Friday, February 27, 2015

What Response to Persecution?

I wrote one of the poems in my book almost exactly a year ago.  I was reading an article in a Samaritan's Purse newsletter about a pastor who was in jail for being a Christian.  I wrote the poem from the perspective of the Persecuted Church.  Given everything that's been going on in the Middle East and North Africa right now, it seemed pertinent, so I've posted it below.

When people talk about situations like this, our first thought is usually about money.  If we're aware of the persecution at all (and too often we're not), we don't know how else to respond - we're so far away.

So we ask ourselves, can we donate anything to an organization that's already 'over there' trying to help?  For many of us, the answer is yes, and that's great.  But this should not be our initial response.  Our initial response should be prayer.

Here in America, we tend to ignore prayer.  We don't understand how it works, and we're too lazy to test it.  But prayer is powerful.  Prayer is active.  Prayer is our direct line of communication to God, and when we pray with our hearts set on him, things happen.

We should be praying for the Persecuted Church, in general and in detail when we know of particular issues.  Prayer should not be a fall-back if we're unable to do anything else; it should be the focal point of our response.


We sent out a message,
We asked for your prayers –
Our churches were being burned.
We held our dead elders,
We mourned our dead children,
But from everything we’ve heard,
You didn’t pray for us.

We begged for assistance,
We needed your help –
Our pastors were being jailed.
We gathered in secret,
We whispered in fear,
But from all that we can tell,
You never prayed for us.

We Facebooked and Tweeted,
We emailed and called –
We know the word got out.
We died for a Bible,
We starved for a song,
And yet we had our doubts
That you would pray for us.

*Copyright Rachel Lulich 2014.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Wednesday Apology

So I know I said I'd do a Wednesday Review today, and I really wanted to, but All The Things are due this week and next, so...  Not so much.

My sincerest apologies.

Theoretically, I could pick something I've read or seen or listened to recently, and write a nice little review of it, but I have something specific in mind for my next review, and it's not something I can pull together quickly.  Because it's not a positive review.  And I feel very strongly about it.  So, yeah.  Not going to rush this one.

Hopefully I'll have it for next week.

So!  What did I do so far this week?

Well, I stayed up really, really late on Sunday night, editing a book for Ashberry Lane.  I really enjoyed it, so I just kept going.  Probably should've looked at the time more often.  Just a little more to go, and I realized it was after 2am.  But at that point, you might as well just finish, so I did.

Monday I had class, ran some errands, and actually looked at the heap of research materials I found for my final paper in one of my classes.

Because I stayed up late Sunday night, I also stayed up late Monday night, so I slept in on Tuesday, went to my Copyright class (where we talked about intellectual property issues with nonfiction works).  I ran some errands afterward, and actually looked at the heap of research materials I found for my final paper in my publishing class.  I also played guitar!  And went for a walk.  I overdid both of those a little - my hands and feet didn't like it.

Stupid tendinitis.

Today was pretty good.  Stayed up too late again last night, but I had a good publishing class.  My mock publishing company group is starting to really get organized.  Which is good, because the drafts of All The Things are due next Monday.  After class, I had to visit the registrar real quick, then high-tailed it to the bus stop so I could meet J for lunch at the Bavarian Sausage place in Tigard.  I got to the bus stop.  And realized that in my haste, I had left my thermos full of tea in the computer lab.


I went back and got it, and my bus was just pulling away from the stop when I rounded the corner on my way back.  But that's all right!  The next bus was only about 4 minutes behind it.  Maybe that first one was running late, or the second was early.  Maybe both!  I don't really care.  I was just glad to get on the road.

J and I had a good time chatting over lunch, and I got some nice German-style bread to take home with me.  Bavarian Sausage is a nice little store and deli.  They have pretty much all the German chocolate products you could want, although I didn't get any today.

I went for another long walk today, and my feet are feeling it again.  I also have a blister forming, so I cut some moleskin.  Good thing I'm on campus all day tomorrow and won't have a chance to walk - taking a day or two off seems to be in order.

And that's about it!

Except that I've been slowly reading through C. S. Lewis's Poems on the commute, and some of them are just so excellent.  So far, I especially like or am intrigued by A Confession, Donkey's Delight, The Country of the Blind, On Being Human, The Late Passenger, An Expostulation, On a Vulgar Error, The Future or Forestry, On the Atomic Bomb, On a Theme From Nicolas of Cusa, The Salamander, Pattern, Reason, To Andrew Marvell, Wormwood, Divine Justice, and Eden's Courtesy.  That's where I left off - Eden's Courtesy is the last poem I read in the book today on my way home.  Really glad I bought this book.

