Sunday, July 31, 2011

Book Notes: Lee & Miller's "Saltation" and "Mouse & Dragon"

I recently recommended Sharon Lee and Steve Miller's Liaden books to a young friend, saying:
. . . Lee & Miller's books are awesomely fun, just because they have no compunction about giving their heroes absolutely every virtue they possibly can. The hero's a stunningly talented pilot! And swordsman! And linguist! Oh, yeah, and he's an aristocrat! And has piles of money! And is a spy! And outrageously handsome! And did we mention he's a talented telepath? :D Their stories just overflow with adventure and swashbuckling and joie-de-vivre. They're ridiculously unlikely, but I love 'em.
The two most recent efforts from the husband and wife team, "Saltation" and "Mouse & Dragon", were terribly fun, especially as they filled in some gaps that have piqued this faithful reader's curiosity for years. What did Daav yos'Phelium do during his missing decades? Who is Theo Waitley? How did Daav and Aelianna fall in love? These two volumes answer those questions.

I liked "Saltation" well, and "Mouse & Dragon" less well . . . the latter just didn't have enough plot, and was too moony a romance for my liking. I'm glad to know what happened in that part of the story, but I don't think I'll reread it quite as often as I reread their other work.
However, though I think that Lee & Miller's entirely edible prose, ridiculously talented characters & sense of fun would carry the day with any reader who happened to pick up "Saltation", I'd strongly recommend against starting with it if you haven't read any of their other books. "Saltation" was a lot of fun to read, but I don't think it'd be nearly as much fun to a new reader, who wouldn't get the enjoyment of having gaps in a favorite fictional universe filled.
But, since the Liaden books are a delight, I do recommend picking them up. Start with "Conflict of Honors" or, better yet, "Agent of Change."
As Lars Walker* says, the usual cautions for adult situations apply. Liaden morality doesn't equal mine, but within their fictional society, Lee & Miller's characters are strongly ethical and moral people - heroes, in fact. (And master traders, scouts, swordsmen, pilots, mathematicians and all the rest.)
Peace of Christ to you,
Jessica Snell
*Read Lars Walker too. His stuff is like the Vikings meets Stephen Lawhead peppered with a bit of "That Hideous Strength".

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Secular Novels and Christian Novels

I read a blog post today called "The Myth of 'Secular Fiction'" which encapsulated a lot of what I've been thinking about lately.

I'm plotting my next novel and one of the problems I'm running into is that I'm not sure whether I want to aim it at the Christian fiction market or the secular fiction market.

And it really is a marketing issue. As Mike Duran points out in the blog post linked above, lots of Christians write "secular" books. And any good secular book written by anybody is going to have some truth in it that any Christian can recognize, simply because the world we live in was made by God, and good art is built around truth, and, as the old saying goes, all truth is God's truth. (Duran makes this point in the classy way: by quoting C. S. Lewis.)

But when you publish a book, you have to market a book. That is, you have to try to get the book in front of the sort of people who'd be likely to buy it. Labeling it as "Christian" is one way to do that. It lets the reader know (a little bit) what he's in for.

And it's not wholly a bad thing. It's good to give the reader an idea of what he's in for.

But there are limits to what you can do in a book labeled "Christian fiction", because CBA-associated bookstores have rules on what the fiction they sell can & cannot contain - rules having to do with sex, alcohol, etc. And there are some really good stories that can be told within those limits. But there are also really good stories that can not be told within those limits.

The book I'm reading right now, "The Year of the Warrior" by Lars Walker, is an example of a good, Christian book whose content falls outside of those limits. War, murder, rape, fornication, drinking, demons - all of those things are present in the story. But it's also one of the most Christian stories I've ever read - the theme might be said to start with "the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom" and build from there to a towering fanfare of "Who is the King of glory? the Lord strong and mighty!" And it's published by Baen.

Suffice it to say that I think the Christian/secular division doesn't necessarily hold past the marketing aspect (the marketing aspect is real).

But that doesn't really make my current decision easier. The novel I'm plotting is a romance, and so the main plotline could easily be written for a secular publisher or a Christian publisher (since both publish books about people falling in love). But one of the subplots involves an ethical dilemma that I know my character is going to approach from a Christian worldview. In fact, the ethical dilemma is what's really compelling me to write the book: I'm honestly not sure how he's going to solve the problem and I'm eager to watch him do it.

(In my mind, the only good reason to write a book is because you want to know how it's going to turn out too.)

