31 December 2011

Music Day

(It's still Friday somewhere -- right?)

Until recently I was convinced that this was Michael W Smith's most famous song ever, with the possible exceptions of Friends and maybe This Is Your Time.

Apparently I was wrong.

My friend and I sang this in church on Christmas Day, and in the weeks leading up to it, many people asked us what song we were planning on doing. So we told them.

Every single one of them except for Kristin (a fellow eighties-Christian-music nerd) gave us a blank stare.


"Yes. It's from the album Christmas."

(blinks) "Christmas?" (blinks again) "...He had a Christmas album?"

"...He's put out three of them so far."

It's worth noting that everyone who gave us these blank looks are all at least pushing forty -- that is to say, old enough to remember these songs from when they were first released.

I was speechless. How could you be a (stereotypical) Christian through more than one Christmas and not have heard that song? I'm almost certain that's the first song they play on the Christian station on 1 December when they switch to 24/7 Christmas music and goodness knows it gets played several times a day upon listener requests (not that I'm complaining about that, mind you. It's better than all the other Christmas 'music' they've come up with in the past few years). This song is a Christmas tradition, right up there with lights and the tree and the snow and the turkey and the gift-giving.

In case you may not have noticed, I still can't believe it. Not that I'm trying to shove my musical knowledge down everybody's throats, but -- still. How can you be over forty and have been a Christian for twenty-plus years and not know this song?

And now, to prevent you, faithful readers of my ranting, from being out of the proverbial loop, I present it to you now that you might familiarise yourself with what may or may not actually be a Christmas tradition...

Title: Gloria
Artist: Michael W. Smith
Album: Christmas
Year: 1989
Label: Reunion Records
iTunes here; YouTube here.

The ending is my favourite part.

Come adore on bended knee
Christ the Lord the newborn King

26 December 2011


His stupid car had broken down at work again, forcing him to undertake a twelve-block trek to get back to his house. There were only two blocks to go, but the snow attacking his face at seventy kilometres an hour had gotten unbearable.

Then he saw the parking lot filled with cars and people trickling into the community hall.

Probably some old Southern Gospel Christmas concert going on, he thought, but his desperation drove him inside anyway, if only for a few minutes to thaw a bit and catch his breath.

As he stumbled into the lobby, a tall man with a large belly and glasses passed him on his way out the door and said, "Evening, sir".

He nodded acknowledgement at the large man as he left, then turned and slowly climbed the stairs. That guy had seemed a little young for a gospel concert, he thought, but hey, different strokes for different folks...

He peeked in around the door.

The smell of hot turkey and stuffing washed over him. Laughing and talking swirled around him. A couple of kids darted past him with hardly a glance.

This was no gospel bluegrass/country concert. To be sure, he scanned the room, but there were no instruments, no old guys in tuxedos, not even a microphone on the little platform in the corner.

He took a step inside.

It looked like a family here. The more he looked around, the more he began to think so... except that no family could be this large. There had to be at least a hundred people here.

But there was no doubt that these people knew each other, he could feel it. Perhaps it was all the smiles. They all seemed so comfortable here. He'd been to office Christmas parties before, the kind where you know all the people, yet you tread so carefully to keep up the appearance you've spent years cultivating.

There was none of that stiffness here.

Their obvious familiarity awakened a little pang in him. His family, before the trial, had been all of five people. Since then they had split five ways.

He saw a cooler at the other end of the hall and suddenly realised he was thirsty. After a moment's hesitation, he straightened his shoulders and began to stroll across the room as if he belonged.

In the back of his mind he knew there was no possible way he could make it across, get his drink, and get back without somebody calling him out -- not if they were all this familiar with each other. Any moment now, someone would say 'Hey, what are you doing here?'... 'who are you, how dare you interrupt our private party, who cares how cold it is outside?'...

It came as a rather disproportionate surprise when he arrived at the jug without being questioned.

He glanced around as casually as he could to see that no one was sending disapproving glares his way, then pulled one of the disposable cups off the stack, stuck it under the hole, and pressed the button.

A sort of orange punch came out that he couldn't immediately identify. No matter... it was wet and his throat wasn't. He took a swig.

To call it liquid sugar would have been an understatement. It was like pure maple syrup straight from the tree with chemical colour and even more sugar added. The force of the sweetness nearly knocked him back a step, but he took a breath to reorient himself and drained the rest in three consecutive swallows.

Then he turned and saw the table.

A huge table of food, rich and hot -- some of it still steaming in fact. The stragglers were just finishing filling their plates.

His stomach gurgled. He hadn't eaten since eleven that morning and it was nearly six o'clock. His eyes caressed the bounty before him.

Steaming turkey slices, bowls of cranberry sauce, piles of sliced bread at the end of the table, a rolling landscape of stuffing spread between several glass bowls, a vat of mashed potatoes...

Would it be stealing to take a little -- just to energise himself before venturing out again? After all, what was dinner at his house?

Kraft dinner, most likely. Eaten in front of the computer while playing Facebook Tetris... again.

Turkey and potatoes sounded a whole lot better than mac and cheese for the thousandth time.

He hadn't seen any indication that there was a fee for dinner, but he pulled a twenty out of his wallet and slipped it through the serving window into the jar on the kitchen counter labeled 'Help us keep up our family account.'

Then he got himself a paper plate from the stack and gave himself small helpings of all the salads and cooked vegetables and turkey and potatoes... it all looked and smelled so good.

No one seemed to notice him filling his plate and no one seemed to notice when he went over to an inconspicuous corner and sat down with it.

So he began to eat. And to observe.

It had been a long time since he'd eaten around other people, never mind a crowd like this. It was kind of interesting to look around and watch them all -- the starry-eyed couple leaning against the wall by the dessert table talking as the young man stealthily slipped cookies off the plate at the edge of the table into his mouth; two grey-haired men, three younger men, and a middle-aged woman playing some kind of game with pool cues and what appeared to be wooden checkers; a kid playing a Game Boy beside a severely overweight man in a torn red t-shirt who was talking to an old wrinkled bald man in a suit; six young people playing what appeared to be a ridiculously fast-paced card game; two boys by the juice jug he'd just left having an animated conversation about what must have been weapons based on the nature of their actions; dozens and dozens of other people all seemingly enjoying each other's company.

Part of him felt acutely alone, but part of him smiled. Just being a part of a happy family put a warm feeling in his chest, even though nobody seemed to see him here.

And that was just as well. He didn't want to intrude. He'd just finish his turkey and leave.

And what good turkey it was too. Cooked to perfection, splitting perfectly as his plastic fork touched it and the gravy... oh, the gravy was heavenly. Like butter. Its warmth mixed perfectly with the cranberry sauce as they slipped down his throat hand-in-hand. And then there were the crisp Caesar salads and the smooth mashed potatoes and the tender mixed vegetables and the most delicious slightly seasoned stuffing... whoever was the mastermind behind all this should get their own cooking show.

He picked at the loaded plate for nearly twenty minutes, trying to stave off the inevitable return out into the blizzard. It was so warm and 'friendly' in here. Sure his house would be warm, but the loneliness where there once had been love and laughter was so haunting...

Usually he pushed those memories out of his mind, but now, surrounded by loving people, he wondered if he should. There had been good times... why was he trying to erase them from his mind and focus instead on the emptiness?

He pushed the memories aside again, but promised himself he would revisit them when he returned to his house that night.

He looked down at his plate. Only a few bites of stuffing remained.

He sighed. Well, all good things have to come to an end...

He poked one of the smaller lumps with the fork and brought it to his mouth. Then the next. Then the next.

Two minutes later, only the smallest crumbs remained on the plate. He was full of food, but still lacked the desire to go back out into the blizzard.

Ah well. He'd already intruded more than he should have.

He stood up and scanned the hall, looking for a trash can. As luck would have it, there was one only a few steps away rather than across the hall and past all the people again.

He dropped his paper plate and utensils into it, then began to button up his coat.

As he did he heard something -- a weak voice, almost plaintive, as if calling for something.

He glanced over his shoulder.

An old, old woman in a wheelchair sat at the opposite end of the table he'd just dined at. She had to be ninety-five, likely nearer a hundred. Her face was puffy and sagging, with age spots and wrinkles -- the sort of creases that result from decades of smiling. A plate sat in front of her, and another, half-finished, at the empty seat beside her. No cups at either setting.

The old woman was looking directly at him. She beckoned.

"Come here," she said.

He blinked. She certainly didn't look like the sort who would give him what-for for eating some of the food... and even if she did, she was obviously much too old and weak to get out of the wheelchair.

What did he have to lose? He took a few hesitant steps closer.

The old woman smiled and beckoned again. He continued and finally stood beside her.

