Pronunciation Guide

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Loving the Bad Man

The above is the title of the movie I just finished watching on Netflix.

Here is the blurb about it:

“When a young Christian woman is raped and becomes pregnant, she embarks on a journey that forces her to redefine her relationship with God. As she struggles to forgive her rapist, she visits him in prison and forges an unlikely bond with him.”

The first sentence of the storyline caught my attention because, years ago, I started writing a story like that, almost exactly.

The second sentence…the whole “unlikely bond with him” thing…


I am trying to figure out how to explain this.

…Taking a deep breath. …Whew.

In my story, my main girl is in a brothel. If you have followed my posts at all, you know that. What you may or may not know is that one of the men from the brothel comes back into the story. [Love.] His remorse and her forgiveness is increasingly becoming a focal point. This whole thing was unintended, entirely innocent on my part, and the first of many hijacks by God. [My thought was nothing more than this: “…It would be interesting if one of these guys came back into the story and she saw him again.” …God took that and totally ran with it.]

But this movie…acting and editing and writing aside, I have never really seen anything that so closely depicts what happens in my story. And don’t get me wrong, this movie is nothing like it really. But several things stood out to me:

1. The rapist was portrayed as a real person. An angry, lonely, hopeless guy.
2. He went through a radical transformation.
3. There was no romance between him and the girl, and that was made clear.
4. Her forgiveness of him paved the way for a friendship/reconciliation.

Take those four things just as they are, apart from the movie’s storyline…and you have my story. [Again, apart from the storyline.]

1. I am doing my best to portray my guy --- actually, all of the inn-guys --- as “real” people with feelings and thoughts and lives and all of that. I know why most of the guys go to the inn, and I know exactly why this particular guy goes.
2. I am utterly focused on showing his remorse and transformation.
3. There is absolutely no romance between him and my girl. None. Nada. Zip.
4. And lastly, my girl’s forgiveness isn’t the type of “forgiveness” of holding someone at arm’s length while claiming to hold nothing against them.* Her forgiveness precedes reconciliation/friendship. And to be quite blunt, they not only become friends…but good friends. [LOVE.]

[*There are definitely times when reconciliation is not possible --- whether because it is not safe, not healthy, the other party refuses to reconcile, or because someone is no longer alive. I don’t believe that reconciliation MUST take place, or else the forgiveness isn’t real forgiveness. I do, however, believe that there must be a WILLINGNESS for reconciliation. If that willingness is not there…I mean, I’m not going to judge your heart. That’s something you’ll have to take up with God. But my belief is that forgiveness and reconciliation are two sides to the same coin. If you truly have one, you will seek/be open to the other, as far as it depends on you.]

…I realize that many people do not see things as I do. I have received a lot of flak for my defense of the “criminals” in our world, simply for pointing out that they are people, created in the image of God, with families and personalities and such. I’ve been called names, defriended [both on facebook and apparently in real life], and assumed to be crazy. I’ve had people blow me off over this, and one person hoped that my child would be raped so I’d understand just how much a child rapist doesn’t deserve to live. [Yep. Totally serious.]

To be honest, I’ve wondered at times if someday God will humble me, make me eat my own words/claims. [I’ve had people wish that on me too. Apparently these horrible things are only horrible if they happen to people who do not view the offender as a person.]

…But if something ever does happen…I truly hope that I would respond with love, forgiveness, and a willingness to be reconciled with that person.

Because, you know what…I’ve done some pretty bad things…and God has responded with love toward me. He forgave me when I was his enemy, while I shook my fist at him and spit in his face. And he wasn’t merely willing that we be reconciled…he died and rose back to life to make a way for us to be reconciled and be together forever.

…I am to love others as he loves me, with his love.

That means that I must not only be willing to forgive those who hurt me [and who hurt those I love], but to reconcile with them as well. …It’s like one of those adjoining hotel rooms. Each room has a door; both people have to open their doors to make a passageway between the rooms.

