God’s Family Album

That’s what Miss Fran named the musical she and Mr. Patrice and I agreed we’d coach the children to do this spring. It was titled before there was even a script. She was going to pick out the songs. I was going to write the spoken script. Mr. Patrice was going to direct. Mr Tim and I were going to play the two adult roles. The kids were going to do everything else.

Turns out the kids were better at their part than the adults were at theirs. Adults seem to need so many more words and so much more understanding to accomplish things. Kids just need a little herding. Well, maybe it’s not quite as simple as that, but in the end, it kind of seemed like it. They sang some of their best songs in the early morning church service on June 3rd, and did the entire musical in the service right after that, and people are still raving about it. Even though, by the final rehearsal, I was ready to say, “Never again,” it sounds like next year we’re going to be doing exactly that: again.

Probably not exactly the same musical, though. Which is why I’ve decided to post the script under my “Stories Evaluated by a Third Party” page. (You’ll see it in the drop-down menu.) It’s not as good as seeing and hearing the kids themselves, but you’ll get the general idea.


public domain, Wikimedia Commons

Just look what happens when you get started . . .

At the beginning of the week I had serious intentions of becoming all Professional-Bloggy and committing myself to specific themes on specific days. Except for Sundays, I didn’t really have a plan–I was just going to write stuff and then whatever I happened to write about that day was going to be the thing I wrote about every time I wrote a blog post on that day.

So then . . . according to this week . . . that means Monday would be Mundane Monday, where I write about random little life-happenings, like creepy spam, or, say, hooking up a new dryer like an Mission Impossible agent. (That post never did get enough hits, and I personally thought it was hilarious, so you should go check it out.) Then Tuesday could be the day I write about writing, and, given the beginning of this post right here, Wednesday could be the day I blog about blogging. (There’s a difference. Clearly.)

Thursdays could be The Dog Days–because I have a doggie story to share with you tomorrow maybe–if I still feel like it by then. Fridays could be some hilarious and/or adorable recounting of some little marital mishap in the newlywed lives of Jennwith2ns and my Paul (always told with my Paul’s express permission, of course). Saturdays could be a break, and then Sundays–well, I’ll tell you about my idea for Sundays some other time.

But come on. Let’s face it. Am I ever going to do any of that? Committing to a schedule like the above would commit me to blogging every day (except Saturdays), and–well, did you notice last month? Last month I just really didn’t have much to say. I know when bloggers feature certain topics at certain predictable points, they have bigger Readerships and you can actually pin them down and say, “This blogger blogs about such-and-such.” Whereas all I’ve got are Jenn Stories which, as we know from Urban Dictionary, are not always particularly compelling and as we know from this blog, are almost always pretty random, really. Besides all that, I have a sneaking suspicion this new-found desire to start organising my blog is just symptomatic of my tendency to procrastinate and not do anything about my poor neglected novel and the quotations therein.

Blogging buddy Daniel Mitchell and his wife are contemplating changing up their blog a little, too. They recently asked readers to vote on the types of posts they write. That’s so gracious of them. I wish I were that gracious. But evidently I’m not. This blog is not that democratic. So I guess I merely tell you all this, not to announce a restructuring of the blog, or even to ask you if you think I should restructure the blog, but just to tell you I thought about it, and . . . plan to leave things exactly the same.

(On the other hand . . . I do kind of care what people think. Do you think I should restructure my blog? Oh man. Why did I even bring it up?)

New, Incontrovertible Reasons as to Why My Next Book Cannot Be Published!

Or this real guy. We met him on our honeymoon. He was a romantic, and he never would have proclaimed my book couldn’t get published, though.
Photo credit: Jennwith2ns 2012

Because . . . have you noticed? . . . I’m all about the excuses right now. I know, it’s been subtle. But you’re observant. I can tell. You’ve already noticed than anybody who started a book back in 2001 and still hasn’t got it published is seriously stalling.