"You're going to leave without a hug?" she said. There was a happy sort of 'twinkle' in her voice.

He had no answer.

She held out her arms. He shrugged, knelt down, and accepted the hug.

"How are you?" she asked.

"All right."

"You're not really, are you?" she asked.

He blinked again. Was this woman psychic?

She continued without waiting for his answer.

"Ah well. I will talk to the Lord for you." She patted his hand.

"Um... thanks."

"Merry Christmas," she said.

"Yeah... to you too." He stood; hesitated.

"Thanks," he finally said.

She smiled.

"You're welcome."

He turned and left.

"Mum? ...Who was that?"

The old woman smiled as her daughter placed a cup of juice in front of her.

"I don't know," she said. "But I think he needed a hug."


In memory of my great-grandmother, who passed away August 2011 at the age of 102. As far as I'm aware this story is fictional, but I think she would have given a hug to a stranger off the street.

23 December 2011

Music Day

Seeing as Christmas Eve is tomorrow I thought this song would be appropriate.

Title: O Holy Night
Artist: Connie Scott
Album: Christmas In Your Heart
Year: 1988
Label: Image 7 Records
iTunes here; YouTube here (the song starts at about 0.05).

In case I don't post before then, Merry Christmas!

Photo by Kate

16 December 2011

Music Day

As promised, today I'm deviating from the Michael-W-Smith-Christmas blueprint.

This track is new to me -- another gem I heard on classicchristian247.com. (I'm not being paid to advertise them, honest...)

I haven't heard it often enough to quite put my finger on what I find special about this song yet... perhaps it's the layered vocals or the way the intensity of the music ebbs and flows. But either way, I thought it was a worthy feature for today.

On that note I give you...

Title: Carol Of The Bells/What Child Is This
Artist: Point Of Grace
Album: A Christmas Story
Year: 1999
Label: Word Records
iTunes here, and, of course, it's not to be found on YouTube.

09 December 2011

Music Day

More from the essential trio of Christmas albums!

Yes, this means more Michael W. Smith. (Next week will be something different, I promise.)


To break the 'monotony' of Christmas music, I have decided to feature a second song today. That's right, the first ever two-for-one Music Day.

First things first: Christmas music.

This is like the updated, more 'modern' version of his 1998 song Christmastime.  Personally I prefer Christmastime, but how can you frown at the big orchestra sound and a two choirs?

Title: Christmas Angels
Artist: Michael W. Smith
Album: It's A Wonderful Christmas
Year: 2007
Label: Reunion Records
iTunes here; YouTube here.

Having been listening to Classic Christian 24/7 for nearly a month now, I've discovered the titles of many songs I remembered from my childhood but wouldn't have known where to start looking for them because I had absolutely nothing to go on. But now -- oh happiness! -- I can look them up and download them and with a touch of a screen relive the days of the old green Spirit when my best friend still lived in the country.

This is one of those songs.

Title: Wild Imagination
Artist: Scott Krippayne
Album: Wild Imagination
Year: 1995
Label: Word Records
iTunes here, but it's not on YouTube...

Less than a week after I first heard it on the station, the first time I'd heard it in... I don't even know, ten years? -- I'd downloaded it from iTunes. I listened to it exactly once on my iPod before waking up the other morning with choreography in my head for nearly the entire chorus, plus a fully formed costume idea.

That's still making me smile as I write this.

Come and see
Come and be surprised...

08 December 2011

The Doubleheader -- Post-Event Update

Yes, I've been neglecting the blog a bit. 3,334 words a day was a little bit more difficult than I expected.

I also didn't expect the crash at the end of November. It felt like every energy reserve I had was sucked dry. (Coming down with a full-blown cold -- which I still have -- in Week Two didn't help though.)

It wasn't so much the fact that I was writing three thousand words a day -- it was switching between two entirely different plots that slowed me down. Within the first week and a half of the contest I'd started to put in three thousand words on one novel one day and three thousand words on the other novel the next day (I had started out writing 1,667 words per novel per day). I'd pick whichever novel I was most excited about and work on that one for the day, giving it a big enough lead that I could let it simmer for the next day while I worked on the other.

But though I was able to make it work this past month, I'm not trying that again anytime soon.

Writing 100,000 words in a month is a good challenge, and I'm willing to repeat it sometime, but I'm not spreading it across two books again. The stopping and starting of separate plots all the time really slowed me down. Often I ended up starting my writing session at 11pm and speed-typing anything, anything I could possibly think of to come reasonably close to three thousand words by midnight so I could update my word count accurately on the website. (And, incredibly, I actually managed three thousand words an hour a few times. I'm not exactly looking forward to rewriting those passages though.)

The end result?

Well, my perception is probably slightly warped from exhaustion, exhilaration, and diminished air supply through my plugged nose, but I think it was mostly worth it. Novel Two especially has some serious potential. I adore the characters in Novel One, but the plot, well... wasn't. I didn't actually wrap up the story, I just brought it past 50,000 words and dropped in favour of writing the ending to Novel Two.

My final count according to the website was 109,064, but taking the total of Novel One and adding it to the total of Novel Two gives me 108,670 words. Not too bad really, considering that I closed Day 29 at 98,506 with hardly any ideas for either novel.

Novel One ultimately ended up being (so far) 50,572 words. But like I mentioned, it's not technically finished.

Novel Two, thanks to a rather formidable burst of mad typing as I desperately tried to get my fingers to hurry up and keep pace with my idea for a (hopefully spectacular) final twist, reached the end at 58,098 words less than an hour before December.

This does break some personal records though (and that's always something to aim for). I broke my record for most words written in a month (previous record was 74,450 words, set November 2010), most words written in one day with 10,558 (previous record was 6,137 or something of that sort, also November 2010), fastest 50k (14 days 5 minutes; previous record was 20 days, November 2010), and, of course, most novels written in one month.

Something I found rather effective this time around was to structure my writing time around music.

I've always listened to music when I write, but this time I got into the habit of finding an album on iTunes and putting it on, then making myself write (no Facebook or blog) until the album finished. Then I could spend a few minutes checking Facebook and the blog and email and everything else before picking another album and doing it again.

And just when I was starting to get tired of most of the albums I already had, I was introduced to this Internet radio station.

Because I know a good third of the stuff they play on there, it was so easy just to sit down and say, 'Okay, I'm going to write until the next Petra song.' And if I wanted to narrow it down a little (because they play a lot of Petra), I would make it any Petra song from the album Back To The Street.

It worked beautifully. I was amazed.

I've always heard that in NaNoWriMo it's preferable to structure your writing time around blocks of time rather than word count (less distracting), but I'd never been able to do that -- I would spend the entire writing session glancing up at the clock and was never really able to settle into the story. Using the playtime of a complete album in iTunes really helped because then I knew when I was done and I was better able to tell myself 'no, you haven't actually been writing that long because this album's only forty-five minutes long and it isn't done yet. You can't go to Facebook yet.'

So that's what I learnt in this contest. Hopefully it helps some fellow writing music nerd.

Suffice to say I am now the author of eight novels -- even if they're all still rough drafts because I fail miserably at the rather-crucial big-picture aspect of rewriting. (But they all have impeccable spelling!)

02 December 2011

Music Day

This is one of my favourite Christmas songs. Ever. (Today it is, anyway...)

I love singing along with the choir, especially at the end as they repeat it. It's difficult, but I've come to relish finally taking that long deep breath after they (and by extension I) have finally stopped singing and the final piano notes are playing. (It's taken me about three years of practice to nail that bit, in case anyone's wondering...)

I also enjoy the rhythm of the words they sing... it's hard to explain, but I like the way they pull out the words ring and bells and loud and then rapid-fire with a message bringing and then drag out peace and Earth and the two notes on cheer and then run right into Come carolers...

Title: Christmastime
Artist: Michael W. Smith
Album: Christmastime
Year: 1998
Label: Reunion Records
iTunes here; YouTube here (the music doesn't start playing until about 0.11).

With one voice
Let the world rejoice...

25 November 2011

Music Day

If you're in North America, you probably know this band from the film Courageous. But before the so-called 'Christian media' (which is surely of the devil) got hold of their material about a year or two ago and played it to death, Casting Crowns was an excellent thought-provoking band -- like a smoother, quieter, 'modernised' Petra.

Despite their occasionally formulaic other material, their Christmas album is excellent.

Title: I Heard The Bells On Christmas Day
Artist: Casting Crowns
Album: Peace On Earth
Year: 2008
Label: Provident Label Group
iTunes here; YouTube here.

Then rang the bells more loud and deep
"God is not dead, nor does He sleep"
The wrong shall fail, the right prevail
With peace on Earth, good will to men...

23 November 2011

For The Glory Of God

The other day I was thinking -- as I usually do -- about this whole dance thing that, by now, I'm nearly 100% certain God wants me to do.

