Monday, December 23, 2013

A few photographs of a festive hedgehog

A lot of my time and attention is currently directed at my studies, on prep work for a writer's conference/workshop and on a project that will become public around or on the New Year. So I don't have a blog post at the moment. In the meantime, here are some photos I took last night of my hedgehog, Quigely.

Enjoy! He's actually quite photographic.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

BBC's Sherlock: Cloaked Personas [Sherlock & John]

[Warning: probable spoilers ahead. If you haven't watched the whole series, read at your own risk.]

I've recently watched BBC's Sherlock again, having convinced a friend to finish it. So of course we watched it together.

This time around (3rd-ish), I was dually impressed with how Sherlock's and John's clothing reflected their personalities.

Yes. Impressed.

This is one more detail of the show that has been worked out brilliantly.

With the exception of Sherlock going to the palace in nothing but a sheet (stubborn, stubborn man), he's always well-dressed. Even when spearing a dead pig. Now, considering that he has no problem with taking the tube all covered in pig blood and carrying a spear, I had to wonder, why is he always dressed nicely? Why not jeans and a polo once in a while, or a t-shirt?
It couldn't just be how the costumer cast him. Not just a trademarked look Moffat wanted him to have, though I believe that's part of it, considering the fact that bringing a classic character into a whole new century is risky business. Giving him a classic style helps keep him timeless. 
After another episode or two and some more thought, I realized the other reasons why.

Sherlock reads people like most of us read books. "I didn't see. I noticed." 
He knows the person that does likewise is rare. But that doesn't make much difference, because everyone picks up clues from other people's appearances, consciously or subconsciously. So he dresses to show who, and what, he is. His clothing choices reflect the observations he wants people to make about himself.
What does he want them to see?
He values (in himself and others), among other things, logic. Intelligence. Competence. Professionalism. He also has a superiority complex and would rather die than look foolish or stupid. Insanely prideful. Close-lipped about personal things, which lends a flair to the mysterious.

Professional dress in simple, classic colors exudes authority, intelligence, and professional competence. So suits and button-up shirts in solid colors make sense.
The long trench coat, scarf, and flipped-up collar? A nod to the classic Sherlock, and the flair of mystery the modern Sherlock loves. It also (at least, to my mind) gives off an air of self-preservation: the long cut of the coat, how he turns up the collar, and how the scarf is wound snugly around his neck. It's a physical demonstration of how he keeps most personal information/thoughts inside his own head, closed off and protected from the looks and confusion he's gotten in the past from being more open.

 Now, on to John! 
He is a very practical man. Intelligent, caring, and trustworthy. A good doctor and a good soldier. While he doesn't have the mental training to make the same logic leaps as Sherlock, or observe as many details, he is smart, thinks things through in a linear fashion, and typically thinks with his head more than his heart. He also employs a liberal usage of sass and sarcasm, which I personally find very enjoyable and endearing. 

While kind and very much a doctor, he is also very much a soldier with nerves of steel. Abducted off the street? No problem. Sass the abductor. New flatmate goaded to swallow poison by a wacko cab driver? Not a problem, either. Shoot the cabby through the head--from another building, no less--at the last possible moment. Friend overly rude and inconsiderate? Tell him to shut up once in a while and give him some pointers at acceptable social interaction.
He's the kind of friend everybody wants to have.

His jacket is a hunting coat, which is a nice nod to his soldiering days. It's serviceable, practical, and sportsman-like. Most of his shirts are patterned button-ups (traditionalist) or comfy sweaters. Sturdy, comfortable pants and shoes. 
He doesn't seem to worry about the persona he exudes, but does pay attention to if he is dressed appropriately for the occasion. He's comfortable with himself and doesn't try to put on airs. 
Everything about his style suggests practicality, comfort, and quality, which I think fit his personality very well. 

The saying goes that clothes make the man, right? In my opinion, whoever designed the wardrobes for these two fantastic characters took this to heart and did a brilliant job. Their clothing doesn't just protect them from the elements. It gives us, the viewers, greater detail into them as people and fleshes them out even more. 

