30 September 2007

Why We Should Move to NJ

I’m still in Jersey and am putting a PowerPoint presentation together to convince my hubby that we should move to NJ. So here we go. (Man, do I love this place.)

Hoagies (warning—there will be a lot of food on this list; my mom and I planned our trip more around food than even family): don’t even think about calling them subs.
Philly cheesesteaks
Panzzerottis (told there’d be food): not anything close to calzones, fyi
Trees—this includes the different types, the number of them, and the beautiful colors in the fall. We’re here right at the beginning of the change. Almost overnight. Of course, my family laughs at our oohs and ahhs over such meager colors. We ain’t seen nothin’ yet. Wait ’til mid-October.
History—you go into Philly and it’s first this and first that. First, first, first. First capital, first printing press, first president of the U.S., first prison in the States (first penitentiary in the world—the thing looks like a castle, which is on purpose, of course, to scare the new immigrants who would’ve associated the castle with a harsh authoritative hand; inspired by Quakers, the designers wanted to create a place once inside that would inspire penitence and a changed life). You can’t walk two steps without being immersed into history like the signing of the Declaration and Campbell's soup and Ben Franklin (who apparently did everything except invent Campbell's soup). And the architecture--some European, some colonial, some modern. When I get back, I’ll take the time to put some pics up. Then there’s my personal history and my family history. It’s all here.
Location, location, location—hop on a train and 10 min. later you’re in Philadelphia. Two hours from NYC, three from DC. An hour from the shore (a great shore at that) and three from the mountains (think skiing, Chris).
The tomatoes and corn and blueberries and peaches and apples. NJ is called the Garden State for a reason. You can’t get veggies bursting with flavor like this in Texas.
Italian country—I love my Italian food. You can’t get Italian food like this in Dallas. (Interestingly enough, I used to think I’d miss Mexican food if—no, when—I move back home, but with Mexican migrant workers now putting down roots, Mexican—true Mexican, which I prefer to Tex-Mex—restaurants pop up everywhere, along with every type of Asian and Middle Eastern.)
Four seasons. They have all of them up here.
The artsy section of Philly with galleries and shops and all that fun stuff.
And I haven't even been to the shore yet--we go tomorrow.

Added to the list after posting but before visiting the shore:
Water ice--similar to snow cones only if you consider a fine snow powder the same as ice cubes.
Variety in the style of houses--so many types as opposed to the DFW 2 types.
Cheaper gas. Seriously.
Cheaper tolls. (And don't even try and bring up that housing is oh-so-much-more expensive in Jersey. Dallas is almost caught up in prices. I checked. Love you, dear.)
Barber shops with the real twisting barber shop red and white thingies.
Traditional small shops--I only saw one Wal-Mart.
Wawa's coffee. So good. Jam-packed in the mornings. If you say it's like 7-11, I'll punch you in the nose. Very few Starbucks here.

I'm sure I'll think of more.

Things I love but can’t put on my husband’s list:

Watching the Eagles game with other Eagles fans. Hard to come by in Dallas.
Actually, that’s it. If he would listen to me, I think he would find that he would love NJ (ahem).

25 September 2007

Celebrity Deathmatch

Welcome, folks, to today's celebrity deathmatch. In the one corner weighing in at feisty and beautiful (you didn't think we'd actually reveal a woman's weight, did you?) and wearing a red kimono dress with intricate embroidery and a gold brocade collar, we have loud Asian chick, Camy Tang. In the other corner, weighing in at deranged and tall and wearing a spacesuit, we have mad-genius physicist Randy Ingermanson.

Read about the deathmatch, and the jealousy factor in every writer's struggle at the Misfits today.

24 September 2007

Favorite Moments of the ACFW* conference

In no particular order:

- singing "Let My Words Be Few"--can you sing this at an author's conference?
- having an editor spill coffee on me--this is an excellent ice breaker and warrants enough guilt for the editor to ask for a proposal
- having an agent tell me that she loves my red highlights (which I translate as "I'd love to represent you")
- overhearing other women bragging about my husband after I told them some of the wonderful things about him
- sitting at a table at the banquet with three second place winners (and knowing that I was one of the cool people who had read their stuff already)
- chatting about arc and characterization and theme without having the other person's eyes glaze over
- getting new books
- Ernest and Julio festival

Needless to say, good times all around and life only gets better--I leave for Jersey on Wednesday (you should read as: I won't be around much on cyber space).