But because I'm not sure about how my hero's going to solve his problem, I'm not sure which market it's going to be fit for. Also, knowing which market I'm aiming at will, in part, determine my hero's characteristics. Which will have an effect on how he solves the problem.

The circle is just a little vicious.

How am I going to solve my dilemma? Well I'm pretty sure the key is just to write the story whichever way makes for the strongest characters and the biggest possible disaster for those strong characters should they fail to solve the problems I set them up for.

Since I'm not sure which market that's going to leave me in, I guess that just adds another layer of suspense for me while I write. Game on!

Peace of Christ to you,

Jessica Snell


Monday, July 25, 2011

Book Notes: On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King

For my money, the best advice in this book was, "let me urge that you take your story through at least two drafts; the one you do with the study door closed and the one you do with it open." (Emphasis mine.)

Writing a book is a funny thing: you're basically inviting the public to take a guided romp through your heart. And even though I (rarely) think when I read someone else's book, "what kind of person does it take to entertain thoughts like these?" it's very hard for me not to expect people to wonder that about me.

I mean, the truth is that everyone thinks about God, sex, and death, about survival and love and pain, so your average author isn't really going into unexplored territory, humanly speaking. But most of us don't tell each other what we think about all those primal things, and as authors we don't tell you what we think exactly, but you know that in order to write characters whose experience encompasses all of that we have to have thought about it, and thought about it a lot and thought about it hard.

Which feels embarrassing, even though it isn't.

So in order to keep that embarrassment from hindering you in writing something that really says something about life, the universe, and everything, it makes sense to keep your work private, at least the first time through.

Of course, if you never show it to anyone and write like you never intend to show it to anyone, it'll just be heart-barf. Blaaaaaargh. All your id and super-ego and angst, vomited out there on the page. No one wants to see that. But I don't think that's what King is suggesting.

After all, here is what he continues on to say:

"Here's something else - if no one says to you, 'Oh Sam (or Amy)! This is wonderful!," you are a lot less apt to slack off or to start concentrating on the wrong thing . . . being wonderful, for instance, instead of telling the goddam story."

Yep. Really, the whole point is to stop looking at yourself and to do the work. Anything that aids that goal is to be embraced, whether it keeps you from being embarrassed or keeps you from preening.

Do the work. And I think that might sum up the theme of this very admirable book.

Read it; it's good. (Standard disclaimers for adult content and - as is obvious from the above quotation - language apply.)

Peace of Christ to you,

Jessica Snell

Friday, July 22, 2011

Yarn Dying . . . again

This yarn dying was prompted when I discovered that in washing some angora/lambswool that I'd skeined from a thrift store sweater, I'd accidentally dyed a bit of it blue - accidentally because the tub I'd washed it in apparently still had a bit of blue dye in it from some blue yarn I'd washed in it previously.

So I thought, hey! lemons for lemonade!

Here's the yarn soaking in warm water before being dyed:

Yeah, the patch of blue was small, but it wasn't going to be unnoticeable on that creamy white fiber.

Here's the yarn post-dying:

Very bright! I think it might need to be made into a very light, lacy scarf. Or maybe be worked up with some of the still-white skeins I got out of the same sweater.

What do you think?

Peace of Christ to you,

Jessica Snell

Thursday, July 21, 2011

or what's a heaven for?

Some thoughts from a recent Stations of the Cross walk:

-looking at the depictions of Jesus being stripped, beaten, and crucified, I can't help but think, "this is what he took on a body for." Which makes me wonder, is that what bodies are for? Are they made for breaking? For being given to others? For sacrifice? And then, for redemption?

-Look at the way the daughters of Jerusalem look at Jesus. That is what I want to be: I want to be looking at Jesus.

-Regarding the former: when I let myself be distracted by frivolities, and look away from my children when I am supposed to be attending to them, am I looking away from God? Think of Mother Teresa finding Christ in those she cared for . . .

-Looking at the soldier beating Jesus and thinking of the scriptures saying that Jesus bears our burdens: is this how we put our burdens on to him? Sometimes I think it might be.

Peace of Christ to you,

Jessica Snell

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Links! work, stories, weight loss, epic fantasy, & more!

Anne Kennedy waxes wonderful about work - in all its repetitive monotony - and about the "very very few things . . . . that we do one time only for complete lasting satisfaction and joy."

Lars Walker writes about the Apologetic of Story (that's part one, and part two is here) and why - except for the witness of the actual lives of the saints - it is story that most compellingly convinces us of the truth of the gospel.

