Writing Challenge #3: Lamb – The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal

My book club recently read Lamb – The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal. I was excited for this one for two reasons. One; most of what we read last year was about death and darkness, so a funny book was a nice change. Two; I’ve read a few other things by Christopher Moore and I think he’s hilarious.  His book, A Dirty Job, was one of the most entertaining times with paper and ink I’ve ever had.

 

**SPOLERS AHEAD IF YOU HAVEN’T READ IT**

 

The book begins with the angel, Raziel, cleaning out his closet, organizing his halos, then being interrupted with orders to go “Dirt-side” for a special assignment. That assignment? To resurrect Levi Who is Called Biff, and get him to write a second gospel of Christ. Raziel pulls Biff from the ground, grants him the gift of tongues, and they start out on their journey together. Their “journey”, as it turns out, is an isolated stay at a hotel room with pizza, modern day soaps on the TV, and the occasional visit from the hotel Concierge, Jesus.  Raziel instructs Biff to tell the story of his childhood with his best friend Joshua, AKA The Son of God, and the fun starts there.

Biff begins his story of growing up with his best friend, Joshua, who knows from an early age that he is the son of God. The tales start with the two boys, at the age of six, playing Moses and the Pharaoh, and resurrecting lizards after “mashing” them. There are hilarious stories of torturing little brothers in ways most older brothers today wouldn’t think of, and Biff’s adorable crush on his best friend’s mom. Moore has a way of telling these stories through a young Biff that immediately made me feel attached to this endearing friendship. Locked in the hotel room with the angel and a stashed away copy Gideon’s Bible; Biff stitches his story together of the lost years of the life of Christ. His childhood.

I was sucked in by Biff’s innocence as he tells of their adventures that include both the normal kid things and things that only happen when your best friend is the messiah.  Moore also succeeds at giving Biff a humorous personality that translates perfectly on the page. His silly, little boy, sense of humor matures only slightly as he ages throughout the book from age six, to thirty. His sense of humor is so perfectly written I found myself giggling out loud with every page. Talking about our favorite funny moments as a group had almost all of us in a fit of giggles all over again. (For the sake of transparency, not everyone in our group thought the book was as funny as I did.)

One of the funniest scenes for me was Biff telling the tale of being in trouble only to have The Angel come to their apparent rescue, flying through the sky and writing out “SURRENDER DOROTHY” in the black smoke. That story is followed with the line “I was just fuckin’ with you”. You can almost hear Biff giggling in your head when you read these transition lines. Lines where Moore moves between living in the moment of the story Biff is telling and living with Biff in the modern day, as he tries to find the right way to share the story of his best friend. Moore makes these transitions in time and place feel seamless for the reader, which is not always easy to do, but they really work here.

When I was trying to think of something critical to say about the book, I really couldn’t. At first I thought, maybe, just maybe, it was too long. While it never loses its humorous side, the book is 405 pages long and covers more than 20 years of history. The problem I came across when I thought about making it shorter was I couldn’t think of anything I would want to see taken out. The childhood stories of attempting to circumcise a Roman statue, and experiencing their first crush on the new girl, Mary, were some of my favorite parts. The teen lessons on sex, coffee and responsibilities were absolutely necessary to their journey through life. And you could not get to the story’s conclusion without the tales of young adulthood; of learning who your friends are, and how we use the lessons from our youth. So, really, the length is perfect.

If you think you’re going to pick up this book and find a new explanation of the bible and the life and times of Christ, you won’t. There is no part of this story where the writer expects you to take this as his interpretation of “actual” events. And if you’re religiously sensitive or easily offended, this might not be the book for you. If stories of Jesus acting like a regular 10 year old boy, sneaking out in the dark with his best friends to vandalize a statue, or living as a teenager with a Magi and his Chinese concubines, would bother you, again, you might not want to try this one.

But also don’t think you couldn’t enjoy this book if you are religious. Our group has a variety of religious levels – from an atheist (me) to the deeply faithful (who picked the book) – and while not everyone got the humor of the story, no one was offended by the story or its subject matter. Everyone agreed that this was much more than a humorous take on religion. Lamb is really a story about lifelong friendship, the innocence of your first love, and the different lessons we each learn even as we travel the same paths together. I would easily recommend this book to anyone looking for a fun read.