I say nearly 100% not because I've had some kind of elaborate vision with angels and harps and clouds and a big booming voice telling me that it is my purpose to dance. I say nearly 100% because over the past month and a half I've noticed little things that, taken together, seem so far to confirm that this is God's will.

The more of those little things I see, the more I work on choreography and formations and everything. It's actually starting to snowball now. And it's delightful to watch.

However, one thing that has always been in the back of my mind ever since the birth of this idea years ago was 'how?'

How can dance -- an art form which is so open to misinterpretation -- be very obviously glorifying to God and no one else? How am I going to arrange this so it can be taken seriously? The whole concept could easily come across as dorky if not extremely professionally produced from the outset. How am I going to arrange this? How am I going to make it less of a drastic leap from the 'traditional' dance people go to see, but not so traditional that it's boring? Or, put differently, how am I going to 'sell' this concept -- both to the dancers I need to perform in it and to the audiences watching it?

But while I was thinking about all that the other day, God brought a thought to my mind.

If I have said I will dance to the glory of God, and it seems, by the grace of God, that He has called me to do it, won't He also provide the audiences He has in mind, the ones who need to see it?

In other words, why am I worrying about doing this all on my own strength? If God truly has called me, won't He make it all work out? Maybe not immediately, but He will work it according to His plan, right?

The thought stunned me.

Now that I write it in a blog post it all seems rather anticlimactic. But it was a huge realisation -- in fact, it still is. How could I have said that I had surrendered this whole dance idea to God if I was still trying so hard in my mind to 'make it work' by myself, with my own human logic?

Now I have to break the habit of trying to make all the logistics work in my mind before really committing to it. I have to make a new habit of committing to it, doing the work that I can -- the choreography, the practice, the notation -- now and leaving the rest up to God. I have to surrender the reception it'll get from my friends and family and the 'public' to Him and just create the dances. He can't bless it if I won't let Him have it.

18 November 2011

Music Day

(I think it's Friday... possibly... Between the discovery of more stupid mice in the house and my catching a cold and excitement over finally getting snow and a week of 3,500-words-in-an-hour-to-make-daily-quota-noveling my brain has basically fried. So if it's not actually Friday, please don't get upset...)

I can't stand any of this band's other material, but their Christmas album is actually really good. I featured my current all-time favourite from it last year, but this song was my favourite when I first discovered the album among my dad's collection when I was about eight or nine.

I love how they overlap the two at the end.

Title: Angels We Have Heard On High/Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee
Artist: Phillips, Craig & Dean
Album: Repeat The Sounding Joy
Year: 1996
Label: Star Song Records
iTunes here, and how can this not be on YouTube...


17 November 2011

This Is Why I Cannot Read People

My mother, when it's cold out and the power is on:

"What do you mean, it's cold? It's only minus fifteen with a stiff wind -- Don't you dare touch that thermostat! Go get another blanket! Goodness, just because you suddenly decided it was a little cold..."

(Obviously failing to take into account the fact that I have no more blankets to use and yes, that is ice built up on the insides of all the windows in the house...)

My mother, when it's cold out and the power goes out:

"All right, just when are they finally going to get the power back on so we can run the furnace already?"

Me: *assorted you-had-your-chance grumbling under breath*

15 November 2011

Attention Music Nerds!

If your taste in music is anything like mine (look through the 'Music Day' tab above if you're not sure), you need to check this out:


They have PFR, and David Meece, and DeGarmo & Key, and old Michael W Smith, and Michael Card, and Newsboys, and Petra, and Kim Boyce, and Amy Grant, and Silverwind, and Stryper, and White Heart, and...

This is my noveling music for the rest of the month. (Big thanks to the Petra fan page on Facebook for posting the link to this.)

The problem now is that I'm too excited to write and I have an hour to write 2,000 more words...

14 November 2011

The Doubleheader, Day Fourteen

Remember that job I had early this summer? With all the mice?

Yeah... that kind of scarred me for life.

See, before that job, I had no fear of mice. I didn't like them, but I wasn't scared of them.

And now, since that job, even the thought of mice terrifies me.

I hate the stupid things with a vengeance.

But I had nothing to worry about -- our house had been entirely mouse-free for more than ten years. Our cat had long since proven himself worth his proverbial salt, for which we were continually grateful.

But there were signs that the cat was beginning to settle back.

First was the mouse that climbed up the (outside) screen of my basement bedroom window while I was looking out it. I got very little sleep that night.

Next was the reappearance of mouse-nibbled stuff in the minivan -- which we had only just 'rehabilitated' after spending a good nine years as a safe haven for the rodent population of our area.

And then, the unthinkable.

Mouse-chewed papers -- in the house. A sighting of the thing scampering across the kitchen floor.

We brought in both cats, even one of the dogs. No dice. (No mice either.)

Traps were set. I sealed off every conceivable space in my room -- no matter how tiny. (I overhead my father say once that a mouse than get through a hole smaller than a dime. It's haunted me for years.) Even the crack underneath the door was blocked off and every time I entered or exited my room I kept an eye on the floor, making sure nothing passed between my feet.

For a week I never took a step without looking at the floor. I sat cross-legged on every chair, keeping my feet off the floor as much as possible. My legs have probably spent time asleep and awake in equal parts as I tried to stay on par with the novels.

Since I finished my writing session last night at 45,002 words, my goal for today was 50,000 words. For a change of pace I had brought my computer upstairs, with intent to write there. I've averaged just over three thousand words per day for most of the month, so five thousand will be a bit of a stretch. I hoped the change of pace (and sitting beside the five-disc CD player loaded with Christmas music) would be enough to spur me on to five thousand words.

And then I saw it.

I had been perfectly content to take everyone else's word for it; that there was a filthy rodent in our formerly seemingly impenetrable house. But no, today I saw something move out of the corner of my eye, and against my better judgement I turned to look.

There it was, less than four feet away. It darted back behind a trash bag that was waiting to go outside.

We assumed it went behind the nearby refrigerator. So we put a trap there, although it could easily have gone out the other side and behind the washer and dryer and we would never see it there again as it huddled in the warmth of the hats and scarves.

Minutes later the trap snapped. I can't remember last time I've screamed like that -- it's my 'nerves-are-wound-tight-fit-to-snap-and-they-just-have' scream. My stouthearted farm girl sister looked at the trap and told me that yes, the mouse was dead.

But, said my internal pessimist, what if there's more...?

And unless I can get the stupid thing out of my mind (my internal iPod just called up a White Heart song as I typed that...) I may just end up stuck at my current total. I've written maybe a hundred words today.

Curse the mouse. Curse all mice everywhere. Alberta has accomplished being rat-free; now let's move on to mouse free.

But now for the actual writing updates.

As I mentioned, my goal for today is to hit a collective total of 50,000 words (I'm currently at 45,272), but the goal is a minimum of 46,676; 23,338 per novel. Obviously I'm aiming for 25,000 each by midnight.

Novel One: 22,854 words.
I'm quite excited about this story. It's really starting to take off.
Lucy found a tunnel in her aunt's basement filled with film reels. However, before she could tell her friend and co-worker (not romantic interest) Eli about it she developed pneumonia and nearly died.
After her recovery she tells him about it and they go explore a little farther. They have now told Lucy's aunt about it and are going in for a third time. So far they have discovered a little cinema with only one screen, but appeared to be a rather popular place. Based on the few dates they've seen around the tunnels, it appears that films were still being made and shown in the late 1950's.

Novel Two: 22,418 words.
This one is going horribly slowly.
Daniel, the detective and wife of the kidnapping victim, has been released from his job as he, being her husband, is automatically a suspect. He goes mad with grief and ends up at his in-laws' house.
The best bit of writing lately was actually a flashback -- we have met the villain, though the reader doesn't know who he is yet -- and have seen the death of his wife (the flashback), the event which makes him a little crazy in the head. So far I've managed to stave off the scenes of Alison hidden away, but I've alluded to them.

And then once I've passed 50,000, the trick is not letting my mind take the rest of the month off because I've already passed my usual word count goal.

11 November 2011

Music Day

Remembrance Day.

It's hard to do music day on Remembrance Day. The only song I can think of that might possibly be suitable also happens to be one I absolutely cannot stand anymore.

So today's song is not explicitly related to Remembrance Day, but it makes me think of people who've lost family members, be it to natural causes or death in war.

I feel like I can't really say anything that'll do justice to those who have fought. I personally don't have any family members who have served in any wars (at least, none that I'm aware of). My grandfathers were both too young to serve in World War II. But I'm very glad there were others, other future grandfathers and grandmothers, who went and fought to make sure my country didn't lose the freedom it was built on.