The other person can choose to keep their door shut and locked.
But as for my door? …It should stand wide open.
And in the grace of God, no matter what someone does to me…it will.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

I really think I need a nap. Or some hard candy. Someone please buy me some hard candy.

I have been writing a lot of super-long updates.
This will not be one of them.
I am just going to say a few things:

1. I am working on chapter 17 now. I have…about five consecutive pages. [I am pooped, but not stopping yet!]
2. Within those five pages, she finds herself alone again, finally. Happy day! [Bye-bye, sweet guard. I may be the only one who fully grasps your sweetness, but…I mean, come on, he gives her food and money! And he’s an H-guy! He’s sweet, okay!?]
3. She also has the first of many breakdowns where she laughs and cries uncontrollably.
4. I like that she does both, and that she can’t help it. Trying to incorporate a lot of post-traumatic stress into this.
5. She feels like things are over now that she is out.
6. …For a moment, Satan is going to allow her to feel like this is true. Then he is going to destroy her.
7. I am really mean to my characters.
8. I have some awesome [read: intense, terrible, and terrifying] dreams in store. Muhaha. Flashbacks too, but mostly dreams.
9. I don’t really like some aspects of what I have written for this part, so I will need to tweak it a bit. Not sure how it needs to change, but it does. Just slightly.
10. Within the next couple of chapters, she will meet some new people [!!!!!!], and I will finally be able to add in what was the very original idea for this story. And by “very original”, I mean “literally from ten years ago” --- that a girl who is somehow different somehow meets other people like herself. Bam. It’s almost here. Almost here!!!!
11. This is a relatively short update. So be happy. Though you should still go and read my longer ones.
12. Oh, one more thing --- the poisoning that was happening at the inn…yeah, she’s coming off of it now. After being exposed to it for five weeks, she is now completely away from it, and it is going to mess with her system for a while. That will be fun.
13. Last thing: I am super tired. My brain is nearing the “fried” stage. I apologize if none of this makes much sense. Haha!

Friday, June 21, 2013

Uh, a tale of three men. …I know, I know, my titles are lame.

I’ve recorded several ideas to myself this week, and I’ve been wanting to write about what I’ve been kind of figuring out, but it is really complicated. Largely because I can’t really explain it in enough detail to, you know…have it make any sense. …I can try, though!

…All right. Let’s do this.

In this world, a certain group of people controls everything --- H-guys. I’ve written about this before. In case you missed it…H-guys are human, from all five nations, they are kind of like the KKK, and they rule the world.

There are three specific characters --- three very prominent H-guys from the most powerful nation.

The first is the one who literally controls EVERYTHING. He is…River. We’ll call him that.

The second guy is…haha, Jerk. ;) […You’ll understand these nicknames someday.]

The third is Fave. [For “favorite”; of course. …This is not just for the character, but for the king he is named after.]

With me so far? River is the highest guy, Jerk is the second-highest, and Fave is the third-highest.

…Now. A couple of years before the story actually starts, the ranks were different. River was still the top guy, but there was a different second guy. [I don’t know who; I need to figure that out.] River promoted Fave from fifth-highest to third-highest, and Jerk was the fourth-highest. Much drama ensued at this decision; Jerk got mad that Fave was a higher rank than him, and he tried to threaten River never to promote Fave again.

A few months before the story starts, the other second guy has to be replaced. [I think he dies/is killed. Perhaps River actually kills him. I don’t know. …I just thought of that right now, but I really like it.] The most natural thing in the story-world is that Fave would move up to second-highest, and Jerk would become third-highest. Everyone expects this. BUT…instead, River promotes Jerk over Fave. Fave remains third, while Jerk is now second. [Following?] …Jerk is thrilled, cocky, and Fave is devastated and eventually…snaps. Muhaha.


Originally, Fave was going to change, become a spy…and keep sneaking back and forth between the d-guys and the H-guys, pretending to still be loyal to the H-guys, but really seeking ways to destroy them on behalf of the d-guys.

