.  Check it out!  There will be something different every day, ending with her review of Violet Shadows on Friday.  So...lots of stuff.  More later!  Happy Thanksgiving to everyone!

Friday, September 28, 2012

Follow Your Dreams...and Carry Bandages

People say, "Follow your dreams" all the time.  They say it with regret, as if speaking of something they wish they had done themselves.  Sometimes they say it hopefully, speaking of something they intend to do.

What they generally don't tell you is that this pursuit is not a joyous romp through Candyland.  They leave out the part about a desperate chase through nettle patches and bog-water, when your dream speeds by you so quickly that you're lucky if you're able to catch it by the tail and hold on for dear life.  They leave out the part about the road rash, the torn fingernails, the aching hunger for the thing that is always just out of your reach.

So here you go:

Follow your dreams.  It will be hard and painful.  You'll end up bruised, scarred, and exhausted.  But you have to trust that the chase is worth it.  You have to do it for love, so that when you're getting battered and bruised you can laugh through the pain because you'd rather be there in that place battling away than sitting on a cotton candy cloud somewhere eating Danish.  But do sometimes keep chocolate in your pocket.  It helps.

Take it from someone who's in the midst of the bruising process.

On a side note, Violet Shadows is free today on Kindle.  Whee...and also Ouch!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

MatadorU Chapter 1 Assignment -- Chewelah: A Walk to the Post Office

The crisp September air greets me as I step outside and shut the door behind me, slipping the letters to be mailed into my messenger bag.  I walk across the deck and down the steps to the sidewalk, enjoying the slight cool breeze after months of heat.  Crossing Washington Street, I head into town, passing the neighbor's junk heap, the largest and most spectacular of many about town, which contains everything from a broken-down golf cart to a mountain of black garbage sacks full of ancient aluminum cans.  From somewhere among the debris I can hear someone loudly expelling their morning phlegm.  Several houses down is a pristine turn-of-the-century almost-mansion towering over a lilac hedge.  A wrought iron lamppost overlooks a perfectly-kept lawn.  That's Chewelah.

I meander down tree-lined Webster, enjoying the way the huge roots of the maples have caused little eruptions in the sidewalk, as if Nature feels the need to remind civilization of its ultimate futility, as if the trees are saying, "We were here long before you came, and we'll remain long after you're gone."  Perhaps that shouldn't be comforting, but it is.

I cross the railroad bridge over Chewelah Creek, shaded by the surrounding willows.  Now I'm on Main Street, approaching the town's one stoplight.  In a couple of months there will be traffic heading up to 49 Degrees North, the local ski resort, but for now it's nearly as quiet as a ghost town.  One car wheezes by, an entire panel missing off its side.  The exposed frame looks like old bones.  I step into the crosswalk without waiting for the light, and continue down Main Street.

Beyond the drugstore on the corner, I find the new ballet studio.  It represents a triumph for the arts in Chewelah.  Ballet teacher Ann Marie Benedict has now taught in Chewelah for over twenty-five years, until recently giving her classes in a run-down gymnasium.

Why did she come to this tiny rural community?  Why did any of us come here?

A semi with a full load of fresh-cut pine logs roars by.  The driver grins, waves, and spews a brown fountain of tobacco juice out the open window.

Several streets down is the Flowery Trail Coffeehouse, where you can get your coffee specially roasted to your preference.  A little way beyond that is the park, where the local farmers' market sets up on Fridays.  We're proud of our farmers' market.  It's won the award for Best Small Farmers' Market in the State several years running.

We come for all different reasons.  Junk-heaps and phlegm aside, we stay for love.

I reach the post office and drop my letters in the outgoing box.  Then I turn for home.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Fashion and the Overactive Imagination

News first!  I'll be brief.

Thrilling development #1:  I've just enrolled in a travel writing course through MatadorU.  The course material looks amazing and I've already met some exciting new people!  I've been obsessed with good travel writing since the day I picked up a copy of Norman Lewis's book, Voices of the Old Sea, and fell in love.  My brother-in-law is also enrolled in Matador's travel photography program.

Thrilling development #2:  My latest project has been to produce a fresh new edition of the alphabet book which my mother and I collaborated on so many years ago.  It's coming together.  Look for it soon!

Finally, Stephanie, from the blog Layered Pages, was so kind as to interview me this week.  Thanks Stephanie!

...and now for the real post.


I recently stumbled over an article describing how one should dress in the case of a zombie apocalypse. Though the zombie motif is somewhat (translate: really) overdone, I am pleased to see someone taking a practical and imaginative view of fashion.  Said article also led me to examine my reasons for dressing the way I do.

I am of the opinion that clothes should always be comfortable, serviceable, and attractive.  I like to look nice, I like to be comfortable, and I like useful things.  I love pockets.  I also have an overactive imagination, the gift of a firefighting dad who is always analyzing possible emergency scenarios, and a mom who regularly met my remarks about guys I liked with, "He sounds nice, but you know they say Ted Bundy was a really charming man".  (This is not a complaint.  My mom has my eternal gratitude.  She probably saved me from getting into vans with serial killers.)  My parents are also advocates of always having walking shoes handy, the obvious result of driving old cars which had a habit of breaking down in inconvenient locations.  Thanks to their teaching and my own nature, I like to be prepared.  I also freely admit to watching too much Buffy the Vampire Slayer.  This leads to an inordinate amount of thinking, "There could be something supernatural and sinister down there."  Below are the three most important factors I tend to think of when I'm picking out clothes.

1. Flexibility is the most important feature.  Perhaps my ballet training is to blame for this one, but I don't feel comfortable unless I can heave my leg at least past waist level.  Thus, if I wear jeans they are loose-fitting or stretchy, and I'm a huge fan of flared skirts with tights or leggings.  Pencil skirts are the bane of my existence.  In the same way, I don't like shirts or jackets that restrict the movement of my arms.

2. Versatility is key.  Heels are your friends.  They double as weapons.  However, comfort is also important, as you might have to run in them.  Compromise is necessary.  I once saw a movie version of The Three Musketeers where two women pulled long, sharp hairpins out of their hair and dueled with them.  I remember nothing else about the movie, but that touch was genius.

3. If you get slightly tangled in it getting into a car, you'll tie yourself in knots fighting for your life in a dark alley.  Certain fashion fads confuse me, especially those involving lots of hanging things, be it fringe or what have you.  I don't want to struggle with my own clothing.  I'm clumsy enough without making it worse.

