Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Yarnalong: "The Deep Things of God" and another pair of gloves

I've started another pair of fingerless gloves, this pair for my mom. The yarn (Patons Kroy Socks FX) is a dark denim color, with subtle shifts from dark blue to darker blue. 

The book is "The Deep Things of God: How the Trinity Changes Everything", by Fred Sanders, and I'm really enjoying it. Which is unsurprising, because I really enjoyed having Dr. Sanders as a professor back in college! Sanders is arguing in this book for evangelicals to take their inherent understanding of the Trinity and both to make it explicit, and to deepen it. He says:

Anybody who has encountered God in Christ through the Holy Spirit has come to know the Trinity. But not everybody knows that they know the Trinity.

I'm reading a bit of this each night and it's going very well with my Lenten reading of Ephesians. Ephesians, I'm finding, as all about theological truth and how that theological truth makes demands on how we live our lives. This book is very similar. That God is - and always has been and always will be - Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is true, and would be even if we didn't know it - even if we didn't exist and never had. His being isn't dependent on us. But since we do exist, who He is is important to us and has implications in our lives, even our daily lives. Sanders talks about how the Trinity is important in our prayer lives, our salvation, our evangelism, and more.

Anyway, great book! For more book-and-yarn fun, go here.

Peace of Christ to you,
Jessica Snell

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Book Notes: The Elizabethan World Picture, by E. M. W. Tillyard

(You can read a selection of notable quotations from this book here.)

The Elizabethan World Picture
The Elizabethan World Picture by E.M.W. Tillyard
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This little book is an invaluable aid to understanding not only Elizabethan literature, but also its close follower: the work of the metaphysical poets.

Every page of Tillyard's book is an enlightenment. He lays open the world as the Elizabethans saw it, from the most minute of the elements to the great dance of the stars in the firmament above.

And he makes that world infinitely attractive. There is an appealing order in the world the way the Elizabethans saw it, in the way that the kingdom of plants was a real - and not an imaginary - parallel to the kingdom of the animals, which paralleled in turn the kingdom of men. To understand a truth about one part of the world was to understand something true about the rest of the world because there were real correspondences throughout all of creation, and all created things were part of one long "chain of being", rising from the elements to the plants to the animals to man to the angels to God himself, from whom it all came. One part of creation mirrored the others. If you knew something about lions, you knew something about kings.

And along with those macrocosms, you gained knowledge of the microcosm of man himself. To know about kings was to know something about the role that reason ought to play in your own self - reason being the proper monarch of the well-ordered self. Everything was connected.

The connections were not mistakes, and not happenstances. They of necessity existed in a world that was ordered by an intelligent creator. As it says in Proverbs, "It is the glory of God to hide a thing; it is the glory of kings to seek it out." The Elizabethans sought out that order to the full.

Fascinating book; I highly recommend it.

View all my reviews

Chapbook Entry for "The Elizabethan Wolrd Picture" by E. M. W. Tillyard

"The greatness of the Elizabethan age was that it contained so much of the new without bursting the noble form of the old order." -pg. 8

"Indeed all the violence of Elizabethan drama has nothing to do with a dissolution of moral standards: on the contrary, it can afford to indulge itself just because those standards were so powerful." -pg. 20

"The chain [of being] is also a ladder. The elements are alimental. There is a progression in the way the elements nourish plants, the fruits of plants beasts, and the flesh of beasts men. And this is all one with the tendency of man upwards towards God." -pg. 28

". . . the chain of being . . . made vivid the idea of a related universe where no part was superfluous; it enhanced the dignity of all creation, even the meanest part of it." -pg 31, emphasis mine.

"Far from being dignified and tending to an insolent anthropocentricity, the earth in the Ptolemaic system was the cesspool of the universe, the repository of its grossest dregs." -pg. 39

"Our own age need not begin congratulating itself on its freedom from superstition till it defeats a more dangerous temptation to despair." -pg. 54

On Fortune and the Fall:
"It was the Fall, then, that was primarily responsible for the tyranny of fortune, and, this being so, man could not shift the blame but must bear his punishment as he can." -pg. 55

"But however pessimistic orthodoxy could be about the heaviness of the punishment inflicted through fortune on man for his fall, it always fought the superstition that man was the slave as well as the victim of chance." -pg. 55

"Raleigh . . . begins with saying that it is an error to hold with the Chaldaeans Stoics and others that the stars bind man with an ineluctable necessity. It is the opposite error to suppose that they are mere ornament." -pg. 56

On Knowledge and Reason
". . . one of man's highest faculties is his gift for disinterested knowledge. It was through that gift that he might learn something of God." -pg. 72, emphasis mine.

"Far from being a sign of modesty, innocence, or intuitive virtue, not to know yourself was to resemble the beasts, if not in coarseness at least in deficiency of education. to know yourself was not egoism but the gateway to all virtue." -pg. 72, emphasis mine.

"Morally the correspondence between macrocosm and microcosm, if taken seriously, must be impressive. If the heavens are fulfilling punctually their vast and complicated wheelings, man must feel it shameful to allow the workings of his own little world to degenerate." -pg. 93

Monday, February 27, 2012

Dear Flu: go AWAY

Sorry for the blog silence, folks. All six of us came down with the stomach flu this weekend (yay*!), and we're still convalescent. Normal blogging to resume once this virus succumbs to the mighty forces of time, linen laundering, and Lysol.

Peace of Christ to you,
Jessica Snell

*As many people have noted, someone really needs to come up with the long-awaited "sarcasm font". (And yes, I'm using those quotations marks to quote something, not for emphasis. <-see? I use italics for emphasis. Like you're supposed to. <-Being sick apparently makes me cranky.)

Friday, February 24, 2012

Book Notes: A Theft of Swords by Michael J. Sullivan

Theft of Swords (The Riyria Revelations, #1-2)Theft of Swords by Michael J. Sullivan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I almost feel like telling you to skip my review and instead go and read the author interview printed in the back of this book, because all of the particularities I noticed while I was reading "Theft of Swords" are explained by the author in his interview/afterword.

In other words: he did it all on purpose.

What did Michael J. Sullivan do? Well, he wrote an engaging, fast-moving, cinematic fantasy yarn.

"Cinematic" is the key word here: this story unfolds in front of the eyes of your mind. There's very little that's abstract, and that focus on concrete action and dialogue (and setting! great settings) keeps the story moving. This is great, but it also has the effect of occasionally making the story feel shallow.

Not entirely though. There's an ancient wizard that shows up occasionally, and whenever he's on the page (except when he's making quips), the whole scene takes on deeper, more ominous tones, and that in a good way. And the quieter of the two heroes also has a serious, fascinating effect - on this reader at least. Both of the heroes, though, are very properly heroic, mysterious, *and* likeable, which is a neat trick.