BUT…what I am thinking is this: River’s plan, after Jerk tried to threaten him, was to punish Jerk. To show him that he, River, is in control, and that Jerk is not. River’s punishment is to give Jerk what he wants [second-highest position], then publicly take it away and demote him back to what he was several years prior [back to fourth]. I think that he should still do that. Demote Jerk back to fourth-highest, and put Fave in the second-highest position [the position he’s always wanted].


Jerk will never mess with River again, because clearly River has total control. Yay for him. Jerk can either humble himself, accept his punishment, and be happy that River is “merciful”…or he can die. …Not sure yet what he’ll do.

…Basically, what I want is this: For River’s vindictiveness to lead to his downfall, and the downfall of the entire regime. He betrays Fave’s trust, and in doing so, he unwittingly seals his fate. [EDIT: I just realized, reading back through this…that this can totally fall under the prophecy line that the world will set to fracture from top to bottom. Who says it has to fracture solely because people change their mindsets about things? It can fracture because people are idiots too!] He believes that he can string Fave along while punishing Jerk…and Fave will still remain loyal because he is just that loyal. But remember how I said Fave “snaps”? Well, he does. And that snapping leads to…everything. Had River not been so vindictive, had he simply promoted Fave to second-highest and Jerk to third like everyone expected…Fave would not have snapped, and the story would still probably be about romantic love saving the day. …Ugh.

But, River IS vindictive, he IS manipulative, and this whole punishment-of-Jerk/snapping-of-Fave thing IS going to happen.

SO…my idea is that sometime between my girl meeting Fave for the second time, and him leaving and then returning…River does this whole demote/promote thing. By this point, Fave has changed [he has changed by the second time she meets him]…he is good, and he no longer wants to be second-highest. But, in order to further destroy his old regime, he will take the position. SO…by the time that Fave returns into the story for the third time…he is now second-highest person in the world.

Make sense?

THAT would create some trust issues, yes? [I mean, like…in addition to…every other reason she naturally wouldn’t trust him.]

What I am trying to figure out is how River can survive long enough to see how his plan backfired. Like, I want him to SEE. I want him to know. I want him to realize that his efforts to control everyone and everything…have been his undoing. I want him to watch his carefully constructed regime fall apart --- and not just fall apart because of others trying to take over, but fall apart because of Fave changing. And Fave changes because he snaps, and he snaps because Jerk is promoted above him. And Jerk is promoted above him because River wants to punish him. …Is this making sense?

I want River to have that moment of realizing that he betrayed the wrong man…that he destroyed himself, essentially, because he just had to prove that he had control. …I can’t quite find the words to explain it. I just want him to come to a place where he is like, “…Oh. Oh.”

…But I don’t really want him to die. I love him too, because I am weird, and because…he is just…ajlskdfjaelrg. He is bad, but he’s not bad, you know? I want there to be a chance of redemption for him. I don’t want Jerk to die either. As much as I want these men to come to the realization of what they’ve done…I want them to be redeemed even more.

Ah, such a sucker I am.

You probably aren’t even reading this anymore; I probably lost you twenty minutes ago.

If you did make it to this line, well, thank you! If not, sorry. It will make sense someday!

Friday, June 14, 2013

H-guys and d-guys and inn-guys, oh my!

So, I finished chapter 16 on Wednesday!!! I still need to edit it a bit more, especially the newer parts. That is what I am going to do today. But my story has sixteen full, consecutive chapters, and that is…exciting. Weird, and exciting.

I realized some rather obvious things the other day, as I was writing said chapter…

One: There have only been H-guys in the story. We have seen no other men, as only H-guys can enter the brothel part…for reasons of the innkeeper’s. [Not telling! ;) ] {{Please note: H-guys are human. There are normal humans, and then there are H-guys. It is not a race, and it is not one ethnic group. It is just…who is in charge.}}

Two: Every H-guy, except one, has come into the story intent on, you know…being…not nice to her. And the one who hasn’t been cruel…isn’t really in the story; he comes in only in intermittent flashbacks. In the actual, present timeline, he is not “in” the story.

