Tuesday, May 22, 2012

At the Edge of the Woods Preview - Beginning

A Minute Before It Happened

A minute before it happened, Tandy saw the man standing outside the living room window and nearly dropped the phone.  She grabbed the telephone just as it slipped out of her hand and in doing so accidentally hit the button that cut off the call, hanging up on Len. 
If she hadn’t hung up on him at that exact moment, her whole family would have died.
     She had barely seen the strange man, yet the brief glance of him that she caught sent shivers through her.  He was tall—tall enough that she knew it wasn’t her father, at least—and wore a long, black coat and a slouch hat, pulled forward over his face.  He kept his hands in his pockets as he walked quickly away, taking long, hurried strides. With his face shaded the way it was, she actually saw very little of him—just his clothes. She wasn’t sure why he frightened her so much.
She didn’t have long to think about that, however, because as soon as she hung up the telephone, it rang again.  She knew Len hadn’t had time to call back.
“Hello,” she answered weakly, her heart still racing.
“Get out of the house now, all of you!”  A deep, urgent voice said.  “Get out now, or you’ll die!”
She ran into the kitchen where her parents and her younger brother and sister, fourteen-year-old twins, sat.
“We have to get out of here!” she yelled, her voice breaking. “A man on the phone said to get out of the house now or we’ll die, and I just saw a strange man on the lawn. I think we’d better do it. Just come on; we’ll talk about it later.”
Something of the urgent terror she felt must have come through in her voice, because when she motioned and ran out the door, her family followed in a flurry of confused half-sentences.  They had no real information, no logic to follow, and all they could do was run after Tandy and find out what had panicked her. She ran on into the street and was turning to her right, checking to make sure everyone was behind her, when the concussive force of the explosion knocked her to the pavement.

At the Edge of the Woods

Bringing this blog back to life under a new name; concentrating on fiction for a while.

I currently have a young adult kindle book available called At the Edge of the Woods. If you click the image on the right, this will also take you to the book's Amazon page.

At the Edge of the Woods is a supernatural suspense novel  involving a brother and two sisters who are drawn into a conflict involving a secret town in the woods and the search for a person with the ability to convince anyone of anything. Along the way Tandy, Neal, and Danna Harman meet an older couple whose motives may not be as noble as they say and journey to a hidden town in the woods where a group of young people dressed in gray have lived for centuries. Meanwhile an impossibly old man in a long coat and a slouch hat stalks the Harmans, and wispy, malevolent creatures roam the woods surrounding the town, hinting of a darkness that waits if the Harmans' fail.

This book is available for $4 at Amazon's Kindle Store.

Friday, February 29, 2008

Leap Day

I go on this rant every four years.

Today is February 29. Or so they tell us; I call it March 1. Who wants an extra day in February, an extra day of gloom, an extra day of winter?

We had cold rain here today. Wouldn't you rather have an extra day in, say, April, when the sun is shining and the flowers and trees are growing? Leap day should be April 31 or May 32. A

lso, if we're going to have an extra day, shouldn't we make it worthwhile? Make it some special day, a holiday to observe something or someone who doesn't quite make the annual cut. Say, Daniel Boone Day or Hester Prynne Day. Or better still, make it a do-nothing day. A day of rest. A sabbath. Make it illegal for any business to be open unless the business is vital for human survival, like an ambulance station, a fire house, or a chocolate shop.

We all need a day off. With pay.

But just an extra day tacked on at the end of February, postponing March, postponing Spring? Who needs it?

Thank you for your support.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Exchanging Family Members for the Sake of Peace

In 1600, after a long period of war among various shoguns, the victorious Tokugawa Ieyasu established a shogunate that would rule Japan until the latter half of the 19th century. Under the Tokugawa shogunate, an enforced peace settled across the country, sort of a Japanese Pax Romana.

One of the methods Tokugawa used to establish peace seemed particularly inventive. In the Japanese society, where (like other societies of that time--including the one taking hold in America) extended families lived together and foged strong identities, Tokugawa forced clans which would otherwise be warring to exchange family members. A family would send a son or daughter to their neighbor and receive an aunt or uncle in return, and the exchanged persons would settle in as members of their new families. This was a way of saying, "I am establishing a lasting peace; you're family is mine; mine is yours. With my loved one residing with you and being nourished and supported by you, you know I will not attack, and I know you will not attack me."