Do I recommend it? To the lover of fantasy fiction: absolutely. This is a fun book, the characters are engaging and often funny, some of the settings are so well-drawn I can *still* see them when I close my eyes, even though I finished the book a few weeks ago, and the plot moves briskly along.

Also, the author wrote this for his own teenage child, and so there is very little objectionable content. (Though it always bothers me when books have prostitutes who are robustly psychologically healthy. It just always strikes me as highly unlikely.) (Okay, I just realized the last parenthetical statement seems to disprove the sentence right before it. To clarify: there are brothels and prostitutes in this fantasy realm - which is realistic of just about any world, really - but their place in the plot isn't salacious.)

I really appreciate Sullivan's conviction that fantasy shouldn't be boring and the skill that allowed him to live up to that conviction. So, if following two heroes on a daring quest is your idea of a good time, give this one a try. I don't think you'll be disappointed.

View all my reviews

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Links: Polycarp, Complementarianism, Horses, and more!

Today is the feast of the Martyrdom of Polycarp. The second-century account of his death is short and well-worth reading.

Things that undermine the complementarian position - written, I should note, by a complementarian. I don't agree with everything in here (for one thing, I belong to a church that has priests, not elders), but I thought this was very thoughtful, gracious, and smart.

Dream Big and Long - more on motherhood and vocation.

The Art of Horsemanship - I love articles that give me a view into a part of the world I know nothing about. This one does that.

He Who Knows the Story - a very Chestertonian conversion.

Peace of Christ to you,
Jessica Snell

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Yarnalong: a cowl for Adam and Ephesians for Lent

Some plain good knitting and plain good reading: it seemed appropriate for Ash Wednesday.

My husband has been wanting a warm cowl for his walks, something to keep his head and neck warm. I'm using yarn that I reclaimed from a thrift store sweater and I'm using this easy pattern, only I twisted the first round to make it into a Möbius loop, because, to quote my husband, "Möbius loops are cool".

And Ephesians is going to be my Lenten reading this year. I'm hoping to read it once a day during Lent. It starts with all the cosmos as its context (that long sentence full of "blessed be"'s at the beginning) and then comes down to tell us what that means, and how we ought to live . . . and then it ends again on the grand scale, with the "stand firm then . . ." I really love it, but I don't know it half so well as I ought. I'm looking forward to letting it sink in this Lent.

More yarn and literary goodness can be found here, at Ginny's blog.

Peace of Christ to you,
Jessica Snell

Monday, February 20, 2012

Nobody Medicates for Synesthesia

Synesthesia is a harmless brain quirk, and it's one I happen to have, and apparently its very harmlessness is scientifically useful!

This article from the Los Angeles Times documents how scientists are starting to study synesthetes in order to learn more about neurological disorders like autism and schizophrenia. The theory is that synesthesia is a form of hyper-connectivity in the brain and that so are disorders like autism. Since synesthesia is harmless, synesthetes aren't medicated, and so scientists can study their hyper-connectivity without that extra variable skewing the results. Also, compared to complex neurological disorders, synesthesia tends to be simple (it's just one bit of extra-cross wiring, and it's comparatively easy to tell which bit).

Anyway, I just think that's fascinating! On a societal level, I think it's awesome that there's such a handy way for scientists to study such damaging disorders, and I hope they make all kinds of progress. On a personal level, it's just odd to think that brain managed to have an extra quirk and it didn't end up harming me (as far as I know - I think it made it higher for me to get into the higher maths - I just can't make my brain do abstract where numbers are concerned).

And this, golly, just makes me feel all sorts of sympathy for people with SPD:
The prevailing idea is that people with SPD experience certain stimuli as louder or more intense than normal. But Eagleman's studies of synesthesia have caused him to look at individuals with SPD in a different way.
"I think that what they're experiencing is a form of synesthesia where instead of some sense connecting to their color area, it's connecting to an area involving pain or aversion or nausea," Eagleman says. "If that's true, what we're doing in synesthesia will give us an actual molecular target for helping that."
Isn't that just an awful theory? I mean, experientially awful. I hope, in a way, that he's right and that understanding it better leads to better treatment.

I also think it's interesting, in a not-disinterested sense, that depression is one of the disorders they list as possibly falling into the "hyper-connectivity" area. I wonder what sort of "abnormal communication between brain regions" they think causes it?

Anyway, I have nowhere near enough training to do anything more than speculate after reading this article. (Please take all my commentary only as the speculation of an interested layman!) But I found this article a fascinating read, and wanted to pass it along, and ask all y'all if you have any thoughts on it.

Peace of Christ to you,
Jessica Snell

A Playlist for Lent

I'm slowly working on making play lists for each season of the church year.

Well, that's not quite true: I've had one for Christmas for a long time, and it grows every time that particular season comes back around. It's just not that hard to find good Christmas music.

But I'm working on making play lists for the rest of the year. I have playlists for cleaning the house, for exercising - I even have a playlist for each book that I've written. Since music is a tool I sometimes use to help order my affections aright (so to speak), it seemed good to make playlists for the seasons of the church year.

Here is my Lenten playlist, in its nascent form, organized by artist:

-Biola King's Men:
   -A Hymn to God the Father* - "Wilt thou forgive that sin where I begun/Which is my sin, though it were done before/Wilt thou forgive that sin through which I run/And do still run, though still I do deplore . . ."

-Caedmon's Call:
    -Not the Land - "'Cause it's been so long/Since I've felt right . . . You'd think that I'd have learned/This is not the land You promised me . . ."
    -Hope to Carry On"I can see Jesus hangin' on the cross/He came looking for the lost . . ."
    -Valleys Fill First"It's like the long Saturday/Between Your death and the rising day/When no one wrote a word/Wondering, is this the end?/But You were down there in the well/Saving those that fell . . ."
    -Love Alone"The Prince of Despair's been beaten/But the loser still fights/Death's on a long leash stealing/My friends to the night . . ."
    -Prepare Ye the Way - "The Word said, 'Repent . . .'"
-Cindy Morgan
    -In the Garden "This is my body and this is my blood/Cover you like in the days of the flood/Come walk the road down to Gethsemane/Come with me, come with me to the garden/Pray with me, pray with me in the garden . . ."
-Derek Webb:
   -Lover - "I'll still be your defender/And you'll be my missing son/And I'll send out an army/Just to bring you back to me/Because regardless of your brother's lies/You will be set free . . ."
    -Crooked Deep Down - "There are things you would not believe/That travel into my mind/I swear I try and capture them/But I always set them free/It seems bad things comfort me/Good Lord, I'm crooked deep down . . ."
    -Desperado "Freedom, oh freedom/That's just some people talkin'/Your prison is walkin' through this world all alone . . ."
-Fernando Ortega:
    -Come Ye Sinners, Poor and Needy"Come, ye weary, heavy laden/Lost and ruined by the fall/If you tarry till you’re better/You will never come at all."
-Michael Card:
    -In the Wilderness - "In the wilderness we wander/In the wilderness we weep/In the wasteland of our wanting/Where the darkness seems so deep/We search for the beginning/For an exodus to home/And find that those who follow Him must often walk alone . . ."
   -A Face That Shone - "So Moses finally saw the face that he had hidden from/Then came a voice from heaven: 'This is my beloved son' . . ."
-Mumford and Sons:
    -Little Lion Man** - "Weep for yourself, my man, you'll never be what is in your heart/Weep, little lion man, you're not as brave as you were at the start . . ."
    -Say - "Let me go back and do it all over again/What I know now, I wish I knew then . . ."
-Rich Mullins:
    -Hard to Get"You who live in Heaven/Hear the prayers of those of us who live on Earth/Who are afraid of being left by those we love/And who get hardened in the hurt . . ."
    -That Where I Am, There You May Also Be"Remember you did not choose me/No, I have chosen you . . ."
-Wayne Watson:
    -Walk in the Dark - "I would rather walk in the dark with Jesus/Than to walk in the light on my own . . ."