To clarify, I don't make a habit out of getting into fights in dark alleys, but I take comfort in the idea that if I ever did, I'd be prepared...and you know, if the Zombie Apocalypse does happen, my husband did get me a machete.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Greetings, lovely people!

Just a quick post to announce that Laurie Jenkins has been so kind as to interview me on her blog.  There's also a giveaway!

I've been working to set up an actual website, with a blog attached, as well as finishing up details for the audiobook of Ashford, and sundry other things.  Details on all that coming soon!

Monday, August 20, 2012

Video From the Book Launch

Thanks to Sean Taboloff for the video.  I think I'll forgive him for spelling my name wrong.  The video features my talented husband and our lovely friend Molly Kate Performing Leonard Cohen's Dance Me To The End Of Love.  If Aaron knew I was sharing this he would beg me to add that they had not rehearsed or performed together since the fourth of July, so it might seem a little rough.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Book Launch Friday - and Huckleberries case you couldn't tell from the post title, my book launch is coming up this Friday.  I'm having it at Flowery Trail Coffeehouse again, from 2 to 5 in the afternoon, and my husband is providing music.  The exciting part is that his new album has just become available, so we're turning the event into a sort of album release party as well., books, coffee...what else could you possibly want?

On the current writing front, I'm picking up some older projects which were left in the dust when Violet Shadows ran away with me.  Two of them are vying for my attention at present, so I'm not about to complain.  More on that as it develops.

Making a foray up into the mountains with my mother tomorrow to pick huckleberries. (for those of you who do not live in the Inland Northwest, yes, there is a berry called a huckle (berry) and they are delicious!)  We generally try to go several times every year in the late summer.  We then freeze most of the berries and hoard them like squirrels, metering them out carefully to make them last all winter.  You can buy them, of course, for $30 a gallon...but then you miss the fun of hiking all over the beautiful mountains looking for them and coming down with hands that look like you've murdered somebody...and you still have to pay $30.  Of course, I wouldn't sell mine at all, even for more than that, and you can tell how much I like you if you come to my house and I break into the huckleberry store...or not.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Recent Life in Photos

I have intended to write an interesting post for some time now.  I sit down, stare at the screen, and nothing happens, even though I come up with fabulous ideas in the shower or at the farmers' market.  Luckily, the new novel is being somewhat less problematic.  Oh, the difficulties involved in writing about real life!

In any case, today, for lack of great words, I'm using pictures.  (Just a side note, there is only one day left to enter to win a signed copy of Violet Shadows.  See the widget on the right.)

 Our latest dance project was a tribute to "The Ballerina Project" and Jordan Matter Photography's "Dancer's Among Us," which both portray dancers in unlikely locations.  Here it is Chewelah style.

Mallorie, aside from being a lovely ballet dancer, is also a red belt in Taekwando.  Don't mess with her.

 Inspecting the engine of my parents' 1941 GMC.

...and as a bonus, here is Ferdinand making friends with our new puppy, Leo.

Monday, July 30, 2012


I'm doing a giveaway through Goodreads for three signed copies of Violet Shadows.  Follow the nifty widget on the right to enter.  The giveaway is open until August 12th.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Violet Shadows!

I only have time for a quick little post to say that my novella, Violet Shadows, is officially available.  The Amazon link is on the top right of this page.  Coming soon for Nook as well!  More later.  I promise.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Concerning Baldness...and Inside-Out Nightmares

So, I had my head-shaving party on Friday, and now Aaron and I are both bald as eggs.  The reports are in for June, and I will be donating just over $100 to the UICC.  Not so great as I hoped, but not terrible either.

Again, what surprises me, though it probably shouldn't any more, is how wonderful I feel without hair.  Judging from the various facial expressions of those around me, I'm not the only one surprised by this fact.  Some pretend not to notice anything different; some openly stare; some shake their heads; some suddenly appear intensely interested in something else...but my favorites are the ones who break into irrepressible grins.  It seems to me that somehow they understand.  I feel at my best this strongest.  I feel thoroughly myself.

I believe it was Emerson who said: "We acquire the strength we have overcome."  He couldn't have said it better.  Really, in that way, the closer something comes to killing you, the more you have to thank it for.  But only if you can drum up the courage to turn the nightmare inside out.  Perhaps that's a barbarous way to think of it, but it's how I see it.  The more we wallow in our own pain, or relax in our own pleasure, the weaker we become, but if we can turn our tragedies into triumphs and come out laughing, we become the best, strongest, and most honest versions of ourselves.  Maybe that's why I feel at my best this way. It's my inside-out nightmare.

In any case, it feels kind of awesome, especially considering the hot weather we've had recently.  And you don't have to worry about doing your hair in the morning, or using too much shampoo, or getting tangled when you drive with the window down.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

The Plunge...and a Taste of Violet Shadows

You know that first swim of the year?  You go to the lake, or the river.  The sun is out, and the water looks so inviting, so you step in.  Then you realize how cold the water is, and you stand there in the shallows for a few minutes while your feet get numb and you try to decide what to do next.  Do you stay in the shallows, half wet and half dry, half cold and half warm, or do you take the plunge all at one go, get the shock over with so that then you can enjoy yourself?

My life lately has been rather similar to this, or seemed so.  So many things have been going on, opportunities presenting themselves all at choices seem to be to say yes to everything, to take the plunge, or to pick and choose, remain safe and sane...but also less fulfilled. I'm taking the plunge.

First of all, Violet Shadows has hit its stride in production.  The final edits are in, and the whole process is moving along at an alarming (yet delightful) speed.  The proof is ordered, and I should have it in hand next week.

I have the opportunity to release Ashford as an audiobook, an option I hadn't even really considered until recently.  It's in production now, and should be available in early August through,, and iTunes.  I'm very excited about this, and very grateful to Miss Amy Burzak, who will be doing the narration.

This Thursday we're performing again, centerstage in the Chewelah Park for Chataqua, Chewelah's big annual festival.

This Friday is my ten-year celebratory head-shaving party.  Huzzah!  Had to wait until after Thursday, as performing classical ballet with a shaved head covered in henna tattoos might not look quite right.

My sister and I may be going to Hawaii in early August for a cousin's wedding.  Still working out the details.

Meanwhile, my brain is going mad with ideas for the next novel.

So...all things taken together, I'm floating.  The water is cold, and a little scary, and I may be covered in goosebumps, but I'm floating, not sinking, and things are coming together.

