Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Halloween pet peeve . . .

Coincidence? I think not.

Almost every television show which does the yearly obligatory halloween special always has one of the kids in a devil costume.

Is this necessary? For starters, there would be outrage if one of the kids dressed as Jesus or Moses. That would be deemed intolerant and offensive to other religions. But the devil is just a harmless little character which represents the season.

So let's get this straight: Christmas episodes are now devoid of Jesus, but Halloween episodes are full of devils. - -- - - - Wake up America!

Also, isn't this a little abusive to the child. "Hey kid you're gonna be the devil. Isn't that exciting. Okay act like the devil for us. Isn't he a cute little devil."

Post addendum: Another point - ask a kid what costume he wants to wear. I gaurantee you it won't be the devil. It'll be someone good - spider-man, batman, or when I was a kid: The Lone Ranger.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

My Heart's in Tennessee (and North Carolina). . .

Usually this time of year, I'm planning another trip to the Smoky Mountains.

But I've already spent this year's vacation budget on writer's conferences. A week in Colorado and a long weekend in Dallas.

So for the first time in 4 years, I won't be heading to the Smokies. So, pathetically, I spent the last hour in my home office looking at past vacation photos.

If you'd like to donate to the Send Dayle to the Smokies Fund, just send an e-mail and I'll give you the address and the pertinent tax forms.

Would it help if I told you I'm part Cherokee and going there is kind of a spiritual journey to my homeland?

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Defending the Faith . . .

It's true. Most Christians have a hard time defending their faith. So much so, that the non-believers in this country - particularly the left and especially the militant atheists - wrongly conclude that most Christians are rubes - simple minded hicks who were taken in by some fancy talking preacher. They believe that if you simply enlighten these bumpkins, they will see how silly it is to believe in all these fairy tales and Christianity can finally go the way of the dodo.

Of course, this is a grossly incorrect assumption. As far as intelligence goes, Christians run the gamut. But the question remains: Why do most Christians have trouble defending their faith?

Contrary to popular belief, most Christians do not come to their faith as the result of an intellectual decision. They don't spend years researching the mysteries of the universe, comparing religions, and piecing together scientific evidence before deciding to accept a set of philosophical teachings to live their life by. Most Christians take a leap of faith and ask Jesus to come into their life. Faith comes first. Once Jesus comes into a person's life, faith is no longer blind.

Christians don't believe in Jesus as a child believes in the Easter Bunny. They believe in Jesus because his love touched their soul. Once that happens, they could no longer deny His existence as they could deny the sun is shining while the rays still warm their face. Once Jesus warms your soul, there is no reason to search for evidence of His existence. Because there He is. As bright as the sun, with rays of pure love.

The reality of Jesus is written on the hearts of all mankind. You simply have to choose to stop ignoring it.

Friday, October 26, 2007

On Being a Writer . . .

Rejection slips, or form letters, however tactfully phrased, are lacerations of the soul, if not quite inventions of the devil - but there is no way around them.

- Isaac Asimov

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Athol Dickson asks "Should we Give up?"

In next year’s elections, it looks more and more like we will be presented with a presidential race between Hillary Clinton and Rudolph Giuliani, both of whom are “pro-choice.” Any third party option virtually guarantees the Democrat will win. Think about that. Then think about the fact that two Supreme Court justices will likely be replaced by our next president. We were so close to overturning Roe v. Wade. Now it looks like that hope might be lost for another generation. With a growing sense of desperation, my wife and I have been begging the Lord to raise up someone to lead this country. We will never cast our votes for a politician who thinks killing unborn children is a basic human right. That means we may not in good conscience be able to vote in the next presidential election.

Over a quarter of a century ago in A Christian Manifesto, Francis Schaeffer said when there are no true ideological differences between candidates, democracy is dead. I fear that day is very near.

Please follow this link to read the rest: Should We Give Up?

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Scruples . . .

If I was an actor (and married), I could not do a love scene (even a kiss) with an actress who wasn't my wife. To me, this is cheating. The just acting defense doesn't work for me.

I have often wondered how married men stand there while their wives are not only kissing another man (and more), but filming it so millions can view it.

Ladies, do you really want your husband kissing Sandra Bullock? Guys, do you really want your wife kissing Brad Pitt or Russel Crowe? Many actors marry the married women they starred with.

The question gets a little foggier when someone says "What if they offered you a lot of money and you lose the role if you don't do it?" On some things, we all have our price, right?

You will notice that in Left Behind, Christian actor - Kirk Cameron never kisses Chloe.

