James Bond, Georgette Heyer, and Let’s Write!

I struggle with those highbrows, both in and outside my life, who refuse to read anything except “good writing.”

First off, I’m sure my writing doesn’t qualify.  Next, we are not in agreement of what constitutes “good writing.”  Ideally, I don’t have to choose, but if presented with a choice between the “dark, poignant, and tragic tale of human whatsit” and a story that makes me smile, laugh out loud, think and ponder, and generally feel I’ve been enriched in some way, there’s no contest.

Give me a writer whose life isn’t a “dark, poignant, and tragic tale of human whatsit” and whose mission is not, therefore, to make certain my life is, at least for a time, equally depressing, morbid, and joyless.  My husband, John, has a name for this prevalent idea among the literary “elite” (I do not think that word means what you think it means) that good writing  (Literature, no less!) comes from the angst of the tortured soul (good writing is the the province of such souls, don’t you know), and is most often performed under the influence of various mind-altering substances, and at the brink of suicide.   John says it’s bovine fecal matter, aka B.S.

It seems to me that much of what the publishing world is praising, publishing, and passing off as literature is contrived, formulaic, and trite.  Someone writes a great romance or two, and then suddenly they (or someone influencing them), decide we must add “poignance”.  Why?  Is it because the world is too happy and bright, and we must never for a single moment consider things not horrible?

Let’s write a book about predictable, boring, uninspiring, plastic people in plastic worlds being defeated at every turn!  If we put on a slick jacket with nifty artwork and get a crafty marketer to sell the plot, another sucker will pick it up and try it.

And sigh.  And say, “Where is The Swiss Family Robinson?  Where is The Secret Garden?   Why aren’t there more books like The Help and Louis L’Amour’s The Sacketts?  What is this fear of goodness, joy, beauty and victory, what is this celebration of ugliness, THIS FALSENESS, seeking to grip us all? “

Give me authenticity!  Authenticity works.  George Strait, Clint Eastwood, Katherine Hepburn, John Wayne, Edith Schaeffer, Ben Carson, Ronald Reagan, Queen Elizabeth, and even Donald Trump are among those folks who dance(d) to the beat of their own drummers.  And even if we don’t like them, we pay attention.  They don’t leave us cold, bored, and wishing there was someone real in the room.

Who was the best character in Bewitched?  Agnes Moorhead, who played the wickedly honest Endora.  Why was Kevin Cline so much fun with Meg Ryan in French Kiss?  Because he made no apologies, cared not one whit for the opinions of others.  What made John Cleese so great in Fawlty Towers and in The Pink Panther?  It was because he was authentic, even awful, but in no way for a single moment, dull or ordinary.  It’s called entertainment.

People make fun of me, behind my back and to my face, for my unsophisticated tastes.  I have grown weary of explaining why I watch James Bond movies, but here I go again:  Because James is smart and strong and handsome and he always wins!  Because there are exotic locales and not a single boring moment.  There are amazing cars and exploding gadgets, and impossible feats of derring do!  Fascinating folks named things like “Q” and “M” and “Moneypenny” are always doing the dangerous and sacrificial thing, right along with James.  Yes, there are scantily-clad and shockingly-named women moaning, “Oh, James”, but to the fun-lovers among us, it’s just more fun.

Contrary to the allegations of the Bond naysayers, there are thought-provoking plots (sometimes, anyway) such as the consequences of worldwide information and surveillance control, adding depth and texture to an already satisfactory offering.  Most of all, in Bond we have a hero worth his salt.

I don’t apologize for liking Roger Moore better than Sean Connery or Daniel Craig, and I do admit that a couple of the Bond flicks weren’t quite up to par.  And I am happy to say that the final (???) Bond movie, Spectre, is my favorite among favorites because it ends, as do all my favorites, “Happily Ever After.”

So sue me.  I believe in happy endings.  Listen, if you don’t, you won’t ever have to worry about one if your own life.  You won’t have to worry about people calling you Pollyanna, making fun of you and thinking you give a care what they think.

I once had a boss who made fun of me for reading Reader’s Digest.  “So?  You read Time,” I countered to his frowning confusion.  I was supposed to apologize for reading uplifting stories of real people, rather than what the “intelligent” people read.

Yesterday at the Red Feather Lakes Library I picked up Sons and Soldiers by Bruce Henderson.  I am miffed at myself because I hoped that would redeem me in the eyes of one of the more “highbrow” volunteers, one I am quite sure thinks my Georgette Heyer love affair quite childish.

I am halfway through Sons and Soldiers (would have stayed up all night reading it, but my heart had to have a respite), almost finished with A Gentleman in Moscow (taking my time because I don’t want it to end – how I love, respect, and admire the Count!), just started on my third reading of Minerva by Marion Chesney (why do I love Minerva’s  atrocious daddy?), and I just finished with Georgette Heyer’s A Lady of Quality.  This represents my fiction reading of the moment.