Also, starting in two weeks, I will be highlighting people who incarnate Christ's life and love and beauty around the world. These are people you most likely won't have heard about. These are people volunteering in orphanages and making quilts for battered women's shelters and working with refugees in Africa. If you know someone that exudes this love and beauty, please email me their story at heatheragoodman [at] yahoo [dot] com.

*ACFW=American Christian Fiction Writers

22 September 2007

Misfits Misalign

Coming to you live from the American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) Conference where three of the Misfits (our critique conference) each placed 2nd in their categories on the Genesis award (unpublished work).
Angie Poole--Contemporary Fiction with Gravehopping with Myrna
Chris Mikesell--Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Allegory with Revival
Jenny Cary--Romantic Suspense with On the Court

I'd like to think I was a part of this because I took the picture that Chris used for the big screen.

For more pics, see I'll Second That.

18 September 2007

What's on My Heart

I don't have much to say and yet I have so much to say. My dad used to sing a song to me:
Running over, running over
My cup is full and running over
Since the Lord saved me
I'm as happy as can be
My cup is full and running over
This week, God has been working in me through the Psalms, through Psalms I've loved for years, Psalms I'm rediscovering, and Psalms I'm noticing for the first time.
I'm a writer, a speaker, and a musician. God uses these desires of mine in different ways, but not always in the ways I would like Him to. I see others being used how I would like to be used, and I declare it unfair.
I know. It doesn't make sense.
But these past few days, God reminds me that my hope is in Him. Someday, dancing on the new earth, twirling and singing and jamming on the piano, telling stories and drinking coffee with friends and feasting on avocados and mangoes, none of this will matter.
All that will matter is that God is good.
And so, if you don't mind, I'd like to share a few snippets of a Psalm here and there.
This first, taken from Psalm 25 (by David), I've turned to many a time when faced with decisions: do I pursue music or go to seminary? do I do missions overseas or see what this relationship is all about? how do I go into this writing thing?
Psalm 25:2-5
No one whose hope is in you
will ever be put to shame,
but they will be put to shame
who are treacherous without excuse.
Show me your ways, O Lord,
teach me your paths;
guide me in your truth and teach me,
for you are God my Savior,
and my hope is in you all day long.
This next Psalm, I must admit, brings conviction. I read this and think, ah, yes, wait on the Lord for such-and-such to happen. But no. It's not about such-and-such. It's not about me and my little corner of the world. It's about God's plan to redeem and reconcile His creation, to bring about His long-awaited justice. In essence, it's not about me asking Jesus into my life but joining Him in His life. This makes a difference, especially this week with all the excitement about the writer's conference and whatnot. Lord, please make your desires my desires and not the other way around.
Psalm 37:4-7
Delight yourself in the Lord
and he will give you the desires of your heart.
Commit your way to the Lord;
trust in him and he will do this:
He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn,
the justice of your cause like the noonday sun.
Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him;
do not fret when men succeed in their ways,
when they carry out their wicked schemes.
Please, allow me one more. This one excites me because of the day when many people groups will join with many tongues and songs and arts to praise the Lord. On that day, I will learn new songs. I will hold hands with believers from around the world, some persecuted, some celebrated, some of old, some possibly of an age that will come after me, and finally, finally, finally, with a love that is pure, we will turn to our Creator and Savior, and isn't that what this is all about?
Psalm 46:10
Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth.
All wars will cease, all enmity between God and man, between man and man, between nature and man, will end, and only beauty and love will be before us.

Writing to Communicate

I write to communicate, whether to be understood, to reveal evil or revel in
beauty, to tell a good story, to point to Someone transcendent.
To hear more about James Joyce duking it out with Jesus (okay, that might be a slight exxageration, but what's a writer if not hyperbolic?), go visit the Misfits blog.