Photo by Kate

Don't just remember them today, remember them always, every day.

And now for the song.

Title: Light A Candle
Artist: Avalon
Album: Joy
Year: 2000
Label: Sparrow Records
iTunes here; YouTube here.

Light a candle
For the old man who sits staring
Out a frosty windowpane
Light a candle
For the woman who is lonely
And every Christmas it's the same
For the children who need more than presents can bring...

06 November 2011


Today we had another family get-together. This was the other side of my family, making up for the one we didn't do for Thanksgiving (my uncle had to work that day).

This side of the family is usually a lot of fun. And today was no different. We played games and talked and made jokes and laughed and ate and I just tried not to say anything too harsh (it's gotten me in trouble here before).

It was great fun.

Then, as everyone was leaving, my grandmother said, "Now Kate will wash the dishes, right?"

I shrugged. I probably wouldn't get around to it, even though there weren't that many.

"No," my mother said, "she's probably got a few thousand words to write yet."

I nodded.

My aunt asked, "How many novels have you written so far?"

Before I could answer my grandmother said, "None. It's not a novel until it's published."

...Well. Thanks for the vote of confidence.

She should have slapped me across the face and followed up with a punch to the gut. It would have stung less.

Especially in the wake of the words she'd spoken earlier that day... she had hugged me and told me she loved me just the way I was.

Just the way I am, huh?

But only as long as 'just the way I am' means I sell out Broadway and get televised worldwide on my first foray into the 'professional' dance world. It means I write 'The End' at 50,000 words of rough draft and get a multimillion dollar publishing contract two days later. It means I sing one solo for church and get inducted into the Music Hall of Fame. It means I get paid a quarter million a month just to breathe.

That is the definition of 'just the way you are.'

But these things take time. I have to revise the novels and send them out. I have to compose and write down the choreography and assemble the costumes. I have to find other dancers to perform this with, for the love of applesauce. I have to keep practicing singing and develop my stage presence and grow my repertoire (not to mention my audience).

I thought old people were the patient ones. The slow-and-steady-wins-the-race ones.

How successful do I have to be? Isn't it enough that I'm doing what I'm pretty sure God has called me to and that I'm enjoying it, even if only ten people see my work?

If I have to earn your love it's not worth it.

04 November 2011

Music Day

It's November!

Not only is that NaNoWriMo, it's also winter!


You see, though I live in one of the snowiest places on Earth (apparently), today was only the first snowfall. Typically snow starts accumulating here around the second week of October. According to my father, this is the first year since 1962 (or was it 1963?) that there has been no snow accumulation in October in our area.

It's all rather depressing. (For some of us, anyway.)

But today...

Today was the first snowfall! It's not much, but at least it's white and it's still on the front deck well after noon.

Also today, my mother brought out her Christmas music!

And nothing says Christmas is coming like hearing this song: 

Title: Overture/O Come All Ye Faithful
Artist: Michael W. Smith
Album: Christmas
Year: 1989
Label: Reunion Records
iTunes here; YouTube here. (You'll have to turn it up, especially at the beginning.)

When you're talking about Christmas music it's hard to play favourites (especially with my mother's collection), but I have to say this is possibly my favourite Christmas album ever. It's timeless. You can listen a hundred times and it's still just as beautiful as the first time.

03 November 2011

Yes, I Do Need To Get A Life

The other night I was getting ready for bed and noticed this song playing in my head. It sounded familiar so I didn't really think about it too much right away... but then once I got in bed and was waiting to fall asleep I suddenly consciously realised that it wasn't Petra or White Heart.
Well then, where had I picked it up?
At first I couldn't name the band -- usually that solves everything. But then it got to this part in the pre-chorus where there's this held note and suddenly I recognised the voice.
That's Michael Sweet -- This is Stryper.
I didn't even own any Stryper -- yet. And they're one of the few acts neither of my parents were fans of. In fact, my only exposure to Stryper was from previewing their albums on the iTunes Store.

So if you're ever wondering if you like a song enough (based on a preview) to justify paying a whole entire dollar for it, here's a little test: If you can all of the sudden randomly start humming the song without any external cue, it's probably safe to fork over the dollar.
(Unless, of course, you need that dollar to keep your lights on or buy your groceries for the week. Then no, keep the dollar and stick to previewing the song while you eat a good hot meal.)

02 November 2011

The Doubleheader, Day Two

I've already started to forget what day it is. Since Camp NaNoWriMo in August I'd actually managed to whittle my average going-to-bed time down to one in the morning... and since 31 October it's gone right back to 4 am. It's really messing up my word count -- staying twice as far ahead to accommodate 100,000 words is difficult enough without having no idea what day it is.

But my computer says it's 2 November, so that what I'll go with.

Day Two.

Quota per novel is approximately 3,334 for Day Two; 6,668 collectively. Currently my collective total is 6,738.

Novel One: 3,388.
Novel One got off to an excruciatingly slow start. Proof: less than one page into the story my characters were having a tender, borderline romantic moment. I tend to resort to romance only when I have absolutely no other ideas.
It's causing no end of problems now, because those characters were meant to be just friends -- almost like brother and sister. Having that little flavour of concealed 'liking' in there has really stifled the relationship.

Novel Two: 3,350.
The first two pages went quite well. Personally I think I set up the main problem beautifully (or at least it will be beautiful once revised).
And then the story stalled.
I want so badly to cut to the scenes of Alison hidden away, but I want to heighten the drama more -- as of right now the reader doesn't know if Alison's alive or dead. I'd like to drag that out as long as possible (if only to pad the word count)... without alluding to the brother she's never heard of.

31 October 2011


National Novel Writing Month starts tomorrow.
And I totally just realised what I've gotten myself into.

100,000 words. Two novels. Thirty days.

I'm screwed.

28 October 2011

Music Day

Another song from my childhood. (It was either this or more White Heart.)
This band has exactly two major hits (that I'm aware of, anyway). One from a VeggieTales episode (The Rumour Weed Song, from Larry-Boy And The Rumour Weed), the other, featured today, was catapulted to fame when Christian radio started advertising it as 'from the band who performed The Rumour Weed Song on the new Larry-Boy video.' The immense popularity of Larry-Boy at the time (strengthened by the newly-launched website -- a big deal in 1999) and the catchiness of both songs combined so strongly that most people who listened to Christian radio and/or knew VeggieTales in that era can hear either song now, more than ten years later (has it really been that long?) and still name the band. Not a lot of Christian hits from 1999 are that recognisable.
This is probably the only song that reminds me of PFR that isn't actually by PFR.

Title: The Devil Is Bad
Artist: The W's
Album: Fourth From The Last
Year: 1998
Label: Five Minute Walk Records
iTunes here; YouTube here.

Because let's face it, it's way too much fun to say Ski-dee-lee-oo.

24 October 2011

What If

What if we never saw each other again?

What if that thought was in the back of our minds every time we associated with anyone? What if we kept in mind the fact that a sudden health problem or car wreck or wayward bullet or freak accident could take either you or your present company out... permanently? What if we fully realised that the human lifetime is so so very short and we have no guarantees? What if we spent every day feeding the legacy we want to leave behind? What if that legacy wasn't power, or money, or fame but having thousands of people come to your funeral and say from the depths of their hearts "I was blessed beyond words by something this person did for me"?

What if we realised that even if I survive tomorrow, my friend, my brother/sister, my cousin, my grandparents, the neighbour, the person in front of me at church may not?

What if we realised that the computer is always there but people are not marked with expiration dates like milk? What if we made the most of every second we have in each other's presence? What if... what if you let someone know you love them? Sacrifice your pride, your carefully-maintained reputation, your time and work at adding a splash of colour and warmth to someone's life.

Because what if there is no tomorrow for one or both of you?

21 October 2011

Music Day

I was listening to this album the other day, and as I was staring out the window at the blue sky and the yellow and red leaves popping out against it, this song caught my attention.
It's beautiful.
It's charming -- the analog hiss makes it feel a little more intimate. The one-take recording adds to it -- no autotune, no computers; just a regular guy and an old piano, singing for the God who gives him breath.

Title: Nothing Is Beyond You (Demo Version)
Artist: Rich Mullins
Album: The Jesus Record
Year: 1997
Label: Word Records
iTunes here.

The heavens stretch to hold You
And deep cries out to deep...
Time does not contain You
You fill eternity...

20 October 2011

Problem Solved

Remember the little conundrum I was in last week? Trying to decide between two different plots for my November novel?

I fixed it.


I'm doing them both.

Yes, both, at the same time. The plan is to work on them side-by-side and get them both to 50,000 words in November. I mean, I've done this one novel at a time for six events now, I think it's time for a challenge.