Kudos, BBC. The details woven through this show make it a pleasure to watch multiple times. Each time I pick up something new.  

Monday, November 11, 2013

Humans & Hedgehogs

I am now the bemused owner of a hedgehog.

He belonged to my manager and was the "clinic hedgehog." But the veterinarian life didn't suit him well, so he was replaced with two guinea pigs.

His name is Quigley. Cup your hands together and the little ball of prickles fits in there quite well.

Most of the time, he throws a fit when you pet him. He'll spaz, jerking and making a spluttering hiss -- "I'm a dangerous hedgy. Hear me roar." -- hilarious, but not very intimidating.

After five to fifteen minutes of being out of his cage and being handled, he'll uncurl and start sniffing. Exploring. Let you pet him without exploding into a mammalian version of a puffer fish.

He'll leave his fuzzy, spine-free legs, face, and underbelly exposed.

Over the short span of time I've had Quigley at my house, I've realized something: a lot of people are a lot like hedgehogs (and no, I refuse to digress into how John Watson is like a hedgehog and Sherlock Holmes is like an otter. Thanks for those amusing comparisons, Sherlockians.).

Many of us are--or can be--prickly. Not necessarily mean, or on the offense, but we curl inside of ourselves, protecting our soft underbellies and tender hearts with hisses and jerks whenever anyone touches us and tries to get through our defenses.

To my fellow hedgehogs: Uncurl and sniff around, guys. If you're like me, you're introverted or ambiverted, and thus have a definite people-tolerance and space bubble. That's cool. People are definitely tiring, even though they are also amazing. But don't be a ball of hissing prickles all the time. It's not very fulfilling. ;)

To those of you who have no idea what it's like to be a hedgehog or don't know what to do with a fellow hedgy: Be patient with us. I promise you that underneath our hissing and sometimes aloof nature, we think and feel and love and hate and geek out over things just as much as you do. And that, like you, we're pretty darn cool. Sometimes it just takes a while for us to be okay with letting you close enough to see it all. :)

Go pet a hedgehog. It's a very enlightening experience.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

God, a Hobbit, and a Time Lord

God used a Hobbit.

No, this is not a post drawing grand spiritual analogies from Lord of the Rings and Doctor Who. This is not a post contemplating Tolkien's beliefs or his reasons for writing about Middle-Earth, or the beliefs and reasonings of Davies and Moffat. This is in no way a "technical" post.
This is a post about God, a girl, a Time Lord and a Hobbit.

With that said, God used a Hobbit to help me through a very rough time. Frodo's journey and struggles were, for me, a mirror of sorts. He fought and struggled. Doubted. Lost some and won some. Had people turn on him, and had people that never gave up, never stopped pulling him onward and upward even when he wanted to lie down and quit.
God used that epic of good vs evil in my life to show me that adventures -- that life -- is sometimes about Rivendells, sometimes mountains, sometimes breaking. About celebrating and Elves. About crying, lost, in Mordor, the ring too heavy to bear. About a Sam pulling you up, or you being Sam to another Frodo who's browbeaten and weary and pulling them up. That often, the biggest heroes are the most ordinary of folk.
Sometimes life is about not being strong enough, but walking anyway because walking is the only choice you have.

God also used a Time Lord.