All these songs are about sin, about the "valley of the shadow of death" times, about repentance and/or about grace. It all adds up to a little over an hour of music. Does it work as a playlist for Lent? I don't know, but I'm looking forward to finding out!

What songs would you put on a playlist for Lent?

Peace of Christ to you,
Jessica Snell

*I couldn't find an mp3 of this for sale, but it is easy to find other recordings of John Donne's rightly famous hymn.
**This song doesn't have profanity, but it does contain one prominent vulgarity, used to indicate the singer's disgust with himself and his actions. There is an edited version available.

Imagine going on vacation to Paris . . .

. . . and being forced to stay for over a decade. Come on over to Regency Reflections, where I'm blogging about being Suprised by War.

Peace of Christ to you,
Jessica Snell

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Vegan and Vegetarian Recipes for Lent

This is a slightly updated repost of an old list, reposted in time for Lent. If you're going vegetarian for Lent, hopefully this list will give you a leg up on menu planning.

So, here's the list, separated into vegan, vegetarian and pesco-vegetarian recipes. I've included links to recipes where I have them. (Please note: if the linked recipes include egg substitutes, or low-fat/no-fat cheeses, I recommend using the real things instead.) The starred recipes are our particular favorites here at the Snell house. Remember that a big loaf of bread on the side almost always makes kids cheerful about having veggie soup again. :)

Vegan Recipes
-Brown Rice w/ Black Beans
-Peanut Butter Sauce w/ Noodles and Veggies
-Split Pea Soup (make w/ veg. broth and w/o ham)
-Lentil Soup

Vegetarian Recipes
-Broccoli and Three Cheese Calzones (serve w/ marinara sauce) *
-Huevos Rancheros Tostados (use salsa instead of "picante sauce") *
-Pasta Margherita
-Linguine w/ Black Bean Sauce (cheese in the pesto?)
-Skillet Vegetables on Cheese Toast (you can use flavored cream cheese instead of goat cheese) *
-Cheese and Onion Bread Casserole

Pesco-Veg Recipes
-Crispy Salmon Cakes with Lemon/Pepper Mayo (I use pepper instead of capers)

peace of Christ to you,
Jessica Snell

A Definition of "Lent", from the St. James Devotional Guide

As Lent approaches, it's good to know what exactly it is we're observing. In my reading this week, I ran across this definition of Lent in the excellent St. James Devotional Guide:

Originally the word Lent, now associated exclusively with the observance of the liturgical year, was simply the Anglo-Saxon for "spring" and had no directly religious significance . . .
. . . . In most other languages of Western Christianity the word for Lent is some variant of "forty," derived from the Latin quadragesimale. Traditionally, this was a period of 40 days of fasting in imitation of the Lord himself, who observed exactly that length of time in fasting prior to the beginning of his earthly ministry. It was also associated with the 40-day fast of Moses on Mount Sinai and of Elijah on the same mountain . . .
. . . . As early as the second century we already find Easter being the preferred time for the baptism of new Christians. The reasons are rather obvious . . . For the early believers, it was important that some period of prayer and fasting, by way of preparation, should precede the ritual of baptism. Even the Apostle Paul prayed and fasted for three days prior to being baptized . . . 
. . . . the Council of Nicaea . . . also determined that the forty days preceding Easter should be a special time of prayer and fasting in preparation for the baptisms to be done on that day. that determination has remained to the present time.
The Devotional also points out that it was traditional for the other members of the church to fast along with the people preparing for baptism, the point being that the fasting was "a community effort".

I'm sure I've said so before, but it's worth repeating: when I wanted to establish a regular habit of reading through the Bible, and was looking for some guidance in doing so, I found no better aid than the St. James Devotional. It walks you through the New Testament every year, the Old every two years, and the Psalms lots.  And it also pays attention to having the Scripture selections match the season of the church year, as much as possible, and provides excellent commentary, and a short form for daily prayer. (I'm not paid by them or anything for this endorsement; I'm simply a very happy subscriber.) So, if you're looking for something like that: be of good cheer! it exists! :)

And may you have a good and fruitful Lent.

Peace of Christ to you,
Jessica Snell

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Knitted Finished Objects: socks and gloves

All of my big projects are still plodding along, but I finished a few small things. A pair of gloves, made out of yarn left over from my first pair of socks:
They don't quite match, stripe-wise, but they fit beautifully. Yay!

Peace of Christ to you,
Jessica Snell

Friday, February 17, 2012

inspiration and theme are sometimes the same thing

I always have an inspirational quotation at the top of the Word document for each novel I write. It's often song lyrics, but sometimes it's a Bible verse or a quotation from another novel. This time, I started with this song lyric at the top:
You’re an army in a horse 
And you have taken me by force 
And all the freedom in this world could not resist 
The sweet temptation of your sweet elusiveness.
– Caedmon’s Call
But as the story has progressed, and I've learned more about my characters and their choices, I've added this quotation:
The one thing you can’t trade for your heart’s desire is your heart. – Lois McMaster Bujold
And then, as I began to find the answer to the question that had prompted me to write the story in the first place, this verse came to my mind: the answer I was looking for, sure as if it had been fixed in stone:
All things are lawful for me, but not all things are beneficial. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be mastered by anything. – St. Paul
Well, I say "fixed in stone", but I'm pretty sure my quotation there is an amalgam of various translations I've read that verse in. But the principle stands. And my characters are beginning to acknowledge the truth of that verse too. It's exciting times in the vast world contained by that 0's and 1's of that Word document.