I'll leave you with a preview of Violet Shadows.  Thank you to the wonderful Katherine Owen for the splendid early review!

Melanie Rose delivers, once again, with her new novella, Violet Shadows. Picking up from the story-line of her debut novel Ashford, the author focuses upon Violet Creeley, who has left behind her life in beloved England because of the unexpected violent death of her brother Tristan. In Violet Shadows, Violet has taken on a new identity as "Marie Severin" and joined the French Resistance. As is characteristic of Rose's writing, the author focuses upon the little nuances within her story-line that make it both refreshing and distinctive. Readers are soon pulled into Marie's new world, which is inundated with distrust and great fear, during the turbulent times of World War II, in her newly adopted country of France. With her usual literary flare for finding poignancy within ordinary characters that become extraordinary and extends beyond the page, readers will admire Marie's courage as she bravely serves the French Resistance and lives with the constant danger. Nothing is quite what it seems, and soon, Marie must make a choice between the cause and the individual. 

What makes Melanie Rose's literary work a standout is the way she portrays and develops her characters, illustrates their humanity in distinguishable and unexpected ways, and writes prose as if playing classical music. What a delightful read! The story-line is captivating as well as poignant with just the right amount of twists and turns that will hold a reader's interest. If you enjoy historical fiction that is full of promise and redemption and love a story-line where characters must discover for themselves what it means to choose and love someone beyond the cause and the war, you'll love Violet Shadows.

-Katherine Owen, Author of Seeing Julia, Not To Us, and When I See You

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Good News, and a Reminder

To start with the good news, Ashford has been selected as a B.R.A.G. Medallion honoree.  B.R.A.G. stands for Book Readers Appreciation Group, and they focus on indie books.  Books are nominated, then read carefully by the member readers before being selected or denied.  I'm very pleased that they have chosen Ashford to be a Medallion winner.  Groups like this really help separate the good from the bad when it comes to independently-published books.  Click on the link for more information:  

So that's the good news.  Huzzah!  

A reminder: we only have a few more days left in June, so only a little bit longer to buy a copy of Ashford and have 75% of the proceeds go to the Union for International Cancer Control.  If you missed the first post, you can find it below.  Click on the link to the right to find out more about the UICC and what they do.  And thank you so much to the people who have already helped out!


Monday, June 18, 2012

An Update (Or Two) And a Princess

I really must apologize (again) for my recent comparative silence on this blog.  Our show on the 10th was a rousing success.  We were only a few tickets away from selling out, and we got a standing ovation.  Pleased?  Yes!  But I'm also going through withdrawals because I can't do it again tomorrow.

Aaron and I have added a new family member (photos below).  His name is Leo, and he claimed my heart the minute I saw him in a bin at the feed store waiting for someone to take him home.  As you can see from the photo on the right, he and Ferdinand are not yet the best of friends, but they are developing a mutual respect.

Thank you so much to everyone who has purchased my book in June, shared my last blog post, or in other ways helped to spread the word about my ten-year celebration plans.  I have not brought in as much as I hoped, but neither have I done as badly as I feared, and there is still the second half of the month to go.  I really am very grateful for everyone's continued support and encouragement.  I really believe in the UICC and what they do, and would be honored to contribute to their cause.  I'll leave you with a speech by Princess Dina Mired of Jordan, whose son had leukemia at the age of two, and who works with the UICC, as well as setting up and directing a cancer care center in Jordan.  A wonderful example of a powerful woman using her position for the greater good.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Celebrating Ten Years in June

This is it.  I've been thinking and planning, and now it's happening.  This month I'm officially celebrating my 10th anniversary of being cancer-free, and for all sales of Ashford reported this month I will be donating 75% of my proceeds to the Union for International Cancer Control (UICC).  

UICC is a global cancer-fighting organization, and they work with smaller member organizations throughout the world, including the American Cancer Society.  I am truly impressed by their scope and the work they have done, particularly with their efforts to provide treatment and pain medication in developing countries.  I am thoroughly aware of the fact that I would not be alive today if I had not had the good fortune to live in a place where treatment was readily available.  Whatever my thoughts on our health care system (and most of you know what those are) I am very grateful for the care I received.  I have been blessed, and I would like to share that.  To learn more about UICC and what they do, follow the nifty link on the upper right side of this page.  Look at their website, sign the declaration, watch some of their videos...

This goes for paperback, Kindle, sales online through Amazon, or sales through a physical bookstore.  For those of you who live near me, Ashford is in stock at Flowery Trail Coffeehouse and Valley Drug in Chewelah, or Coffee and Books in Town Center in Colville.  It is also available by request wherever books are sold, and the link is to the right of this page, right under the UICC link.

For obvious reasons this is a cause which is very dear to me, and I would appreciate any assistance in spreading the word, whether you tell your friends verbally, share this link on your Facebook pages, tweet it, etc...  

I am also planning to shave my head the second week in July, and my sister is coming to cover it in henna tattoos.  Expect pictures.

Thank you all for reading my blog, and for the support you have already given me.  I would have loved to have Violet Shadows ready in time for this, but it was not to be.  Maybe a teaser in July?  Cheers!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Rainwater and the Human Eye

This afternoon I paid tribute to the first warm rain of the year, by cavorting through puddles in the streets of Chewelah.  There's something about a warm rain, about getting soaked to the skin, which makes me happy like a lunatic child.  And now my neighbors are probably even more thoroughly convinced than before of my state of insanity.  However, I have come to the conclusion that people will scrutinize you whatever you do, so why not do or wear or be something worth their while?  People watch the Kardashians.  They also watch Cirque du Soleil.  I'm pretty sure I know which one I'd rather be.

Growing up, I always thought that nobody noticed me.  Not to pine, or say, "Oh poor me!"  It was a simple fact in my mind.  I did not think myself very noticeable, so I assumed that I was not noticed.  Gradually, as I opened my eyes a bit more, I realized that I was noticed, not necessarily because I was noticeable, but because people will look at anything.  Car wrecks or doesn't really matter.

Aaron and I often walk about town.  (A boring sentence, as walking about town is a perfectly normal thing to do.)  But we are constantly amazed by the number of people who will go out of their way to stare at in full-on neck-crane out the car window.  Granted, sometimes we are doing strange things, but as often as not we're just...walking.  No toilet paper stuck to our shoes, no disfiguring scars, no strange behavior...