He used a regenerating humanoid alien know as the "Doctor," who travels through time and space in brilliant blue police box that is actually a TARDIS with a broken chameleon circuit. 
He used that oft-times ridiculous science fiction series full of wibbly-wobbly-timey-whimey stuff to show me that believing in the impossible isn't always crazy. That compassion and justice are worth fighting for. That fighting for those ideals will always hurt, so at the end, to be able to say "Nobody died today, Rose. For once -- just this once -- everyone lived," is hard-won.
He used it to show me that heroes aren't heroes simply because they do things others don't. Heroes spread hope and instill courage. Heroes have their hearts broken, lose everything, and at the end of the day -- even amidst tears -- they don't stop living. Even when they die, what they left behind still lives on.
Heroics don't always involve guns and gore. Sometimes heroics means pausing and turning around because a child is crying. Sometimes heroics is simply knowing when to let go, because holding on is destructive. Letting Rose go meant saving earth's universe along with a parallel universe. Donna, the most important woman in the universe, was let go because letting her go saved her life. Holding on would have meant the memories and knowledge jammed into her brain during Ten-Too's generating process were going to kill her.
He used something the Doctor said, and the way the Doctor acted, to illustrate in a very tangible form that there is no such thing as an unimportant person. And that maybe, just maybe, part of being a hero is recognizing that.

What about you?
What books, films, or TV series has God placed in your life right when you needed them?
What did they show you?

- Hannah

Monday, August 5, 2013

The Slough of Editing

Oh, hello, there, lovely blog-reader.
If anyone reads this blog anymore. I know I've been terribly absent.

For anyone that's interested, I do have a valid set of excuses. Moving out of state in stages, for one. And editing.

Editing--the breadth and scope of it--is something I don't think many of us young writers really grasp when we dive into the wonderful world of world-building, characters, plots, and ink smudges beneath our sleepless eyes.
I know for sure that I didn't fully realize what editing meant. Now, honestly, I'm just beginning to realize. It's been a long time in coming. Four+ years and five novels.

At the moment I'm slogging through the slough of time-consuming, intense editing. Draft 3, to be precise.

Draft 1 -- I polished some. Prepared it for the contest in the little time I had available.

Draft 2 -- Scared. I didn't know what in the world I was doing, even though I had amazing feedback from the contest judges and some friends.

Draft 2.5 -- After asking an older, wise OYANer who has been faithfully editing her (gorgeous) novel off and on over the course of several years for advice, I read over my manuscript and made a ton of notes. Seriously. Pages upon pages of notepaper now have my chicken-scratch running across them in various charts and such. Terrified but more prepared, I dove in headlong and made a ton of changes.

Draft 3 -- More of the same. Yay! I have a bajillion-and-one sticky notes (okay yes I exagerate) plastered to the inside of my binder (filled with notes), Word documents with feedback from friends, and floaty little half-ideas drifting through my brain. The sticky notes are decreasing. The feedback documents are turning yellow as I highlight the changes I implement. More people want to read it (eep!). Very shortly I'll call it a draft and send it to my next round of readers.

Then I will go over my judges' notes again, my readers' feedback, and (the plan is to) read one or more of Jeff Gerke's books on editing. After filling those pages up with sticky flags I'll hit the pages of my manuscript again and wade back into the slough. Wash, rinse, repeat.

Okay so maybe "slough" is a bit of an extreme word. Some of the editing is fun, honestly. Backstories. Descriptions. Plot bunnies! That kind of thing. Some of the other stuff isn't quite so fun, like the nit-picky grammatical changes. Necessary but (in the words of Sherlock) "Boring!"

Upon this I am now also adding the final stage(s) of my out-of-state move, college prep studies, seven kittens, GISHWHES (gosh don't get me started on that. I'm nervous!), job hunting...
Maybe life's the slough and not just the editing!
It's all good, though.
Crazy at times, but good.

I love Hosanna House. Really. It's my baby. I'm so excited to see it slowly become more polished, more cohesive, more real, even when going through those moments where I never want to fix another plot hole again.

Well. There you go, blog. A new that sounds more conversational than my usual style. I need to brainstorm and come up with more things to blog about, because not blogging isn't good, my life isn't always the most entertaining thing to blog about, and geeking out over my book again and again gets repetitive (maybe a different geek post is in order. Maybe a fangirl post about the wonderfulness that is BBC's Sherlock. Or Numb3rs.).

Until the next post,

Rak Chazak Amats! 