But look! I have reasons! Here’s a big one–with a little tangent:

The other day the Bitchy Bride, who is fast becoming my Blogging BFF (or maybe BBFF), recommended the website Authonomy. Clearly I don’t already have enough social networking sites from which to derive creepy potential spam. (Incidentally, I would be Very Surprised Indeed if this site is where Mr. Edwards found me, as I have posted pretty much nothing on there yet–and again, the email he used is not the email associated with my profile there. But I guess it would clue anybody in that I–at least sometimes–style myself a writer.)

The basic idea of the site seems to be a forum in which to get your writing out to test-community of readers and other literary hopefuls. Evidently Harper-Collins is the umbrella organisation, so presumably everyone is more or less secretly hoping their work will be noticed by some agent or editor somewhere . . . and the Bitchy Bride’s was, so evidently it works for some people. You put up a profile, and you garner a community by reading and talking about other people’s works, and you try to broaden your readership by putting your own work there.

Easy enough. I like it. Favored One is already divided up into chapter files, which is how one is meant to post one’s books on Authonomy. But I can’t post mine. Because I quote the Bible.

So look. It’s a novel, like I said, but like I also said, it was kind of a big long spiritual exercise in which I was reading the actual Bible and interacting with the actual Bible, and though I made up probably the majority of the dialogue in Favored One myself (Miryam doesn’t have a whole lot of recorded sayings, it turns out), where there is Biblical dialogue in the stories I’m retelling, I wanted to draw straight from the Bible. The aforementioned “psychological experiment” is, as I said, imagining the psychological states and the behaviours of a specific woman in response to the Biblical accounts that we have. I personally believe the accounts to be historical, but I don’t think you have to believe them to find such an experiment interesting if you’re interested in stories about, as I’ve also said before, women’s issues or the paranormal or . . . just human psychology. All that to say–where there’s dialogue already written, I left it in.

The “problem” is, every translation of the Bible has its own copyright. Which part of me understands because you can’t translate anything word for word and have it mean what it means, so . . . there are lots of different translations, which implies a human element. But part of me sometimes just thinks,Really? Couldn’t we just say ‘Copyright: God. Ghostwritten by a whole lot of mostly-if-not-exclusively-dudes. Oh, go ahead, guys. It’s for all of you’?Or something like that?

The particular translation/paraphrase (and it is deliberately a combination in this case) I used was, as I think I mentioned, The Complete Jewish Bible. I picked this for the transliterated Hebrew names, and because I’m not Jewish, but the translator/paraphraser is, and I figured I needed all the help I could get to make the voice of the novel more or less culturally appropriate. (I’m not sure I succeeded, but I figure it can’t have hurt.) Plus (and especially), I just like this one. It worked for my spiritual exercise. It seemed to work for writing a novel, too.

But now that I really do want to publish the thing, I am having a bear of a time acquiring permissions. This, I think, is what an agent and/or traditional publisher is for. And I don’t have one of those. It’s not that I’m being denied permissions outright. It’s that I’m not receiving any answers. And so for now, I find myself stuck. I could switch translations and see if I can find a Bible publisher who’s a little more responsive. Or I could rewrite the entire dialogue in my own words. The tricky thing about that would be to avoid accidentally plagiarising a translation.

Or I could wait until I’ve taken two more New Testament Greek courses, after I restart my Master’s Degree for the third time this autumn, and then painstakingly translate all the dialogue myself. I kind of like that idea, actually, and, given how long it’s taken this manuscript to see the light of day, what’s another five to seven years? But that’s the thing. It’s already taken far longer than it should have. I’ve been talking about this thing for years. Now I have a forum in which to post it and maybe get some feedback, and as things stand, if I did, I could be sued.

What do you think?

  • a. wait for CJB permissions
  • b. use an alternate translation and try to get new permissions
  • c. compose my own dialogue, with my own paraphrase of English translations of the Biblical quotes
  • d. learn more Greek and translate the quotes myself

The Creeping Spam

Scribble by Jennwith2ns 2012

I had to draw this guy–the public domain images of Spam on the internets just didn’t have the right flair.