Peace of Christ to you,
Jessica Snell

Thursday, February 16, 2012

7 Quick Takes

1. Elizabeth Moon has a new book out now, Mira Grant has a new book coming out this summer, and Lois McMaster Bujold has a new book coming out in the late fall. It's a great year to be a spec-fic reader!

2. It was 78 degrees and gorgeous here today . . . but part of what was gorgeous is that the mountains were covered with snow and easily visible. The contrast was weird and glorious.

3. Writing a novel is a bit like having a wonderful and secret bit of gossip. I want to tell everyone what's happening, but hardly anybody would understand and the ones who did wouldn't want me to spoil the story.

4. Ares (the mythical god) fathered many, many children (supposedly, in the myths). Like, oh-my-I-just-have-to-keep-scrolling-down-this-Wikipedia-page many.

5. Writing novels leads you to research the oddest things.

6. There is a direct connection between numbers four and five on this list.

7. My friends are writing books! Not only do I have the fun of doing it myself, but I get to read the nascent stories of my fellow authors. I have one I'm working on now (i.e., reading and commenting/critiquing) and one on its way in the next week. Believe it or not, this is one of the fun things about being part of the writing community. You get to see the good stuff before anyone else. Sometimes you even get to help (a small, tiny, infinitesimal bit) in making it better. It's pretty cool, actually.

More Quick Takes can be found over at Betty Beguiles.

Peace of Christ to you,
Jessica Snell

Kid-Friendly Basic Recipe for Ice Cream Cake

The kid-friendly part of this recipe (besides the sticky-sweet final product) is that there aren't any unsafe ingredients (i.e., no raw eggs) and so it's snitchable at every stage of the process.

Also, please note how considerate I am in getting this super-indulgent recipe up before Ash Wednesday. :D

-1.5-2 quarts ice cream
-1 package sandwich cookies
-1/3 c. butter
-candy, syrup, nuts (all or some, whatever you like best!)

1. Let ice cream sit out fifteen minutes or so, to soften.

2. Meanwhile, in food processor, combine cookies and butter until crumbly. (You can also do this by hand, crushing the cookies and mixing them with the butter, it'll just take longer.)

3. Spread cookie/butter mixture along the bottom of a pan (you can use an 8x12 baking pan; here I use two 8x8 pans, because I was making the cakes for my twins' birthday, and wanted to make them each their own).
The kids can help pat it smooth.

4. Spread half of the softened ice cream on top of the cookie crust,

And pat it smooth with the back of a spoon, careful not to disturb the cookie crust too much.
5. Cover the ice cream with candy, syrup, and/or nuts, whatever your heart (or the birthday kid's heart) desires:
6. Cover with another layer of ice cream - you can use a different flavor, if you like:
Smooth this layer down with the back of a spoon also. It might be getting kind of melty at this point, but just do your best - you're going to freeze the whole thing at the end, and it'll even itself out in the end.

7.Cover the second layer of ice cream with more syrup, candy, and/or nuts. My February girls each chose a different sort of heart candy:
Sweethearts for Anna, chocolate hearts for Lucy.
8. Cover the cake and stick the whole thing back in the freezer for at least two hours, allowing it to freeze solid.

9. Slice (carefully!), serve, and enjoy!

And now that you've seen the monstrosities that my daughters put together, may I recommend some combinations for a more grown-up palate?

Toffee Ice Cream Cake:
-Coffee ice cream
-Chocolate ice cream
-crunched-up Heath bars
-slivered almonds
-caramel sauce
-chocolate sandwich cookies for crust

Peanut-butter Chocolate Ice Cream cake:
-Nutter Butter cookies for crust
-cookie dough ice cream
-Moose Tracks ice cream
-Reeses Pieces
-chocolate syrup

Mint Ice Cream Cake:
-Mint Oreos for crust
-mint-chocolate ice cream
-cookies and cream ice cream
-crushed Andes mints
-slivered almonds
-dark chocolate chips

Peace of Christ to you,
Jessica Snell

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Links: Human Trafficking, a Better Version of the Oscars, and more!

The New Christian Abolition Movement - on the fight against human trafficking. An excerpt:
But the assistant U.S. attorney still believes in the partnership between church and state.
“On one hand the fact they’re a religious organization is not directly relevant,” he says. “However, if you look at the history of the abolitionist movement, it has always been religious communities and those are the people who are concerned enough to be active in it.
“And today with modern-day slavery the same is the case.”
Another take on "Once Upon a Time", Semicolon's "Once Upon a Time . . . We All Believed in Marriage".

And the Oscar Goes to . . . "Twilight"! - I love this article about what the Oscars should actually be. The author convincingly argues that the Oscars neither reward what Hollywood does really well (impeccably produced blockbusters) nor what art house films do really well (beautiful, thoughtful stories). Instead, he describes the films it rewards this way:
While it’s impossible to lay out a precise description, it’s like Justice Stewart’s famous definition of obscenity: You know it when you see it. Earnest, middleweight dramas that teach life lessons and feature major emotional climaxes always leap to the forefront. They should make you laugh before they make you cry, or vice versa. Classic three-act structure; a major star playing slightly against type; at least one odd or gruesome or humorous supporting performance from a name actor.
Yep. And where's Alan Rickman's nomination for his portrayal of Severus Snape? That too.

A Nerd's Guide to What Jeff Probst Won't Tell You: How to Win Survivor. "Don't be afraid of being bad television, is what I am telling you."

My sister-in-law writes about Mary and Simeon, about love and loss.

Peace of Christ to you,
Jessica Snell

Yarnalong: Chain Reaction Afghan and "The Jesus Prayer" by Frederica Mathewes-Green

Here are a few of the finished squares of the afghan:
Different techniques for each square, which keeps it fun:
The book, like all of Mathewes-Green's books, is good. Here's a quotation:
   The things we lay down firmly in our memories matter. They endure. If you take the words of the Jesus Prayer and "write them on the tablet of your heart" (Prov. 3:3), on the day when you are far away on the gray sea of Alzheimer's, the Prayer will still be there, keeping your hand clasped in the hand of the Lord.
    A nun had been assigned to care for an elderly monk with advanced dementia. One day his babbling was of a kind that was distressing to her. Suddenly he broke free, as it were, looked her in the eye and said, "Dear sister, you are upset because of what I am saying. But do not fear. Inside, I am with God."
So good. I'm reading this one slowly, mulling and thinking and letting it soak in.

More squares. A woven one:
A medallion:
I think my daughter is really going to like her blanket when it's done.