Is it just me and Kirk?

Monday, October 22, 2007

The Case for Tell Don't Show . . .

I may be in the minority here, but I think everyone has gone overboard with the "show, don't tell" rule.

Sure, you don't want to tell the whole story, but some telling is okay. In fact, some telling is mandatory.

To me, it is unrealistic to assume that every character shows his "feelings" through a physical or physiological manifestation. Some characters are stoic by nature. This is the purpose of interior monologue-to let the character tell his feelings from the third person p.o.v.

Not every character "shows" his feelings by a pounding heart or a tightening chest. Sometimes, in fact, many times they just think about it. How will the reader know these thoughts? The character will tell them.

Now before you write me off as a deranged lunatic, consider the following excerpt from Self-Editing for Fiction Writers ( second edition ):

We have noticed since the first edition of this book came out that a lot of
writers have taken our advice about showing and telling too much to heart. The
result has sometimes been sterile writing, consisting mostly of bare-bones
descriptions and skeletal dialogue. Yet fiction allows for marvelous
richness and depth, and nowhere more so than through interior monologue.
You have to be careful not to go overboard, but interior monologue gives you the
opportunity to invite readers into your characters' minds, sometimes to stunning

Show don't tell was originally championed to stop the barrage of amateurs who were telling their stories instead of presenting them in Novel Form.

But some telling is necessary. It is okay to write: John was disoriented or John felt confused. In fact, it is mandatory if the character - John - handles disorientation or confusion with only conscious thoughts.

Got a Writing Question?

Author, James Scott Bell, has offered to answer a few writing questions. Just go to Keep Me In Suspense, read his interview and leave a question in the comments.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

A New Reason to be Proud . . .

In 1991, I decided that Louisiana would not be my home much longer. Why?
Because in 1991, The three leading men in the Louisiana governor's race were Edwin Edwards (local political icon, Clintonesque, smooth talker, known womanizer, and generally accepted to be crooked and corrupt--he is currently in prison), David Duke (ex-grand wizard of the Klu Klux Klan), and Buddy Roemer (a flawed but fairly honest and decent man).
Of the three, Roemer came in third. There was a run-off between Edwards and Duke. To defend the voters of Louisiana, I must say that Duke did not run as a racist, he ran mainly on welfare reform and other populist issues. But it saddened me that my fellow Louisianians would vote for a former KKK grand wizard.
So, in 1991, me and many of my conservative friends, held our noses and voted for Democrat Edwin Edwards. We didn't care what Duke said, we were not going to vote for a nazi-racist.
Saturday, Republican Bobby Jindal was elected Governor. His real name is Piyush Jindal. He is the son of Indian migrants and the first minority elected governor since Reconstruction when (believe it or not) Louisiana had a black governor--a Republican named P. B. S. Pinchback.
I voted for Jindal four years ago when he narrowly lost to Blanco, who I blame for the Katrina fiasco. Believe me if Jindal were governor during that crisis, the outcome would have been far different.
So, we went from the state that almost had a KKK governor to the state that elected a minority-because he was the best person for the job. And, that's a reason to be proud.

Friday, October 19, 2007

A Few More Real Names . . .

Alan Alda - Alphonso D'Abruzzo
Pat Benator - Patricia Andrejewski
Charles Bronson - Charles Buchinski
Albert Brooks - Albert Einstien
Mel Brooks - Melvin Kaminsky
Michael Caine - Maurice Micklewhite
Cher - Cherilyn Sarkisian
Elvis Costello - Declan Patrick McManus
Rodney Dangerfield - Jacob Cohen
Jack Palance - Walter Palanuik
Jane Seymore - Joyce Frankenberg
Natalie Wood - Natasha Gurdin

What's in a name?

I like to fret over everything. Take my name for example. Dayle Arceneaux. Weird right?

First of all, my first name could be confused for the opposite gender. Don't believe me? I have a female first cousin named-you guessed it - Dayle. That's right. Same name, same spelling. So, for writing purposes, I threw in my middle name. Dayle James Arceneaux.

Not bad. But a little long. I thought about James Dayle as a sort of real pen name. But that would leave out the Cajun connection. And Darn it, I want to use my real name because I want people to know it's me. But, what about that? Tom Cruise doesn't care. His real name is Thomas Mapother. Want more real names?