17 September 2007

A Season for Sleep

127:1 If the Lord does not build a house,
then those who build it work in vain.
If the Lord does not guard a city,
then the watchman stands guard in vain.
127:2 It is vain for you to rise early, come home late,
and work so hard for your food.
Yes, he can provide for those whom he loves even when they sleep.
Psalm 127 (a song of ascents, by Solomon)

A few weeks ago, it hit me. ACFW conference approacheth. Yikes! What had I been thinking all year? Had I been diligent to query magazines about articles? No. Had I been diligent to submit short stories? No. I tried to make it up in the past month, but funny thing about magazines and journals: they don't care if you're on a deadline. They still work at their own speed. Very inconsiderate of them, if you ask me.
I'd lay awake at night with a running list (and commentary on the state of my life) scampering through my mind. Is my pitch ready? Is it a fast ball? A curve ball? How about my proposal? My synopsis. Oh, the synopsis. Do I know enough people? Why, heck no. My husband's the networker. I'm the people watcher. (For those of you who are networkers, people watching is distinctively harder when you're busy meeting people instead of in a corner with your Nancy Drew notebook.) And Chris doesn't go to these writerly things with me. I have to network myself! Oh, the stress of meeting new people.
But here's the thing: unless it's what God wants, there's nothing I can do to further it. And I don't need to lose sleep over it. If it's what God wants, there's nothing I can do to thwart it.
Besides singing the Byrd's song (To everything--turn, turn, turn; There is a season--turn, turn, turn, which, in my soundtrack to life, is this week's theme, and which was originally written thousands of years ago, talk about your seasons), I had to accept reality. I've only been doing this fiction thing for about a year--since July 2006. I've written my pancake novel, so that's over and done with. I have a manuscript I love, and I have a manuscript I love working on. But this year, I need to focus on improving my craft and meeting people. Getting to know you; getting to know all about you (which was not originally from the GM commercials but from The King and I).
Now, resting in God, I'm sleeping better. My nightmares about the guy chasing me and showing up in the back of my car and where ever I go until I had to behead him, which was the only way he'd actually die, stopped (excepting one dream last night--I was wanted by the mafia and hid on the roof of a building, but you could take compartments of the roof and move them around like one of those puzzles where you move the squares around one at a time to find the picture of the tiger, but we started taking the compartment too far like the Willy Wonka elevator in the end (high above the buildings of Philly) until it started to lose its magnetic pull and we made it back just in time before it started to careen to the ground to find my old boss there with some cheerleader-type girl and George Bush). And my neck doesn't hurt when I wake up.

14 September 2007

Dedicated to Anne

I've always wanted red hair. I think you know why, but in addition to Anne, there's also Little Orphan Annie (whose sheets I grew up sleeping on and whose movie I sang to more times than Rainman told Tom Cruise he was a very good driver), and if you consider the 1999 revival with Bernadette Peters (who happens to be a favorite of mine), Annie Oakley (from Annie Get Your Gun, after whom my car was named because anything you can do she can do better).

(Please ignore the mess in the background)

12 September 2007

Wonder of Wonders, Miracle of Miracles*

A few weeks ago while working in the yard (okay, so Chris was working and I was reading--details, details), we found an amalgamated mess of twigs and coconut husk in one of our hanging plants on the patio. Chris peeked into the planter and a bird flew out, hitting him in the glasses. I don't know who startled more, Chris, me, or the bird. We left the nest because, hey, we're not homewreckers.
Yesterday evening I was outside reading when the previously startled bird flew back to her nest chirping. Tiny, squeaky chirps answered her, and she dropped in the food she carried.
She's a mommy bird now!
I grabbed a cigar, slapped her on the back, and admired the newborns.
Then she flew to our fence, perched, and chirped, watching the planter. Was she off to find more food but wanted her young to know that all was well? Was she doing a security check, making sure I wasn't a danger? Was she trying to encourage them to come to her? Was she exhausted and exasperated and just needed a second alone, a woman can't even go to the bathroom without all the chickadees following?
Pam, I'll have to take a picture so that you can tell me what we have.

*Fifty points if you can tell me from where I pilfered the title.

Review - The Inheritance of Loss by Kiran Desai

The Inheritance of Loss by Kiran Desai is set in the 1980s during the beginning of the Nepalese revolution for independence from India. It's about a retired Indian judge who wishes he was English (along with the rest of his Anglophile, upperclass neighbors), his orphaned granddaughter, his cook, and his precious dog, Mutt, whom he prefers company to than any human. There's also the cook's son who has emigrated to the states and the granddaughter's math tutuor.

Really, the book is about cultural identity.

Desai moves between first and third world, between upper and lower class, between master and servant. She shows how the revolution destroyed lives, but also how the colonialism that preceded (and perhaps necessitated?) the revolution destroyed lives. You find yourself sympathetic to all sides but disdainful of all sides. They're all right, and they're all wrong, in the end. I think it's amazing how she was able to do that.