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Writing Challenge #2 FanFiction – Three Wishes

Alrighty! Next up in the writing challenge list is – drum roll please – fan fiction! Love it or hate it, I’m going to write some. Like the first challenge, these first drafts are the final drafts. Just keep that in mind. 😉

 

THREE WISHES

     The melody of the rain on the car windows was melding with the tunes on the radio in a perfect rhythm; making it hard for Sam to keep his eyes open. They’d been on the same stretch of dark highway for three hours without a word between them. The week’s case had been chasing down what they thought was a run of the mill ghost.  Only when they’d caught up to the creature did they realized they were actually dealing with a powerful possession. A rogue demon from Team Abaddon hiding from his king in Small Town USA. They’d dug up a grave, burned some bones, and then went ten rounds with the six foot four poet-turned-mixed-martial-artist the demon had taken control of. Sam hadn’t lasted long, and even with the extra fury The Mark provided, Dean had taken plenty of licks before subduing the demon to be exorcised. It’d made for a long four days. They’d left town as soon as they dropped the guy off at a hospital drive through – a poet once again.

     “You know what I’m thinking about?” Dean asked, his voice full of gravel thanks to the exhaustion.

     “Porn?” Sam answered with a grin.

     “Not since the last exit,” his brother said with a shot to his arm. “Really though, I’ve been thinking about something. We have run into pretty much every monster anyone has ever written about. Hell, we even saw a guy killed by an imaginary unicorn. We’ve seen a lot of shit.”

     “Yeah?”

     “So, why haven’t any of us ever seen a genie?

     “Because genies don’t exist.”

     “That’s your answer? We’ve gone up against everything from vamps to naked little fairies, and your answer to genies is they don’t exist?”

     “Not all folklore is real, Dean. Genies are a friendly version of things we have gone up against. A Crossroad demon, a Djinn, they’re both like genies. They grant wishes for a price.”

     “No. I’m not talking about the monster versions. I want to know why we haven’t ever found a lamp with a little guy wearing Hammer Pants inside, ready to grant wishes. Not in all of the stuff dad stashed away, not in all of the artifacts the Men of Letters collected; no one has a magic lamp. I want to find a lamp.”

     Sam laughed as the headlights from a passing car lit up the interior of the impala, highlighting the shiner and split lip his brother was sporting. He knew he didn’t look much better. “Are you saying that finding a lamp is the next case?”

     “Why not? None of us are having any luck finding anything to help erase this stupid mark I’m stuck with. Let’s move on to something that could be fun.”

     “What would you wish for?”

     “Easy,” Dean answered without missing a beat. “A bank account that was never empty, for Baby to run forever, and the power to teleport.”

     “Seriously?”

     “Absolutely.”

     “You want to find a genie so you can make sure the Impala doesn’t need any maintenance?”

     Dean shrugged. “And to be able to teleport. What’s wrong with that?”

     “What about all the stuff we could make go away? What about wishing for the mark to be removed, or for Cass to get his grace back? Or, maybe getting mom and dad back? Or actually closing the gates of hell like we’ve almost died trying to do?” Sam couldn’t pull the frustration out of his voice. Even though the game was only a What If, that Dean wouldn’t even list anything to change their course was something he couldn’t handle.

     “We did all that, Sammy. All of us got ourselves to where we are, and we don’t get to use magic to poof ourselves out of it.”

     “We did it to ourselves? Even mom? She did it to herself?”

     “Yeah, she did. I was there. She made that deal with Yellow Eyes to save dad, and when it came time for him to collect, she fought to protect us. Would I love to have had that be different? Hell yes. But it was the course she put into play that got us to where we are, and I don’t think she’d want us to take that back. She knows why we’re hunters. Same thing with Cass. Cass followed Metatron even though he questioned it. He took him at his word, and because of that he lost his grace. He will be the one that fights to get that back.”

     “And you?”