Bea Arthur - Bernice Frankel ------------------ Lauren Bacall - Betty Joan Perske
Robert Blake - Michael Gubitosi -------------- Patsy Cline - Virginia Hensley
John Denver - Henry Deutschendorf Jr. ---- Bo Derek - Cathleen Collins
Bo Diddley - Elias Bates ------------------------ Kirk Douglas - Issur Danielovitch
Morgan Fairchild - Patsy McClenny ---------- Redd Foxx - John Sandford
Whoopi Goldberg - Caryn Johnson ----------- Harry Houdini - Ehrich Weiss
Ben Kingsley - Krishna Banji ------------------ Michael Landon - Eugene Orowitz
Lee Majors - Harvey Lee Yeary 2nd ---------- Dean Martin - Dino Crocetti
George Michael - Georgios Panayiotou ------ Chuck Norris - Carlos Ray
Tony Randall - Leonard Rosenberg ---------- Ginger Rogers - Virginia McMath
Roy Rogers - Leonard Slye -------------------- Mickey Rooney - Joe Yule Jr.
Martin Sheen - Ramon Estevez -------------- Danny Thomas - Muzyad Yakhoob
Tina Turner - Annie Mae Bullock ------------ Conway Twitty - Harold Jenkins
Stevie Wonder - Stevland Morris

So, am I just more egotistical than these guys? I don't think so. Different business. So, the point of all this is: What's your opinion? Dayle James Arceneaux Ditch it or not? If so, any suggestions?

By the way: For the purpose of this post, we'll assume that I will be published.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

On Writing . . .Well, Sort of . . .

I finally got around to reading Fahrenheit 451, the classic by Ray Bradbury. About half way through I came across this passage spoken by the character named Faber:

"The good writers touch life often. The mediocre ones run a
quick hand over her. The bad ones rape her and leave her for the flies."

I haven't quite gleaned the full truth or scope of this quote, yet. -- But I love it.

Monday, October 15, 2007

The Best Christian novel I've read so far . . .

Demon - A Memoir by Tosca Lee.

Truly Brilliant. Not to mention well written, enlightening, engrossing, entertaining, en . . . well you get the idea. I am stunned that the publisher chose not to release it in hardcover.

In my opinion, ( and ironically ) Demon is the new Gold standard of Christian fiction.

Novelist Eric Wilson said it best:

Tosca Lee uses wonderful sensory details and similes to add texture to this story, drawing us into a world that is beyond our own eyes, yet right before us. Even readers who don't believe in the biblical elements of this tale will have a difficult time not being coaxed into this struggle of intellects. This is not an action novel, yet it moves along nicely. While strong in its theological angles, "Demon" never pounds the reader over the head with doctrine. It does, however, give some razor-sharp commentary on religion, church, and the American pursuit of happiness. Lee pulls it all together in the end with subtle yet powerful ideas, which a few reviewers seem to have missed inexplicably--"Were you paying attention at all?" Lucian might ask.

There will be comparisons. ( to C.S. Lewis's The Screwtape Letters and Rice's Interview with the Vampire) They are inevitable. But Tosca Lee avoids many of the pitfalls that present themselves with such a book, instead offering a tale that feels fresh, yet older than time. Years from now, we may find other books being compared to this one.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

My First Novel - Chapter 1 . . .