I wonder if similar methods might not lead to a lasting peace among churches. Maybe it's happening already. As we intermarry and discover each other, our families become intertwined. How can we consign the other group to Hell if your son, our daughter, our neice, our nephew, is one of them now, just as he or she remains one of us.

If Christianity is all about what we've come to think of as "doctrine", of course this doesn't work. If we are defined by what we do, by our procedures and forms, then we will simply write off the family member as lost. But if Christianity is primarily relational, this stands a chance.

The next step to this is to intenionally exchange family members. Visit, fellowship, worship, move in spiritually with the neighbor we once warred with.

The idea may sound radical. To some it will even sound like heresy. But if we realize we are all really one family, it almost sounds natural.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

On Winter Afternoons

I hate winter. The cold, the darkness, the glimpse of absolute isolation I see inside every frozen puddle, the cold desolation that grabs the heart, the lungs, the spirit....

I think of Emily Dickinson again:

There's a certain slant of light,
On winter afternoons
That oppresses, like the weight
Of cathedral tunes.

Heavenly hurt it gives us;
We can find no scar,
But internal difference
Where the meanings, are.

None may teach it anything,
'T is the seal, despair,
An imperial affliction
Sent us of the air.

When it comes, the landscape listens,
Shadows hold their breath;
When it goes, 't is like the distance
On the look of death.

I have suspicions that if I really tried, I could be diagnosed with Seasonal Affective Disorder. I'm not really there, though. Not quite. I just find this season depressing. There's a hint in the cold, short days that perhaps death wins in the end. Spring is there, somewhere ahead, but on days like this, it's hard to believe it's real.

I hate winter.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Jeopardy Update

I noticed that back in January I wrote about taking the Jeopardy test. Turns out I passed it and was invited to interviews/tryouts in Pittsburgh on December 7. Unfortunately, Dec. 7 was also the day of the capstone presentations for my Master's.

Oh well. I'll try again this year.

Much Madness

I've been using that as my signature on a couple of message boards lately, possibly because of the chaos that seems to be swirling everywhere I go. I originally was going to use the whole first line from Emily Dickinson: "Much madness is divinest sense, to a discerning eye," but I at last abbreviated the phrase in the extreme. It seems appropriate.

The Dickinson poem is one of the few I can quote from memory, but to preserve the dash in its proper place (always an important thing with Emily), I'll cut-and-paste it here:

MUCH madness is divinest sense
To a discerning eye;
Much sense the starkest madness.
’T is the majority
In this, as all, prevails. 5
Assent, and you are sane;
Demur,—you ’re straightway dangerous,
And handled with a chain.

I seem to be in a constant position of having others consider my sense madness while I often reciprocate. To me, much of the reason I hear is nonsense.

I seem to live in a whirlwind of statements about the way the world should be that end up being, essentially, "conform to me." Want to know how to do church? Watch me. Want unity? Conform to us and separate from everyone else. Want to know who to vote for? Follow my lead. What to oppose, what to support, who's worth our time and who isn't? Just keep watching.

But the reasons, the logic, seem to be materialistic. And when I counter with my ideas, I am told they're nonsense.

Maybe I'm the one living in madness. Who knows? To me, you help the poor by helping them, not by telling them they need to be affluent. To me, any doctrine that causes real harm to people by doing things such as telling them to divorce their current spouse and leave their family is not of God. To me, Christianity's about living our lives in a way that helps others.

And yet those who oppose me would characterize all this in a completely different way. What's madness? What's sense?

One of the things I've heard lately that bothers me the most is the suggestion that nothing in the Bible should be considered culturally. This is sheer nonsense, and leads us to do things that cause harm when the intent of the passages we are using was to free people from cultural restrictions.

The Holy Spirit didn't just ignore the culture that Paul was writing to, and God gives us credit for having enough brains rolling around in our heads to keep out the heebeejeebees. You don't have to throw out all common sense when you become a Christian.
I tend to think things are more simple than we make them.
But maybe I'm the one who's mad.

Sorry to vent. Sometimes I feel like finding a large, empty desert and traveling to the center so I can get lost in the calm nothingness. And maybe scream, I don't know.

Again, sorry. I needed to vent.