- Hannah

Thursday, June 27, 2013


Here's a tiny taste of what's been mulling through my head for well over a week, a large tangle of half-thoughts that need corralled and pinned down.


We are global. Spread throughout the world, the continents, the countries, states, and provinces.  And yet, we are connected. The epitome of our connectedness is when we congregate under the Kansas sun.
                It’s amazing, the threads of love, kindness and acceptance that weave through this group.
                No, we aren’t perfect. Yes, we have issues. Spats. Differences. Flame-wars. But beneath that—in spite of that—God is working in, around, above and through us. One analogy of life is that of a tapestry, and as God weaves our own personal tapestries, He’s running threads of each one of us through this tapestry called “OYAN,” and through our tapestries, OYAN winds its way. It looks tangled, crazy, far-fetched and sometimes painful from the view we see now. Someday, however, we’ll see it right-side-up, and it will be stunning.
                My deepest friendships exist because of OYAN. Much of my life since 2009 has been shaped by this beautiful mess of quirky people.
                I wonder if our teacher and his wife, both our mentors, ever imagined this happening. Did Dan and Carrol Schawbauer envision their box of three books, stack of DVDs, and web forum would explode this much? That they would be known affectionately as “Mr. and Mrs. S” to hundreds of young people that look up to them like a favorite aunt and uncle or a second set of parents? Did they know that their first tiny workshop hosted in a hotel would expand and take over an entire college campus? That teens from around the world would flock to their workshops year after year, coming to deepen their talents, friendships, and that in doing so would also deepen their relationship with God?
                Did any of us ever imagine that a writing curriculum would rock our world?
                I didn’t.
                He cried that last night, Mr. S.
                I did too, in the prayer circle, the muggy Kansas summer surrounding us like a hug, the sky overhead a soft black. People praying aloud, praying for Mr. and Mrs. S. and their newest dream, a creative arts foundation. Praying for each other and that praying morphing into singing—hearts praying as hymns and worship songs rose above us and melted into the night.
                It’s amazing. Amid the classes, the craziness, the costumes. Amongst all the baggage we carry, the tough things life has thrown into our teeth. In the middle of us—of our mess, this knot of fragile misfits with a love for the stories inside of us and a desire to share them—inside of all of that, it’s beautiful.
                We are beautiful.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Little Things

Anyone that knows me probably knows I tend to be impatient, sometimes pessimistic, and that I hate getting stuck behind slow vehicles.

This morning I got stuck behind a pickup pulling a fertilizer tank. At first it annoyed me because the driver was being so slow. I watched the liquid fertilizer slosh around inside the tank of opaque plastic, tapped my hand against the steering wheel, took a swig of my cappuccino, and wondered if I should risk passing him.

Then I realized, no, I shouldn't. I was a mile from my house, not in any hurry, and that it was good for me to wind up creeping along behind this farmer.

It's a mind-game I make myself play sometimes. Try to find the good points inside of the frustrating, annoying, things that come up, in hopes that it will help me regain a sense of optimism.

Anyway, the good that I discovered while out-and-about this morning...

 - Going beneath the speed limit meant that the farmer was being careful. He didn't want to have a wreck and spill potentially flammable material all over the road/catch his vehicle or other vehicles on fire.

 - His being on the road in the first place meant our nation's farmers are growing the crops that help keep this country stable and fed.

- I was being forced to be patient.

I kept going...

- The ache in my neck meant my chiropractor is doing her job in correcting my spine.

- The money spent at the appointment meant that life isn't meant to be a free ride, that hard work and paying people what their skills are worth is good.

- Taking a slight detour due to traffic near a poorly-placed gas station exit meant that the economy, while depressed, is still chugging along, and that people have jobs to go to and business to conduct.

- The cappuccino in my hand, the gas in my car, and the phone in my pocket meant I am capable of earning money, holding down a job, and paying a number of my own expenses.

I felt a lot better after realizing those things. that time, I was home.

What good can you find in the next inconvenience that comes your way?