Betsy Barber writes about the Tale of Two Daughters in the gospel of Mark. I liked these two parts especially:

. . . she reaches out, and touches Jesus’ clothes and immediately the flow of blood stops and she feels in her body that she is healed of the disease. . . . Touching Jesus should have made him unclean, instead the touch made the woman clean! . . .

and then in regard to Jairus' daughter:

We are told in Numbers 5 that touching dead bodies defiles a living person. But again, the holy power differential flows the other way with the Lord Jesus.

(Hi, Mom!)

(The author is my mom.)

(Okay, I'm done with parenthetical statements; onto the rest of the links.)

This article explains why Ravelry is so awesome. It's the perfect cross-referencing. It really, really is.

Over at Learning As We Go, read about a huge study from the New England Journal of Medicine and what does and does not (statistically) lead to weight maintenance.

Annnnnnd, this is why I'm in favor of continuing to protect the second amendment. A story of a family fighting back against a home invader.

A guest blog by the awesome Elizabeth Moon on the subject of epic fantasy. I found this part particularly interesting:

Transformation, in epic, is as much bigger than the “growth” the usual story protagonist manages as the epic challenge is greater than the problems of ordinary characters. Transformation goes deeper, affects more of the character. At the end, the once lumpy and awkward caterpillar in the confining chrysalis breaks out, and has that triumph…but is so changed that it’s rare for an epic hero to go home and live a quiet life–sit by the fire, grow a few vegetables, settle down with the family, bore the grandchildren with familiar stories.

Frodo couldn’t. (Sam could, and that’s particularly interesting since without Sam, Frodo wouldn’t have been successful. Tolkien was showing something very, very interesting about character in that.)

Become An Email Jedi In 7 Steps. Love it! (Using it, too.)

This dance routine made me tear up; it's just beautiful. The story line is that they're two statues who can dance at night, but that have to become still once the sun rises, and it's a bit of a love story, and it's just amazing:

Monday, July 18, 2011

Crochet FO: lace-trimmed top

I found a lovely tank top at the thrift store:

I like the intricate white paisley, it's a lovely lightweight cotton (perfect for our weather), and the cut is perfect. Except . . . it was a little low in front.
But then I thought: I crochet! I can fix that.
So I sewed a line of thread to the inside of the neckline in a running stitch and then crocheted a thick white trim directly onto the shirt. Here's the result:

I'm pretty happy with the result. I'm seeing crochet-trimmed items all over the place these days, and I get a bit of a kick out of the fact that I can do that style of embellishment just with what I have to hand.
Peace of Christ to you,
Jessica Snell

Sunday, July 17, 2011

the decluttering proceeds apace

Albeit a very slow, slow pace.

It's good though. This time, I'm enjoying decluttering not fast but well.

So, for example, when I got to the part of our dining room bookshelf where I'd shelved CD's that needed filing (we keep all of our music CD's in one giant folder, sans jewel cases), I didn't just file them in the folder. Adam & I went through the folder, pulled out music we don't listen too, put it in the donate pile, and cleared the electronic copies off of our computers. Then I filed the CD's that needed filing.

I'm enjoying taking that level of care as I go through all our house and organize it. I think it means that I'm going to be done somewhere around Christmas rather than at the end of summer, but I love the feeling of putting things into order - real order.

One of the odd things I've noticed as I work is that I have to go through most spaces two times, not just once. The first time I sweep up all the obvious stuff and either put it where it belongs, trash it, or donate it. Then - usually a week or two later, after the purpose of the space has had time to marinate in my mind - I come back and do a more thoughtful reorganizing: This is what we use this space for, so this is what should be here and this is how it should be arranged.

Like I said: it's a slow process. If you came over to my house right now, you wouldn't be impressed (especially as it's in its normal state of Sunday afternoon mess - clean up won't happen till after dinner).

But I can feel the difference as I move through my day-to-day routines. Chores are easier. The atmosphere is more peaceful.

I'm very happy we're doing this.

Anyone else doing some tardy spring cleaning?

Peace of Christ to you,

Jessica Snell

Thursday, July 14, 2011

driftwood flame gloves

The colors of the yarn remind me of the colors you see in the flames when you burn driftwood:

I wore these on my recent backpacking trip and was really pleased with them. It was nice to have warm hands while still being able to use my fingers properly.

I used this pattern and this yarn. It took less than one skein and I bought it with one of those great coupons JoAnn's prints every week, so it was a pretty frugal project too!