I'm not so much worried about keeping up with the word count, I'm more concerned about switching in my head from one plot to the next, as they're both quite different. (One is about a girl who finds an abandoned film studio hidden practically in her aunt and uncle's backyard; the other is about a man whose wife is -- seemingly randomly -- kidnapped. Over the ensuing investigation he finds that she had a brother who was also kidnapped nearly thirty years before. Coincidence?)

18 October 2011

Sometimes The Littlest Things Make The Biggest Difference...

Nearly two weeks ago, at our extended-family Thanksgiving dinner, my aunt, who quite enjoys my photography, asked to see the binder that I put some of my best prints in. It was on my desk, beside where I usually use my MacBook. I've long found that space constrictive, but I had nowhere else to put that binder.

Anyway, I went to my room and brought it out for her to look at. She ordered some prints and we continued visiting.

Later, once she and everyone else had left, I brought the binder back to my room but didn't put it back on the desk immediately.

That evening I was listening to music on my computer and got an idea for a dance. I grabbed my choreography binder. At first I put it on my lap like I usually did, but then I looked at the now-empty space on the desk.


I pushed the MacBook to one side and set the open binder down beside it. There was just enough open space on the desk for both. (Once I moved the stacks of CDs there was even more room.)

It's crazy how much that freed up my brain for choreography. Having the binder right in front of me and the computer playing music within easy reach (for volume adjustments or checking playing times) didn't seem like that big of a difference, but in the past week and a half I've gotten a lot of formations and some sequence work done for three or four albums' worth of songs. (I used to get maybe five steps done on maybe two or three songs a day.) I haven't yet 'completed' a dance, but I have some that should get done within a few weeks, provided I keep working on them.

Once I've got a decent collection of completed choreography, the next step is getting some dancers together, teaching it to them, and actually getting it staged somewhere...

14 October 2011

Music Day

This song makes me think of bright colours, neon lights, and rollerblading. I don't know why.
Still, it's a lesser-known song from this band that seems just a little different from their mainstream hits -- quirky maybe? Perhaps it's just me. It just feels like a breath of fresh air. Not that they really had any stale songs (up until the release of the Born Again album, anyway). It's like hearing a new hit from a band you used to love but somehow forgot about. I've had this song for several years now and I've yet to tire of it.
Also, my mother likes this song. There you go... this is certified cool now.
(For those new around here, read this and this to get a sense of her musical tastes.)

Title: Spirit Thing
Artist: Newsboys
Album: Going Public
Year: 1994
Label: Star Song
iTunes here; YouTube here.

12 October 2011

This Post Is Brought To You By My Indecisive Brain

NaNoWriMo preparation for November 2011:

1 September: "Ugh. Do I even want to put myself through that again in two months?"

Mid-September: "Hey, I could use that idea from a few years back... and really, what's November without writing a novel?"

6 October: "Okay. I am doing this novel, no second-guessing. None. I've got this all figured out and everything. Bring it, November!"

9 October: *waiting for November and trying not to pre-plan too much because my brain is like 'well, you have an idea, keep adding to it and working it out...' No, brain, that's what November's for*

12 October: "OHMYGOODNESS EPIC NEW PLOT TWIST IDEAS FOR OLD SCRAPPED PLOT!!! I could totally do this for NaNoWriMo!"


07 October 2011

Music Day

Since Canadian Thanksgiving is on Monday (usually I don't make such a big deal out of Thanksgiving, but this past year has changed my perspective a lot), I decided to feature a thankful-type song.
Naturally the first one in my head was a Petra song (look at the Music Day tab just under this blog's heading and you'll see what I mean), but there's also a very nice Silverwind song of gratitude as well... actually, two, now that I think about it. (There's more, but I struggle with indecisiveness enough without consciously looking for things to be indecisive about.)
(Now that I look for one of the two songs on YouTube I find more good thankful Silverwind songs...)
(And a Petra song. I CAN'T GET AWAY FROM THEM!)
(Yes. It's late. I get a little daft when it's late.)
(This is why I do most of my writing at night... then I'm too hyper to notice (or care) if it sucks.)
(Neither of the Silverwind songs I thought of are on YouTube. I should just put them on myself.)
(...If I wasn't so lazy... er, that is, if I didn't already have a thousand things to do. Like go to sleep and do this in the morning.)
(Well, later in the morning.)
(You know what I mean.)

Anyway, the song's on iTunes and that's the main thing. Now that they've switched to a minute and a half long preview, that gives you a pretty good idea of whether you'd like the song anyway (even if it takes entirely too long to preview albums now).

Title: Thank You Lord
Artist: Silverwind
Album: By His Spirit
Year: 1985
Label: Sparrow Records
iTunes here.

I have always loved Betsy's voice and in fact, it was thanks primarily to Betsy Hernandez (of Silverwind) and Agnetha Fåltskög of ABBA (similar sound, completely different outlook), that I taught myself to sing. My dear childhood friend could tell you stories... many were the times when she'd grab me by the shoulders and say 'Will you STOP TALKING about MUSIC?!?'

Obviously I didn't -- I just redirected it.

05 October 2011

Thanksgiving - A Challenge

This morning I was late for my ballet class, and in a desperate way.
Or so I thought.
When I arrived, I found that the previous class had gone late -- a rare occurrence. Therefore I was still technically not late as my class hadn't begun yet.
As I was speed-changing into my practice clothes, it dawned on me that that was God's undeserved grace right there. I didn't deserve this kind of break; it was my fault I'd left my house late in the first place. Why He saw fit to give me that extra few minutes I don't know, and perhaps I never will. But the fact is He gave it to me.
Not long ago, I heard a speaker talking about the perfect holiness and good goodness of God. He talked about how people always say, "Well, if God is so good, why does He let bad stuff happen?"
The speaker said that is entirely the wrong perspective. We as humans are pure evil without Jesus purifying us. The question instead is 'Why should God let anything good happen at all in this world? We sure as heck don't deserve it.'
God gives us a beautiful sunset every night. Why should He allow us to see such beauty? We don't deserve it.
God gives us food and clean water. Why should He allow us even enough to survive, never mind give us excess amounts of it? We don't deserve it.
God gives us the air to breathe and the chest to breathe it. Why should He not only let us live, but Himself be intimately involved in our moment-to-moment survival? We don't deserve it.
God gives us (especially in Canada) warm clothes and blankets on our beds. Why should He allow us to be warm and comfortable? We don't deserve it.
The list goes on.
And this morning an idea struck me. Why not keep track of every instance of God's grace that I see every day, for a period of time? Like the 'counting blessings' thing, but rather than just focusing for ten minutes on a couple of big things (house; bed; food; clothes), let's focus more on the little things. Like the times my laziness should get me into trouble, but it doesn't. Like the fact that God could have withdrawn His hand from around my heart and let it stop two paragraphs ago but He didn't. Like the fact that He hasn't allowed the motor to fall out of my rattletrap vehicle yet even though it probably should have two years ago.
And then I thought, heck, (Canadian) Thanksgiving is right around the corner; this coming Monday to be exact. Perfect.
The thought continued... I should get a bunch of people involved in this.

So I'm going to go out on a proverbial limb here and present a challenge for both you and me.
Throughout the day, as things happen (or don't) by God's grace, write them down (or use the voice recording app on your iPhone, whatever). We'll do this for... let's say two weeks, starting Sunday morning, the ninth of October. At the end of the two weeks (the twenty-second), look back over the lists. If you (and I) want to continue after that, great; but if not, hopefully we all have a greater appreciation of just how much God does for us in our day-to-day lives. If you want to do a blog post detailing every instance you saw or just what you learned from the experience, that would be interesting as well... you can link to it either here in the comments on this post or hopefully I will be publishing another post as sort of a follow-up after two weeks and you can link to it there. I would love to see what God shows you. Note that it's not a requirement that you post about it, but you might enjoy thinking over it all again.
I have to say I'm really looking forward to this. I'm also curious to know who's going to try this along with me... feel free to comment!

(If you're reading this several weeks, months, or even years from now, try it for yourself. Set aside two or three weeks and give it a shot. I'd love to hear your thoughts and experiences.)

P.S. -- Bonus points if you caught both of the Lecrae references in this post.

03 October 2011


The word nerd in me recently noticed that the word 'pretty' is hardly ever used anymore except as an adverb (pretty good, pretty stupid, pretty intense...).
And the word nerd found it sad.
As children -- specifically little girls -- 'pretty' is one of the most-used words in our vocabularies. Everything that is a) pink; b) has flowers and/or hearts on it; c) involves dress-up or make-up; or d) looks frilly or lacy is called 'pretty.'
'Pretty' is one of the highest compliments a little girl can receive and it's one of the highest compliments a little girl can pay anybody. It doesn't matter if you're fifty and 300 pounds overweight with whiskers or if you're twenty-two with 'perfect' skin and a seven-year string of beauty pageant championships, if a little girl calls you 'pretty,' you will treasure that forever. (And little girls, if my recollections of the experience are any indication, tend to think of almost all adult women as 'pretty.' Now that I think about it, when and why does that change?)
But somewhere in the teen years, 'pretty' is replaced by 'hot.' Sorry, I mean 'hawt.' Or 'sexy.'
Call me an innocent purist, but none of those have the same sweet ring to it as 'pretty' does.
Let's bring it back, shall we?

