Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Book Signing IS Fun!

Did you really think I'd think otherwise?

Okay, the other day I said it felt weird to sign a book. At the time it did seem weird. But, like I also said, I’d get over it. And I did! I wish I’d remembered to take my camera with me to capture the moment.

I first signed a book I gave to my tutoring student. Yoshie is from Japan and is in the States for three years while her husband’s job is here. I’m helping her learn how to read English. I didn’t know how she would feel about my giving her something with my story in it, but she was very excited about it.

Next, were the two books the program supervisor wanted me to sign. She even had Post-It notes on them with the names of the people who would receive the books. I felt like a full-fledged author.

I wasn’t at a special table surrounded by copies of my book with a long line of expectant readers clutching a copy of their book for me to sign, but that didn’t matter. It was a moment of blessing in my day and that’s all that counts!

Now on to Part 2 of this Post!

Do you have kids on your Christmas list who love to read? Want to give them something that they will love to devour in the same genre as Harry Potter, but with a Christian message?

R.K. Mortenson has a great series out that fills the bill in every way with his Landon Snow books. His latest is the Christian Blog Alliance’s Blog Tour for the week.

R.K.Mortenson is an ordained minister with the Church of the Lutheran Brethren. He has been writing devotional and inspirational articles since 1995. He currently serves as a navy chaplain in Florida and lives with his wife, daughter and son in Jacksonville.

This page at Barbour's site provides a few good links, two as recent as last week: The top link there goes to a story about Randy's adoption experiences, the second link goes to the Landon Snow short at Clubhouse magazine.

Randy got the idea for this series one late night, when flute music woke him from a sound sleep. As he stood at his window, trying to locate the source of the sound, he spied a library across the lawn. Suddenly, he envisioned an eleven-year-old sneaking out of his bed and stealing to the library in the dead of night...And thus Landon Snow was born.


In the latest adventure of
Landon Snow And the Island of Arcanum, Landon, once again visits his grandparents in Button Up, Minnesota. If your familiar with the first two books, Landon Snow and the Auctor's Riddle, and Landon Snow and The Shadows of Malus Quidam, you'll know that Landon's adventures always start at the Library in Button Up.

This time, Landon's most dangerous journey yet, begins in a rowboat-shaped tombstone that floats. And it's lucky for him that it floats because a few drips from the library ceiling turns into a powerful waterfall.

The stone turns into wood. The stone book propped up in the prow of the boat turns to paper. The left page says "ANCHOR". The right page says "AWEIGH".

"Anchor aweigh?" said Landon.

Holly whispered, "Did you hear that?"

No one has time to respond, however. The next instant saw the water before them dropping away as the water behind them grew into a giant swell, pitching them headlong into the abyss.
Landon will have to protect his two younger sisters, Holly and Bridget, who wind up in the boat with him headed towards The Island of Arcanum. On the Island, the animals of Wonderwood are imprisoned and the evil shadows of Landon's nemesis, Malus Quidam lurk!

With the help of some old friends, a horse named Melech, an odd fellow named Hardy, a girl named Ditty, and the poet/prophet Vates--Landon seeks to unlock the island's dark secrets and escape with the animals intact.

But first, he must navigate his way through unchartered waters and battle the villainous Archans...Can Landon and his friends rescue the animals from deep within the island's stronghold?

To order the book: Click on this link to Amazon

Check out the Author's Website:

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Signing a Book Feels Weird, But I'll Get Over It!

I’ve been to book signings where I’ve met Jerry Jenkins and Tim LaHaye of the Left Behind Series and Sue Grafton, writer of the popular alphabet mystery series on another occasion. Over the years, many ACFW authors have become friends, and I get excited at every conference to have them sign their books for me. The picture here is of Kristin Billerbeck signing her book at the 2005 ACFW conference in Nashville.

Since His Forever came out last month, I’ve purchased a number of copies to give to friends. I gave one to a friend a few weeks ago and thought about signing it for him, but I didn’t. It felt weird to me.

Last week at my volunteer tutoring, the director of the program said she was going to order a couple copies of His Forever to give as presents and said to me, “Have your pen ready for a book signing.” I just laughed. But, I suppose Tuesday morning when we have tutoring again, she’ll have the books there for me to sign. It feels weird to me.