So, for a while the realization that people watch you no matter what you do made me curl up inside myself, made me afraid to do anything that might seem unusual.  Then, gradually, I came to the decision that if people are going to watch me anyway, I'd rather give them something interesting to look at.  Don't misunderstand me.  I still have inhibitions.  Some fairly major ones.  But I'd rather be the person you see traipsing through the puddles with a ridiculous smile on her face than the one hunched over with her head down.  I'd rather be Cirque du Soleil than the Kardashians.  I'd rather be a cathedral than a car wreck.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Happy Mother's Day!

Wishing everyone a very happy Mother's Day!  Ashford is free on Kindle today, so if you'd like to pick up a copy for your mother...

Aaron and I spent last night at a book fair in support of the Libraries of Stevens County.  The turnout was not quite so nice as we could have hoped, but it was enjoyable, and I had the chance to meet other local authors.  As an afterthought I threw in our remaining copies of An Amazing Alphabetic Anthology, the book which I wrote and my mother illustrated years ago, and it turned into the surprise hit of the night, with nearly everybody toting them around.  My mother and I have been scheming for some time about putting out a new edition, redoing some of the letters we weren't as happy with and putting it out in paperback to reduce the expense.  Look for it sometime in the coming year.  I'm posting a link below for Aaron's music page, where he just added a new song, Dying Day, which he wrote for his parents.  Seems appropriate for today.  Cheers!  Now go spoil your mothers.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Short Review: Walk to Paradise Garden, By John Campbell

Walk to Paradise Garden, by John Campbell, was a very enjoyable read, with an attention to historical detail which left me feeling as I do when I walk through a nice antiques shop, full of snapshots of lives which make me curious to know more.  The story follows the life of humanitarian John Armitage, from his early twenties as a stretcher-bearer in Belgium during the first world war, to his death.  Without spoilers, I can say this is a story which takes you all over the globe.  The novel is episodic, almost giving the impression of a collection of short stories, but with continuous threads running through which keep you going from one to the next.  The writing style is fairly smooth and old-fashioned, which I like, with a good balance between active scenes and scenes of a more personal nature.  Altogether, a book for the head and the heart, with a healthy dose of nostalgia thrown in.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Chewelah in the Spring: Earth and Inspiration

I took a walk through town today.  May is probably my favorite month out of the whole year.  I love watching the colors suddenly explode.  There is a wind blowing today, and you can smell all the flowering trees at once wherever you go.  Our garden is getting better by degrees each year, and the berry bushes are thriving.  We take Ferdy out in the grass sometimes and let him run around.  He likes to snuffle about for a while, then always ends up nosing around in our clothing.

I've had a writing surge lately, and am hoping to finish my first draft of Violet Shadows by early June.  Then comes the rewriting and editing process.  I'm hoping to publish in the autumn again, around October sometime if all goes well and my characters don't decide to do something outlandish out of the blue.  On Saturday I'm taking part in a book fair with the Libraries of Stevens County.  It's being held at the golf course.  A good venue, but it does feel a little strange after last summer to be going up there in a capacity that doesn't involve serving beer.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Blood, Sweat, and Tears: A Panegyric

This post is dedicated to some of the hardest-working people I know and some of my dearest friends: my fellow dancers.  Yes, we are amateurs, but we are also passionate about ballet, and particularly during rehearsal season it often feels as if we live at the studio.  From the days when you feel light as a feather, to the evenings you can hardly move, to the nights when you've danced so long that your brain starts bouncing around like a drunken circus spend it all with the same people, and in the end they come to know you in a way few other people can.  There is a bond which grows when you've sweated and laughed and cried and bled side by side with someone.  For me, I always feel that with those people I hold no secrets.  I mean, there may be details about events in my life they don't know about, but of myself, my intrinsic me-ness, there is nothing hidden.  They've seen me at my worst and at my best.  My friend Jocelyn and I used to say that you had to be yourself in class because it is impossible to hide anything under those clothes.  I believe that statement began in a physical sense, in reference to some people's use of padding on certain parts of the anatomy, but it works in the psychological sense as well. :-)

Martha Graham said that "movement never lies" and I've found that to be true.  You can lie to yourself and others, but it is your body that gives you away.  Everybody can feel this, in a blush, in goosebumps, in hands that shake when the mind is gripped by fear.  In a dancer this is magnified.  You cannot sit on your hands to hide the shaking.  You must use your hands, your arms, your legs, every part of you, and in doing so you bare your soul to the audience. If you try to hide it, half your energy will be spent in the hiding and much of the beauty will be lost.

After a time you just love it.  Sometimes you can't remember why, but you don't want to be anywhere else.  And there is always that moment.  The dance is finished, your heart is racing, you've completed the last step, and there is a moment of silence before the audience begins to applaud.  All the best parts of living are contained in that moment.  You've fought, you've sacrificed, and now you've won.

So I would like to raise a glass to some amazing fellow dancers, past and present, and to our incredible (and incredibly demanding) teacher, Ann Marie Benedict.  Here's to another year of striving for an unachievable perfection; another year of blood, sweat, and tears; another year of camaraderie and laughter.  Here's to life, and dance.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

IWU Cookbook

Apparently I am making up for my recent spell of silence on this blog.  I suppose it is a good thing...the making up, not the silence.  I didn't have room in my somewhat lengthy post yesterday to inform the world at large (or rather the world at small, since seventeen followers can hardly be called "large") about a project I've recently become involved with through an awesome group of people known as Indie Writers Unite.  The founder of this mutual encouragement society, Cheryl Bradshaw, has been putting together a cookbook, featuring a number of members, their books, and tasty recipes.  It should be available later this month on Kindle and in paperback form, and it features my recipe for Lemon Syllabub with Raspberries.

The usual question people will ask themselves between these two paragraphs is, "What on earth is Syllabub?"  To them I say, "Syllabub is heaven in a parfait glass" and then I smile mischievously and tell them to buy the cookbook.  As an added bonus, half the proceeds go to UNICEF, so in buying it you're supporting children in need and filling your bellies besides.  And that is my sales pitch.

Friday, April 13, 2012

A Question of Intent

First of all, Ashford is free on Kindle today.  Happy Friday the thirteenth!

Lately I have started writing study guides for a curriculum program.  It's a great side job, as I get to reread some of my favorite children's classics (and young adult) and write about them.  The study guides focus on story structure, character, theme, literary devices, etc...