30 September 2011

Music Day

You can think of today's song as the updated version of last week's featured song. So if you liked the excitement of last week but not the eighties synth work, you'll almost certainly like this one. (And even if you did like the eighties synth work you'll probably like this too.)

Title: We Love You
Artist: Fraser Campbell
Album: We Love You
Year: 2009
iTunes here but unfortunately it doesn't appear to be on YouTube...

23 September 2011

Music Day

This is exactly the type of song I would love to perform in a church -- either as a vocalist or as a dancer. Lately I've become increasingly aware of how bored people seem to be when they sing in church -- I mean, come on, people, this is the God who gives you breath that you're singing about here. Get excited! Don't just mumble the words on the screen, sing! Be joyful! At least try to smile. This would be a great church song if people were more excited about God and less so about judging genres.
But that's a rant for a different day, methinks... As for me, I don't think this song ever fails to bring a smile to my face.
Recommended: turn this up. (Also recommended: buy all the albums iTunes recommends at the bottom of the page (I'm pretty sure they show the same list of albums each time). That right there is (some of) the best of Newsboys, Michael W Smith, The Imperials, and David Meece.)

Title: Adonai
Artist: Petra
Album: Beat The System
Year: 1985
Label: Star Song
iTunes here; YouTube here.

16 September 2011

Music Day

This is another story that could be filed under 'I bought a whole album for twenty dollars or more just for one song because it wasn't on iTunes and the song had memories so I was sort of desperate...'
The good news is, this wasn't nearly as dramatic as the Amazon ripoff back in March. Better news: it was only twenty dollars and it was a double album (both albums are all right, although aside from this song I probably wouldn't have bought them).
Even better news (for you, anyway): the song is now on iTunes, thereby making your potential acquisition of it much easier than mine was.

As I already mentioned, this song does have nostalgic value for me. Specifically, it reminds me of going to laser tag with a few church friends years ago; of the vehicle driving down a steep (and narrow) descent into the northern part of the city. It was already dark out and the skyline just before us was all lit up -- a sight I don't think I will ever tire of.
The crazy part is, I don't think this song was even playing at that point in the journey.

Title: Beautiful Love
Artist: The Afters
Album: I Wish We All Could Win
Year: 2005
Label: Simple Records
iTunes here, YouTube here. (As I was watching the video, I was fairly strongly reminded of Relient K. So if you like them, you might like this...)

13 September 2011

I Don't Understand

For years -- over a decade actually -- I've wanted to be a dancer.
That has been my main goal in life since I was five.
Then, of course, it was a childish dream completely founded in a princess fairy tale mindset. But I started taking ballet lessons at age six and by age seven I had considered the angles and the work involved more thoroughly and had come to the adult-like decision that yes, I was going to be a dancer. Yes, it would be hard work, and yes, it would be a long time before I could see it come to fruition. But there was no doubt in my mind.

I was going to be a dancer.

And I am still going to be a dancer.

My family, however, thinks otherwise.

You see, I made the mistake of starting to take pictures of things that I wanted to remember. So when I got old and grey I could show my grandkids the places and the people I'm telling them about. So whenever I get lonely and sad I just pull out the pictures and relive the good times.
Naturally, I wanted the pictures to be as clear and well-taken as possible, so I learnt a little about aperture and shutter speed and other tricks of the trade.
I've been taking dance for more than ten years now, but my family took this little bit of photography knowledge and blew it completely out of proportion.
So now I am going to be a professional photographer and I'm going to do studio portraits and I'm going to run my own business and I'm going to do twenty weddings a year and I'm going to win win win win WIN every photo contest they can get their hands on and I will become a household name and other photographers will simply beg to go on photo excursions with me, the great Canadian photographer.

It's like a nightmare.

We've been at a great deal of family/neighbourhood gatherings recently, and many people ask, 'so what are you up to?'
I say, "Dancing mostly -- taking ballet lessons and looking for a tap class somewhere (do you know how freaking hard those are to FIND?) and I'm working on a lot of choreography."
"Oh cool."
Then, just as they may be about to pursue that train of thought, my mother and/or grandmother comes in.
"Yeah, and she also REALLY likes TAKING PICTURES and she's thinking of starting a photography BUSINESS here in the next couple weeks and she's REALLY GOOD and lots of people COMPLIMENT her on her great pictures so she's REALLY SERIOUSLY thinking about DOING THAT." (Insert murderous glare at me here for 'forgetting' to mention this obviously vitally important matter.)
And then, because most people have some idea what goes into photography and haven't the faintest clue what's involved in dance, they naturally seize on the topic they feel a little more knowledgable about -- photography.
It has gotten to the point where my mouth tastes bitter when my relatives start talking about photography.
I don't want to be a photographer. Sure, I mentioned perhaps starting an online shop and selling a few prints to make some money until I could get the choreography/dance thing going, but that was only ever meant to happen 'on the side.' Photography is not my vocation, and it never has been. I may be good and I appreciate that they think so, but I don't want to spend the rest of my life clicking a stupid button.

And their I-know-what-goes-on-in-your-head-better-than-you-do attitude has completely ruined any joy I did get out of taking pictures, capturing memories. Aside from some Northern lights this past week, I haven't touched my camera in several months, because now I know that every single second they see a camera in my hand is only fuel for the fire -- their argument is, "Well, I never see you dancing, and you're always taking pictures, so I thought that's what you wanted to do."

Yeah, well, you try testing out the timing in that one part in Spirit Mover when you're in the middle of the mall. A camera takes up a space the size of your hand. A dance takes up two or three of those little shops, depending how big your movements are.
And these two are completely different things. Sure, they're art, but the fact is, with the camera, I'm only recording memories and things I find either beautiful or interesting. With dance, I want to express emotion and beauty and marry it to my love of music and the stage.

I don't understand how they can have misunderstood all this so badly. Ten years of dancing should not trump a couple of library books on photography. It just shouldn't.

09 September 2011

Music Day

I think this song will forever remind me of eating sunflower seeds in my father's old Toyota. How, I don't know, as we owned this album on CD and the Toyota in question was far too old for CDs (although I'm fairly certain it had a cassette player).
I don't know exactly what year or model that Toyota was, but I do know it lasted basically forever. It had a line of rust spots all along each side of the pickup box and the spots never seemed to get any larger.
In order to house his tools, my father had built a cover for the box, added some hinged doors (which may have been padlocked, I don't recall), and painted it silver.
My sister and I loved to go with him to town on Saturdays in that truck. Usually he had to go look at a potential job or measure something and get supplies for Monday morning. He almost always stopped at a gas station and got us each either a bottle of pop or a treat of some kind. If we went to the Building Centre (which was a common occurrence), we got popcorn... a nice reward for those seemingly interminable hours we would spend there as Dad visited with everyone in the store.
There were always sunflower seeds in his truck though, and often I would sit in the truck and eat them until he made me stop before I ate the whole bag. I liked the salt mostly. I would suck the salt of the outside of the seed, then carefully bite the tip off and pry it apart to get the actual seed inside. My parents never seemed to understand why I would put the whole thing in my mouth if was was just going to spit it back out but it seemed perfectly logical to me...

Anyway, this song is far too steeped in nostalgia for me to give you an objective description or anything, but I can tell you this -- if you don't like the eighties' sound, don't listen. This is the song that still defines 'eighties music' for me.

Title: Dancin My Heart Away
Artist: Kim Boyce
Album: Love Is You To Me
Year: 1989
Label: Myrrh Records
iTunes here. I couldn't find it on YouTube.

