Friday, August 24, 2007

Book Recommendation

Spunk & Bite by Arthur Plotnick
Review by Jane E. Hoppe

Spunk & Bite is the ham to Strunk & White’s eggs, the salt to their pepper, the bloom booster to their weed killer. Strunk & White is the noble march of the penguins; Spunk & Bite is exhilarating eagles’ flight. Grounding is good. So is soaring. Plotnick’s advice has rules, just as Strunk & White’s classic Elements of Style does. But Plotnick encourages writers not to remain penguinized, and he shows how to fly—with both flight and crash examples from literature. How could advice labeled “The Confident Tagmeister,” “Words with Foreign Umami,” and “Rope-a-Trope Contenders” not inspire creativity? If you are a writer, do not miss this fresh education. If you are simply a word lover, do not miss this fresh education. Every chapter delightfully embodies Plotnick’s phrase: “language: acrobatic and incandescent.” A bonus is Plotnick’s light tone—you will laugh as you learn.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

The Big Decision

August 17, 2007, was a big day for me. At 2:40 p.m. I committed my first novel for publication by Xulon Press. The deadline to receive $600 off the publicity package, named (I hope) prophetically, the Best Seller package, was 3:00 p.m. I didn't intend to wait until the last minute--really, I didn't. But the day had been zooey. Lydia packed up her car after spending the week with us. With some clever sleight of hand, we managed to get our dogs to eat their own food, not each other's. Then Lydia left for the morning. Her dog Araya curled her tail around Charlie's nose to entice him to play with her, and it worked. Their subsequent growling, chasing, and tussling, was dizzying to watch. Soon Araya switched her focus to nipping at my shoelaces as I ascended the stairs, with Charlie bounding upstairs at my heels. As I worked a tedious 31-page editing job, my two canine cuddlers snoozed on either side of me.

I had only a few hours to wash the linens and prepare the house for Nicole and Malaia's arrival mid-afternoon. [In a be-careful-what-you-pray-for moment, I realized that this summer God had really fulfilled my longing for more hospitality opportunities. My cup runneth over! As much as I've loved hosting my parents for three days, Bethany for one night, Lydia for nearly a week, and now Nicole, it does take energy and time to prepare, and today the preparation cup was also runnething over.] I did manage to dash several times to the washer/dryer with my shoelaces intact. Araya will probably puppy-chuckle all the way back to Mexico at the awkward little dance I did to keep my laces out of her incisors. Meanwhile, Robert was home sick from work, first moaning and resting, then manically buzzing the vacuum and sudsy dishcloth around in white-tornado mode. With all this and trying to make as much headway as possible on my editing job so that I could enjoy my time with Nicole and the baby, I didn't even think much about the looming deadline that had so weighed me down most of the week.

But when Lydia returned in the afternoon to say her final goodbyes until her return from Mazatlan next August, I said to her as though to convince myself, I'm going to take what happened Wednesday as God's nudging to do this. She smiled and nodded. On Wednesday when my novel-publishing-anxiety cup was running down my cheeks, Lydia prayed God's peace and wisdom for me. Our amen was immediately followed by the ringing phone: Cynthia, who has just walked this self-publishing road, talked me through some of my specific anxieties. When I hung up the phone, I had God's peace and wisdom. The decision was made. Whatever doubts might creep into my quivering heart Friday would simply have to be swept away by the memory of God's showing up on Wednesday. Lydia and Araya drove off to new adventures, and I teamed up with Xulon for the Lord's next adventure for me.