Dancing with Butterflies

Chapter 1

-------“Who do you say that I am?”
-------The familiar voice lured Shannon from her disoriented state. As her senses returned, so did the memories of the past evening. She had been awakened by the sound of three men entering her bedroom. Darkness concealed their faces. Speed and purpose allowed no time for resistance. Hands stronger than her own left her unable to move.
-------A cloth over her mouth and nose muted her screams. During the struggle, she managed to free one of her legs, but her kicks only produced glancing blows. She struggled for air, but found none. Desperate for oxygen, her body became weak. Despite this fact, she continued to struggle until her senses faded. Then …
-------A bright fluorescent light now burned her eyes. Still, she recognized the man in front of her. Those eyes. She didn’t dare look at them. For within those eyes dwelled a powerful presence, a hypnotic force displayed for her many times in the past.
-------But, his voice also possessed power. Gentle and compassionate, yet stern and frightening. “Who do you say that I am?”
-------She glanced around the room, assessing her surroundings. A small room. An empty room. As her eyes adjusted to the brightness weighing upon them, the scene slowly became clearer. Everything was white. Pure white. The walls, floor, ceiling, even the bare table in front of her and the chair that now imprisoned her. A nylon strap on each armrest held her wrists firmly in place, burning her raw skin as she fought their hold.
-------Recessed in the center of the painted cement floor, positioned between her shoes, was a drain. The smell of bleach saturated the air, stinging her senses. But there was something else in this air. A tinge of something she could only describe as … impure.
-------Her lungs struggled against the increasingly heavier air, fighting for every breath as though the atmosphere had been transformed into a viscous liquid. Her eyes froze upon the figure standing before her. The same handsome face that had once been the object of her schoolgirl fantasies, now only terrified her.
“Who do you say that I am?”
-------“Please—just let me go. I—”
-------“Go where? Back to the world that abandoned you? Have you forgotten that I am the one who gave you life? I rescued you from the hell outside these walls.” He walked behind her as he traced his hand softly across her throat, then around to the back of her neck. “No one wanted you. No one cared about you. The world that you want to go back to … has already cast you out.”
-------“Please, I just want to go home.”
-------“It was no accident that you came here.” His voice softened. “Your destiny was to be with me.” He circled back in front of her. “And after all I’ve done for you, this is how you repay me. I … am the giver of LIFE!” He pounded his fist on the table. His eyes fixed on her as though trying to bore into her soul. He smoothed out his tie as he leaned back and stood tall once again. “And what I have given, I may also—”
-------The door burst open. Two men escorted Shannon’s brother into the room.
-------Derek.” Shannon leaned forward in her chair ignoring the straps as they dug further into her wrists. “Please. He’s going to kill me. Get me out of here.”
-------“Ah, Derek.” His eyes remained locked on Shannon. “I’m glad you could join us.” His finger dug into her chin forcing her face toward his. He studied her for a moment, tilting his head slightly before allowing her to pull free. “We are finished here. You may free her now.”
-------She leaned back in the chair finding a comfort that she previously believed could not exist there. This time she thought he would kill her. This was the third time they caught her trying to leave. But he would never allow that to happen. After all, she was one of his special ones. But that’s exactly why she had to keep trying.
-------Derek stepped toward her. She almost managed a smile as their eyes met. When she saw the knife in his hand, she could almost feel the straps being cut free. He then stepped to his right and walked around her. She turned her head as far as her restraints allowed her. “What are you doing?”
-------“I tried to warn you, but you wouldn’t listen,” Derek whispered from behind her.
-------“I know, I know. Please, just cut me loose.”
-------His hand flashed before her, covered her mouth and nose with a cloth, and gently forced her head against the chair. She tried to plead with him, but only produced muffled sounds.
-------“You just wouldn’t listen.”
-------A sharp jab in her back forced her to inhale the fumes that had penetrated her nostrils.
-------“I am sorry,” he whispered into her ear.
-------The pain of the knife sliding out of her back couldn’t compare to the agony that now tore her heart apart. The agony of knowing the knife was in her brother’s hand.

- Dayle James Arceneaux

A little about the plot:

Freelance journalist, Jonathon Cole, agrees to write what he later discovers will be the gospel of religious cult leader Daniel Meyers, who claims to be the first coming of the Messiah. While discussing the project, the cult leader demonstrates supernatural powers and proclaims that Jesus could not be the Messiah because he loved his enemies—the real Messiah will destroy the enemies of Israel.

After years of abuse, Kayla Domangue has finally decided to escape the Meyers cult and the arrival of Jonathon Cole provides the perfect opportunity. But Daniel Meyers won't just let her go--she is one of his "special ones".

Author's note: ALL comments are welcome (no matter how old - I read them all) . Negative or positive. I'm a criticism junkie. I thrive on it. To see what others have said go here: Into the Fire

Monday, October 8, 2007

Would you walk through the Valley?

Anytime I get a little full of myself, I think about the martyrs. It's easy to stand for Christ in America - we have freedom of religious expression.

But would I be so bold in the parts of the world where Christians are persecuted? Could I be a bold Christian in Iran, where death or imprisonment is a real consequence? China? the Gaza Strip?

Compared to those Christians, I am nothing short of a coward. In America, we worry about what our neighbors will THINK of us if we express our faith - not if they will kill us or imprison us. I am in no danger of being stoned, decapitated, or thrown into prison. Yet everyday - in other parts of the world - Christians boldly stand for Christ in the face of these dangers. Wow.

So, would I walk through the valley - NO. At least not alone. Not without the Holy Spirit. But, that's okay. Even the disciples denied Jesus when He was crucified. They were afraid of the consequences - afraid of suffering His fate. But Jesus said this:

"And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever- the Spirit of truth. The world cannot cannot accept him, becuase it neither sees him or knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you." John 14: 16-18.