Three: And that one nice guy…well, it makes sense for him to be nice, because he likes her. He is interested in romantically pursuing her. He has a relationship with her; he has something invested in her. [His time, his emotions, his friendship…etc.]

So, truly, every single man who has been in this story thus far…has been, well…really bad. Some have been worse than others. And there is, of course, the terrible one that I am completely in love with. [By the way, I am truly “in love” with every single character in this story. …This is not weird for me.]

But now, for the first time in the present timeline of the story…we are seeing an H-guy…not be like the ones she has interacted with for the past five weeks of her life.  

None of the men who go to her room during that time know her. They have never seen her before [save one who comes twice], they don’t know her name [a few do ask], and they are not interested in romantically pursuing her. They have nothing invested in her; they only want what she can give them.

Reading through the first fifteen chapters of this story, one might come to the conclusion that I think all men are bad/cruel/rapists, and that this story is fueled by my personal hatred.

…Um, ha. Just ha. [Remember how I said I love my characters? …Yeah, even those ones.]

…Enter the guard. One of two gate guards who was not really intended to be anything other than, you know, a guard at the gate. I knew what he looked like [of course], and though he didn’t have a name at first, I’m sure I would have named him eventually. [Must. Know. Everything.] But I did not plan for him to become anyone…to do anything except let her out of the city.

But for the first time in the story, we are about to see a man…be nice to her. A man who doesn’t know who she is, at all. He has never seen her before, he doesn’t know her name, and he is not interested in romantically pursuing her. He has nothing invested in her…and he doesn’t want anything from her.

And he…is not that different, really. He is far more representative of the H-guys on the whole than the inn-guys are. Or, at least, him doing what he does is more representative. He is different only because she has seen a side of the H-guys that others don’t see as much. Her view of men, though understandable, is horribly distorted. She has been pounded with cruelty from men, so in her mind, men = cruel. Men will rape her. Men will hurt her. Men are to be feared. Men are never to be trusted.

But to be quiet honest…to be quite…chilling…most of the inn-guys, if they found themselves presented with the same situation that this guard thinks he is being presented with, would do the exact same thing that he does. Or arrange for someone to do it, at the very least.

…Has your mind been blown? Haha! I kind of just blew my own mind with this. It’s something I’ve known, but writing it out is like…wow. …Because they really would. As power-hungry as some of them are, and as warped as some of them are…most of them truly want to protect and provide for their people.

And so, this brings me back to what has kind of become the point of this story:

They. Don’t. Think. That. They. Are. Bad.

Quite the opposite --- they honestly think they are the good guys. Both H-guys and d-guys…they think they are in the right, that their cause is the noble one…that they are protecting their people against the evil enemy.

…There are forty-four men who go to her room. [Yuck. …Imagine writing that.] Some go because they are warped and perverted in their idea of sexuality. Some go because they are selfish and want immediate physical gratification. Some go hoping to prove themselves as powerful. Some go out of desperation to control something in their otherwise falling-apart life. Some go out of brokenness, hoping to numb their own pain.

Once, this story was about “evil” vs. “evil”.

Then it became more about “mostly good” vs. “evil”, with me swinging intensely in favor of the d-guys. [They look cooler, are “supernatural”, and they live in the forest. Duh. …Haha!] This was the point when I planned to kill off most of the H-guys at the end…and I was quite fine with that.

Then I caught myself, and attacked that mindset --- and it became “evil” vs. “evil” again, for a brief moment.

…Now…it is far more “brainwashed” vs. “brainwashed”.
“Indoctrinated” vs. “indoctrinated”.
“In bondage to generational prejudice” vs. “in bondage to generational prejudice”.