     “Me?” Dean laughed hollow. “I followed the friggin’ king of hell to a cabin in the woods and accepted Cain’s mark without a single question. I’m going to figure out how to deal with it, but it’s my mess to deal with. If I’m going to get three wishes I’m going to wish for something I can’t do myself.”

     Sam pushed his bruised body into the seat and turned to watch the droplets race each other down the window. He knew his brother’s train of thought shouldn’t surprise him – and considering it was all a game it definitely shouldn’t piss him off – but it had all the same.

     “What about you? What would you do if we found a magic lamp, Sammy?”

     He could tell Dean was trying to bring the mood back to the light side but he couldn’t get there. “I’d make sure you didn’t get to make the wishes.”

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Writing Challenge #1 – A Short Autobiography

Well – It’s been quite a while since I’ve posted anything on here. To kick-start things I’m tackling a writer’s challenge. First up: a short autobiography. Where does one start with an autobiography? I had a high school teacher once ask us to start with “time of conception” and go to age 12. I thought that was a little much, and came up with a great story about being conceived on the back of a purple and black Harley, instead of asking my parents for details to share with my teacher. I got an A- even though none of it was true. We’ll go the honest route on this one.

I grew up in the suburbs of Salt Lake, Utah, the oldest of two children. My little brother and I were pretty much opposites growing up. My mom called us each an only child. I was mellow; he was mile-a-minute. He was the comedian; I’ve been accused of being born without a sense of humor. Like a lot of siblings we fought like cats and dogs at times, but we did have a lot of fun together when we were getting along. One thing we didn’t realize until we were adults was the fact that we were also spoiled rotten. Our parents – high school sweethearts – gave everything they could to make sure our childhood was amazing. And it was.

I was part of a close-knit family. There was always an occasion to get together. If there wasn’t an official occasion, just the fact that it was a Saturday would be good enough. In between the normal holidays, there were birthdays and summer parties, family baseball games, pre-holiday parties, and storybook Christmas tree “hunts” at my Uncle Johnny’s family’s cabin. And in between all of that were countless sleepovers at grandma’s house. My cousins and I were all loved but being the first born always gave me confidence that I was the favorite at grandma’s. Both of my grandma’s.

I started high school in in 1991 at the same high school my mom and many other relatives on both sides of my family had attended. By the time I started I had made up my mind on what I would be doing after graduation. I was going to be a cop. And I let everyone know it. I was also pretty sure if that didn’t work out I wanted to be a writer. Or a pastry chef. I wrote poems and short stories in elementary school, wrote the advice column for the school paper in 9th grade, and fell back in love with poetry by high school. Being that I was well into my angsty teen years, most of my poetry was “deep”, which meant a lot of it had to do with social issues and death. 😉

In 1994 I graduated high school knowing that I would be heading off to college. I’d won a vocational law enforcement scholarship that covered a year’s tuition. The competition involved an essay and an interview. I’ve always been pretty sure it was my kickass essay that did it for me. College started and the next ten years were a whole lot of adventure, excitement, complication, accomplishment, and luck. I became a single mom and we both survived it with a ton of help from that crazy-close family I mentioned. I worked as a police dispatcher, an insurance claims rep, and then moved into the massive world of import/export shipping that I knew nothing about. I bought my first home for me and my son, all by myself, at 27, went through a few halfhearted relationships and then met The One (and his two) in 2004. It was a wild ten years.

Just after I met The One I started writing again. I started with my own version of a vampire tale that didn’t include anyone that glittered. I gave that story all my focus, and one day it will be finished, but my brain kept wandering to a different story. It was a little story I’d started in 1997 about a female detective named Kat that kept coming back to me. Eventually other characters wound their way into the story and I decided to run with it. That story has become my first completed novel and the first thing I’ve ever risked submitting to an agent for consideration. And while I wait (And wait. And wait) I will continue to be me. So, do you know me yet? I’m a daughter and a sister and a wife and a mom and a step-mom. A cousin, a friend, a Neil Gaiman fan, an ice cream junkie, a live music lover, and a writer. That’s me.