Peace of Christ to you,
Jessica Snell

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Getting Geeky about "Once Upon a Time"

First, the story line between Mary Margaret (Snow White) and her prince just sucks. Had to get that out of the way. Even if they're married in real (i.e., fairy-tale) life, their cursed selves should hold true to the vows they think he's bound by. Because - come on guys - you're supposed to be the heroes. Have some integrity.

K, that said, I loved this week's episode. Mr. Gold is hands-down my favorite character and "Beauty and the Beast" is my favorite Disney movie. When I learned they'd be revamping the story so that he's the Beast? I was scared they'd ruin a few of my favorite things. But they didn't. They pulled it off. It was great.

I love the implication that Mr. Gold is going to have a happy ending (because we all know the Beast repents and is redeemed, right?). I love that we're able to see that despite being doubly cursed (by the Queen and by the Dark One), there's still part of him that's human. (The Queen is literally heartless, but Mr. Gold isn't - literally or metaphorically.) I love the last scene in the prison, when he and the Queen flex their muscles at each other, pitting her knowledge against his, and her control of the curse against his control of the deal that gave her the curse in the first place ("please").

I've read speculation that the end game of the show is going to be all about Mr. Gold and the Queen, and I can see that happening. If "true love breaks any curse" and "you always have a choice", is it going to be all about him choosing true love over power? If he does, he'll have his happy ending. And if anyone has a happy ending, isn't the Queen's curse broken?

That is, he'll only be able to win by losing. If he wants his lost love back, he has to become truly human again, which means giving up all his impish power. It might kill him, but he'll die a man. It's the sort of eucatastrophe that characterizes all the best stories.

Golly, I hope the ending they're working towards is good!

-Jessica Snell

beginning to think about Lent

It's going to be Lent soon, and I'm beginning to think about how I'm going to observe it this year.

I'm thinking about reading through St. Augustine's The City of God. I've been wanting to for awhile, and Lent seems like a good time.

I'm thinking about fasting. It always feels weird to blog about fasting (blowing trumpets, and all that), so I'll probably let it suffice to say: I'm thinking about how to fast this year.

The Book & the Bread:
I'd like to keep working on memorizing John 14-17. I started last Lent and didn't finish. It's tempting, when you don't hit a goal, to give up. But I think it's better to just try again, if the goal is worth the getting. I think I might try this method of reading the passage out loud every day during Lent, and seeing what sticks.

Anyone else getting ready for the great fast that proceeds the Queen of Feasts?

Peace of Christ to you,
Jessica Snell

Monday, February 13, 2012

a bit of doggerel for St. Valentine's Day, on marriage

Through a Glass, Dimly
Since knowing is what lovers do,
When we one flesh shall be,
I will be as the church to you
And thou as Christ to me.

-Jessica Snell,

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Bujold's "Borders of Infinity" and Dante's "Inferno"

It's pet literary theory time!

Here is my theory - and if anyone besides me has noticed this, I haven't read about it, so it's just begging for a English term paper to be written on it - I think that Lois McMaster Bujold's novella The Borders of Infinity is (among other things) a riff on Dante's Inferno.

Why? (Here there be spoilers. For both works.)

1. The Borders of Infinity opens with Miles Vorkosigan thinking, "How could I have died and gone to hell without noticing the transition?" Hell. Yes. That one word is part of my evidence.  But, folks, it's the paragraph, and it sets the tone for the rest of the story. Miles is in Hell.

2. The prison camp is circular. So is Dante's Hell.

3. There are circles within the circles (see the women's section of the camp).

4. Miles has a literary (okay, at least literature-obsessed) guide. Yes, I am saying that Suegar=Virgil.

4a. You could argue that Oliver=Suegar. Okay, go ahead: convince me.

5. There is even someone running in circles. Yes, I know that sounds more like the Purgatorio than the Inferno, but, you know, it's still Dante.

6. BEATRICE LEADS HIM UP.   Yes, I'm shouting. Yes, that's my biggest piece of evidence. (Term paper folks still with me? Okay, here's your paper topic: why does the Virgil figure go up in Bujold's version, while the Beatrice figure falls?  Aaaa. Yes. Hmm.)

6a. If Beatrice is Beatrice, does that make Cordelia the Virgin Mary? C'mon, you can't argue that that's pretty much Cordelia's place in the Vorkosigan cosmology.

7. Just try to count the references to damnation (all the things the prisoners have done with and to each other), redemption, and sin. Just try.

8. What's the theme? The harrowing of hell. Yes it is. (Term paper people: is Miles a Christ figure? What does that mean for his relationship with his mother? Make sure you use the pond incident from Komarr in your answer. Also, reference his fourteen-shuttle-groups-for-the-fourteen-apostles statement.)

9. The saints (i.e., the Dendarii observers, Elena and Elli) are watching and listening to Dante's (Miles') prayers. (Term paper people: is this evidence against the thesis put forth in point 8?)

10. Suegar's scripture is from Pilgrim's Progress, about when the pilgrims finally make it to Heaven. HA! "HA!", I say.

Hee, hee, hee. Okay, that was so much fun.

What do you think? Did I make my point? More importantly, did I miss anything?

Peace of Christ to you,
Jessica Snell

This post contains Amazon affiliate links. If you purchase something through these links, I'll receive a small percentage of the purchase price - for my own shopping! :) (See full disclosure on sidebar of my blog.)

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Knit and Crochet Works-in-Progress

Around New Year's, I managed to get all my works-in-progress (WIPs) finished. But in the past month an a half, I've well and truly made up for that burst of self control!  Here's what I've got on needles and on hooks right now:

1) My Dim Sum afghan - my attempt at the truly epic "Chain Reaction Afghan" pattern from Interweave Crochet. Each square is approximately 12" and was designed by a different designer, and I'm learning tons of new techniques (and weaving in hundreds of ends!). Using odd bits of Caron Simply Soft yarn:

2. My first knit sweater! Not much to look at yet, but hopefully it's going to eventually turn into the "Round the Corner Hoodie" from Vogue Knitting. I'm working in it Wool of the Andes, in the "Everglade Heather" colorway:

3. Some new dishcloths. No pattern, just crocheting them up in the evenings while Adam reads the kids their Bible stories:

4. My Dusk Socks. I'm on the toe decreases for the second sock now, so these should be off the needles soon:

5. My version of the Petals Wrap Cardigan. I'm to the sleeves now!

6. My "Juice Box Socks". I'm on the heel of the second sock, so it'll be awhile yet till this pair is ready to wear.

Whew! That's a lot. But the truth is, I really like having a variety of projects going. Knitting and crocheting is what I do to relax, and it's nice to have a project to match whatever mood I'm in. Sometimes I want to lose myself something challenging, so I'll tackle the Dim Sum Afghan. Sometimes I just want something simple, so I'll work on the plain socks. Sometimes something in between. They're all getting worked on, here and there.

