Tag Archives: communication

On genre labels, and more

I’ve been reading and reading and reading for the INSPYs, which has left little time for blogging. A few random notes, though (cobbled together by bullets):

  • I’d never considered what genre the majority of Christian fiction falls into, but when I heard it called women’s fiction by Mike Duran, in a comment on his post about edgy Christian fiction, it made complete sense, as I’ve been immersed in a steady, gorging diet of such books recently.
  • I’ve really liked some books labeled women’s fiction and really hated others.
  • I do hate that it’s called that, though. The whole gender bias. Argh.
  • On communication: We heard that Grandma had been to see the pulmonologist and that she now had an appointment with the heart surgeon. I was stressed the whole day, distracted, waiting for word. A day or so afterward, we learned her appointment had actually been with the eye doctor, not the heart surgeon. How do these kinds of miscommunications happen? It’s like we’re kids again, sitting in a circle and playing telephone.
  • I have so much I want to write about, but I don’t feel like I have the time to write it.
  • I had a really great time at the Nebraska State Fair this past week. I spent most of my time hanging out in the fiber arts section, looking at all the knitted and crocheted and woven projects, as well as the handspun yarn. The best part, though, was meeting a couple of members of the local weaving and spinning guild.
  • As I tweeted earlier this week, books published with glaring errors really irritate me:
  • This reading a ton of books but not blogging at all? Not the best combination.
  • It was great for Maisie to have a few days with another dog who would play with her, but apparently this:


    yields a puppy who is filthy dirty more than twice as fast as normal. Sigh. Guess what’s on the To Do list for today?

The INSPY Awards: The Bloggers’ Award for Excellence in Faith-Driven Lit

In early 2006 I stumbled across the Image Journal’s list of its Top 100 writers (with one book by each listed) of the 20th century. The list only references creative writing by writers of faith and the works must “manifest a genuine engagement with the Judeo-Christian heritage of faith.” [I’ve posted and organized the list here.]

At first the list was simply daunting. I’d read so very few of them. I stuck the list in my purse and pulled it out sometimes when I was at the library. Less than a month after I started blogging in this space, in April 2007, I made this list a project. I aimed to read all the books on the list.

As I read and posted about these books, my estimation of the books as a group only grew — each one I read was so amazing! These are the kind of books I love, these are the kind of books that make me happy I’m a reader, I thought.

From that time, though, even as I’ve continued to make my way through the list, a longing has been growing steadily inside me. I’ve wondered, over and over, where are the new books? Yes, that’s a funny question to ask when your TBR shelf is overflowing with mostly new books. But what I wanted — and still want — is to find new books, new authors, whose books rise to the standard of these older ones. Sure, a few of the list’s authors are still alive and writing, but I want more.

After reading a post in March 2010 from My Friend Amy about the state of Christian Fiction, I was inspired to write, here, about my own unmet desire for books that really dig into what it means to believe, what this walk-by-faith thing is about, and do so with writing that thrills me. As much as I dug, as much as I asked others, I couldn’t to see a way to find these books. Sometimes they’re published by Christian publishing houses, sometimes by indie presses, sometimes by the large general-market publishers. Sometimes they’re even self-published. And as much as I’d love to, there’s no way I can read all the books published in a year [just] to find the ones I really want to read.

Note: This story isn’t exactly in chronological order, but it is how I remembered it.

So when Amy asked if I wanted to be involved in creating a new award that would honor exactly these books, I was hugely excited.

After months of brainstorming and discussion and planning, today we launched the INSPY Awards. And I’m so excited! Like Amy, “I’m so very excited and hopeful that we’ll be able to discover the very best books that grapple with the Christian faith that are being published today.”

Now we need your help. For this to be successful, we need book nominations. We need judges. We need word of the INSPYs to be spread far and wide.

If you’re interested in being a judge, please head over to the INSPYs site and read over the criteria and apply. If you’re interested in nominating the great books of Christian faith you’ve read in the last year, then please read the criteria for books and nominate the books you think should be considered.

It’s been a blast working with the whole advisory committee: Amy of My Friend Amy, Carrie of Books and Movies, Deborah of Books, Movies & Chinese Food, and Rel of Relz Reviewz.

Oh, one last thing: Help us spread the word! Please subscribe to the INSPYs blog, follow us on Twitter, and like us on Facebook.

‘Words are not inert tools’

“Let us not become concerned with such distinctions here, except to note the role of language. Whether we are gods whose speech can form creation, or creatures formed by godly speech, all agree creative power emanates from language as heat does from the sun. Words are not inert tools to be wielded haphazardly like a hoe or spade. Words can heal a broken heart, or cut as deeply as a sharpened sword.”

—On page 304 of Lost Mission by Athol Dickson

I really loved this book, review coming soon.

I received this book via the blog of the author’s agent.

BBAW: Book discovery

BBAW09_Celebrate_BooksToday’s writing prompt for Book Blogger Appreciation Week asks us to “blog about a book you read only because you discovered it on another book blog. Preferably, this will be a book you loved! You might also write a bit about the blog you discovered it on!”

This seems appropriate. But also hard. Other book blogs have enriched my life in countless, innumerable ways. It’s difficult to express how, and so it’s tempting to not try. That’s why this post wasn’t drafted ahead of time. But, I’ve convinced myself, I must try (I’m avoiding a Yoda quote here). Thus:

• I read In the Deep Midwinter by Robert Clark based on the recommendation of author Sara Zarr. While I didn’t love it, I hadn’t heard of the book or the author elsewhere, and the writing was gorgeous. My life was enriched by reading this book.