One thing that constantly comes up is the question of symbolism, and for every children's classic written there are hundreds of people willing to tell you all about what the author intended in that department.  My most recent experience was with The Velveteen Rabbit, and I heard so many different ideas concerning the possibly symbolic nature of certain passages (even one claiming that the fact that Skin Horse and the Rabbit are made Real but the mechanical toys are not is symbolic of salvation not being for everyone) that it boggled the mind.

In study guides, certainly, the question is always, "what did the author intend?" and you go from there.  And that brings me to Tolkien.

I must confess, I am a Tolkien nerd.  Always have been, since I was old enough to read the books the first time, and always will be, until I'm blind and senile.  Twice in the last year I have been present at writing-related seminars or workshops where statements were made, as fact, concerning Tolkien's supposed intent of comparing Sauron to Hitler, Mordor to Nazi Germany, etc...  Both were phrased as, "Tolkien created Mordor to represent..."  This bothers me extremely, because Tolkien stated very clearly in his lifetime that he intended no such comparison.  In the preface to the (I believe second) edition of The Fellowship of the Ring, he says:

"As for any inner meaning or "message", it has in the intention of the author none.  It is neither allegorical nor topical.  As the story grew it put down roots (into the past) and threw out unexpected branches; but its main theme was settled from the outset by the inevitable choice of the Ring as the link between it and The Hobbit.  The crucial chapter, "The Shadow of the Past", is one of the oldest parts of the tale.  It was written long before the foreshadow of 1939 had yet become a threat of inevitable disaster, and from that point the story would have developed along essentially the same lines, if that disaster had been averted.  Its sources are things long before in mind, or in some cases already written, and little or nothing in it was modified by the war that began in 1939 or its sequels.

"The real war does not resemble the legendary war in its process or its conclusion.  If it had inspired or directed the development of the legend, then certainly the Ring would have been seized and used against Sauron; he would not have been annihilated but enslaved, and Barad-dur would not have been destroyed but occupied.  Saruman, failing to get possession of the Ring, would in the confusion and treacheries of the time have found in Mordor the missing links in his own researches into Ring-lore, and before long he would have made a Great Ring of his own with which to challenge the self-styled Ruler of Middle-earth.  In that conflict both sides would have held hobbits in hatred and contempt: they would not long have survived even as slaves.
"Other arrangements could be devised according to the tastes or views of those who like allegory or topical reference.  But I cordially dislike allegory in all its manifestations, and always have done so since I grew old and wary enough to detect its presence.  I much prefer history, true or feigned, with its varied applicability to the thought and experience of readers.  I think that many confuse "applicability" with "allegory"; but the one resides in the freedom of the reader, and the other in the purposed domination of the author."

That seems fairly definite.

Of course, a good, well-concieved and well-written book will present different ideas to each person who reads it.  Some will agree with the author and some won't.  That is how it should be, and I'm thoroughly honored by anyone who sees my work as relevant to their life in a particular way.  Just don't say I wrote it to say exactly that...because I probably didn't.  Thus the "applicability" vs. "allegory" reasoning.  Thank you Tolkien.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Pet Peeves

Everyone has pet peeves, those little things that make them want to scream, grind their teeth, and get out the throwing knives.  I don't think I'm unusual in this respect, only perhaps in the individual peeves themselves.  Some are writing related.  Some are not, but this is officially a hodge-podge blog, so you get them all.

1.  "So, which character are you?"  This question pertaining to a memoir is one thing, but if you're writing fiction this is one of the most annoying questions you can be asked.  For me, there is a little bit of me in every single character that I write, but every character is also a mix of many different traits, characteristics, and physical attributes, some from people of my acquaintance, some from strangers, others purely imaginary.  The process is much like cooking. You keep throwing in different things and sampling until it tastes right.  You use imagination and personal experience in about equal measure, and the insight that comes from personal experience is generally used in reference to something completely alien to the experience that produced it in you.  We've all experienced the gag reflex.  Just because your trigger is blood sausage doesn't mean your character can't experience it in relation to asparagus.  Otherwise, we would all write memoirs.  The idea that one character is "you" and the rest are "other people" is very limiting, not to mention unimaginative.  I have quite a bit in common with Anna, but there are ways in which we are entirely dissimilar, and it is the same in varying degrees with my other characters.

2. "Hubby" and related terms of endearment.  The sound of this word makes me bristle, much like Ferdy when he is startled.  I can feel the quills rise.  Luckily, my husband shares this particular peeve.  We are not terms of endearment people.  As anyone who has read last year's Valentine's Day post may recall, I also have a special aversion to being called anything food-related (cupcake, muffin, sugar, etc.) because I am not edible, except to cannibals, and even to them I'm sure I wouldn't taste like any of those things.  Maybe chicken.

3.  Misplaced apostrophes.  They are everywhere.  It's an epidemic, but the worst was in an article I read recently about "the problems with indie authors".  They listed all the usual issues, all the things that nearly kept me from going indie, such as poor editing, lack of gatekeepers, etc...  They are all viable arguments.  I've seen some dreadful indie books.  I've also seen some exceptionally good ones.  So what nettled me about the article was not their reasoning, though they had a clear bias, but the fact that they misplaced an apostrophe in the article.  There they were, going on righteously about poor editing and lack of gatekeepers...and then they referred to self-published authors as "the last of the starving artist's."  Groan!  An article which has clearly been professionally edited, particularly an article criticizing anyone for a lack of editorial diligence, should not provide a loophole in its own theory.

4.  Jumpsuits and rompers.  Why are they coming back in?  They don't look attractive on anyone.  I am particularly amused by the clothing catalogues which attempt to portray tight at the ankle, baggy in the butt jumpsuits as "sexy".  My dad's grease-stained coveralls would be sexier on a woman than that.

And while we're on the clothing topic:

5.  Some people's hangups about male ballet dancers' costumes.  They wear tights because they need full range of motion so they can do amazing things like, oh, splits in the air!  It's not their fault that that's where some people's eyes go.  The thing I find especially odd is that many of the same people who have issues with male ballet dancers will watch wrestling without complaint.  Wrestlers wear spandex onesies and roll about on the ground groping each other.  I have no problem with wrestlers, I am merely pointing out the contradiction.  In my mind the ability to carry a woman over your head on one hand and make it look effortless wins out as a display of strength.

There are more, certainly, but I can't gripe all day and I think I'm done now.  No offense intended to anyone.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Another Interview

I am one of the featured authors this week on Amy Manemann's site.  Check it out if you're interested and let me know what you think.  It's always a privilege to be interviewed by other authors.  Thank you Amy!