I intend to give copies of the book as Christmas gifts, and I’m thinking maybe I should sign them. But, what do I sign besides my name? Some authors include a Bible verse. Others use a catchy little saying. I’d better hurry and think of something. It’ll be Tuesday before I know it.

Signing a book will be fun, but it still seems weird to me. I’ll let you know how weird it really feels.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Whatever Happened to Thanksgiving?

It must be almost Thanksgiving because I’m seeing Christmas lights everywhere! In my own life it seems like I’ve rushed Christmas in faster than usual. I’ve already been practicing sign language interpreting for my church’s Christmas concert for the past two weeks. Then last Thursday night I exchanged Christmas gifts with my special friend Ed because he left yesterday for Texas and won’t be back until after New Year’s.

Aside from my own life, it seems that the commercial side of Christmas is threatening to squeeze out Thanksgiving. The stores no sooner have the Halloween decorations down before the Christmas ones come out. A local radio station here in the Chicago area has already been playing Christmas music nonstop for two weeks! If it weren’t for the spate of food ads in today’s paper, it would be hard to tell Thanksgiving will be here in four more days. We need to bring Thanksgiving back to the forefront and give the day the attention it deserves.

For me, the past year has been fraught with a lot of losses. I lost my job when asked to take early retirement a year ago this past November 1st. After that, a succession of events occured: I had to put one of my cats down, parted ways with my agent, practically destroyed my computer by dribbling Diet Coke all over it, then fell and aggravated an old fracture in my foot, just to name a few of the struggles I’ve faced the past twelve months. Yet, now as I look back, I can say that God was faithful through it all and remains so today.

He has blessed me with more time to write, and I’ve sold a couple things. I have had time to serve my church and my community as a volunteer. I’ve learned to budget, not because I want to so much as because I have to. And, most of all, I’ve learned how much I need to depend on God each and every day of my life.

As I look forward to the next year, I can honestly say I’m excited to see what God has in store for me. As for writing, I have my goals in place: Finish my rewrite of Murder for Breakfast by January 1 and have a proposal good to go for Shiloh Legacy by February 1.

Job 19:23 says, “Oh that my words were written. Oh that they were inscribed in a book!” (NASV) I have claimed that verse for a couple years now. It occurred to me the other day that God did grant me that desire when His Forever came out. My words are inscribed in a book already! Maybe this coming year will be the year I see them inscribed on all the pages of a book. If God wills it, it will happen. For that I’m eternally thankful! He can be trusted!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Check Out Kristin Billerbeck's Latest -- Good Holiday Reading!

Kristin has a knack for writing chick-lit. In fact, she was one of the pioneers in getting Christian lit books into the marketplace! I've not had a chance to read this one, but knowing Kristin and having read some of her other books, I don't think you'll be disappointed! This book is from her Spa Girls series.

Here's a blurb about the book:

The third novel in the Spa Girls Series focuses on Silicon Valley chiropractor Poppy Clayton, who is as calm, cool and adjusted as they come. Or is she? Known for her bad fashion sense, a love for all things natural and the inability to get a second date, Poppy is beginning to wonder if she might be misaligned herself. Her route to self discovery will be an unnatural one - a plastic surgeon, a dilapidated house in Santa Cruz, a flirtatious client, and a blind date from the dark side.
It's all enough to send a girl - and her gal pals - running for the comfort zone of their spa.

So, if you want something to read that's fun with Truth woven in, head out and get yourself a copy of Calm, Cool & Adjusted.

Here's a link for ordering it:

You can read more about Kristin at her website:

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Don't Miss Reading Rene Gutteridge's Scoop!

I recently joined the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance and am very excited to be a part of this network of Christian authors. You may have noticed the links related to this group in my blog’s sidebar the past few days. Weekly, members of the alliance feature a new book and its author on their blogs. Eventually I’ll be receiving books to read and personally review, but until then I’ll be posting blurbs about the week’s feature book.

I haven’t yet read Scoop, but I am looking forward to reading it soon. I’ve read other books by Rene Gutteridge and they have kept me glued to my seat, not wanting to put the book down. Rene was a workshop presenter at the ACFW Conference in Dallas. I missed attending her workshop because of an editor appointment, but listened to her class on CD after returning home. She is both an excellent writer and teacher. I feel very good about recommending this book.