Mine has different cover art...

Monday, February 23, 2015

Looking Ahead

It's crunch time in college right now - just a couple of weeks left in the term, everything that can possibly be due is coming due.  I'm also trying to work on a couple of writing projects on the side.

So what does this mean?  It means I may not be blogging quite as often as I have in the past.  You've already seen a little of this, as I have occasionally missed a Friday, a Saturday, or both.  I WILL be doing a Wednesday Review this week, and I think I'll do another From the Vaults this weekend, but beyond that, I can make no promises.

I'm almost done with a post for my other blog, which will give you a nice visual depiction of the process of publishing a poetry book, from start (handwritten poem drafts) to finish (actual hard-copy book available for purchase!!).

Speaking of which....  Buy my book!

On a totally unrelated note, leafless trees are awesome looking, especially against a sunset sky.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Beach Trip

Well, Mom and I ran away to the coast yesterday afternoon.  We've both been tired and not feeling great, and we thought the 'sea air' might do us some good.  ;)  We headed for Proposal Rock on the central coast, stopping on the way for a snack of roasted filberts with bacon and rosemary at Red Hills Market.

We arrived, threw our stuff into our room, and hit the beach.  Here in Neskowin, Oregon, the Proposal Rock Inn is located between two creeks which join forces once they reach the sandy beach.  We're in a creek-side room with an ocean view. Proposal Rock is right there, and there's a nice wide stretch of sandy beach to walk along in both directions and look for sand dollars and other shells.  We scampered along as the tide was going out, even taking off our shoes and rolling up our jeans to go test the waters.

The weather's remarkably nice for the Oregon coast in February.  Sunny, blue skies, not terribly windy (for the coast), and not freezing!

This morning we got up and went walking on the beach again; the tide was out and starting to come in.  I managed to get too close to the little incoming waves and got my shoes and socks and jeans all wet, but whatever - it's all part of the experience.  They'll dry.

The little store here at the Inn has some great-looking freshly backed goodies, including some fantastic maple bars - I had one for breakfast.  Best-looking (and tasting) maple bars I've had in a very long time.

After our walk this morning, we made a proper breakfast (Mom made a fritatta), and proceeded to paint.  Mom's working on some water color beach scenes, and I started an acrylic on a small canvass.  I've got the base layers of sky, Proposal Rock, the creek and the sandy beach down.  Once they dry, I'll start building in detail and more colors.  So much fun!

Anyway, I don't know what else we'll be doing today.  Probably take a drive at some point, and go back on the beach later.  And at some point, I'll practice the guitar I brought with me!

Renaissance on the Coast.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Renaissance Girl

So, I'm feeling pretty artistic these days.

I'm taking classes on book publishing and theater.  I've been reading a lot - middle grade children's books as usual, but also sophisticated literary stuff like The Faerie Queene.  I got some new acrylic painting supplies and have plans to use them.  I've gone to a couple of writing conferences, and will be going to another at the end of the month.  I'm freelance editing.  I blog.  I got a guitar and am taking lessons.  I've written some new poems and am working on a YA book.  I finally published my poetry book.  I'm listening to the radio on my way downtown.  And just today, I had a tour of the rare book room at Powell's, which blew my mind.

I'm basically my own personal Renaissance.

Monday, February 16, 2015


You know, I didn't get the best sleep the last few days, and as a result, I've been a little tired.  But I was busy over the weekend and didn't blog on Friday or Saturday, so I really didn't want to skip Monday, too.  But when I went to update my blog this morning before class, the result was very boring.

I blame it on being tired.

But hey!  There is hope.  Because this is my blog, which means I control what goes on here.  So guess what?  I have declared a do-over.  I have erased the previous blog content from the morning (if you missed it, don't worry - you didn't miss much...), and replaced it with this!  Much more interesting.

For instance, here's something random I saw the other day:

And here's what I learned over the weekend:

1) Saturday was apparently Valentine's Day.  Since I'm not a relationship person (and more importantly, since I'm not eating chocolate at the moment), I kept forgetting.  Hope everyone had a nice day - I had a great time visiting with Mom and Great Aunt J, and Aunt M and Uncle B.  I also got a Crater Lake Root Beer at Red Hills Market.