This weekend was exceptionally chaotic.  Really, it hardly felt like a weekend at all.  My husband played a show Friday night, my sister was visiting from Portland, my friend Lexie was home from college and her younger sister was competing for Chewelah's Junior Miss competition (though apparently they call it Distinguished Young Women now, though it's the same thing) on Saturday.  She won, by the way, as she should.  Then Sunday I drove my sister to the airport.  We left early and stopped to meet a friend for coffee, then, when we were ready to leave again, Gerry refused to start.  He had been running beautifully all the way there.  Of course, it wasn't a dead battery or anything simple, and even my dad's mechanic friend who came to our rescue couldn't find the problem then and there but had to tow it away to his house so he could examine it more closely.  But of course we still had to get my sister to the airport, so Aaron had to drive down in his car and we managed to get her there in time for her to catch the last flight of the day.  So, success in the end, but all factors combined to make the weekend rather exhausting.  And now Gerry is gone, hopefully to be reborn from the ashes soon like a black, worn, and dented phoenix.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

A Mishmash of News

I am just home from spending the weekend in Portland.  The daffodils were blooming, and the flowering trees.  Two days of gloriously sunny spring weather, and two days of rainy spring weather.  Balance.  Balance is good.  Yesterday, my first day home, we had a blizzard.

I left my characters in a rather uncomfortable position when I went to Portland, and now I have to jerk myself back out of vacation mode and write them out of it.  I know where I need them to go, but I got out of the right mindset and must work my way back into it with the aid of coffee and solitude.  The poor things need to be rescued.

I made the move recently and joined KDP Select, so Ashford is available now for Amazon Prime members through the Kindle Lending Library, and I will have periodic free promotion days, of which today is the first.  So far today I've given away over five hundred copies for the promotion and Ashford is #7 in free historical fiction.  I'm just pleased that it's getting out to so many people.

We're starting rehearsals next week for our June show, and I've been commissioned to create several costumes for it.  I also have to finish choreographing my solo.  It's the first dance I've choreographed for a show, so I'm rather excited and nervous about that.  Of course, Ann is helping me polish it up.  I wouldn't dream of just throwing it on stage without the sort of polishing only Ann can give.  We'll see how that goes.

I'm planning a summer book promotion to coincide with my ten-year celebration of being cancer-free.  The plan is to donate all proceeds from Kindle sales for a certain time range to the Union for International Cancer Control, and then finish it off with a head-shaving party.  I'll post updates on here and on Facebook once I know more details, and I may be asking for help spreading the word, if anyone's interested.

And now...back to the novel!

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

This week I have the privilege of visiting two local schools for Read Across America week.  I spent five hours yesterday at Riverside Elementary, shuttled back and forth between about ten different classrooms talking to the kids about being an author, reading to them, and answering their questions.  I was one tired girl by the end of the day, but it was definitely worth it.  The kids were great, and most of them had plenty of questions, which is what I like the best.  With Q and A, you always know you're talking about things that the kids are really interested in, rather than just rattling on and on in a prepared monologue about things that they may or may not care about.

I did some readings too, some from our alphabet book, some from books they had in the classrooms, and I brought Edward Lear's poem, The Jumblies, as well.  It's always hard for me to choose something to read aloud to a room full of children, because I liked rather odd things as a child, Victorian nonsense poetry being near the top of that list, and can never assume that the liking will transfer.  The language is certainly not that of modern children's books, but I never liked many modern children's books, preferring anything that assumed a certain level of intelligence.  In any case, The Jumblies was a hit overall.  One little boy especially enjoyed it, and told me he didn't want me to leave when I got up to go to the next class.  It was only after I was all done for the day that the principal told me that that particular boy was usually very difficult and always claimed that he couldn't read or didn't like reading.  That was my triumph of the day.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

To Tweet Or Not To Tweet

I know Twitter is old news.  I have become painfully aware of late that for an author peddling their wares to not have a Twitter account is becoming nearly as rare as writing on papyrus.  In exploring online marketing tools for writers I have come across a growing number of sites offering to spread the word about your book or your website.  "Just tweet your info to..."

I don't want to!

Why am I feeling so rebellious on this subject?  It's hard to say exactly.  Partly, I suppose I am just old-fashioned, though there are other reasons.  As it is, there are so many tools available for book promotion that I have to make myself stop, or the next novel would never be written and I would lose myself in web pages and end up stuck in an author's cafe somewhere tangled in karmic chains.  (By the way, karmic chains are wonderful things, but they can get distracting.)  So the first reason is:

1. Time, obviously, and complication.

2. I'm turning into more and more of a hermit.  Oh, I love people, but I also like running away from them.  I like being alone, having time to think, and I find that I'm much nicer in company if I've spent a nice long day on my own ahead of time.  I realize the days of the reclusive writer are over, but this blog and a Facebook page are relatively easy to avoid if avoidance is required for my peace of mind.  But the more connected to the world I become, the more I long sometimes to rid myself of it all and run away somewhere, perhaps the Channel Islands, to scrawl novels with pen and ink, possibly on papyrus.

3. I have a crippling fear of turning into one of those people who tweet uncomfortably personal details of their lives, or stuff that's just plain boring.  Would I, for lack of subject, end up tweeting every time I trim my fingernails or find something spoiled in the back of the refrigerator?  Doubtful, perhaps, but terrifying to contemplate.

4. I'm mulishly stubborn, often about the most pointless things, but I get a considerable amount of satisfaction out of not giving in.  What is the the point of this free will of mine if I don't use it?

These may all be very feeble reasons, but there they are.  Anyone with any arguments for or against please feel free to comment.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

The Life of Charles Dickens (BBC)

To make up for my brief post from yesterday, here is a delightful cartoon of Dickens' life. Enjoy!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Wishing a very happy 200th birthday today to the one and only Charles Dickens!  Yes, he's been mouldering away under a stone in Westminster Abbey for 142 years, but his works still stand and his characters live forever.

Brief eulogy, yes, but I'm late for class!  Cheers!

Friday, February 3, 2012

Dear People Who Follow My Blog,

I must apologize for my long delay.  That last post kind of took all the blogging energy out of me for a little while.  That, and I've been concentrating on the new novel and the dancing and really neglecting everything else.  We have a show coming up next week, so I've been writing in the mornings and then tearing off to rehearse like mad.  The consequent pile of sweat and bandaids and sore muscle rub which is myself does not feel much like blogging.  But rehearsals have turned the corner from the "it's going to be an epic disaster" phase, and are now on to the euphoric "it's all coming together" phase, and that's splendid!