I remember when I first opened an account on an online dating site. This was a considerable number of years ago, and I had never profiled myself online before, and one did hear horror stories. After a couple of those, there was a blog (not this one)–the setting up of which was also initially terrifying–and then a MySpace account (no longer in existence) which creation nearly gave me anaphylaxis. Even webmail was intimidating at first. Like most things, though, the more you do it, the less alarming it seems, even if maybe it shouldn’t. Now, though the dating websites are gone, I am a member, if not a frequenter, of a multiplicity of social networking sites. You and I may even be linked via one or two.

Sidebar ads that are eerily related to things I’m interested in? Just don’t seem all that eerie anymore. And I have a pretty decent email spam-filter. The only ones that usually get through are from friends’ emails that have, unfortunately (like this blog a month or so ago) been hacked. But I can always tell which ones those are. They usually tell me about some way to make money online and have some attachment I don’t open or some link I don’t click.

Yesterday was “Christian Education Sunday” at Now Church. Miss Fran picked out a bunch of songs and Mr Patrice directed, and I wrote the script to tie all the songs together as a musical, and “acted” in it. (I use the term acted loosely, as pertains to myself.) The children acted and sang wonderfully and even though it was a lot of work (and a bit of metaphorical drama, too) to put it together, the end result was quite satisfying. My parents were even in attendance. At the end, my mother said, “You wrote that?”

“The script,” I clarified, in case I needed to. I do not write songs. But I’m pretty sure she knew most of the songs, so clarification was probably superfluous.

“Yeah,” she said. “I was thinking, you should really do that kind of thing for people on the side. You’re creative and you’re good at it.” I think I muttered something non-committal, mostly because I wasn’t entirely sure what to say, partly because I wasn’t entirely sure what “that kind of thing” meant, specifically, nor how to get into it, in spite of a little freelancing experience.

Whenever the next time I checked my email was, there was a message in there from a William Edwards. I do not know William Edwards. Any William Edwards. The subject-line said, “Free Work from Home Employment.” It’s the kind of email to which I usually say, “Yeah, right,” and then I delete it forthwith. Therefore, I can’t quite figure out how I got “into” the message–maybe I could read the whole thing from my phone without clicking on it, or maybe my phone automatically opened it after I deleted the preceding message. I don’t know. Either way, I somehow ended up opening it, and this is what it said:

I thought with Jay’s help you could earn money from home on the internet with your writing background. Writing about your love the kids and products they use.


At first glance, apart from the coincidental timing with my mother’s comment, there’s nothing much more creepy about this than about your average spam-mail. Unknown sender. Weird/awkward/puzzling grammar and syntax. A random link that appears unrelated to the body of the email. Even the use of my first name–it’s not too hard to get that off an email address.

The things that are creeping me out about this e-missive are the seemingly non-spam elements. The guy sending the message has a gmail address. With a photo attached. And a Google+ account. (I couldn’t find out much about him from Google+, however. Evidently he’s a pilot? We don’t have any mutual connexions. Who the heck is Jay?) I did not click on the link in the email (though if you do, and you get a job with them, I want a kickback), but I did google “Organic Pet Digest” and arrived at an apparently legitimate website about “Natural Dog Care Guidance,” with a hyperlink at the bottom of the page for “Work at home employment: how to create a site like this one.”

How does this guy know I have a “writing background”? More to the point, how did he get my email? The email address he used is not the one linked to this blog or other writing websites. That one is public, but not the one he used. How does he know about “kids”? And if he means “fur-kids,” well, how does he know about them?

If Mr. Edwards found out about any of those details because he reads this blog or “follows me on Twitter” (a phrase which, I fear, I will always need to put in quotation marks because it does sound so ludicrous)–and he doesn’t “follow me on Twitter,” by the way–it’s no surprise he knows about the dogs, say, or the writing. Fine. I’m always happy for people to read my blog. But if he wants to suggest a freelance opportunity, in that case, he might find a less invasive way of presenting it. Direct-messaging me on Twitter, for example. Using the provided email address on this blog. Introducing himself and the context for his offer would be another really fantastic idea. Minus all of those elements, I don’t care how great the opportunity is: I’m still marking that email as spam. And backing away slowly.