2) I love Communion Sunday at church.  Actually, I've known this for a couple of years now.  But I love it.  We sang a few of my favorite songs,* and I looked up the guitar sheet music afterwards so I could learn to play them.  One of them has a bunch of chords I don't know yet, so now I have something new to work on.

3) I still have the ability to be obsessive compulsive about new things that I've discovered I like.  I've been delving into Taylor Swift land for about a month now.  Apparently no matter how much you look around YouTube, you will always find another interview clip that you haven't seen yet.  So that's two things I learned right there.

4) Despite my obsessive-compulsive tendencies, I have made some decisions about how I'm going to manage my time from now on (starting tomorrow - literally).  Spending a bunch of time binge-watching YouTube will not be high on the list of priorities.  :)

5) I think I may need to move my furniture around.  I put my office furniture in the living room area, because it looked nice and the living room furniture fits snugly and cozily in the spare bedroom, but it's not working for me, work-wise.  I think I need the writing desk in the spare room, so I really feel like I'm in a separate space.  Will think about that one, because there's no way I'm moving it all around by myself.

6) Portland seems to be having a relatively mild winter.  The weather this weekend was amazing.

7) I really enjoy applying song lyrics to life. Someone will be telling me about something, and I'll say, "You know, there's a Sara Groves song about that" - that's happened a lot over the last year or so.  And just today I said, "You know, there's a Taylor Swift lyric about that."  Poetry can be so helpful.

*How Deep the Father's Love for UsIn Christ Alone, and Lord, I Need You.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Wednesday Review: Navigating Early

You know, I got a bunch of book money for Christmas, and I went and spent it all pretty much right away.  I got lots of books I'd been wanting for ages (like The Poetic Edda and The Mabinogion), and also a nice big stack of middle grade children's books.  Among them was Clare Vanderpool's sophomore novel, Navigating Early.

Introduction: Set in Maine at the end of World War Two, Navigating Early is the story of two boys, Jack Baker and Early Auden.  Jack has recently lost his mother, and his father, now a stranger after four years away in the Navy, moves him from his home in Kansas and drops him off at a boarding school in Maine before returning to duty.

Early, on the other hand, grew up at the school.  An orphaned autistic savant,* Early is dealing with the death of his older brother, who was killed in the fighting in Europe.  Seeing a story in the sequence of numerals making up the number Pi, Early seems to believe the story is true, and that Pi is the name of the main character.  But Pi is lost, echoing the loss of Early's brother, and finding him becomes all-consuming.

Both outcasts, Jack and Early form an uneven friendship that takes them on the journey of their lives as they set out alone on the Appalachian Trail to track down a killer bear that Early believes will lead them to Pi and, ultimately, his brother.

My Review:  I have a lot of middle grade children's books.  For the most part, I have them organized by genre, but one shelf is reserved for my absolute favorite children's books, regardless of genre, author, or time period.  Navigating Early has found a place on this prestigious shelf.

This is, quite simply, a great story.  There is a LOT going on in this book.  There's Jack, dealing with the loss of his mother, the lack of relationship with his father, culture shock, and a boy he doesn't understand.  Then there's Early, trying to regain the equilibrium he lost when he got that fateful telegram reporting his brother's death.

The book goes back and forth between real life and Early's narration of Pi's story.  To avoid confusion, the Pi sections are their own chapters, and have a different font.  These bits are wisely kept pretty short - we basically hear excerpts as we go along - excerpts that end up having relevance later, so don't skim or skip these.  It helps that the story of Pi is interesting in its own right, reading rather like a good folk tale.  It also becomes heavily symbolic.

There's really only one flaw to the symbolism of Pi's story: As Jack and Early's quest plays out, the parallels become a bit too close for me.  In a way, the parallels are really cool; it's fun to see how the author takes some aspect of Early's story, and re-imagines it as a feature of their quest.  On the other hand, it starts to feel a little contrived at a certain point.  That said, these vignettes, both as they are narrated by Early, and as they are experienced by the boys in real life, are compelling enough to keep you going.  That relatively minor irritation is actually overcome later by the compelling aspect of the stories.  Also, it was fairly clear to me early on that Early saw Pi as symbolizing his brother, but I had no idea where it was all going - that was well done.

So basically, although you have to suspend a little extra disbelief for this one, Navigating Early is a fascinating, well-written, thoughtful read.  This is a book you think about while you're reading it, and continue to think about afterwards.