Non-fiction includes my annual reading, month by month, of The Shape of a Year (such a treasure) continual dippings into and out of various motivational and informational books (Jennifer Scott’s Madame Chic books for instance), magazines (I just subscribed to Ree Drummond’s Pioneer Woman magazine!!!!), homemaking blogs, and of course, my almost daily reading of Psalms, Proverbs, and something Jesus and/or Paul had to say (I’m sadly deficient in my Old Testament knowledge, and often mistake the exploits of Daniel with those of David, Joseph or another notable.  This lack, it seems, isn’t nearly as reprehensible or disconcerting to others as is my lack of taste in movies).

I guard my heart.  I believe much of what passes for literature and entertainment is a danger to the health and therefore the strength of my heart, and even my character.

And I think it’s time that all of us who want to write but don’t think we’re “any good” should just get to it, without a single thought of what anyone thinks about what we write, without a worry or even a nod to the opinions of others about what constitutes “good writing.”  Even if it’s never published or read by another soul, we can say we did more than criticize and complain.

Let’s write, shall we?

P.S.  TOMORROW, FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 16, AT 2:00 MOUNTAIN TIME, TUNE IN TO:  WWW.1360AM.CO FOR THE HOMEFRONT SHOW.  I’ll be sharing good stuff on manipulation (how not to do it, or to feed it); champion forgivers among our Founding Fathers, rescuing yourself from the TORTURE of unforgiveness, and much, much more.  Thanks ahead of time for joining me!

 

Promised Booklist

Last week on The Homefront Show I mentioned a conversation with three of my children wherein we answered the question, “What five books do you think everyone should read?”  On the show I shared what we came up with (more than five each, sorry, but certainly less than an exhaustive list of our favorites) and promised to post the list, along with author’s names (which I didn’t share on the show).

So here goes, in the order, more or less, the titles were called out (with a few added I’ve since recalled and couldn’t possibly leave out, such as Little Joe Otter, The Capricorn Stone, and On the Banks of Plum Creek.

 

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

Little Joe Otter by Thornton W. Burgess

The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkein

The Bible

Little Women and Little Men by Louisa May Alcott

William Tell by Friedrich Schiller

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

Angel at the Fence by Herman Rosenblatt

A Single Shard by Linda Sue Park

On the Banks of Plum Creek by Laura Ingalls Wilder

The Narnia Series by C. S. Lewis

The Lord of the Rings Trilogy by J. R. R. Tolkein

Last of the Breed by Louis L’Amour

Daddy Longlegs by Jean Webster

Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren

All Sackett books by Louis L’Amour

By the Great Horn Spoon by Sid Fleischman

George’s Marvelous Medicine by Roald Dahl

Pilgrim’s Inn by Elizabeth Goudge

James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl

Mutiny on the Bounty by William Bligh

A Circle of Quiet by Madeleine L’Engle

Blessed Child by Ted Dekker and Bill Bright

Understood Betsy by Dorothy Canfield Fisher

North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell

Heidi by Joanna Spyri

The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom

The Capricorn Stone by Madeleine Brent

Swiss Family Robinson by Johann David Wyss

Captains Courageous by Rudyard Kipling

Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain

With the Old Breed by E. B. Sledge

Guns Up by Johnnie M. Clark

Medications by Marcus Aurelius

 

So, there you have it.  Maybe you can give yourself the Christmas gift of one of these great books.  Wanna great laugh with a book you can’t put down?  Daddy Longlegs and the sequel, Dear Enemy are unbeatable.  I read both of them aloud as we traveled a few years ago, and EVERYONE in the car begged for more each time I stopped for a rest.

Happy Reading to You!

And . . . REMEMBER TO TUNE IN TOMORROW, DECEMBER 15 AT 2:00 MOUNTAIN TO WWW.1360AM.CO FOR THE HOMEFRONT SHOW!

 

 

OPEN THE DOOR TO PATIENCE AND PERSEVERANCE AND MOVIE STAR HOMESCHOOLERS COMING RIGHT UP ON THE HOME FRONT SHOW – 2:00 MTN

It’s so great when a plan comes together.  When I awoke this morning/last night? at 1:45 a.m. I didn’t know what today’s show was about.  But just a bit of prayer (and because I went to bed after John prayed with me about it) I knew!  Perseverance and patience.

And everything I listened to, read, and experienced told me I was right on track – Dave Ramsey in Entreleaders, Sheila Walsh’s joy infusions (Rebekah will be sharing from that on the show today), The Home School Mom’s Devotional Bible, Harriet Beecher Stowe, two sermons I caught in the middle of the night, and just the beautiful, wonderful Word of God – patience, perseverance, power.  They go together, so let’s get together on the show today and celebrate!

Also, I have a special giveaway today – a book by a famous movie star/homeschooling couple, who are also the stars of “Let There Be Light”!

Go to:  http://www.1360am.co at 2:00 Mountain Time, and Thanks!

 

John was Right about Her, and Rebekah will be on at 2:00!

After a particularly trying day with my girls, ages 4 and 3, I met John at the door with a long lament.  When I finished he said these immortal words, “Some day these girls will be your best buddies and you will enjoy every minute you have with them.”

Huh?

Years later I am admitting, as I have to do so often to John, “You were right.”  What a gift back to me are these children I’ve been blessed to stay home with, to love and educate as priceless treasures, as though they were (THEY ARE!) royalty.  My lamentations gave way to praises a long time ago, and today Rebekah Parker will grace all listeners as she joins me on The Homefront Show!