Rene Gutteridge is the author of several novels, including Ghost Writer (Bethany House Publishers) The Boo Series (WaterBrook Press) and the Storm Series, (Tyndale House Publishers. She will release three novels in 2006: Storm Surge (Tyndale) My Life as a Doormat (WestBow Press, Women of Faith)Occupational Hazards Book #1:
Scoop (WaterbrookPress).
She has also been published over thirty times as a playwright, best known for her Christian comedy sketches. She studied screenwriting under a Mass Communications degree, graduating Magna Cum Laude from Oklahoma City University, and earned the "Excellence in Mass Communication" award. She served as the full-time Director of Drama for First United Methodist Church for five years before leaving to stay home and write. She enjoys instructing at writer's conferences and in college classrooms. She lives with her husband, Sean, a musician, and their children in Oklahoma City.

The Occupational Hazards Books are a series of books about seven homeschooled siblings whose last name is Hazard. The parents died in a freak accident leaving the kids ages 16-26 with a lucrative clown business but the kids realize that God has other plans which doesn't include being a family of clowns for the rest of their lives.
Scoop is the first of the series and centers around Hayden, who was age 20 when her parents died. If you haven't yet guessed by the series title, this book is packed with many laugh out loud moments and great one liners.

Hayden is a strong Christian who, having been homeschooled, lacks some of the politically correct social not praying in front of everyone during a crisis. She finds herself in an internship at a television news station with a boss that takes stress pills, an aging news anchor that everyone wishes Botox on, a weatherman who wants to predict love for himself and Hayden, and a reporter struggling with his own politically correctness of being a good reporter and being a Christian.
Old School meets New School meets Homeschool. A smart and funny read.

The book link for Scoop:

The author's website:

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Funeral Homes to Borders--What a Week!

This not-so-typical week held a little drama, a little fun and, of course, a lot of writing.

The most untypical thing I did was spend election day in a funeral home. I was there for a most untypical reason--to work as an election judge. That's the title used here in Illinois for those people who give you your ballot when you go to vote. The polling place I was assigned to was a funeral home! When I first heard about it, visions of sitting next to a coffin while handing out ballots popped into my mind. Those fanciful thoughts were quickly dashed when I spoke with someone who'd worked that polling place in the past. She told me we'd be in a room ordinarily used for wakes, but we wouldn't have contact with any other events happening in the building. In fact, there weren't any wakes or coffins in sight the whole 16 hours I was there!

It soon became apparent that the special pens we gave people to mark their ballots were disappearing as people walked out the door with them. Inadvertently I'm sure. I began telling every person I gave a pen to what would happen to them if they walked out the door with with our pen. Some would turn into a pumpkin, others would have the pen blow up in their face, while another would have his tires punctured by giant nails that would pop up out of the parking lot blacktop. One of the other judges laughed saying he liked how I had a new story for each person. I told him that was the fiction writer in me. It was a long day but I'm glad I did it and will probably do it again.

Yesterday I stopped in my local Borders and headed to the back where the "religious" books are housed. My mission was to see if they had His Forever on the shelf. It wasn’t. As I stood there, a man came up to see if he could help me. I told him I was looking for a new compilation book I’d contributed to. He got all excited and asked me about it. I made sure to point out that my as-told-to story was about a man who lives one suburb over. Book stores love local authors. He agreed they needed to have the book. While I was there he ordered three copies for the shelf. This was my first time pitching my own writing. It’s something all authors need to do for their publications. Next time I’ll take chocolate. Maybe he’ll order six books!

Monday, November 06, 2006

Widows and Orphans--Another Great Read to Talk About

When I agreed to read Susan Meissner's book, Widows and Orphans, I wasn't sure what to expect from a story carrying such an unusual title. It was billed as a mystery and since that's one of my favorite genres, and one I'm aspiring to be published in, I seized the opportunity to be an influencer. An influencer is one who agrees to read a copy of the author's book (complimentary copy is provided) as it's being released and then write reviews on websites like Amazon and Christianbook.Com. There's been an occasion when I've done this and wished I hadn't because the book didn't meet my expectations. Can you imagine how hard it is to say something good about something bad (in my opinion) and still be honest?