I'm being very strict on myself right now in my writing life, making myself produce 1000+ words every day on the same project, and so my needlework is  where I can relax and just do whatever I feel like. It's a great outlet.

Anyone else feel like their crafts are that kind of outlet? Or maybe cooking? or working out? Where do you let yourself just relax and go?

Peace of Christ to you,
Jessica Snell

Thursday, February 9, 2012

7 Quick Takes: Media Edition

This week I'm using "7 Quick Takes" to give my quick take on several pieces of media - books, music, TV, and movies - that I've consumed in the past few weeks.

1. "Math Curse" by John Scieszka and Lane Smith is the best kids' math book I've read since discovering "How Much Is a Million?"  "Math Curse" is clever and funny and all the kids were fascinated by it even though they probably only got half the jokes. I'm not sure I got all of them, but the ones I did get cracked me up. Thumbs way up - definitely a book just about anyone would enjoy reading.

2. On the Rocks' version of "I Can See Clearly Now". They break into "MMM-Bop" in the middle of the song, which just cracks me up. I'm old enough to find that both nostalgic and funny.

3. Disney princesses - they are ubiquitous. They are much-beloved by my daughters. Their come-hither looks are disturbing. Their original movies are pretty good (sometimes great), but the spin-off DVDs are often cheap and badly-made. My point? I don't know yet. But I'm noticing and thinking.

4. District 9 - this might be the most thoughtful science fiction movie I've ever seen, but it's also one of the few I never want to see again. It was disturbing for all of the right reasons. I recommend it if you like your social commentary in story form and you have a strong stomach.

5. True Grit - I don't, as a rule, like westerns. But this one now joins "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid" as a western I'm glad I saw. Once. Because I still don't really like westerns.

6. Brooke Fraser's "Orphans, Kingdoms" - my more-musically-educated-than-I friend pointed out that this song establishes a martial rhythm at the beginning that doesn't make any sense lyrically . . . until you hit the bridge. And then it all comes together:

I love, love, love this song. So many good lines: "babes with coats of arms", "the world inside us, the feast, the harvest", and, of course, "who is he that can conquer himself?"

The whole thing reminds me of theologian Dallas Willard's definition of a kingdom as the range of someone's effective will, i.e., your kingdom is the areas where what you want to be done is done. And our job, of course, is to submit our kingdoms to God's kingdom, make the places where we have power also the places where God's will is done.

And where do we have the most power? Over ourselves, of course. But inside us, alone, without the authority of God over us and caring for us, we are lost children. I think a lot of this song is about that.

7. "Once Upon a Time" is a TV show Adam and I discovered a few weeks ago. We promptly watched all the available episodes. And . . . I keep thinking about it. It is, let me be clear, not a perfect show. It's sort of uneven, the writers make some choices with the characters I disagree with, it's corny in the extreme, etc. . . . but it's got enough really fascinating stuff that I still love it. I love looking for all the little fairy-tale details in the "real world" (which is actually the world created by the Evil Queen's curse), like the tree-covered wallpaper, and the stone dwarf statue on her lawn, and the bowl of red apples that's always on the mayor's desk. I enjoy seeing what they do with the fairy tale characters in their true home and how that's echoed in the small New England town they're all cursed to inhabit. I love the "real world" names of the fairy tale characters. "Snow White" is "Mary Margaret Blanchard".  The Evil Queen becomes "Regina". Cinderella becomes "Ashley". And I love, love, love "Mr. Gold", which is how Rumplestiltskin is known in the cursed world (he owns a pawn shop! how cool is that?). He's the perfect brilliant, ambiguous, conniving imp of a character. He's over the top in the fairy tale world, but in the cursed world he's perfect.

And I like some of the themes that are emerging through the stories. One thing that's continually emphasized is that "everyone has a choice" - you just don't get to choose which options your choice is going to entail. "Everyone has a choice" - but you're not always going to have all the information you need to make the right decision.

Strangely enough, for a story based on fairy tales, this one's not for the younger set (see the above, about some of the choices the writers make that I disagree with - I'm sorry, I don't see even a cursed Snow White having a one-night stand), partly because of subject matter, and partly because, in between the too-sweet fairy tale scenes there are some genuinely frightening moments (see the end of the episode about Gepetto's parents). But for grown-ups who know the fairy tales, and who like puzzle stories (and who have a soft-spot for the corny or the hokey or the slightly overwrought), it's a nice little once-a-week treat.

Okay, that last wasn't quick. I'm sorry! For more Quick Takes (many of which will be quicker than mine), visit Betty Beguiles, who's guest-hosting this week.

Peace of Christ,
Jessica Snell

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

In My Feedreader, Part VI: Book Blogs

Last one in the series: the blogs that are mainly about books. Because books are good. At least, good books are good. And your chances of reading good books (or avoiding bad ones) may very well go up if you read these blogs.

Supratentorial - my favorite place to get recommendations for kids' picture books.

Regency Reflections - all about Christian Regency romance

ACFW - the blog of the American Christian Fiction Writers Association - tends to highlight newly-released titles

If You Liked That - reviews of YA novels

Reasoning With Vampires - a close read of Stephanie Meyer's books. Yes, I know, but trust me, you want to read this. It's hilarious and educational.

Girl Detective - I started reading her for the 15 books in 15 days challenge, I stayed for the good book reviews.

Mental Multivitamin - all about books and education and thinking well.

Semicolon - more books and good thinking.

Again, I'd love to know about any I've missed. Feel free to go back through the whole series of posts if you're in search of a few good blogs, or just take the easy route and find all the blogs I've referenced over on your right in my blog's sidebar. Happy reading!

Peace of Christ to you,
Jessica Snell

Yarnalong: "Lady in the Mist" and vanilla socks

I'm reading "Lady in the Mist" by Laurie Alice Eakes, which is about an American midwife who falls in love with an Englishman. It's not a traditional Regency; though you have your typical Regency hero, only he's been misplaced and instead of stalking the halls of Almacks or riding his horse down the Rotten Row in London, he's stumbling around what he still thinks of as "the colonies" and trying not to fall too hard for the woman he first meets on a misty morning on a New England beach.

The socks . . . the socks are an experiment. I'm trying to knit and crochet down my stash of yarn this year, and I came across a ball of sock yarn I'd bought, um, sometime? at  . . . Jo-Ann's, apparently? to make . . . a thing? yes. I apparently had lots of foresight when I made that particular purchase.

Anyway, it only had 262 yards, according to Ravelry, and I decided to see if I could manage to get a pair of socks out of it. Ankle-length, obviously. I'm more or less following Stephanie Pearl-McPhee's Basic Sock Recipe.

I think I'm going to make it.

More yarn and books here, at Small Things.