Her book is mostly third omniscient, which is not my favorite person. I prefer limited, and she does slide into it at times. It was a slow read for me. I thought I didn't care for the characters themselves, only the ideas, but then, one day, I cared for the characters. I don't know how it happened. The book is understated. Nothing maudlin here. People clinging to everyday lives, trying to make an everyday life, in the midst of war and poverty.

And relationships, the book is about relationships: relationships lost in the effort to make a better life. How is that life better when you've lost connection, she asks.

I love how she uses setting as an extended metaphor (you know how metaphors make me weak in the knees). There aren't any "likes" here. No similes. But in the midst of a fight, of pride and love, she describes the rooster and hen at the feet of the lovers/fighters.

Inheritance of Loss won the Man Booker Award last year (find the shortlist for this year's award here). I ended up loving the book, but it took more work than some (which, I suppose, is good for me).

11 September 2007


I'm up at the Misfits today. Here's a sneak peek:
"Oh, I've always wanted to write," people say when I tell them I'm an author. I get the varieties, the I-have-a-novel-in-me, the my-grandmother's-memoirs type, the I-blog-hence sort, the Madonna-wrote-a-children's-book-so-why-can't-I. You know, the I've-always-wanted-to-play-piano people.*
It gets better: I confess my inability to ride a bike and my near-death experiences attached to it.
*I dedicate the hyphens to Erin.

10 September 2007

Blog Tour

I'm organizing a blog tour for friend, mentor, and author extraordinaire, Sandi Glahn. It will be from mid-October to mid-November for her newest release, Informed Consent, a novel.
Sandi has written numerous books, including popular nonfiction (some of which have been translated into a few different languages), Bible studies, and novels, including CBA bestseller and Christy finalist, Lethal Harvest. If that weren't enough, she's a prof at Dallas Theological Seminary and the editor-in-chief of the award-winning Kindred Spirit. See, I don't use "extraordinaire" loosely.
A little bit about the book: Jeremy Cramer, M.D. is the next Einstein of infectious disease research. While working on a way to revive water submersion victims, he makes a breakthrough discovery in AIDS research that thrusts him into the center of a media frenzy. But the publicity turns negative and his marriage reaches the breaking point when he accidentally infects a colleague and his negligence allows his son to contract a lifethreatening disease. The viruses test the limits of his new formula and his ethics. In his frantic efforts to save his son and his marriage, he must decide whether to allow his child to die or violate the rights of a young transplant donor. The choice forces him to stand face-to-face with the unfathomable love required to sacrifice an only son.
It explores issues such as biomedical ethics, AIDS, and interracial marriage.
To make things easy, there will be a prepared interview, if you wish to use it. If you prefer your own quacky questions, we can set that up as well.
If you would like to participate (and you know you do), email me with which date(s) you prefer and your blog address at heatheragoodman [at] yahoo [dot] com.
If you know someone who you think would be interested in participating, please send them here. Oh, and if you're interested in meeting Sandi and either live in the DFW area or will be here for ACFW, stop by her book-signing at the Dallas/Addison Marriot Quorum by the Galleria on September 22 from 1:30 to 2:30 or stop by her blog anytime.

08 September 2007

Madeleine L'Engle

Madeleine L'Engle, most famous for her Newbery-Award winning Wrinkle in Time (and the rest of the series), died September 6 at the age of 88.
L'Engle, along with L.M. Montgomery and Louisa May Alcott, is part of the reason that I am a reader and a writer today. I keep a copy of Herself, a book of snippets about life and writing, at my bedside.
For you creative types, I highly recommend reading her book Walking on Water, which contains (as much as L'Engle can be contained) her reflections on art and religion. (You can see my thoughts on it here.)
It's sad that on the same day, two people who were full of beauty and life have passed.
Thank you for your legacy, Mrs. L'Engle.

07 September 2007

The Three Tenors: Carreras, Domingo, Pavarotti

Here's Nessun Dorma (by Puccini) in honor of a great singer who brought beauty to many.
Goodbye, Pavarotti

06 September 2007

Heather Jamison Interview

I had the opportunity to interview Heather Jamison, author and missionary in Africa, for Kindred Spirit. She works with Adopt A Legacy to incarnate God's love to orphans.

“In a nation with millions of orphans and abandoned children, it would be
difficult not to get involved with orphans,” Heather says, “especially in light
of God’s teaching us that true religion is looking after the orphans and the

In the interview, "The Cause of the Orphan," you can find out more about her work and how you can contribute.