Peace of Christ to you,

Jessica Snell

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

“These are your presents,” he said, “and they are tools not toys. The time to use them is perhaps near at hand. Bear them well.”

Reading Hopkins’ “Morning, Midday, and Evening Sacrifice”, it strikes me that I’m in the middle verse now. Here it is:

Both thought and thew now bolder

And told my Nature: Tower;

Head, heart, hand, heel, and shoulder

That beat and breathe in power –

This pride of prime’s enjoyment

Take as for tool, not toy meant

And hold at Christ’s employment.

Now there are your marching orders for middle age!

Peace of Christ to you,

Jessica Snell

Mother's Day gift

Here's a finished object posted a little late, because when I finished it, it went straight into the gift cupboard:

This was my mom's Mother's Day present this year, and it's bluer in real life than it looks in the photo. It's the same pattern as the mossy green one I made for myself earlier in the year.

Peace of Christ to you,
Jessica Snell

Monday, July 11, 2011

Book Notes: The Actor and the Housewife, by Shannon Hale

This book still makes me laugh harder than any other book except "A Civil Campaign". And it makes me weep every time too - this time I got to the sad part while I was sitting at the table with the kids, and I kept quiet about it, but had to keep wiping away tears so that they wouldn't notice Mom was crying.

When we reread books there's always a reason. Sometimes it's because of the characters or the plot, sometimes it's the dialogue or it's because the setting is exactly the place we wish we could be at the moment.

With this book, I reread it because I remember how funny it is. But then, once I'm a few pages in, I remember that the reason I really love it is because of how Hale writes about marriage and family. I've never read a household that sounded so real. And it's a good household too - so often fiction is about dysfunction, and the fact that Hale can write about normality and make it more interesting than dysfunction just shows her chops. That's hard. And I love her for it.

Then, towards the end, I remember that the whole book is a theodicy and I love her for that too. Being a Mormon, she answers the theodicy differently than I would, but I think any orthodox believer of any faith can appreciate a piece of fiction that grows so organically out of the author's theology.

This is a good book. Go read it.

Peace of Christ to you,

Jessica Snell

Sunday, July 10, 2011

first Christmas craft of the year!

Just a simple beanie for a boy who loves green and brown:

Anyone else Christmas crafting yet? If so, what are you making?

Peace of Christ to you,
Jessica Snell

Saturday, July 9, 2011

I joined Facebook

Because I wanted to experience it before Google Plus eats us all. :D

Peace of Christ to you,

Jessica Snell

Crochet Finished Object: Birch Vest by Kristin Omdahl

I'm really happy with how this turned out:

The pattern is Kristin Omdahl's Birch Vest from Interweave Crochet. Here's a close-up of the lace:

And here's a less-impressive shot from the front:

Of course, since it's wool, I'll get no use out of it for another four or five months, but I think once the cold weather starts it'll be perfect for throwing on on my way out of the house for a bit of warmth.

What can I say? Our cold weather is wimpy. :)

Peace of Christ to you,
Jessica Snell

I Stand Relieved

We've decided to send our kids to our little local elementary school next year.

I spent several months this spring holding the options - homeschooling and public schooling - in either hand, weighing one and then the other, and finding nothing to tip the scales in either direction. We've never felt either the obligation to homeschool or the obligation to public school. I think it's largely like being an omnivore vs. being a vegetarian: you can do both well and you can do both badly. There's no moral imperative either way, at least not for us.

So I spent a long time undecided, just because neither the advantages nor the disadvantages of either side were compelling to me. Eventually I started feeling more frustrated at my indecision than anything else.

But my mom pointed me towards the Ignatian discernment process: basically, a way of praying for guidance when you're faced with two licit options, i.e., how to pray for wisdom when it isn't a moral issue, when you're really free to follow either course. And my husband gave me a few hours by myself to quietly pray through the decision. And I came out of that feeling very free to send our kids to school next year; indeed, it seemed best.

So, we're starting something new in the fall, and we're all looking forward to it. I think, given how I was raised (public school and loved it), I'm better equipped naturally to be a public schooling mom than a homeschooling mom.

A big part of the reason we started homeschooling was because I didn't think I could be a good public school mom with twin infants. I still think that was true, and I don't regret these past two years. But now that Anna and Lucy are so much older, and I'm not nursing two babies and not getting enough sleep, I think I can be the sort of public school mom I'd want to be: involved and available to help.

The thing that really made me feel okay with the decision was when I realized what my real question was. It was: is it okay to delegate my children's education?