So last night, a little after midnight, after a long, convoluted dream that seemed to go on forever...I got up to make breakfast.  I don't know why.  I remember looking at the clock, but the numbers didn't register.  My brain just said, "make breakfast" so I did...well, started to anyway.  I'd just embarked on the toasting and the slicing when Aaron walked into the kitchen and asked what I was doing.  I paused, knife in hand, said, "making breakfast" like it was the obvious thing, and then looked at the clock.  I was awake enough at that point to understand what the numbers were trying to tell me, and shamefacedly set down the knife and returned to bed.  And now I know what I would be like as a zombie.  I'd be the zombie you find in your kitchen in the middle of the night frying brains in an iron skillet.

Speaking of zombies, I must offer my congratulations to Victoria Dunn, of the awesomely snarky blog Handmade By Mother (the link should be on the right side of my page) who has recently scored a publishing contract with the Canadian publisher The Workhorsery, for her novel, Alice Hearts Welsh Zombies.  I'm not always up for the zombie craze, but this is a book I will be buying.  After all, it takes place in Wales, and involves bog-snorkling!


Wednesday, January 18, 2012

That Post On The Healthcare System

I realized something today.  I realized that I've been putting off blogging, primarily because I had promised a post on the healthcare system, which I felt unequal to for a number of reasons.  One is a lack of organization, one a distaste for controversy, but primarily I've been avoiding the subject here because it involves going back there, and there is a place I've successfully managed to steer clear of for several years now.

However, I do think what I have to say needs to be said, and luckily it is not up to me to offer the perfect solution to solve all our problems and create a disease and debt-free paradise.  I can only point out the problems as I see them.  Sit back and relax.  This promises to be a longish post.

I was sixteen years old when I was diagnosed with stage three (stage four being worst-case, stage one best) Hodgkins Lymphoma, a cancer of the lymph system.  It came out of nowhere for our family.  Someone later made a remark to my mother, as if it was something she should have done, about how they were "concentrating on prevention" themselves.  Now, my sister and I lived about the healthiest lives possible.  We lived on the side of a mountain, breathed clean air, climbed trees, ran around in fields, not to mention having ballet classes every week.  My mother cooked everything we ate from scratch, we drank soda perhaps once a year.  We were always healthy, and because we were always healthy, when our family couldn't afford health insurance, just about the time I turned sixteen, it didn't seem like a big loss.  I couldn't remember the last time I'd been to the doctor.

My dad was (well, still is) an airborne firefighter.  Not with a silly little helicopter either.  He flies different planes now, but at the time, in fact for the first eighteen years of my life, he flew a WWII bomber (a PBY Catalina for the technically inclined) which had been adapted to carry water.  It was a beautiful plane...but my thoughts on aviation shall be saved for another post.  He was (and is) a hero to many, certainly to those whose homes he saved from the flames.  So much for those who like to imagine that all people who can't afford health insurance are useless layabouts.  Incidentally, both of my parents are also college-educated, intelligent people who don't say "ain't".

So much for the background.  We fell into that larger-than-politicians-like-to-admit category of people who fall through the cracks.  We did not qualify for the state programs, but the cost of conventional health insurance would have drowned us.  We already lived frugal lives as it was, and once I was diagnosed it wouldn't have mattered anyway.  Conventional health insurance companies have a useful little thing they call a "waiting period for pre-existing conditions" which means that, when you sign up for your policy, anything you were diagnosed with when you signed up is not covered for the span of time known as the "waiting period", usually six to nine months.  During that time, you pay your premiums, and they pay nothing.  If we had taken that route, none of my treatments would have been covered, and we would have been paying them premiums on top of my already huge medical bills.  My mother (a true gem among women) spent hours on the phone and online researching our options.  In the end we took the only option that didn't involve us selling everything we owned to pay my medical bills.  My dad took a voluntary pay cut, which put us down to the income bracket where I qualified for the state program.

I want to make it quite clear here and now that I have nothing against the doctors.  I had the most wonderful doctor that anyone could ask for through my whole ordeal, and he fought for me tooth and nail on many occasions.

And now we come to a special pet peeve of mine, called the "amount allowed".  (There really is a euphemism for everything.)  This simply means that when the medical provider bills the insurance company, the insurance company will not pay more than a certain amount.  Then you (assuming you have insurance) pay a percentage of that amount.  I have in my hands an old explanation of benefits from my old insurance company for an office visit a few years ago.  The original charge was $115.  The amount allowed was $37.45.  Of that amount I paid $15 dollars.  If I had not had insurance I would have had to pay $115.  The only people stuck paying the entire bill are the people who have no health insurance and can least afford to pay it.  If you could choose to have no health insurance and just pay $37.45 for that visit, that would be one thing, but the reality is another entirely.  And that is a fairly small bill.  There is a shot they give you the day after you receive chemotherapy, which helps raise your white blood cell count and thus boosts your immune system so that they can keep giving you the chemo.  Because (and I know I've said this before) the whole idea of chemo can be summed up in these words: they're slowly killing you and hoping the cancer dies before you do.  I'm not knocking it. After all, it worked for me.  It just always amazes me that someone thought of it in the first place.  Anyway, that shot, which they give you in the stomach (gross, and painful) sent me into a serious allergic reaction culminating in a blackout, a trip to the ER, a very speedy ambulance ride, and a blood pressure of 45 over 20.  I was the first person on record to react to that shot and I have yet to hear of any other cases.  However, the bill for that shot (not the ambulance ride or the ER or the oxygen, just the shot) was $13,000.  Of course, the amount allowed was much less.

A much more recent experience is that of the dad of a good friend of mine, who recently had a heart attack which led to open-heart surgery and eight days in the hospital.  He had no insurance and his medical bills added up to almost twice the amount of our mortgage.

So yes, there is something horribly wrong with our healthcare system, and it can't be ignored.  Health insurance should not be a for-profit business.  The full weight should not fall on the shoulders of those who can least afford to pay, and that is where it falls.  Not on those who have nothing.  They are covered by federal programs.  It falls on the responsible, hard-working citizens.  Yes, there are people on welfare who abuse the system, or people who lie on their unemployment forms.  My parents were not, are not, those people.  Neither is my friend's dad.  They work hard.  They pay their taxes.  They don't want handouts.  They want their hard work to be enough to pay for the lives of their children.