05 September 2011

So Needed That

Sadie, I've known you for five years and yet I haven't known you at all.
I could pick you out in a crowd, but I couldn't bring myself to compliment your outfit. I could follow your voice in a crowded room, but I couldn't walk up and say hello.
I haven't seen you in nearly a year. We haven't talked to each other in more time than that. I've always just sort of co-existed in the same church as you. We've been on camping trips and mission trips together, we've been in Bible studies together, but we've never really spoken.
Five years have passed. You, Sadie, have remained cheerful and friendly, compassionate and helpful. I have drawn farther back, terrified of my own bitterness and refusing to acknowledge my own emotional turmoil.
Today, on your first Sunday back home in nearly a year, the worship leader invited everyone to get up and greet those around them.
I saw you coming toward me and I extended my hand, fully expecting the typical quick handshake and a quick 'good morning' without even eye contact as we both search for the next person to greet.
You squealed my name and rushed at me with a hug. I only just managed to move my extended hand fast enough to not stab you in the stomach.
You know Sadie, I can't remember the last time anyone just walked up and hugged me for the sake of it. Sure, a few friends hug me from time to time, but now it's more routine than anything. It's like a handshake between us now -- 'hey, I see you, I know you're here, we're still cool as friends, did you get my text?'
Sadie, I don't know if you will ever know what that meant to me. Girl/girl hugs can be so easily misinterpreted these days, but you took the chance anyway.
Because even though I didn't fully realise it until you squealed my name, I so needed that.

02 September 2011

Music Day

(I remembered...)

This week I narrowed it down to Connie Scott or Lecrae. Connie Scott is definitely older material, but I've been featuring her a lot lately.
So I'm going to go with Lecrae this week.

I first heard Lecrae on a (now off the air) hip hop show late one night on the local Christian station. I found the song I'd heard (Far Away) on the iTunes Store and bought it.
It wasn't too bad -- in fact, it's gotten me through quite a few tough moments since then. However, I didn't buy any of the other albums. Since I knew almost nothing of Christian hip hop or rap, I was a little reluctant to invest the money into a album that I may or may not like.
Then came my birthday.
My grandmother takes all her grandchildren aged twelve or older shopping for their birthdays. This year, we made a stop at the local Christian bookstore to check out what remained of their narrow selection of music.
It was actually quite a good day for that place -- at one point I had nine CDs in my hand. But I could only afford one, and after extensive consideration, I finally decided on the Rebel album.
Now I'm a bit of a theology nerd -- something instilled in me by a former associate pastor at our church. So when I listened to the CD that night, I was thrilled out of my mind to hear good theological arguments and witty lyrics set to modern music pouring out of my speakers.
Deciding on a favourite to feature here today is even more difficult than usual (this is one of those 'seriously, get the whole album' posts), but I'll close my eyes and link to just this one song:

Title: Truth
Artist: Lecrae
Album: Rebel
Year: 2008
Label: Reach Records
iTunes here, YouTube here.

30 August 2011

The Novel, Day Thirty

The novel is finished!
It took way too many late nights (and if I say late night, we're talking four in the morning) but I finished it!
According to Pages, it's 50,615 words long. According to the site counter (which I've always harboured a special fondness for), it's 50,815 words long.
The plot isn't much -- in fact, considering what I'd had in my head before starting, my plot is worse than horrible -- but the goal is to write 50k or more and that's what I did.
Having said that, I'm seriously debating whether or not I'll participate in the official contest in November. Usually there would be no question about it, but this month was the most difficult writing month I've ever experienced and to tell the truth I've been creatively drained (at least on the writing side of things) since April. I had hoped writing another novel this month even though I'd had some apprehension about it would get my writing brain back but apparently it didn't work. I rather feel I've wasted a month of my life. I've never felt that before. Maybe this isn't what I'm meant to be doing.
Or maybe I just need to take a long break from fiction writing and let the proverbial batteries recharge.
I do have a good idea for November, but I really don't know at this point if I'll have the energy to pull it off.
In any case, for September and October I'm planning on focusing my creative efforts on dance and choreography. I've gotten together a few of my dance friends and we're planning on meeting after classes throughout the dance year (which starts next week) and doing what one of them called 'dance jam sessions.' Quite looking forward to that. Perhaps the change of pace might even help my writing...

28 August 2011


I only just realised I completely forgot Music Day this week. Terribly sorry -- my entire week has gone out from under me and I've lost track of what day it is (staying up till three in the morning most of the week may or may not have had something to do with it...).
Providing I don't forget again, Music Day will continue as scheduled on Friday, 2 September. (September already? Good grief.)

23 August 2011

Roadblock Identified: Everest On Road

(Don't try too hard to make sense of that title; I'm not in writer mode...)

Since I feel so inadequate about writing down the brilliant (I wish) choreography in my head and being utterly unable to read it back later and figure out my own work, the other day I Googled 'ballet choreography notation.' I didn't hold out much hope as I'd done this several times before with no notable results.

This time though, I found a couple of decent sites (no, not Wikipedia).

Or at least they looked decent.

There was this one site that was really making sense. I looked at their preview lessons and was actually beginning to understand it (typically it takes me about three years to pick up on complex things like when someone says they hate you that means they don't want you around). However, the writer of the preview lessons said it was highly advisable to learn the official, more detailed version of notation before moving on to the shorthand (which was what I was viewing). Conveniently, this was also available on their website... somewhere.

More than an hour later I finally came to the conclusion (like I said, I'm slow) that this 'original' version of the notation system was apparently intelligence on par with the highest of Cold War-era US Naval Defence secrets* or something because it was NOWHERE TO BE FOUND. It appeared the site had a grand total of three pages and they all linked to each other and back and no matter what you clicked you ended up cycling through the same three pages over and over and over again.

So I went back to the original Google search results page and ended up on the official Royal Academy of Dance website. Perfect.

I went to the shop and clicked on 'books,' since that seemed the most likely to have something that would help me. There were a few books, but no summary of whether they contained famous dances written in said notation or if the books would actually help me learn to write the notation myself.

So I looked for software choreography programs. There were several that looked quite good -- for a cool grand I could order a sort of 'word-processor-like' program. (That term wasn't really explained, but as the previous computer program I looked at required a doctorate in nuclear-phycisist-level math just to place one hand, 'word-processor-like' sounded attainable.)

I would have actually considered the 'word-processor-like' programs too (thousand dollars and all), until I looked at the all-important system requirements: 64MB RAM (check), CD ROM drive (check), hard disk space (amount not specified but if you're asking for only 64MB RAM I have enough hard drive space to correspond to that), 233 MHz processor or more (check), printer (check), Windows 95, 98, or 2000.


(It got better: 'Windows 95, 98 and 2000. Untested on Windows ME and XP; NT is not supported. The [software] will run on Windows 95 but the platform is now obsolete.' Then why bother keeping it up?)

I knew software for the Mac OS is harder to find but given Apple's huge advertising push (and the exposure they get from the iDevices) over the past few years and the fact that now everyone probably knows at least one person with a Mac, you'd think that Mac software would now be almost as easy to find as software for the Windows PC.

Alas, apparently this is not yet the case.

I went back to Google search and looked for 'benesh notation' which, I've heard, is the most-used system for such things.

Nothing. At least, nothing on how to learn to write it -- but plenty of articles lamenting how almost no one -- dancers and choreographers alike -- can read choreography notation of any kind.

Well... it would certainly help the case if the materials were available, wouldn't it? I mean, I'm not the sharpest petal on the rose but it makes sense (at least to me anyway) that if you want people to learn this, making it readily available to them would go a long way to accomplishing that goal.

Just a thought.

But if any of you happen to find some kind of a book on learning to write Benesh movement notation (not famous dances written in Benesh notation), do let me know, because it seems my brain will refuse to thaw and let me do this until I can make it understand that yes, I will be able to later understand what I wrote.

*I realise the US Navy might not have been a big player in the Cold War, but the term 'US Naval Defence secrets' in conjunction with nuclear threats sounds very impressive and probably very accurately describes the secretive state of this elusive choreography notation system.

19 August 2011

Music Day

AAAAAHH! Look what I found!

We bought this on cassette tape when it was first released just after Larry-Boy and the Rumour Weed had started to seriously take over the homes of parents with young children everywhere. I distinctly remember the first time listening to it in our little emerald-green Dodge Spirit and my mother, sister and I laughing our heads off at the Bumblyburg Groove Remix and the Superhero Slim-Down Remix as we sat in the parking lot of a gas station that no longer exists (I can't remember why we were there, but I do remember my father seeming to take forever doing whatever it was. Then again, I was a little kid. Everything takes forever when you're little).

My sister and I quickly claimed it as our favourite and even our Barbie dolls were made to dance to it as we flipped the cassette over and over (why listen to it only once when you can listen to it three times and have three times as much fun?).

Eventually though, the Spirit was totaled and replaced with a minivan with a CD player. We had cassette players in the house, of course, but I've noticed that whatever player is in your vehicle ends up being the primary music player in your possession. Whatever's getting decent rotation in the vehicle at the moment is what you listen to in the house until you get sick of it and go dig up something else.

Over the years as the CD collection grew, this particular cassette was left in a drawer and all but forgotten. Somewhere along the way, it picked up something awfully sticky that managed to get inside the cassette and attach the tape quite firmly to the casing, making it impossible for the spools to turn, therefore rendering it unplayable.