 

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Dream Cast

So – the last several weeks have been nothing but writer’s block. I’ve made a few attempts on novel #2, and I’ve been writing a blog post on Feminism for weeks now, but I’ve gotten no where serious with either. I had all sorts of intentions to get something done this weekend that I could call progress. It didn’t happen. Instead, I spent today daydreaming about who I would cast as each of my characters if I was transported to dreamland where The Myth Maker is being made into movie. Or a TV show. Either one would be crazy-amazing. And since I spent all this time putting this together, I figured I would blog it and pretend that this counts as writing for the weekend.

So – here is my dream cast starting with Kat and Bryan:

Cobie Smulders as Detective Kat Lang

Cobie Smulders as Detective Kat Lang

Cobie Smulders as Detective Kat Lang

Cobie Smulders as Detective Kat Lang

Jay Hernandez as Detective Bryan Ramirez

Jay Hernandez as Detective Bryan Ramirez

Jay Hernandez as Detective Bryan Ramirez

Jay Hernandez as Detective Bryan Ramirez

Cobie and Jay are SPOT ON for the images of these people that run around inside of my brain.

Continuing on with the rest of the cast on the law enforcement side, below would be my first picks for Casey Tennyson and Gabe “Romeo” Daniels.

Donnie Wahlberg as Detective Casey Tennyson

Donnie Wahlberg as Detective Casey Tennyson

Jesse Williams as Gabe "Romeo" Daniels

Jesse Williams as Gabe “Romeo” Daniels

There is only one person in my mind when I write scenes with Cole and it is Timothy Olyphant. He will always be my Cole MacAllan.

Timothy Olyphant as FBI Special Agent Cole MacAllan

Timothy Olyphant as FBI Special Agent Cole MacAllan

Desmond Harrington as FBI Agent Eric Halman

Desmond Harrington as FBI Agent Eric Halman

When I initially created Agent Phoenix Rhys I had someone else in mind, but over time it’s morphed. Now I use this guy as the image in my head when writing lines for Phoenix.

Jensen Ackles as FBI Agent Phoenix Rhys

Jensen Ackles as FBI Agent Phoenix Rhys

Jensen Ackles as FBI Agent Phoenix Rhys

Jensen Ackles as FBI Agent Phoenix Rhys

Cory Stevens was modeled after a real deputy who helped me out once in a really big way.

Greg Grunberg as Sgt. Cory Stevens

Greg Grunberg as Sgt. Cory Stevens

Nicholas Hoult as Officer Derek North

Nicholas Hoult as Officer Derek North

I’ve done a lot of research to find the perfect Nicky and this weekend I found him.

Henry Cavill as Nicky Danishevsky

Henry Cavill as Nicky Danishevsky

Henry Cavill as Nicky Danishevsky

Henry Cavill as Nicky Danishevsky

James Lang, in my dream world, would be played by Christopher Gorham. I love him.

Christopher Gorham as James Lang

Christopher Gorham as James Lang

Christopher Gorham as James Lang

Christopher Gorham as James Lang

I started liking the idea of this one for Big Sister Hannah:

Keri Russell as Hannah

Keri Russell as Hannah

And THIS is the perfect Meghan Lang. I never wrote Meghan in lederhosen but I totally could!

Zoe Kazan as Meghan Lang

Zoe Kazan as Meghan Lang

Zoe Kazan as Meghan Lang

Zoe Kazan as Meghan Lang

And if we have Meghan, we have to cast Sebastian…

Landon Liboiron as Sebastian Welsh

Landon Liboiron as Sebastian Welsh

And he has a cat! 🙂

As for Alayna Ashley and her boyfriend Jordan –

Elena Charbila as Alayna Ashely

Elena Charbila as Alayna Ashely

Bill Skarsgard as Jordan (because, c'mon, he's the little Skarsgard)

Bill Skarsgard as Jordan (because, c’mon, he’s the little Skarsgard)

And of course we would need Sean Dunham…

Kevin Alejandro as Sean Dunham

Kevin Alejandro as Sean Dunham

And his little brother, Will…

Jonathan Rhys Meyers as Will Dunham

Jonathan Rhys Meyers as Will Dunham

Jonathan Rhys Meyers as Will Dunham

Jonathan Rhys Meyers as Will Dunham

 

If you’ve read it, let me know what you think of the cast!

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