When I put it that way, and then thought of the homeschooling mothers I most admire in real life - the ones that are doing a really awesome job - I realized that all of them delegated parts of their children's educations. The music lessons, the co-ops, the online classes, the charter schools, the clubs, the P. E. lessons, Classical Conversations, the play dates . . .

And the second thing I realized that it was exactly these areas of delegation that were the parts of homeschooling that drove me nuts. The unstructured social interaction, the something-different-every-day, the money, the spotty scheduling . . . basically, it's the frugal introvert's nightmare.

So, the question wasn't, is it okay to delegate? - all the parents I admire do - it was, is it okay to delegate to our local elementary? So I toured our local elementary again, and was really happy with what I saw. Instead of listening to the hyper principal give a sales speech (the hyper principal is gone now), I talked to a kindergarten teacher who's been there for almost twenty years, and I feel like I got a much better picture of day-to-day life in the classrooms, and what I saw looked good. Not perfect, but pretty good.

And as someone who went to pretty good public schools and is pretty happy with her education, I'm okay with that.

But we have the good luck to live in a nice city that is, frankly, full of 1) young Christian families and 2) retirees. Which makes for a public school environment that beats most.

So . . . we'll see how it goes. And if it goes badly, well I know now that I can homeschool, and so we'll just pull them out if it goes badly.

But I think it'll go well.

Peace of Christ to you,

Jessica Snell

Friday, July 8, 2011

she can do it!

So, yesterday, my daughter asked if she could have some yarn and a crochet hook. She's fiddled around with crocheting before, but all she'd managed to do up till now was make chains. But she and her brother came down from their quiet time doing this:

She's making him a glove. Directly onto his hand. (Gamgee is very patient.)

Then, today, she completed this:

She's six.

And I'm one proud mama.

Peace of Christ to you,
Jessica Snell

7 Quick Takes - Writing Edition

1. I'm cackling a lot these days. I love being at the tail-end of my book! All those things I plotted (golly!) over a year ago are coming to fruition! Every time I sit down and start looking around for my story pieces they're right there to hand. It's an amazing feeling to have exactly what I need immediately available. "Look! She just did what I thought she would! Listen! He just said the thing! It worked, it worked!"

2. After having a week now of sitting astonished and watching the pieces click into place, I've become an even bigger fan of plotting than I was before. Forget the seat-of-the-pants style of writing; I'm a plotter. I think getting to this point without having plotted would be like getting to the last movement of Beethoven's Ninth and realizing that I'd forgotten to hire a choir and having to stop everything and go out and find out if the Los Angeles Master Chorale happened to be busy tonight.

As it is, I have my choir and the sopranos' notes sound like angels descending from heaven (the sound I'm thinking of is at about 0.52 into this video):

3. It's very weird to be finally writing scenes that I plotted so long ago.

4. I'm plotting the next book now, so that when I finish this one I'll have something new to jump into. Being at the end of one book and seeing how the work I did back at the beginning stages paid off is great motivation for putting a lot of work into the front end on the new one.

5. Do you know what you really need in order to write books? More books! I think my library staff is going to think I'm nuts when they start processing all my requests. "She's a housewife; what is with all these books on TV production?" Research, my friends, research. Along with cackling about my finale, I'm also cackling about the wonders of libraries. I want to know stuff, and, mirabile dictu! books with the knowledge I'm seeking exist!

I know, I know. But it really is wonderful when you think about it.

6. Hmm. I should say: my next book is not a historical romance. You know, with the television production books and all.

7. I'm also plotting a sci-fi. I'm not very serious about it - or, I'm trying not to be very serious about it - but it does keep sneakily stealing my attention away from the more marketable stuff.

Speaking of, does anyone want to read a book that is essentially Twelfth Night set in Regency London with aliens thrown in?

Because if so, I will write it for you.

More Quick Takes can be found here.

Peace of Christ to you,

Jessica Snell

Thursday, July 7, 2011

the only thing that stays the same

My sister has a baby, her first, and he's the cutest baby in the world.

I can say that, you see, because none of mine are babies anymore. Which is very weird to me, because I've spent almost six years mothering babies. Half of my adult life, in fact.

So I’m making a transition in my mothering, from being the mother of babies to being the mother of kids. And I'm realizing that I have to learn how to do this new thing well.