I didn't have to worry in this case. The story is wonderful.

Rather than repeat myself, here is what I just posted at the and websites:

Widows and Orphans is the first book written by Susan Meissner I’ve read, but it won’t be the last.

From the first chapter to the last I was drawn into the story. I was only sorry that my life got in the way too many times, causing me to take way too long to read through to the end. Meissner has a way of connecting the reader with her characters so much so they become real. Even Fig was likable. First described in Rachael’s (the heroine) inner thoughts as a friend of her husband Trace’s from his art school days who irritated her to no end, I was prepared to not like this unique guy. But, as Meissner developed his character through the story, I came to like him as even Rachael seemed to do as well. In fact, none of the characters remain static in who they are, especially Rachel and her brother.

The mystery surrounds Rachel’s brother and his commitment to fulfilling his calling from God—providing for and protecting widows and orphans. He’s gotten himself into a real jam. One Rachael, a defense attorney, can’t seem to help him with, nor does he seek her help. The tension of the mystery builds as Rachael seeks the ever-elusive truth. Throughout the story, the darkness surrounding her brother’s predicament is delightfully balanced by periodic scenes with Rachel’s three-month old daughter McKenna. Interaction between mother and baby provide sweet release. Something all babies do, real or fictionalized. A wonderful countering technique.

This is a great read. The second in this new series is due out in early ’07 and I can’t wait to get my hands on a copy!

Friday, November 03, 2006

Writing Lessons from Beth Moore

God teaches us many lessons in many ways. This week has been no exception for me. I'm participating in a Beth Moore study at my church called "The Patriarchs." God has gifted Beth so much, and I thank Him for using her in my life the way that He has. God has used His Word through Beth to help me mature as a Christian.

In the Patriarchs study we've been studying Abraham's life. Last night during the
video, Beth taught about the testing of Abraham when Abraham was called by God to sacrifice his son Isaac instead of the usual lamb. For those of you who know the story, an angel stopped Abraham just before he was about to plunge a dagger into his son's heart as the boy lay on the sacrificial altar. It was then that Abraham noticed a ram in the thicket. God provided the lamb, just as He would centuries later when He provided Jesus, the Lamb of God for our sacrifice!

I not only learned a lesson about God's testing in our lives, but also about writing and how I need to let my inhibitions go. What Beth does so well is to take one or two sentences that describe a biblical situation and prompt her readers to place themselves in the situation. She got us thinking about Abraham and what he must have been going through. How they had walked for three days to the mountain. Three very long days for a father about to sacrifice the son he'd waited so long to have; the son he loved more than life itself. It's so easy to read biblical accounts of situations without stopping to think about how these are real people just like you and me. They had real emotions and thoughts and feelings just like you and me.

Beth also did this so well with Hagar, when she was sent away with Ishmael, her son by Abraham. After wandering in the desert for a while, both she and her son became dehydrated, and Ishmael was dying. She placed him under a bush and she and Ismael began to cry . Beth reminds the reader how much pain Hagar was going through. How Hagar's tears were likely not silent tears, but wails. She prompts the reader to think about how it would feel as a Mom to be willing to do anything possible to help her child and be so helpless.

What Beth does is like the "what if" practice many of us writers use. But, she takes it a step further. What if you were in Hagar's sandals or Abraham's, how would you feel? Humanize these people and you can appreciate even more how you can apply their situation to your own life.

I've always been an analytical person. My practical, tell-it-like-it-is way of thinking often works well when writing non-fiction, but not so well in fiction. My creative side bubbles with story ideas that I get down on the first draft, but so often I fail to take the reader deep inside the character's heart and soul. Beth has shown me what I need to do to make my characters more three dimensional. What she did with Hagar and Abraham, I need to do with April and Marc, my heroine/sleuth and hero in Murder for Breakfast. I need to turn off the analytical and let my heart feel what they feel, expressing it in words. Words that will transport the reader into my characters' hearts and care about them.

God uses just about anything and everything to teach us. My Bible study lesson this week was no exception!