Look at your lament as a leading.  That’s Part I of today’s Homefront Show Broadcast on http://www.1360am.co at 2:00 Mountain Time.

Rebekah Parker will be on with an infusion of joy from Sheila Walsh, I’ll answer the question, “Which is more deadly, typhus, typhoid, or selfishness?” and Real Man John Parker may chime in about something brilliant.

The aforementioned lament is about handling major differences of opinion with other Christians, and how a lament can either be a fearful road to nowhere, or the impetus to get aboard God’s Love Train and have an adventure!

There’s more, such as why studying Benjamin Rush’s life would be a great home school project, and my favorite part of David and Goliath’s story, and why Zorro rocks.  Perhaps the most important part is where we understand the difference in being disappointed in a child, vs. for a child, and how to communicate this to bring healing to all parties.

Thanks for tuning in today at 2:00:  http://www.1360am.co

 

When I Write a Book . . .

I picked up Alice Hoffman’s The Third Angel because it was recommended in Fearless Writing.

I have a like/dislike relationship with this book, but I’m keeping on with it because it keeps redeeming itself, keeps pulling me along with unexpected delights.

I am not delighted with a woman who is marrying a man she knows to be selfish and flawed, but I am carried away with the answer to her own question:  How do you love such a person?  You just do it.

I am delighted when a book reminds me of the truths in my own life, how love is an act, a sacrifice, a looking like God.  Love is God and I am becoming more transformed into His image when I “just do it.”

Like the character in The Third Angel, I find myself unmoved by the flaws in those I love, even blind to them, when I get on that love train and we both start going places.  Life becomes an adventure of raw discovery, flaws become idiosyncrasies, differences become intriguing – even delightful, and life is good.

There is language in The Third Angel.  If not, the editors would probably say to the author, “This is London, you must have language, no one will believe it otherwise.”  But if I write a book, the strongest language will begin with “sh” and end with “it” even if the plane is crashing.

Wait.  No planes crashing in my book.  I will, as they say, write what I know.  Spaghetti sauce in a favorite antique bowl slipping out of my hand as I swipe it out of the fridge, breaking and splattering spaghetti sauce all over the kitchen.  Living and moving and breathing spaghetti sauce.  Everywhere.  Little faces astounded at the crash and even more at Mommy saying that word.

But then I would forget about a broken bowl and a messy kitchen because there is a much larger issue:  tender and bare feet.  I would shoo them away and clean every last speck – not perhaps every last speck of spaghetti sauce, which I will be finding this time next year, but every single last speck of glass.

Because I know these feet are going to be with me forever.  I know what is real and good, and that is the life of my children.  Life.

I don’t know if Alice Hoffman knows life is good, if her book will end as a good book must, with a satisfactory and victorious ending (a love ending).  I do know if I write a book, it will be filled top to bottom, end to end, and side to side with “Just do it” love.

Amen.

P.S.  Don’t miss The Homefront Show Fridays at 2:00 MTN.  Go to 1360am.co and join the fun!

 

 

Getting Real with the Velveteen Rabbit at 2:00

The rabbit was real because the boy loved him.  Pondering that and  the chameleon tendencies of so many of us, I realized this:  The acceptance of God’s love is what makes us real.  The understanding, reaching for, TAKING of God’s love, indeed the very becoming of love, makes us real.

My thoughts wandered to antique cars, purple Cadillacs in particular.  Definitely real cars.  When we see such a car we exclaim, “Look at that!  Did you see that?”

Our hearts yearn for the real.  We are drawn to it.  Because real implies honesty, truth, reliability.  God’s love.

Join me today at 2:00 pm Mountain Time on the Home Front Radio Show for further exploration into becoming real.

And oh, so much more.

Go to 1360am.co

Click on “Live Radio

Thanks!

Skip to the Moms

I’m reading 100 CHRISTIAN WOMEN WHO CHANGED THE 20TH CENTURY by Helen Kooiman Hosier and I’ve skipped to the moms.  There are several categories into which the chosen women are divided:  speaking/writing; Bible study ministry/education; and categories including arts; missions, social change, etc.  The last category, and the one with the fewest women included is  Marriage/Motherhood.

I intend to read every category and no doubt be blessed and inspired by every woman’s story, but I began with the most important category and I was not disappointed.  I asked the question regarding these women, and indeed all women who do great things for God:  “Yes, but who was the mother?”  This book delivered.  Indeed, the first mother mentioned was Mary Lee Bright.  That’s right, the mother of Bill Bright (Vonette Bright is one of the women honored in this book).

We all know the saying, “Behind every great man is a great woman,” and we always think that is only his wife.  But it is also his mother, and if she does her job, she will be a key player in the success of his marriage, in the blessing and leading of his wife.  Naomi to Ruth is what we’re looking at here.

Skip to the mom.  Be the mom.  Bless the mom.   And then, whether or not you’re listed in a marvelous book such as 100 CHRISTIAN WOMEN WHO CHANGED THE 20TH CENTURY, you will nevertheless change the world.