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.