And it’s a fascinating new thing – my favorite part of mothering babies was watching them grow and learn, and being able to know them better and better as they were able to communicate more and more clearly – from first smiles to first gestures to first words – and liking them so well, and then liking them better and better the better I could get to know them, and being astonished that it was even possible to like them more when I already liked them better than anyone else I ever knew (except Adam) – and mothering kids! oh! it’s that over and over and more and more – I like Bess & Gamgee & Lucy & Anna each so much, and I love, love, love watching them grow into themselves and learning to do and to be . . . I think mothering kids is going to be an absolute blast.

I think the hard part, at least right now, comes with the way the old and the new thing merge and blend . . . yes, they are these new little people, just beginning to grow into their strengths and their intelligence . . . but the babyish parts are still there, and crop up over and over – often when I least expect them, and I have trouble transitioning (yes, again, some more) from moment to moment, from, “Let me help you do this thing you’re just learning to be good at – let me encourage you, let me watch you, let me get you the tools that you need to do it yourself” to “oh, goodness, you’re tired, you’re hungry, you need comforting – let me fulfill your needs.” And at this stage – this early childhood stage – they just boomerang from one side to another – from delightful new competence to newborn-level want-want-want-help-me-Mama! and I think I get whiplash.

So, as they are the growing young things, I need to be the one who is plastic, who is able to be one moment the strong trellis they can use as they climb up towards the sun and the next moment the warm greenhouse where they just rest and passively soak up the water and the light. And the only way I can be that, the only way I can have that flexibility that is so contrary to my own nature (I like things predictable) – is to rest myself in my own Father’s care. To be always consciously resting in His strength, letting him supply my needs so that I can supply theirs – so that I can have the wisdom, the patience, and the kindness that they need.

My desire to always know what to expect, my innate hatred of surprises – the only way I can truly satisfy that part of me that desires stability is with the knowledge that He doesn’t change. That He is who He is and He is there. That is where that thirst is slaked. And if I have that rock to stand on, I can stand firm then, despite the changes all around me.

Peace of Christ to you,

Jessica Snell

Links! reading, voting, writing & more! (like Austenland, Potter & ungrammatical vampires)

I'm sorry for the lack of posts, folks! I've been following through on my summer ambitions and doing lots of writing and cleaning. :D But here are some fun links, from the (not insignificant) time I've also spent reading:
Willa writes about having "landmarks" in the history of literature - those authors and eras you know really well, and muses about whether it's good to make a vast, shallow survey of literature or to really dig in to one particular area. (I think you probably need to do both - and she has a great Lewis quotation about how the latter will naturally lead to the former.)
Hey, this is why I vote for those "gutless, unreliable, ineffectual Republicans" too!
Oooh, Shannon Hale's "Austenland" is being made into a movie!
This interview with Jason Isaacs (who plays Lucius Malfoy in the Harry Potter movies) is great. An excerpt, when he was asked if he expected his character to take the journey he did:
I mean, most of us would run to the bookshop at midnight when the books came out, partly because we’re fans, and partly to find out if we had a job next year.
And I like this part where he describes how actors work:

Every single actor who plays a part that is on screen even momentarily can talk like this about their own characters, because you’re always there. You may not be speaking or the camera may not be pointing at you, but you create an entire life for yourself so that when the camera does catch you, you’ve got something to bring to the party.
It reminds me of all the work I do on my own characters' backgrounds. I need to know more about them than the reader ever sees, or they're not going to act like actual people when they're on stage (on page?).

And this is a helpful little collection of analysis on the Church and homosexuality. An excerpt, from Albert Mohler:
In this most awkward cultural predicament, evangelicals must be excruciatingly clear that we do not speak about the sinfulness of homosexuality as if we have no sin. As a matter of fact, it is precisely because we have come to know ourselves as sinners and of our need for a savior that we have come to faith in Jesus Christ. Our greatest fear is not that homosexuality will be normalized and accepted, but that homosexuals will not come to know of their own need for Christ and the forgiveness of their sins.

This is not a concern that is easily expressed in sound bites. But it is what we truly believe.

And an excerpt from John Piper:

What’s new is not even the celebration of homosexual sin. Homosexual behavior has been exploited, and reveled in, and celebrated in art, for millennia. What’s new is normalization and institutionalization. This is the new calamity.
"Normalization and institutionalization." A-yup. There's also a video at the link that I haven't watched. (Just to let you know. I'm sure you wondered.)

Finally, if you want a fun way to brush up on your grammar, try this site, where the Twilight books are picked apart, comma by comma, with a very sardonic hand. (Can you have a sardonic hand? Oh well.)