Sometimes children's books deal with complex ideas so beautifully.

Copyright Date: 2013
Length: 306 pages, including author's note, etc.
Publisher: Yearling (originally Delacorte)
Genre: Sort of historical fiction...?  Definitely adventure.
Honor: Michael L. Printz Honor Book

My rating: 4.5 stars

*I have no idea how true-to-life her depiction is, but she seems to have done her research.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Blustery Day

Well, it's been lightly raining more or less for days and days and days.  Thanks, Portland.  :/

Still, I managed to visit Mom and Dad on Saturday, which was very nice.  By a strange coincidence, one of Mom's friends made a home movie using a Taylor Swift song that Mom absolutely loved (Never Grow Up), so I went ahead and introduced her to some clips on YouTube.  Now my parents are both sort of fans.  Who knew?

Uh-oh, the lights just flickered again.

So it's been raining all morning, with a gusty breeze.  I'm actually really glad I don't need to drive over the 205 bridge today, because I had enough gusts driving on 217 between Pacific Hwy and I-5!  It's a blustery day, if I ever saw one.  Hopefully the wind won't get worse and start pulling trees out of the ground.

Hmm.  Two more light flickers.  I'd better wrap this up!!

(And another two flickers - yikes!!!)

Friday, February 6, 2015

Unreasonable Excitement. Again.

So I'm taking this class, Intro to Book Publishing, and we've been split into groups to form our own mock publishing houses.  We wrote mission statements and submission guidelines, and then every individual student submitted query letters to the various mock companies.

On Monday, we read the queries we received, and each group chose two books to acquire for publication.  I ended up being the receiver of submission papers for my company, and I was pretty giddy as people started handing me letter after letter - nine, in total.  I was so excited.  Big grin on my face.

My group is a publisher of middle grade and YA fiction and creative non-fiction.  Of all the queries we received, two non-fiction proposals were the best.  There was also a fiction book which sounded like a good idea, although the quality of the query letter left a lot to be desired (some students purposely wrote a bad query on top of their 'real ones' for the fun of it).  So, we picked the two non-fiction books (one MG, one YA) for publication.

But Rachel, doesn't that make your list (the list of books you publish) unbalanced toward the non-fiction category?

That was exactly my concern.  However, as it's a mock company publishing a mere two books, and which only received nine submissions, I suppose that's taking the imaginary list a bit too seriously.*

Anyway, it was fun reading and discussing the letters.  But the thing that has me grinning like an idiot happened on Wednesday, when we next met for class.

After a bunch of lecture/discussion time, each mock publishing house announced which fake books they had chosen for pretend publication.  Now, I had overachieved and written three letters, because for me at this point, what's the point of school if you aren't going to practice a real useful skill needed in your desired career?  Two of the letters were serious and legit, but I'll admit the last one was mainly for laughs.

The one for laughs, I already knew had been rejected, because I have a different class on Tuesdays with a girl in that group.  But the other two?  The were both accepted.

That's right.  Two out of the ten books being 'published' by the class are mine.

:D   Grinning like an idiot.**

Anyway!  The downside (from a time perspective) and simultaneous upside (from a practice perspective), is that this means more work for me in the class - I'll have to fill out an author questionnaire for each company, and they probably won't be all the same questions.  There's other stuff that I'll have to do, too, but I don't know what yet.

But who cares!!!  This real writer is being fake published.  Heck yeah.


**Yep.  Definitely taking this exercise too seriously.  ;)

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Wednesday Review: Darths & Droids

I am, unashamedly, a nerd.  However, there are different types of nerds, and different levels.

There are, for example, comic book nerds.  I am not one of them.  Other than the Smokey Bear comic the Forest Service used to hand out (and the newspaper comics, of course), I have never read a comic book.  I don't think I've ever even been in a comic book store.  Nothing against them, or anything - just never felt the draw.

There are also certain 'fandoms' revolving around books, movies, TV shows, etc.  There are Star Wars nerds.  I'm not one of them, either, although I did grow up watching the Star Wars Trilogy, and I have strong opinions about the Abomination (1-3).  That, however, is about it.

I'm also not really a gamer.  Although I came close once a few years ago, I have never played an RPG (that's Role Playing Game, not Rocket Propelled Grenade.  Which I have also never 'played'.)

So imagine my surprise when I got hooked on a web comic... about Star Wars.  And RPGing.  Yeah.