Now, the thought of killing anyone --- of any of the races --- is quite terrible. The last thing I would ever do in this story is wipe out my H-guys at the end. I love them waaaaayyy too much for that. Oh my gosh, I love them. I want to shake most of them…but I am so in love with them all. …What is WRONG with me?!

See, from the very beginning, my hope was to show that the d-guys and the H-guys are exactly the same. Different races, but the same. The entire point of the story was for the characters to learn that blood is blood, people are people, and life is life. Whether human, d-creature, k-creature [oooh, who are they!?! Muhaha!], or half-breed…everyone is the same. Everyone’s life has equal value. I have struggled --- clearly --- to keep that focus. But God keeps reigning me back in. Falling in love with the d-guys and k-guys was a given. They both naturally had my heart.

…Falling in love with the H-guys…seriously…that is ALL God there. …I am not even remotely joking. It is no exaggeration to say that I hated them all. [All except the one that likes her. He was always good.] I can’t even…like, guys…I do not kill characters easily. I agonize over it. I wish I could stop writing about war so I wouldn’t have to kill people! [Dummy!] For me to be fine with killing off a ton of characters…I kind of cringe at myself when I say that now. HOW could I have ever been okay with that?

I am not the same. …I am so not the same.

…Oh, and all I am saying, is that starting with this adorably sweet guard and at least for the rest of book one…there are pretty much only nice guys. Unless something changes…the male characters from this point on that are actually in the story [i.e., not flashbacks/dreams, or only in the story for a moment]…are genuinely nice.  

And I. Am. So. Excited. For. You. To. Meet. Them.


Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Hijacked, yet again. =)

I have been working on chapter 16 today. And, once again, my plan for the way things should go…has been hijacked by God.

After fourteen chapters of not knowing if my girl would ever get out, she got out. [Hallelujah!!] And I was going to have the second part of her escape go much smoother than the first --- meaning that after the hell [sorry; that is what it was] she went through to get out of the inn, she would just be able to walk out of the city. [In a slapdash disguise.] It felt cliché to have the guards discover what she is, and for there to be this whole other big thing on top of the chapters it took for her to escape the inn. It was going to be a surprise, sort of, for her to just be able to leave with no fuss.

I had it all written, including the conversation she has with the guards, and the conversation between the two of them that she overhears [which I love because it is…I’m not telling!]. I really liked the whole thing, because she is scared out of her mind, but they aren’t paying much attention to her, and they don’t really care much…and it was just going to be, like, refreshing. Refreshing to see men in the story that are NOT trying to hurt her [men of the same regime that has been hurting her]…refreshing for her to have something come easily.

This morning, I looked at that part, planning to simply tweak some things and move on to her being out in the wonderful wilderness again.

But but but.

Two things happened.

One, I looked at my towns map. There is nowhere for her to go once she leaves the city; the nearest cities are not very near. This didn’t seem to be a problem before, because she doesn’t want to go to another city anyway. …But, since there is NOT a nearby city [one she could conceivably reach before nightfall]…
…the guards won’t and can’t let her just walk out of the city by herself. That is the second thing.

This led to me writing several more pages of this whole scene…and it comes down to this:

The only way she can leave the city, realistically…is if someone goes with her.  

And by “someone”, I mean…one of them.

A guard.
…A man.

After having been in the inn for over a month, she is utterly terrified of men. And especially THOSE men.

…But, in order to be realistic and have the guards NOT be idiots [which they are not]…she has to ride on a horse for several hours with one of THEM to get to the place she said she was going.

…Oh, can you even IMAGINE the tension?!

I am just about beside myself.

I love the tension, of course…but even more than that…I LOVE that for the past fourteen chapters, all we have really seen of this group is cruel, abusive, perverted men. The only man who has been different appeared only in flashbacks. In her mind, all men are terrible and want to rape her and hurt her. But now, even though she doesn’t WANT to go to a city, and that is where the guard is going to take her…he thinks he is helping her. He is trying to help her. He is arranging things so he can help her. He cares. And she cannot begin to receive it. She is just trying to keep from panicking/being discovered.