New Reality TV

For your entertainment straight from The Onion:

LOS ANGELES—Cable network Animal Planet announced its most ambitious foray into reality-TV programming yet Monday with The Zoo, a weekly, hourlong show in which members of a diverse, all-animal cast square off in a single 3,200-square-foot home in the San Fernando Valley.
"Sparks—and fur—are sure to fly when animals from 11 different ecosystems share a single row house in trendy Echo Park," executive producer Stu Wolchek said. "For many of these wild, colorful, and totally unpredictable cast members, it's the first time they've ever seen a bison or sloth."
Wolchek added: "Some of these guys have never even lived under a roof."
For the rest of the story, see the article, "Animal Planet Reality Show To Put Bear, Antelope, Hawk, Cheetah In Same House."

05 September 2007

What if I'm Pharaoh?

Has the potter no right to make from the same lump of clay one vessel for special use and another for ordinary use? (Romans 9:21)
What if I'm Pharaoh? Or Esau? Okay, so I know that those examples are bad because I know that I'm a child of God. But what if I'm ordinary?
What if I'm not Esther or Ruth or even Rahab? What if my "for such a time as this" comes down to doing the laundry on a regular basis (and believe me, this is not such a time for that).
Free will and predestination are tricky things. My dad explained it to me this way: there are two ropes hanging from a ceiling. One is free will. The other is predestination. On the other side of the ceiling, they are connected by pulleys and levers. We don't know how. We have to use both ropes to get to the ceiling. Let go of one rope, and you fall. If you look in Exodus, sometimes it says that God hardened Pharaoh's heart. Sometimes it says that Pharaoh hardened his heart. Other times it just says that his heart was hardened. But however it happened, God used it for His glory.
Here's the thing, though. I want to think I'm special. Or at least, I want to think that God has a special purpose for me, some shining moment. I want to think that He's going to use me through published books. But what if He's not going to? What if my purpose is--gasp--ordinary? I don't want to be the pot that goes to the well everyday for water. I want to be the pot painted with muses and set at the king's table.
But that may not be the case.
I may be ordinary.
And after all, it was the ordinary vats that held the water that was turned to wine. And it was an ordinary jug that filled and refilled with oil for the poor widow at Elijah's word.

Review - Digging to America by Anne Tyler

I loved this book. Two families, one your typical Caucasian (loud and opinionated), another immigrants from Iran, are thrown together when they both adopt Korean daughters. It's a mismatch, and the Iranian grandmother, Maryam, can't understand why her son, Sami, and his wife, Ziba, want to cultivate the relationship. They, on the other hand, can't understand why she refuses to give up her outsider perspective. It's a beautiful story, tied together by the daily, the mundane, even, which is what I love about Tyler (who could never be mundane).
The book is anything but maudlin, but the end touched me. There I am, walking the dog, sweaty because I had just been running (and was really walking the dog because I've told myself that my iPod audibles are reserved for running and walking, or else I'd never take the buds out of my ears), and just past the lawn crew at the elementary school by my house, I start crying. Not the heaving, hyperventilating bawl, but silent tears.
You get so caught up in Tyler's characters that you don't care what they're doing so long as you can stay with them. Finishing the book is like saying goodbye as a friend moves away.
Another great aspect about this book is the multi-cultural element. You've got the Iranian emigrants and the combination of some of them more or less trying to fit in and others more or less preserving their culture. It's the old question of fitting in: with whom are you going to choose to try to fit in? How are you going to choose your identity? [This question is of interest to me because my character, Itzel, deals with the same issue, so I especially paid attention to how Tyler revealed this.] You've got the different parental responses to adopting from another culture: the Caucasians trying to keep their daughter aware of her Korean roots and the Iranians not worrying about it: letting their daughter wear jeans to the party, for instance, instead of a kimono. I loved the Iranian perspective on North Americans. How does Tyler do that? How does she convince you that she's actually Iranian? Brilliant.

04 September 2007

Salt Peanuts, Salt Peanuts

Miles Davis was young and sat in on these jazz sessions, and he couldn't do what he wanted to do. He would get up in these high registers on the trumpet and squeak and squawk because he had these brilliant ideas, but he didn't have the chops to do anything with them yet.

Today, I get inspired by bebop jazz. For all you cool cats out there, skat over to the Misfits blog.