Whew...there it is.  Done.  Any thoughts, feel free to comment.  To end on a good note, I have just been declared cancer-free for ten years.  This summer: celebratory head-shaving!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Guest Post By Tara Roberts: In Praise Of Gentle Men

Enjoy this great post by Tara, who has graciously allowed me to share it with you.  Check out her blog "Tarababble" at:

In Praise of Gentle Men

     Tim with little tiny Henry

I’m married to a gentle man. Not a gentleman, though I suppose sometimes he is that. A gentleman.

In more than eight years, I’ve rarely heard Tim raise his voice. He roughhouses with our older son, and I’ve seen him wrestle with his younger brothers, but he has never displayed his anger with physical aggression toward anyone or anything, ever.

In fact, he’s rarely angry at all. He doesn’t hide it or bottle it up, except on occasion, as most people do. He lets it go. He pauses, he reflects, he prays, he thinks. He asks whether anger will fix a problem or improve a situation -- and the answer is usually no. Even in situations of injustice or evil, he is not fooled into believing that “righteous” anger is helpful, or even real. He chooses to use his energy to communicate, build people up, and seek solutions.

He’s probably totally embarrassed reading that, and he might argue with it, but it’s what I see in him. His gentleness, kindness, and self-control (sound familiar?) are an enormous part of why I love him.

I try to be more like him, though my impulses tell me to yell, to throw, to hit. Most people who know me as an adult think of me as fairly mild-mannered, but know that when I joke around about wanting to punch people in the nose, I really want to punch people in the nose. (I did it, once, in fourth grade, to a boy who was making fun of my brother. It felt awesome. But it didn’t accomplish much.)

So why, today, am I talking up my gentle Tim? Because I’ve been reading lately about a movement within my faith that is pretty nasty toward gentleness.

Pastor Mark Driscoll, of Mars Hill megachurch in Seattle, has been getting a lot of attention lately for a new book on sex and marriage he wrote with his wife. I haven’t read it (and probably won’t – way too busy with so many fun books on my Kindle!), so I won’t comment on it here. However, in  reading about his new book, I’ve learned about some other statements he’s made, and I really don’t like them.

Now, I imagine the dude says plenty of things that are interesting and enlightening and totally fine. (He is a frequent user of the word “dude,” which I can’t fault.) But he’s also said stuff like the following, summarized nicely in an excellent 2008 Christianity Today article:    

‘According to Driscoll, "real men" avoid the church because it projects a "Richard Simmons, hippie, queer Christ" that "is no one to live for [and] is no one to die for." Driscoll explains, "Jesus was not a long-haired … effeminate-looking dude"; rather, he had "callused hands and big biceps." This is the sort of Christ men are drawn to—what Driscoll calls "Ultimate Fighting Jesus." '

[later in the article] "real men"—like Jesus, Paul, and John the Baptist— are "dudes: heterosexual, win-a-fight, punch-you-in-the-nose dudes."

(Note: I try not to be too uptight about language. In fact, I’m going to amend “stuff like the following” to “shit like the following.” But I am not OK with using words like “queer” in a way designed to hurt others, as is done above. Also, I kind of like Richard Simmons. EspeciallyRobotic Richard Simmons. Back on topic …)

I was pretty floored by this when I first read it, and other statements like it. I was doubly floored when I started to learn that this is a whole movement, sometimes called the Christian masculinity movement, and that it’s gaining in popularity. I’m surprised it’s taken me this long to learn about, especially considering Driscoll spoke at a large church conference in my own town a few months ago, but hey – I’ve got a lot on my mind, I can miss a few things, OK? 

Now that I’ve learned about this, though, I’ve been deciding how to respond to it. I’m certainly only one small voice in a pretty big sea of criticism (just Google it), but I feel like I should contribute.  I’ve considered punching someone in the nose, but I’m not sure it would have the desired effect.

On the one hand, I agree that we do sometimes make Jesus out to be a pushover, and he’s not. (That’s a topic for another time, I guess.)   But I’m disturbed by “Ultimate Fighting Jesus,” by this weird macho, violent, angry version of what it means to be a man, especially a man who follows Jesus.

So I’m going with praising my gentle husband – who, by the way, is 6’1”, has callused hands, loves video games, goes fishing, wears flannel, and is stereotypically “manly” in plenty of ways. He could bench-press Mark Driscoll – but he wouldn’t hit him.

And I'm going to praise a small number from the long list of men I know who show that they don't have to fit any certain definition of masculinity, especially one characterized by aggression:

My grandfathers. One is a farmer-massage therapist-painter with a long hippie ponytail and colorful earrings who loves good jazz, good wine, and long hours digging in the dirt. The other is a carpenter-pastor who loves fishing and pinochle and could nap while a volcano erupts outside his window. They’re very different men, but they’re good men, strong men, and gentle men.

My brother. People were sometimes cruel to him when we were kids, and I’d look for a head to knock off, while he’d turn the other cheek. Eventually I figured out he was demonstrating the better way.

And my dad. I inherited my impulse toward aggression from him. I’ve seen him really mad, he’s seen me really mad, and we’ve gotten really mad at each other plenty of times. But he’s always encouraged me to do better, to seek peace, to channel my frustrations into something constructive.

I could go on, but I’ll throw in one last one,  the husband of one of my best friends. He’s an actual ultimate fighter—a mixed martial artist, jujitsu coach, and total badass. But I’ve never seen him fight. I’ve seen him play with his children, adore his wife, create incredible art, and behave with exceptional gentleness. He doesn’t share my faith, so I don’t know what he’d think of “Ultimate Fighter Jesus,” but something tells me he wouldn’t buy it.

I’m not saying that Mark Driscoll or any of the men in this masculinity movement aren’t also good husbands and fathers and friends, that they don’t display gentleness and peace in their lives.  But they’re selling a message that devalues what I value most in the men I know –including Jesus.

They’re selling force instead of strength, aggression instead of assertiveness, dominance instead of leadership.

Let all the gentle men and the women who love them say – with gentleness and respect – we don’t want this.
Yes, aggression and anger and nose-punching are in the nature of many men (and many women). And God loves us as we are – but he doesn’t leave us as we are. We are invited to be transformed, to transcend, to leave our weaknesses behind and be filled with a better way.


Now it's your turn, in the comments! Praise a gentle man of your own -- or argue with me -- or whatever. Let's hear it!