Peace of Christ to you,
Jessica Snell

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Book Notes: Stashbuster Knits

Stashbuster Knits: Tips, Tricks, and 21 Beautiful Projects for Using Your Favorite Leftover YarnStashbuster Knits: Tips, Tricks, and 21 Beautiful Projects for Using Your Favorite Leftover Yarn by Melissa Leapman

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Ignore the fact that for some reason they decided to put the ugliest design in the book (dig the bobbles on that sweater!) on the cover: this is a lovely book. (And most of the designs are great.)

But don't pick it up for the designs, cute as they are. Pick it up for the information.

Anyone who knits or crochets is going to have a growing collection of the odd ball or half ball of yarn, leftovers from old projects. What do you do with them? Stash-bust! This book has an incredibly educational first section full of information on how to use different yarns together, including a chart on combining thinner yarns to get thicker ones (e.g., how many strands of fingering you need to work together in order to get a worsted), info on how to launder yarns made of different fibers, a great section on color theory, and much more.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this *and* learned a lot. Great book!

Peace of Christ to you,
Jessica Snell

View all my reviews

In My Feedreader, Part V: Author Blogs

The next category of blogs in my feedreader are the author blogs. These are the ones that are hard to categorize any other way because of the variety of subjects they all tackle. But the one thing they have in common is that they all write books. So:

Sharon Lee - writes, along with Steve Miller, some of the best sci-fi out there.

Robin McKinley - writes fantasy, and blogs about English change-ringing, knitting, gardening, singing, and other misc. subjects.

Shannon Hale - writes both YA and romance.

Laurie Alice Eakes - writes Christian historical romance.

Ruth Axtell Morren - also writes Christian historical romance.

Naomi Rawlings - so does she! Naomi's blog also has a lot on being a working mom.

Kristi Ann Hunter - another Christian historical romance author.

Kaye Dacus - writes both historical and contemporary Christian romance (she's one of my career heroines).

Wil Wheaton - writes memoir and other interesting things.

John Scalzi  - writes sci-fi and has one of the best author blogs I've ever read. Always interesting.

Melissa Wiley - writes books for children, and has one of the most calm, humorous, fascinated-with-the-world blogger voices - she's a delight.

Linore Rose Burkard - another Christian historical romance author, who blogs about books and faith.

So, any good ones I missed?

Peace of Christ to you,
Jessica Snell

Monday, February 6, 2012

Links: Bible Memorization, Roman Catholic Ethics, Intellectual Property Rights, and more!

"The Easiest Way to Memorize the Bible: What I Learned from Dr. John Mitchell" - this one's what it says, and well worth the read.

"Writer, Professional, Good" - John Scalzi's take on when you make it into each of these categories.

RC Bishops Distribute Letter to All Congregations: “We Will Not Comply” - A response to the attempt to force Catholic employers to pay for their employees' birth control methods and abortions. You know, though I agree with the Catholic church's stance on abortion, I don't entirely agree with their stance on birth control. All the same, despite my disagreement, I still think they should not be forced to pay for procedures that they believe are wrong. And I would hope that people that disagree with them on both counts can still see how wrong it is to try to force them to violate their consciences. There needs to be room for conscientious objection. There really, really does. (And yes, that might mean they need to stop accepting gov't money for their charities. But as long as they're willing to forgo gov't aid, they ought to be allowed to not pay for things that they believe are wrong.)

Yarrr. - I offer the following link with a couple of disclaimers. One, it's got a lot of language. Two, I don't actually agree with her solution, i.e., I don't think piracy's a good thing, even if content providers are slow off the mark. But this link does do a good job of highlighting the problem of facing consumers who want to pay the artist for their product but can't because of out-dated business models.

Easy 15-Minute Workout - I tried this last week, and loved it! I wouldn't call it "easy", but it's a very thorough workout, and all body-weight exercises (i.e., no equipment needed, save a chair for the triceps dips). If you're looking for something simple on days when you don't have a lot of time, this is it.

Peace of Christ to you,
Jessica Snell

Saturday, February 4, 2012

a bad argument for Planned Parenthood

If you're reading this, and you're one of the many women who've had an abortion, please know that I'm not writing to make you feel worse. Facing a pregnancy that will upend your world is terrifying, and there's not a one of us who hasn't done something stupid or wrong because we were scared. Along with that, it seems to me that abortion is a crime that, in many ways, carries its punishment with it, because who's going to miss the absent child more than the child's own mother? If you are in this place and sorrowing, know that there is certain forgiveness and comfort. The Lord Jesus only welcomes sinners, and so that's me and you and everyone. Please come to him and be relieved of the weight you're carrying. Set it down and be made whole. And know that there are wonderful people who will help you through your grief.

It is because of the great sorrow and weight of an abortion, though, that arguments like this trouble me so much. The pie chart seems to imply that because abortion services are only 3% of the services provided by Planned Parenthood that they carry no weight.

Does a wrong cease to be wrong just because it is performed by a person who mostly does right?

If a doctor spends 97% of his time caring for the poor, and 3% of his time euthanizing the old, are the euthanizations less criminal? If a teacher cares excellently for 97 of his students, but molests 3 of them, are those molestations less horrific? If a mechanic provides good service for 97% of his clients, but cheats 3% of them, is he less of a thief?

There are very good conversations to be had about abortion, about the care of women who become pregnant in hard circumstances, and about providing health care for the poor. But this argument? It is no argument at all.

Peace of Christ to you,
Jessica Snell

In My Feedreader, Part IV: Crafty Blogs

Yesterday, it was mommy blogs, today it's crafty blogs. Here are some (mostly knitting and crochet) craft blogs that I enjoy perusing.

Attic 24 - very colorful crochet and gorgeous pictures of her little corner of England.

Crochet Me - the blog for Interweave Crochet.

Small Things - hostess of the marvelous Yarnalong.

The Good, the Plaid, and the Snuggly - stitches, the Scots, and a good dose of humor.

Samurai Knitter - knitting technique and intelligent rants.

Wendy Knits - sometimes it's nice to follow someone whose skill level is way above yours, just for the inspiration.

Go Knit In Your Hat - knitting, dying, and knitting book reviews.

A Dress a Day - pretty, retro dresses (a sewing blog).

Banana Moon Studio - the life of a crochet pattern designer.

Yarn on the House - pretty knitting projects and yarn giveaways.

the Yarn Harlot - the one and the only.

Peacefully Knitting - a knitting designer.

Knit Picks - the blog of my favorite yarn store.

WEBS - the blog of another awesome yarn store.

Inside Knits - one of Interweave's knitting blogs.

Knitting Daily - another of Interweave's knitting blogs.

Any wonderful crafty blogs I missed? Leave a note in the comments! It's always fun to find new blogs.