I blame my brother's friend Rabia - her husband did a guest post on her blog all about web comics.  I, in idle curiosity, went and looked at them all.  I spent about a minute looking at each of them before moving on.  Except for one.

Introduction: Darths & Droids is a long-running web comic that turns the Star Wars saga into an adventure dreamed up by a bunch of friends playing a table-top role playing game.  Using real movie stills, The Comic Irregulars add their own captions, managing to both follow the canon and turn it on its head.  Underneath the actual comic is a brief explanation of anything the comics feel might need explanation, along with a text-only transcript.  The comic is updated three times a week and is currently nearing the end of Episode V.

My Review: Well, this thing is strangely addicting.  I first started reading it in Afghanistan, I think, which may have contributed to my enthusiasm for it, but I was just re-reading the first comic and looking at the notes below (which I didn't notice the first time around until later), and before I knew it, I'd read a dozen of them!

Now, I don't know much about web comics in general, so I really can't compare this to anything else out there, but here's what I've noticed about this one that make it a lot of fun:

1) It subverts the characters.  Instead of Qui-Gon Jinn being the calm, wise teacher, he's an impulsive, shoot-first-ask-questions-later kind of guy.

2) It subverts the plot.  I really can't say anything about this without giving away major surprises.  Just know that however closely it might seem to be following the films, in the end, they change stuff.  In a way that totally fits.  It's brilliant.  The end of Episode 1?  So awesome.

3) It subverts the things you hate.  That horrible dialogue between Anakin and Padme about sand?  Yeah.  When I got to that comic, I screeched in delight.

4) It subverts the things you love.  In just the right way - with lots of affection for the original.  Episodes 1151-1153.  So great.

5) It explains and exploits role-play gaming patterns.

6) It's consistent within its own canon.  Given the scope of the comic, that's pretty impressive.  I mean, it's more consistent than the actual Star Wars canon (if you include those Prequel-Things).

7) It's extremely creative.  Even the gamers/GM are very much characters of their own!

Start Date: 14 September 2007
Number of Episodes: 1153, as of today
Movies covered: 1-4 and most of 5
Names of episode groups by movie:
   -The Phantasmal Malevolence     (Episodes 1-208)
   -The Silence of the Clones     (Episodes 209-412)
   -Revelation of the Sith     (Episodes 413-671
   -A New Generation     (Episodes 672-919)
   -The Enemy Let Slip     (Episodes 920-?)
   -(Unknown)     (Episodes ?-?)
End Date: ---
Created by: The Comic Irregulars

My Rating: I can't rate this against other web comics, but based solely on my enjoyment of it, we'll go with 5 stars.

Monday, February 2, 2015

The Weekend of All The Things

I had a great weekend!

On Friday, I went and spent the day with Mom, after picking her up from the train station.  We walked on the river, met Aunt Mary for dinner and walked again with Dad when he got home from work.  What a pleasant day!

On Saturday, I attended Ooligan Press' Write to Publish conference.  It's run by the graduate book publishing students, and it was really, really good.  Most conferences are very writing-focused; the workshops deal with different genres and forms, strategies for good writing, etc.  This conference was publishing-centric, which is a great perspective for writers to gain.  There should be more of this sort of thing.

I took lots of notes at the conference and met some really nice people.  That evening after I got home, I practiced guitar and listened to some RZIM podcasts from Just Thinking.  It made for a long, satisfying day.

And what about Sunday?  I slept in (just can't seem to help myself, lol), and went to church.  Apparently February is 'missions month', so I'm excited to learn more about the various missions programs my new church is involved in.  Later, I listened to some more RZIM podcasts, this time from the Let My People Think series.  I must have over-done it, because I decided to take a nap after the third one, and ended up sleeping an hour longer than I had intended.

But that's alright!  I spent the evening practicing guitar, spending too much time on facebook,* and writing mock query letters for one of my classes (so much fun!).  I'm especially happy with that homework, because I wrote one of the queries based on my NaNoWriMo book, which I've been putting off editing because I know it needs a ton of work and I wasn't quite sure what direction I wanted to take.  Having let it simmer on the back burner for a couple months, the query letter actually helped me refocus the concept, and now I know what direction I'm going to take in the re-writes.

How great is that?

*You see, I've cut myself off from YouTube for the month of February, so I guess I compensated a little with facebook.  It was day one - I'll accept it and move on.