Some time later, EMI released the soundtrack album again -- this time updated with scenes from the then-recent release Larry-Boy and the Bad Apple. However the Bad Apple scenes (which weren't very good in the first place in comparison to the first two episodes according to me) were included at the expense of some of the greatest moments on the original release -- Larry-Boy's (almost) classic line about needing a doughnut, the entire introduction of and performance from the W's, Alfred's dramatic quotations of poetry, et cetera. I was sorely disappointed.


Yesterday I got thinking about Bob the Tomato and VeggieTales in general and on a lark (like I have nothing better to do -- it's not like I'm trying to write a novel and prepare for a potential career in dance or anything) searched 'veggietales' on the iTunes Store. Finding nothing but their post-Jonah tripe, I searched 'larry-boy.'

And found this, the original version of the soundtrack, the one I remembered from my childhood, unadulterated by the forced stereotypical superhero flick that is Larry-Boy and the Bad Apple. Note that below is the link to the whole album, but if you're on a budget (although $6.93 Canadian is pretty bargain already), at least buy Look Who's Here To Help, Bumblyburg Groove Remix, Superhero Slim-Down Mix, It's The W's! and The Rumour Weed Song (as performed by the W's).

Album Title: Larry-Boy: The Soundtrack
Artist: VeggieTales
Year: 1999
Label: Big Idea
iTunes here.

Note: It should be blatantly obvious by the name VeggieTales (not to mention Bob the Tomato) that yes, this is about talking (and singing) vegetables. Yes, it's technically children's material. No, it's not deep and serious and talking about either how crappy life is or about some girl like 'grown-up' music does... this is just funny. No toilet humour (save the image of the plunger ears and one use of the word 'underwear' in the The Superhero Slim-Down Mix), just cheesy puns and innocent goofiness.
Let your inner child out here (Alfred even addresses the listeners as 'boys and girls'). Laugh a little. It's okay. :-)

16 August 2011

Unstuck! (Or The Novel, Day Sixteen)

I've finally figured it out!
After sixteen days of fighting and just barely staying only one day behind my word count, a whole new vein has opened up. I can't wait to start it (don't worry, I've written it down so I won't forget).
The problem here was that I wanted to focus almost exclusively on Rudy, but since he's stuck in his circumstances there isn't much for him to do. To get through Week Two, I simply got his friends high and had them play a four-person game of Mafia (one of players on the phone).
If you're not familiar with Mafia, it's kind of a role-playing game where you kill each other off in your imaginary little town, but it requires a group of at least eight to work well. Also, the killing is done by pointing and nonverbal signals while everyone else's eyes are closed -- having one of the players on the phone lets everyone know who's being killed by whom, meaning your game pretty much lasts one round instead of a dozen or so.

Anyway, I've discovered that while Rudy is the pivotal character -- all the action in the book is as a direct result of who he was and what happened to him -- the book is more about Preston than anyone else (at least right now).
I knew Clayton and Preston's reactions would be a big part of the book but I can't let Clayton recover too easily (after all, he was Rudy's best friend) and I was planning on Preston being the rock through the whole situation. My problem though was that I was trying to keep Preston too neutral about the whole thing... a little shocked maybe, but not much more than that.
But something like this would rock his world. It would take his faith and turn it on its head. It would bring him to question everything he's strived for.

So as of today I'm introducing a new character -- Preston's friend Jon. I think Jon is going to be more of the 'rock' character than Preston, since he's fairly removed from the whole situation... his only connection is Preston, who himself wasn't directly involved. (Also, Jon's a Lecrae fan... music in the story tends to help it along, I've found.)

My statistics so far (note that I haven't written anything today yet):
Goal for Day Sixteen: 25,806
Word count so far: 24,007
I'm not out of this contest yet!

13 August 2011


So the power just flickered (again... for about the ten billionth time this summer and there isn't even a storm...).
As usual, I was on the computer. But I didn't lose anything.

I love having a MacBook.

I know, a PC laptop would have switched to battery power right away also. But I don't have a PC laptop. It's not a slight against PC users, it's just a fact.
Also, in case you're wondering, I already did an hour of choreography today so yes, I can be on the computer now. It's the novel I need to catch up on, but I need the computer for that.

12 August 2011

Music Day

Title: Seventy Times Seven
Artist: David Meece
Album: Chronology
Year: 1986 (or 1988; my sources are conflicted)
Label: Word Records
iTunes here, YouTube here.

10 August 2011

The Desert

I loathe more than anything the feeling of not having an idea for something.
Whether writing, photography, dance... I've always had an idea for something at almost any given moment. My problem as an artist never used to be getting an idea, it was keeping up with the overabundance of ideas. In approximately twelve years of artist-like endeavours, I have never once run dry for more than maybe a week. Even then I'm usually working off such a backlog of previous ideas that I barely notice.
There's always something -- real life presents so many 'plot' twists and characters for writing, so many beautiful scenes and intricate detail for your camera to capture, so many movements for the human body to mimic. How can one possibly run out of ideas?
I have been reduced to counting. Counting out music 1, 2, 3, 4, 1, 2, 3, 4, 1, 2, 3, 4... Wanting to be able to say I've accomplished something that brings me closer to my dream of dance but in reality I'm just putting it off in a more sneaky way.
I need a bigger practice space. I need to move out because my family screams at each other at the slightest provocation if any at all and it screws up my concentration. I need to learn the real names of the steps so I can write it down more accurately. I need this, I need that...
No -- what I need is to get off my lazy backside, shove the headphones in, and dance. Breaking it down can come later. Dance the same steps over and over again, memorise it -- then attempt to write it down. Scream along to the White Heart or Flyleaf if need be but dance.
I have this chance wide open in front of me. Ability, training, some talent (I hope) -- all right here for the taking. I've been incredibly blessed in almost every way you could ask for a career in dance.
But I won't have it forever. There is no guarantee -- the human body is fragile. I know I have to do as much of it as I can before something happens that might disable me, but apparently the 'action' side of my brain hasn't figured that out. It's figured out (much to my decidedly not-artist family's consternation) that I'm not going to do anything else with my life, but it appears to have a problem with if you're not doing anything else, then actually get up and do the one thing you have decided you will. Seriously, have I really become this lazy?
I've already come to the conclusion that I'm going to set aside some time every day to work on choreography. At first I thought maybe fifteen minutes would be sufficient, but after putting that into practice I've discovered that the resulting fragmentation of the thought process means I would be better off not bothering. I really should know by now there's no way to get a quality result if you only work on something in fifteen-minute bursts.
So I'm going to look at my schedule and see if I can't pull together an hour every day, at least. It's going to be difficult here in August with the novel, but really, if I have time to write a novel, I have an extra hour somewhere that doesn't require Facebook in it.
So if I start posting rants about Facebook, it means I'm on Facebook instead of dancing and for that I hereby give you full permission to scold me. Facebook will always be there but my body will not always be young.

07 August 2011

The Novel, Day Seven

Racing through plot at insane pace. What should have taken me a good fifty thousand words to write has petered out at 12,600 (the story would be done by now except I'm trying not to use up my entire plot before I hit fifteen thousand words).
Have made a decision though that hopefully should take up lots of words.
But first, the story so far.
We've met Rudy and there is a brief description of two separate drunken parties which he and his friends throw. From one Rudy arrives home safely (if hung over). We meet his Christian neighbour Preston at that point. Naturally Rudy can't stand him.
Then after the second party, Rudy attempts to drive home like he always does. On the way, though, all the drugs and alcohol team up and render him unconscious at the wheel, which causes a nasty accident.
A few hours later he dies in the hospital of a drug overdose, although the injuries from the accident didn't help matters.
Here's where I've been stuck for over six thousand words already. Rudy's argued with a whole bunch of people in Hell over the same thing over and over and over. Preston grapples with the fact that despite his fervent prayers Rudy never accepted Jesus, and Rudy's best friend (and drug supplier) Clayton struggles with the news that Rudy is dead.
So now, in the interest of creating words without using up my entire story before Week One even ends, I have decided that Clayton is going to get high on something and does... any number of stupid random things I can think of (so far the list of potential props involves pickles, post-it note animation, a broken lawn chair, water balloons, and possibly a game of Mafia). If you have any more suggestions, do comment -- no idea is too bizarre for consideration, trust me. I really don't need to revisit the main plot until at least the 25,000 mark (30k more likely).

Also, for you eighties rock fans out there -- you might enjoy this. It's is a video of one of the concerts released as the live Petra album Captured In Time & Space in 1986 -- the last release that featured Greg X Volz on vocals. You can buy the album on iTunes here. The album is slightly different though -- Computer Brains (one of the best on the album in my opinion) is missing from the video.