Peace of Christ to you,
Jessica Snell

Friday, February 3, 2012

Speaking of interesting bloggers . . .

. . . if you're looking for some weekend reading, head over to Elizabeth Esther's place for "The Saturday Evening Blog Post", a collection of many bloggers' favorite posts from the last month.

It's not quite the birds and the bees . . .

. . . instead, it's the birds and John Donne. (Though, depending on which poem of his you choose, it might come to about the same thing in the end.)

So, come on over the Regency Reflections to learn a bit about how someone in Jane Austen's time might have thought about Valentine's Day. (And birds. And poetry. Because what's Valentine's Day without poetry?)

(And birds.)

(Okay, I'm done now.)

Peace of Christ to you,
Jessica Snell

In My Feedreader, Part III: Christian Moms

Yesterday, it was a list of good blogs about the writing business. Today, I present a list of blogs written by other Christian moms.

This one I'm presenting without commentary, because time would fail me to explain what I love about all these women and their words. Suffice it to say that these are blogs that lift my heart and remind me that I'm not alone in my daily work.

Learning As We Go


Elizabeth Foss

Simcha Fisher

An Undercurrent of Hostility

A Ten O'Clock Scholar

Laundry and Lullabies

At A Hen's Pace

The Joy and the Care

Quotidian Moments

Amy's Humble Musings

bearing blog

Like Mother, Like Daughter

The Liturgical Year for Little Ones


And Sometimes Tea

Splendor in the Ordinary

Take the Poor With You

Team Ewan

Elizabeth Esther

Snowflake Family

On A Joyful Journey

Peace of Christ to you,
Jessica Snell

Thursday, February 2, 2012

"Keeping House" Read-Along, Chapter 8: "The Well-Kept House"

It was good to read the end of this book today. In her conclusion to "Keeping House", Margaret Kim Peterson reminds us of two very important things: that housekeeping is a daily necessity, and so must be "good enough" and not "perfect" or we won't be able to sustain it, and that housekeeping is an anticipation of heavenly things, and so is worth doing.

I needed to hear both of those truths today. As the kids grow, life seems to be just as busy, but less simple, and the housekeeping, like the poor, is always with us. But we all have bodies, and those bodies need to be fed and clothed and rested, and housekeeping is the mechanism for providing for all of those needs.

And one day, God will provide all of those needs perfectly, and we will be clothed in white and eating at the feast of the Lamb, in our true Home. Meanwhile, faithfully providing clothes that wear out, food that only sustains for a few hours, and rest whose effect wears off by the end of the day is a way of pledging, every day, regularly, over and over, our belief that we were made as creatures who belong in a home, and that one day what is imperfect will be replaced by the complete, and that we trust God to provide for all of our needs. We may scatter our seeds in tears, but with faith that joy comes in the morning.

More on this read-along may be found here, at The Quotidian Reader.

Peace of Christ to you,
Jessica snell

In My Feedreader, Part II: Writing

Yesterday I posted a list of the blogs of Christians thinkers whose work I enjoy reading regularly.

Today it's a list of blogs about writing and the publishing industry. If you're an author, or someone who hopes to become an author, or even just a reader who's curious about how the business that produces all those stories you love works, these are all blogs that make profitable reading.

(btw, these are specifically about writing and the writing business, as opposed to blogs that are either primarily about books and book reviews or that are just the personal blogs of various authors. Those lists are coming later. :D )

Chip MacGregor - a literary agent who has lots of posts on how to write, sell, and market your book.

Rachelle Gardner - another literary agent with  many helpful posts.

Jennifer Represents - more good advice from yet another literary agent.

Steve Laube - more of the same. Seriously, these days, there's no good reason to be uninformed about the publication process - not with all of these fountains of information out there.

Janet Reid, Literary Agent - and, again.

Book Ends, LLC - A Literary Agency - and once more, for good measure.

Shrinking Violet Promotions - This one's a little different: it's book marketing for introverts. Brilliant!

Query Shark - real critiques of real book queries.

Pub Rants - another publishing industry blog, written by a literary agent - always interesting stuff here.

Patricia Wrede - an author whose blog is dedicated to (excellent) writing advice.

Novel Matters - a group blog on the writing life.

Novel Rocket - another group blog on the writing life.

Seekerville - and, one more!

There you have it. Did I miss one of your favorites? Let me know in the comments.

Coming up next: it's the mommy bloggers!

Peace of Christ to you,
Jessica Snell

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

In My Feedreader, Part I: Christian Thinkers

I'm starting a new blog series, occasioned by the realization that the sidebars on my blog were in serious need of an update. As I update them, I thought I'd do some posts highlighting the places on the web that I enjoy visiting. These posts aren't going to be exhaustive - for instance, I'll probably not include sites that I've just started reading (because I don't know enough to recommend them yet) or that don't post too frequently or friends' sites when I'm not sure the friends want lots of public traffic.

But there's so much good writing being done on the Web and I think it's worthwhile, every now and then, to put up a big flashing arrow and a "GO HERE" sign pointing the way towards the more excellent sites.

So, to start, some Christian thinkers I enjoy reading:

Mere Orthodoxy - helmed by Matthew Anderson (whose recent book "Earthen Vessels" an evangelical, theological look at the role of the body in our faith, is well worth a look), this site is full of thoughtful essays on current events, politics, the arts, and more.

Mere Comments - the blog of Touchstone: A Journal of Mere Christianity. Similar to "Mere Orthodoxy", but ecumenical, not just Protestant evangelical.

Brandywine Books - Lars Walker's blog. Walker is an author I thoroughly enjoy, and he posts notes on current events, great book reviews, and other interesting tidbits.

Stand Firm - notes on the Anglican world, sometimes with side trips into politics.

Frederica Mathewes-Green: the site of one of my favorite authors, Mathewes-Green frequently posts thoughtful essays and good reviews of books and movies.

Tim Challies - a reformed blogger (should that be a capital "R" in "reformed"? I'm never sure), Challies takes on current events in the Protestant world, writes good book reviews, and regularly posts great lists of links to other interesting goings-on around the 'Net.

Conversion Diary - Jennifer Fulwiler's blog. A Catholic convert from atheism, I don't think Jennifer's written a boring post in her life.

Daily Reflections - Fr. Patrick Henry Reardon's commentary on the daily readings.

The Scriptorium - the blog of the professors of the Torrey Honors Institute, the great books program at Biola University.

2nd Floor, Looking West - a pastoral blog of an Anglican rector in Long Beach, CA.

Ed Eubanks - the blog of a Presbyterian writer and pastor, it includes thoughts on Christian ethics, book reviews, and more.

Next up, my favorite writing blogs!

Peace of Christ to you,
Jessica Snell