• I read and loved The Only True Genius in the Family by Jennie Nash after reading about it on (and winning it from!) Natasha’s Maw Books Blog.

• I’m sure bloggers played a role in me picking up (finally!) the Harry Potter series last year, for the first time. And since then, I’ve committed to reading the whole series again.

• I know bloggers played a part in me picking up The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society last year, but I don’t remember who exactly.

• And, of course, I can’t forget the blogger push on behalf of Nothing but Ghosts by Beth Kephart. I’d been reading her blog for months (at least) when the book was released, and I loved Kephart’s voice, but My Friend Amy and Lenoreva were really the impetus for me reading this excellent book. I loved it. I’m still on the hunt for more Kephart.

There are more. But I must stop here.

Thank you, readers. Thank you, bloggers.

The Weight of Silence by Heather Gudenkauf

weight of silenceThe Weight of Silence: A Novel by Heather Gudenkauf (Mira, July 28, 2009), 384 pages

Calli Clark doesn’t talk. Not because she can’t — she used to — but because she won’t. No one really knows why, although members of her family do know when the selective mutism started. When she and her best friend, her bosom buddy, her voice, both disappear from their beds on hot, sticky August night, tensions are high and relationships are tested. Calli’s father, who has a history of violence and alcohol abuse, is a prime suspect in some people’s minds. He was supposed to go leave on a fishing trip early this morning and can’t be reached. Petra’s professor dad finds a side to himself he didn’t know existed. The homes in this small Iowa town seem to all back up to the woods — Calli’s favorite sanctuary, but much of it’s uncharted, too.

It’s a book of family dynamics, secrets untold and unquestioned. Trust, hope, healing. Self-esteem and self doubt. The fear and pain of infertility.

At each chapter change (they’re short) the perspective changes; we see the story unfold from the perspective of many — but not all — of our characters. This multi-character perspective was much more well-done in this book than in the other like it I’ve read this year.

This is Gudenkauf’s debut novel.

While many factors drew me to this book — it’s set in Iowa, where I lived for about a decade, the domestic narrative — I was also cautious about picking it up. It’s about 7-year-olds being abducted! It entails troubled family life.

The story is fast-moving, but it’s not your typical plot-driven narrative. I wasn’t quite sure why I was so compelled to keep turning the pages, but I definitely was compelled.

A couple things stuck out as weird to me: First, cell phones play basically no part in the story, even though it’s set in modern day and at least a few characters have them. And second, it’s sticky inside everyone’s house first thing in the morning. Yes, it’s August, which means it’s hot (except for maybe this year). But that means you have the air conditioner on. The only way the story’s use of this made sense to me was if the whole town didn’t have A/C, which would be very strange.

Book trailer:

Although it’s certainly sad, I enjoyed this book. It’s a book that could dredge up emotions and encourage conversations that need to take place. And, it’s not overarchingly sad (which is good for me).

Heather Gudenkauf lives in Dubuque, Iowa with her husband, three children, and a spoiled German shorthaired pointer named Maxine. In her free time she enjoys spending time with her family, reading, hiking and running. She is working on her second novel.

You can buy The Weight of Silence at a discount! Use the coupon code SILENCE10 at eharlequin.com for 10 percent off of The Weight of Silence; it’s effective August 1 through September 15 at eHQ for print or digital.

Check out other TLC Book Tour stops for The Weight of Silence.

Other reviews:
Hey Lady! Whatcha Readin’?
Book, Line, and Sinker
Peeking Between the Pages
3 R’s Blog
Redlady’s Reading Room
Fizzy Thoughts
Sophisticated Dorkiness

Perish nurse

I went back and forth about whether I should post this. I try to be respectful, and sometimes pointing out the mistakes of others is certainly not respectful. This one is almost so egregious that I would expect to see it in one of those email forwards or something.

In my bulletin at church this morning:

“There is a fact sheet about the H1N1 Flu on the information desk, put out by our perish nurse, if you are interested please take one.”

Wow. Yeah, I got a good laugh out of that one, Talking about an infectious disease, and suddenly the church has a perish nurse. I know that parish and perish sound the same, but they mean very different things. Spell check won’t catch this mistake, but it must be caught.

Double negative labeling

I promise this blog is not turning into one that just finds fault with grammar and usage (plenty exist already), but I couldn’t help myself.

Sans Gluten Free glutino

Here we have Glutino brand Sans Gluten Free Wafer Cookies. While they taste really quite good, I was a little nervous because if it’s “without gluten free,” I suppose that would mean the cookies actually did contain gluten, which I’ve been strictly avoiding for nearly 11 months now.

I realize that this instance is almost certainly due to the bilingual nature of this packaging (Glutino is a Canadian brand), but still. On the side of the box, it’s much clearer, where it says: “SANS GLUTEN/BLE • GLUTEN/WHEAT FREE.” See, it’s not actually that difficult to communicate clearly, is it?

(And yes, they were quite tasty. Yum.)

Unnecessary quotation marks

please open door slowly
As seen on our recent trip to Florida, on the door of Down the Hatch, a coastal restaurant on Daytona Beach.

It shouldn’t need to be said here, but I’ll say it anyway: Quotation marks do not provide emphasis. Rather, they indicate that the material contained therein is being quoted. Hence the name of the marks. For emphasis, many techniques could be effective here. Bold, italics, underline, all caps [when the whole sign isn’t in caps], asterisks around the word, larger font, different font, different color — these are just a few of the options preferable to quotation marks. While I may not *love* all of these options, they’d all be better than quotation marks.