Once they received the Holy Spirit, the Apostles and the disciples then boldly preached the Gospel seemingly unafraid of the consequences and in some cases they even seemed to look forward to their eventual demise as an honor. One last tribute to the One they knew and loved - Jesus.

So why did Jesus fret so much about His fate. So much so that He asked God to spare Him if it were possible. He said that his soul was overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. The Gospel of Luke describes Him as being in anguish. The reason - Jesus had to face the cross alone. As He bore the sins of the world even God had to look away from Him. Matthew explains that at about the ninth hour, Jesus cried out in a loud voice "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?"

In that single greatest act of love, Jesus didn't deny us. And yet, everyday we deny Him with our silence, our lifestyles, our compromises, our stinginess, and so on and so on.

There is a beautiful song I used to feel apprehensive about singing along with because I wasn't sure if I could truly mean the words - so I'd sing it as a prayer. But I don't think about it that way anymore. If God wants me to walk through a valley, I'll never have to go alone.

If you want me to . . .

The pathway is broken, and the signs are unclear. And I don't know the reason why you brought me here. But just because you love me the way that you do, I'm gonna walk through the valley if you want me to.

'Cause I'm not who I was when I took my first step. And I'm clinging to the promise you're not through with me yet. So if all of these trials bring me closer to you, Then I will go through the fire if you want me to.

It may not be the way I would have chosen. When you lead me through a world that's not my home. But you never said it would be easy, You only said I'll never go alone.

So when the whole world turns against me and I'm all be myself, And I can't hear you answer my cries for help. I'll remember the suffering your love put you through. And I will go through the valley - If you want me to.

- Ginny Owens

From her album - Without Condition

More real talent . . .

**See last post.

Two I've shouldn't have missed.

Jack Nicholson and Jim Caviezel

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Now the real talent . . .

My list of the top Actors:

(in no particular order)

1. -- Morgan Freeman
2. -- Liam Neeson
3. -- Ben Kingsley
4. -- Anthony Hopkins
5. -- George C. Scott
6. -- Gene Hackman
7. -- Denzel Washington
8. -- Patrick Stewart
9. -- Paul Giamatti

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Wanna read my first chapter?

Go here: Into the Fire


One thing that continues to bother me is how some people with very little talent continue to get roles in huge blockbuster movies. I'm not saying I don't like some of their movies. I'm only saying they either can't act or they are extremely overrated.

Here is my list of overrated actors/actresses in no particular order.

1. -- Nicolas Cage.

2. -- Kevin Costner.

3. -- John Travolta.

4. -- Keanu Reeves.

5. -- Julia Roberts.

Disagree? Care to add anyone?

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Posting my work . . .

I have long pondered the pros and cons of posting samples of my writing on-line.

The cons: someone might steal my brilliant idea, my opening line, or my title, turn it into a best seller, become a superstar, and then when I threaten to sue - put out a hit on me thus forcing me to live the rest of my life wearing silly disguises and moving from town to town doing odd jobs to support myself.

While doing these odd jobs, I would change people's lives a la "Highway to Heaven". Reports of my exploits would gain me enough notoriety to inspire Tom Hanks to write and star in the movie depicting the true story of my life. But since, I have to remain anonymous, I would receive no compensation and Tom Hanks would just get richer.

The pros: I might get some reader feedback.

Nicole Petrino-Salter of Hope of Glory has invited me to participate in her Saturday Sample feature on her blog. I will be posting chapter 1 of my completed manuscript. Please take a moment to visit her site, look around, maybe read some of the other author samples and leave some feedback. Writers do appreciate feedback. Even the negative.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Pet Peeve . . .

One of my favorite shows is Everybody Loves Raymond. Terrific cast. Great writing.

But, Ray Romano, who happens to be a very funny stand up comic, plays a writer. Well, a sports writer. The problem is - his character is dumb. There is no way a professional writer could be that stupid, that simple-minded, that uncouth. Right?

That particular part of his character is, at least as far as I'm concerned, not believable. Of course, it didn't matter. The show was a huge success.

Maybe I'm being too defensive now that I consider myself a writer.

Am I the only one to notice this.

Monday, October 1, 2007

On Writing . . .

Any man who keeps working is not a failure. He may not be a great writer, but if he applies the old-fashioned virtues of hard, constant labor, he'll eventually make some kind of career for himself as writer.
-------------------- Ray Bradbury
I love writers who have achieved mega-success as Mr. Bradbury has and still don't feel they are above encouraging others. If I had to guess, it's probably because Mr. Bradbury worked very hard to earn his success and feels a connection to those who believe that hard work = improvement.