She has seen nothing but men’s cruelty for the past fourteen chapters. She pretty much expects nothing but cruelty.
But now…she is about to see kindness from a man of that same group.

…I just love it.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Two words from Jesus change everything --- a review

A review of “Sent” by Hilary Alan
Written by Angie Grigaliunas

“Sent” is the riveting account of an upper-middle-class Christian family who left everything to go to Southeast Asia following the tsunami of 2004. Not for vacation, not for the experience, not to look holy or radical --- but, as author Hilary states many times throughout the book, because God told them to go. From the outside, this family had it all --- high-paying jobs, happy and healthy kids, a brand new house, fancy stuff to fill said house, lavish vacations, two new cars, and a great church. And inside, they felt like they had it all. Hilary starts off by saying that she was very happy with the life she had. Had it been up to her and her husband, Curt, they probably wouldn’t have changed anything.

…But God had other plans. And step by step, He began to get their attention. He took them from content (though never fully satisfied), to wanting something more; from living for themselves (under the guise of being good, involved Christians)…to living for something far greater. From striving for the advancement of their own little kingdom…to laying everything aside for the advancement of His. The change in each person is evident throughout the book, and a beautiful testimony of what God can do with a willing heart.

I knew nothing about this family or their story going into this, so I had no preconceived notions or ideas. Once I began reading, I devoured this book in a matter of hours. Hilary starts by describing the tsunami, then details what was going on in her family’s lives when it happened. And how God used the tsunami to, as Hilary puts it, “reverse the trajectory” of their lives.

While much of the story deals with things that happened during their three years in Southeast Asia, a lot of it also relays Hilary’s faith journey. I related a lot to her struggles to let go of her idea of success, of control (or, rather, the illusion of it), of her own plans, and of her husband and two children. Her steadfast respect for her husband was inspiring, and her own honesty refreshing. Throughout the book, she makes it clear that she and her family were and are nothing special. They heard a call from God, answered the call the only way one truly can, and were obedient to the call. But in the midst of it all, they were human. She never tries to come off like it was easy, or that once they made the decision to go, there was no opposition or doubt. They struggled over whether or not they’d made the right decision, over whether their kids would be hurt by the cross-world move, over what people would think, over God not answering prayers as they thought He should, over the pain and devastation they encountered.

One of the things I loved about this book is how Hilary and her family didn’t really seem to go into Southeast Asia to mass-evangelize the place. Their focus remained on cultivating relationships with the villagers…sharing the gospel with them through loving them…and they did that. One of the most touching stories Hilary shares is how a friend, Lee, comforted another girl in the midst of devastating loss. When Hilary thanked Lee for her compassion, Lee said that the Alan’s and their group had shown her how to love, and that she “…wanted to do for her what you all did for me.”

There were not a lot of details given as to the nature of the ministry work the Alan’s were doing, or where exactly they were doing it. One of the things that sucked me into the book was the broad description “Southeast Asia”. I wanted to know where in Southeast Asia, precisely, because I am anal about things like that. I was a ways into the book before I realized that Hilary wasn’t going to say where. That was slightly disappointing, but I got the impression that it wouldn’t be safe to announce it. That, and a bit of repetitiveness throughout, kind of bothered me…but I got over it.

To be honest, this book makes me love God more. Seeing how He fit everything in the Alan’s lives together…how Hilary and Curt’s pasts made them the exact right people for what God called them to do…seeing how much they struggled and how faithful and patient He was with them…it was just incredible. At the end of the first chapter, Hilary states a familiar quote --- that God does not call the equipped; He equips the called. Their story is definitely living proof of that. And it is such a beautiful testimony.

I highly recommend this book. It will encourage you, make you tear up (if you are anything like me), and challenge you to put your own “yes” on the table. And to see where God takes you.

Note: I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review. This is my opinion only.

Read the first chapter here:

More information here: