Friday, December 18, 2009

Christmas from a Single Point of View


With Christmas a short week away from today, I've been faced with the same circumstance I am faced with every Christmas. Or at least I have been since both parents have passed away.

No immediate family with whom to spend the holiday.

I am an only child, and because I have never married, I have no siblings, no children, and no spouse. My nearest relatives, cousins I dearly love, are a day's drive away. Hardly convenient to drop in on Christmas Day or to have over.

When my mom passed away on December 22nd many years ago, Christmas as I knew it, would never happen again. The three of us always celebrated on Christmas Day by a big breakfast and then leisurely opening our gifts. Later that day, we would sit down to a festive dinner, usually standing rib roast. We were small, but enjoyed the day and each others' company.

Needless to say, the year Mom died, Dad's and my Christmas was unique. By the time the next year rolled around, Dad had remarried to his childhood sweetheart (as often happens) and had moved back to his hometown in Ohio. That year, my new step-mom and Dad made the trip to my home and the traditions of Christmas Day carried on with me doing the entertaining and cooking. But, by the next year we reached an impasse. She wanted to be home with her nephews and I didn't want to spend time with people I hardly knew. So, I courageously decided to make my own tradition and had friends in after church on Christmas Eve.

I carried on that tradition for many years, always inviting church singles who had no plans. Sometimes we had a living room bursting at the seams and other times just three or four. Then I'd spend Christmas day with one of my best friends whose family had celebrated the night before. But about five or six years ago, that friend passed away from cancer.

All things change as seasons come and go, and several years ago I stopped the Christmas Eve party when I accepted an invitation to spend the holiday with a good friend and her family in Wisconsin. This became my new normal for several years . . .until last year when God strongly impressed on me I was to not go anywhere for Christmas, but to stay home and spend the day in quiet reflection and prayer.

After letting the thought resonate for several days to see if it would go away, I decided that I needed to obey. During that day I prayed over every aspect of my life from my writing, to relationships, ministry and health. And I received a last minute invite to come to dinner at a friend's in the late afternoon. It was as though God said, "Okay, you obeyed me and now I'll give you some fellowship to round out the day." It was the best Christmas ever. And something I needed, because I had no idea what challenges lay ahead in 2009 that needed that prayer covering.

This year I've been wondering if God would want me to do the same thing. Was it a one-time deal or was it going to be my new tradition? I went on the premise that I would try to do something meaningful. To that end, another single woman and I thought it would be good to help serve a meal to the homeless on Christmas Day. Much to my surprise, as I called around to various agencies, Christian and non-Christian, I could find no one who was holding such an event. Only Pacific Garden Mission, an outreach to the homeless in downtown Chicago, was having a meal and they had "more volunteers than they could handle." With that idea dropped, I still sought out God, asking what do you want me to do? One by one, things I tried to put together that would put me with other people, fell through.

Even my friend who invited me to dinner last year will be going out of town this year. As a single, I have always tried to reach out to other singles so they aren't alone on the holiday and yet, as I pondered this, I realized no one was reaching out to me. In conversation about this with a friend, she said that Christmas is a family day, and asked how many people would consider inviting someone into a family circle where the guest knows no one but the friend? What kind of fun would that be for the single, and that person's presence might be uncomfortable for the other family guests. I'd never thought about that. Of course, that's not true of everyone. Nothing is. But it made sense to me.

I reminded myself that I do have family within the family of God, my brothers and sisters in the Lord. Last weekend I enjoyed a lovely Christmas with a very dear and precious friend before he left to spend the holiday with his family in another state. And this past week, my Bible Study group had our Christmas gathering where I entertained a dinner party and present exchange. Next week I'm going to two Christmas worships, one with friends and one alone.

So again, this year it will be me and God together for the day. A special time in which I will not be alone at all, but spending it with Him, my heavenly Father. Perhaps this is my new normal. That's okay. I can't think of anyone better to spend the day with than Him whose birth we celebrate!

No matter if you are alone like me, or have family coming from every direction and may have to put up with your Aunt Hortensia's penchant for talking too much or Uncle Amos's always atrocious gift that will end up at the next White Elephant party you attend, I pray that you embrace your circumstance and thank God for the gift of His Son Jesus.

Hallelujah! Christ is born!

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

CFBA Blog Tour - Whirlwind by Robert Liparulo

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Whirlwind

Thomas Nelson (December 29, 2009)

by

Robert Liparulo



ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Robert Liparulo is a former journalist, with over a thousand articles and multiple writing awards to his name. His first novel, Comes a Horseman, released to critical acclaim. Each of his subsequent thrillers—Germ, Deadfall, and Deadlock—secured his place as one of today’s most popular and daring thriller writers.

He is known for investing deep research and chillingly accurate predictions of near-future scenarios into his stories. In fact, his thorough, journalistic approach to research has resulted in his becoming an expert on the various topics he explores in his fiction, and he has appeared on such media outlets as CNN and ABC Radio.

Liparulo’s visual style of writing has caught the eye of Hollywood producers. Currently, three of his novels for adults are in various stages of development for the big screen: the film rights to Comes A Horseman. were purchased by the producer of Tom Clancy’s movies; and Liparulo is penning the screenplays for GERM and Deadfall for two top producers. He is also working with the director Andrew Davis (The Fugitive, Holes) on a political thriller. Novelist Michael Palmer calls Deadfall “a brilliantly crafted thriller.” March 31st marked the publication of Deadfall’s follow-up, Deadlock, which novelist Gayle Lynds calls, “best of high-octane suspense.”

Liparulo’s bestselling young adult series, Dreamhouse Kings, debuted last year with House of Dark Shadows and Watcher in the Woods. Book three, Gatekeepers, released in January, and number four, Timescape, in July. The series has garnered praise from readers, both young and old, as well as attracting famous fans who themselves know the genre inside and out. Of the series, Goosebumps creator R.L. Stine says, “I loved wandering around in these books. With a house of so many great, haunting stories, why would you ever want to go outside?”

With the next two Dreamhouse books “in the can,” he is currently working on his next thriller, which for the first time injects supernatural elements into his brand of gun-blazing storytelling. The story is so compelling, two Hollywood studios are already in talks to acquire it—despite its publication date being more than a year away. After that comes a trilogy of novels, based on his acclaimed short story, which appeared in James Patterson’s Thriller anthology. New York Times bestselling author Steve Berry calls Liparulo’s writing “Inventive, suspenseful, and highly entertaining . . . Robert Liparulo is a storyteller, pure and simple.” He lives with his family in Colorado.

Visit Robert Liparulo's Facebook Fan page: http://www.facebook.com/LiparuloFans


ABOUT THE BOOK

Which door do you go through to save the world?

David, Xander, and Toria King never know where the mysterious portals in their house will take them: past, present, or future. They have battled gladiators and the German army, dodged soldiers on both sides of the Civil War, and jumped from the sinking Titanic. They've also seen the stark future that awaits if they can't do something to change it--a destroyed city filled with mutant creatures.

And they've still got to find a way to bring Mom back and keep Taksidian from getting them out of the house. The dangers are hitting them like a whirlwind . . . but the answers are becoming apparent as well.

If you would like to read the first chapter of Whirlwind, go HERE

Friday, December 04, 2009

CBFA Blog Tour - Raising Rain by Debbie Fuller Thomas

This weekend, starting today, CFBA is touring a brand new book call Raising Rain by Debbie Fuller Thomas.This is the first book I've read by this author and I can say it won't be the last.

If you are old enough to remember the late sixties and early seventies you will particularly relate to this story of four women, now in their fifties, who were in college during that time. But even if you are too young to remember those days (bless you!) you will still enjoy this multi-layered story.

The main character, Bebe, is the most conservative of the group as a veterinarian for small animals and a prodigal who returned to God a long while before. She, together with Toni and Mare, helped their radical roommate Jude raise her daughter, Rainbow Brite, while Jude attended law school. Bebe remained in Rain's life as an almost surrogate mother while Jude spent her time protesting wars, government, abortion and whatever else she found wrong with society.

Now, many years later, they are brought back together by Jude. She has untreatable cancer and wants a last "hurrah" to celebrate her life. At the same time Rain, now a woman in her late thirties, is struggling with who she is and what wants out of life. She has sent her boyfriend packing because he doesn't want the baby she is longing to have. Like her mother she is inclined to go it alone and have a child.

All have left their protesting days behind except Jude and they come together for one final weekend. Will they survive?

It took me a couple chapters to get into the story, but with Thomas's easygoing way of storytelling, I was soon sucked into the story and kept wishing for time to read to see what was going to happen next in the lives of the ill-matched women.

The character and spiritual arcs ease upwards at a satisfying pace for Bebe and Rain, the POV characters, but this also holds true for many of the other characters. And there are a lot of characters, but Thomas masterfully works her words well to keep the reader from becoming confused.

In the occasional fashback chapters to those turbulant years I loved being reminded of things like Tab (Coca Cola's diet drink of that time), Janis Joplin, and a variety of pop music titles from the era. I wasn't a part of the protest scene myself, but one couldn't escape it if you wanted to.

I highly recommend this book.!

If you would like to read the first chapter of Raising Rain, go HERE.

GREAT NEWS! I just heard from Debbie that she is offering a chance at a free copy of Raising Rain on her website. Head over to http://debbiefullerthomas.com and sign up for her newsletter. She'll throw your name in the hat. She has three copies to give away, so don't delay!




ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Debbie writes contemporary fiction from an historic Gold Rush town in Northern California. By day, she manages after school and day camp programs, and she burns the midnight oil to write what she loves. Her first book Tuesday Night at the Blue Moon, is a Christy finalist. Raising Rain, her second book became available September 2009.

Debbie has contributed to story collections such as Chicken Soup for the Bride's Soul, and Lord, I Was Happy Shallow, along with articles in Coping With Cancer magazine.

She has two teenagers and her husband is the executive pastor on Sonrise Church with 1,000 members. Debbie is a manager at Auburn Area Parks and Recreation.

Monday, November 16, 2009

CFBA Blog Tour - What the Bayou Saw by Patty Lacey


This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

What The Bayou Saw

Kregel Publications (March 24, 2009)

by

Patti Lacy



ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Though Patti's only been writing since 2005, she thinks her latest profession of capturing stories on paper (or computer files) will stick awhile.

The Still, Small Voice encouraged Patti to write after a brave Irish friend shared memories of betrayal and her decision to forgive. In 2008, An Irishwoman’s Tale was published by Kregel Publications. Patti’s second novel, What the Bayou Saw, draws on the memories of two young girls who refused to let segregation, a chain link fence, and a brutal rape come between them.

The secrets women keep and why they keep them continue to enliven Patti's gray matter. A third book, My Name is Sheba, has been completed. Patti's WIP, Recapturing Lily, documents a tug-of-war between a Harvard-educated doctor and an American pastor and his wife for a precious child and explores adoption issues, China's "One Child" policy, and both Christian and secular views of sacrifice.

Patti also facilitates writing seminars in schools, libraries, and at conferences and has been called to present her testimony, "All the Broken Pieces," at women's retreats. She also leads a Beth Moore Bible study at her beloved Grace Church.

Patti and her husband Alan, an Illinois State faculty member, live in Normal with their handsome son Thomas, who attends Heartland Community College. On sunny evenings, you can catch the three strolling the streets of Normal with their dog Laura, whom they've dubbed a "Worchestershire Terrier" for her "little dab of this breed, a little dab of that breed.


ABOUT THE BOOK



Segregation and a chain link fence separated twelve-year-old Sally Flowers from her best friend, Ella Ward. Yet a brutal assault bound them together. Forever. Thirty-eight years later, Sally, a middle-aged Midwestern instructor, dredges up childhood secrets long buried beneath the waters of a Louisiana bayou in order to help her student, who has also been raped. Fragments of spirituals, gospel songs, and images of a Katrina-ravaged New Orleans are woven into the story.


The past can't stay buried forever Rising author Patti Lacy's second novel exposes the life of Sally, set amid the shadows of prejudice in Louisiana.

Since leaving her home in the South, Sally Stevens has held the secrets of her past at bay, smothering them in a sunny disposition and sugar-coated lies. No one, not even her husband, has heard the truth about her childhood.

But when one of her students is violently raped, Sally's memories quickly bubble to the surface unbidden, like a dead body in a bayou. As Sally's story comes to light, the lies she's told begin to catch up with her. And as her web of deceit unravels, she resolves to face the truth at last, whatever the consequences.

If you would like to read the first chapter of What The Bayou Saw, go HERE

Buy it at Amazon!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Awesome Experience with Beth Moore


This past Friday and Saturday I traveled three hours to the south to Springfield, Illinois. But, I didn't go to the state capital to visit politicians. I went to sit under the teaching of one of my favorite Bible teachers, Beth Moore.

I have participated in seven or eight of Beth's Bible Studies at my church, and we are currently studying Esther. For those who don't know much about Beth, she writes in-depth Bible studies for women with five days of lessons per week. We meet first as a small group to discuss the five lessons, then gather with other small groups to view her video that prepares us for the next five lessons.

Beth is an anointed teacher. She is down to earth, funny and blessed with energy that rivals a classroom of preschoolers. (I stole that line from one of my stories) God has gifted her with this energy because she needs it to do all she does, traveling, teaching, studying, and still spending time with her family.

Nearly 9,000 ladies descended upon Springfield's convention center. They may be used to a bunch of windy politicians in their midst, but I doubt they knew what hit them when Beth came to town. She beat attendance for an Elton John concert by 50 people! Check out the line before the doors opened! That's only a small percentage of the people.

I'm sure the local businesses loved it. Every hotel space was taken. My friend and I had to stay in a smoking room in a cheap motel. The room was clean, but stunk of smoke. We aired it out and sprayed Fabreze everywhere which helped. We weren't there but to sleep one night. But we'd do anything to be able to attend this event.

I brought home a souvenir I'd rather not have. Last night I developed a stuffy head and feel something like one would feel when being run over by a Mac Truck LOL. But that's okay. It was worth it.

Here's a video slide show from the professional photographer who was there. My friend made it into the montage. What an awesome time. Be sure to give it about a minute to download before the action starts.

Living Proof Live - Springfield IL from Rich Kalonick on Vimeo.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Writing Historical - A New Experience And I'm Having a Blast!






A few months back, I wrote about seeing my hometown of Lake Geneva, WI through new eyes as I delved into research in preparation for writing a book set there in 1933.

I finished the proposal on August first, and my agent sent it on to a potential publisher. In the meantime, I attended the ACFW conference in Denver, and then reworked my cozy mystery from a mystery with romance to a romance with mystery. It is now titled, Thyme for Love. With the proposal for that story out at several places, I finally have time to work on my Lake Geneva romance called Dream a Little Dream of Me. It's only a working title and often publishers will change titles to suit their preferences, so I hang onto it loosely.

Other than writing a short story for a creative writing class based on my grandmother's diary from 1900, I have never written historical fiction in my life. I have always loved writing about today, having my characters use their cell phones, computers, etc. and ride around in fast cars. But writing early to mid 20th century historical is different than writing historicals set in Colonial times or even at the turn of the century, 1900.

Today's Lake Geneva looks a lot different than the Lake Geneva I grew up in. First, the town has grown by about 3,000 people, and second, it now boasts a Super Walmart, McDonalds, Burger King, Home Depot and many other franchised operations. When I was a kid we had to drive to Milwaukee for a McDonald's burger. The lake, of course, is still there, but the beach has been improved and some of the large mansions have been torn down for smaller lots.

However, if you stop long enough to look, you'll still see vestages of the past. Enough mansions are still there, perhaps boasting several more coats of paint or a wing added on, but they are still the stately manors they were in the 19th century.

Stroll down Main Street and look up past the modern storefronts of shops selling gourmet foods, boutique clothing, and home decor and you'll see the architecture of a time gone by. It doesn't take much to imagine a butcher shop, food market, or mercantile that once existed on the street level.

Today what was once called the Slater Building houses a real estate company. When I was a child I went to the dentist on the second floor, and I can't remember what was on the first floor. Probably a different real estate company. That's the building on the right. Back in 1933, it housed the Lake Geneva News-Trib, the weekly paper where the hero and heroine in my novel meet and work. It's a special feeling to know that I've been in that building many times as a child, and now here I am writing a story set right there.

Oh if those walls could talk. I bet they'd give me fodder for more stories than I could write. And it would be a blast.

Monday, October 05, 2009

CFBA Blog Tour - Though Waters Roar by Lynn Austin

This week's CFBA blog tour features Though Waters Roar by Lynn Austin. Lynn is one of my favorite authors and I was excited to be able to read and review this book. But I didn't receive my copy until last Friday, so I am still reading it! Let me tell you, I've not gotten very far but already I am hooked. This lady can write!

Consider phrases like this:

"We were looking through Grandma's box of keepsakes, and she showed me a photograph of her father and mother. They sat side-by-side, their shoulders barely touching. Henry's huge farmer hands splayed on his thighs like a pair of shovels."

Or . . .

"Grief settled over Bebe's household like deep snow, bringing life on the farm to a suffocating standstill and chilling everyone's soul."

Anyone who can turn a phrase like those two has my attention.

Here's the scoop on the story:

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Along with reading, two of Lynn's lifelong passions are history and archaeology. While researching her Biblical fiction series, Chronicles of the Kings, these two interests led her to pursue graduate studies in Biblical Backgrounds and Archaeology through Southwestern Theological Seminary. She and her son traveled to Israel during the summer of 1989 to take part in an archaeological dig at the ancient city of Timnah. This experience contributed to the inspiration for her novel Wings of Refuge.

Lynn resigned from teaching to write full-time in 1992. Since then she has published twelve novels. Five of her historical novels, Hidden Places, Candle in the Darkness, Fire by Night, A Proper Pursuit, and Until We Reach Home have won Christy Awards in 2002, 2003, 2004, 2008, and 2009 for excellence in Christian Fiction.

Fire by Night was also one of only five inspirational fiction books chosen by Library Journal for their top picks of 2003, and All She Ever Wanted was chosen as one of the five inspirational top picks of 2005. Lynn's novel Hidden Places has been made into a movie for the Hallmark Channel.


ABOUT THE BOOK

"Thank goodness you're such a plain child. You'll have to rely on your wits."

So went the words of Grandma Bebe. And for all of my growing-up years, I scoffed at the beauty of my sister and what I saw as her meaningless existence. But my wits hadn't served me well in this instance, for here I was, in jail. And while I could have seen it as carrying on the family tradition (for Grandma Bebe landed in jail for her support of Prohibition), the truth is, my reasons for being here would probably break her heart.

So how did I end up becoming a criminal? I've been pondering that question all night. Perhaps the best way to search for an answer is to start at the very beginning.

Harriet Sherwood has always adored her grandmother. But when Harriet decides to follow in her footsteps to fight for social justice, she certainly never expected her efforts to land her in jail. Nor did she expect her childhood enemy and notorious school bully, Tommy O'Reilly, to be the arresting officer.

Languishing in a jail cell, Harriet has plenty of time to sift through the memories of the three generations of women who have preceded her. As each story emerges, the strength of her family--and their deep faith in the God of justice and righteousness--brings Harriet to the discovery of her own goals and motives for pursuing them.

If you would like to read the first chapter of Though Waters Roar, go HERE

I just saw the book on display at my local Family Christian Store, but you can order it from Amazon.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Winner of Cara's Book A Promise Kept is . . .

JO!!!

I've notified Jo and am waiting for her mailing address. Then I'll get the book out to her. There were several who left names but no contact info so I couldn't place your names in the "hat." Please be sure when commenting to leave contact info for the book!

Watch this blog for more upcoming giveaways later on.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Book Review: A Promise Kept by Cara C. Putman





When my good friend, Cara Putman, asked me if I would read a couple of her new releases and blog about them I didn't hesitate one bit. I've known Cara for a long time now. She is one of the people in my life I can say "I knew her when . . ."

I was privileged to critique her first two books when we were in a critiquing group together, and it was a thrill to see them go on to be published. The woman hasn't stopped since and has been blessed with more book contracts. All well deserved because she is a very accomplished writer.

I have especially enjoyed her stories set during World War II. The thirties and forties hold a special appeal for me and I am thrilled that they are now coming into their own as historicals.

A Promise Kept is set in 1939 before Pearl Harbor was bombed sending the U.S. to the war front. At the time of the story people were watching and waiting, many gearing up for what they saw as inevitable when the country would be at war itself.

The story is unique in that it is a romance about a married couple. We join Josie Miller and Art Wilson in the first chapter as they marry in Dayton, Ohio and then move to Cincinnati for Art's job.

Cara does a wonderful job of bringing in the way of life back in that time, by way of the popular music of the day, the clothing they wore, and the simple meals Josie prepares without concern about fat calories or cholesteral :-) I was immediately transported back to the time. Life wasn't easy even though the country was starting to work its way out of the depression, especially for the newlyweds who live a second-floor walk-up apartment, barely big enough for two. You can imagine how tight it suddenly becomes when a distant cousin of Art's who lives in England asks if he and Josie will house their eight-year-old daughter for an indefinate time until the war passes and England is safe again.

Nothing goes according the the dream Josie has for her new life and it takes a strengthening of faith in God to help both her and Art begin to see that sometimes God's dreams for us are different than ours, because He knows what is best in the long run.

I thoroughly enjoyed this story and I would like to offer a signed copy of the book in a drawing. Please leave a comment on this blog along with contact info and I will draw a name next week Wednesday, September 9th.

You can order the book from the Heartsong Presents Website, but don't forget to leave a comment for a chance at a signed copy for your collection!

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Imitation is the Greatest Form of Flattery. . .But Not in Writing


I just read that Stephanie Meyer who wrote the infamous Twilight series about a romance between a vampire and a 'normal' person, is being accused of plagiarism. The accuser states that parts from her own book were used by Ms. Meyer for the fourth book in the Twilight series.

I haven't read but a portion of Twilight, first book in the series, and I haven't even heard of the the accuser or her book, but from what I have read of the lawsuit, me thinks I smell a rat. J.K.Rowling went through the same kind of deal after she became wildly popular, and I'm sure other famous authors have as well.

Common sense tells me the accusations are likely unfounded. As a writer, I know how a story comes to life, and the book Ms. Meyer is accused of using plagiarized material for, is the fourth in the series. A story evolves and grows as one writes.

There is really nothing new under the sun. I have received more than one rejection for both novels and magazine articles alike, where the reason for rejection was because the publisher was already under contract to print something very similar. Titles are often similar, as are storylines, characters, settings, whatever. And sometimes that can be a deal-breaker in the writing world.

When I was around eight or nine I subscribed to a childrens magazine called Wee Wisdom. I loved the stories in that magazine and devoured it as soon as it arrived in the mail. One day, as I sat reading a story, I had a sense I'd read it before. I don't remember all the details, but I did figure out where I'd seen it. I was able to locate the story in another publication by a different author, and wrote to the magazine. A while later, I received a letter that stated they were very appreciative of my informing them of the deception, because the story published in their magazine was plagiarized. I don't remember getting a free subscription or anything like that. Just a thank you.

That future writer learned one huge lesson. One I've never forgotten.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

CBFA Blog Tour - Any Minute by Joyce Meyer & Deborah Bradford

Sarah Harper is driven to achieve success no matter what the cost. She wants to do good and not hurt the people she loves--especially children and her husband, Joe--but her desire to succeed in her career too often leaves little time for family.

One cold, autumn afternoon, all of that changes when Sarah's car plunges off a bridge and into a river. She is presumed dead by those on the "outside," but Sarah's spirit is still very much alive. What she discovers on the other side transforms everything about Sarah's view of life--past, present, and future.

When Sarah is revived, she is a changed woman. And the unsuspecting world around her will never be the same again.

Because of this story description, I received the book with great anticipation. I've been inspired in my Christian walk by Joyce Meyer's teaching and entertained by Deborah Bradford's stories. What could be better than an intriguing plot and these two women coming together?

Although the premise is still intriguing, I have to say that the book did not deliver its promise to me.

As a writer who is always working to improve on the craft, it is difficult to take off the editor hat unless the story pulls me in so much that I literally do not notice POV (point of view) and setting issues.

The authors tend to gravitate back and forth from a third-person POV to an omniscient POV, which always caused me to hit a mental speed bump. At times, the story head hopped, especially during intense scenes where one minute I was in one character's head and with the next, suddenly thrust into the other character's thoughts. I find this to be very jarring.

Although the authors' scenes set in the Chicago financial area and Wrigley Field were spot on, they took poetic license with the locale of Buffalo Grove, IL, a Chicago suburb. The town was placed directly next to a tollway instead of approximately five miles to the west. For those like me who live in the Buffalo Grove area, this can be bothersome.

Because of these issues, I am unable to give it the rave review I was hoping for. Having said that, I do think if you know these issues won't bother you, I say read it for the entertainment value it is. The storyline is intriguing. I just wish the writing had been at the same level.

ABOUT THE AUTHORS:

Joyce Meyer is one of the world's leading practical Bible teachers. A #1 New York Times bestselling author, she has written more than seventy inspirational books, including The Confident Woman, I Dare You, the entire Battlefield of the Mind family of books, her first venture into fiction with The Penny, and many others. She has also released thousands of audio teachings as well as a complete video library. Joyce's Enjoying Everyday Life® radio and television programs are broadcast around the world, and she travels extensively conducting conferences. Joyce and her husband, Dave, are the parents of four grown children and make their home in St. Louis, Missouri.


Deborah Bedford is a career fiction writer who began her professional life as a journalist in a Colorado mountain town.

A Rose By The Door, Deborah's first with Warner Book (name changed to FaithWords in 2006), hit bookstores in November 2001. A Morning Like This was released by Warner Books in 2002. Deborah's short story, “Connor Sapp's Baseball Summer,” is included in Multnomah Publisher's The Storytellers' Collection, Tales From Home, alongside stories by Chuck Colson, Terri Blackstock, Randy Alcorn and Karen Kingsbury.

Deborah and Jack have two children, Jeff and Avery. When she isn't writing, Deborah spends her time fly-fishing, cheering at American Legion baseball games, shopping with her daughter, singing praise songs while she walks along the banks of Flat Creek, and taking her dachshund Annie for hikes in the Tetons where they live.

Buy it at Amazon.

If you would like to read the first chapter of Any Minute, go here!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

To Swear or Not To Swear--Is It Even Worth Asking?


Last night I watched recorded episodes of a program on Bravo called Top Chef Masters. The show is a spin-off of the popular show, Top Chef, a reality cooking contest that pits a number of chefs against each other as they take on cooking challenges. Each week, the losing chef packs his knives and goes home. The winner is the top chef of the year.

The master show brings four well-known (in culinary circles) chefs together for a one-time challenge. The winner will compete for the title against five other winners from other shows in the series .

In an episode I watched last night, from the moment he was introduced one of the male chefs had a potty mouth. It didn't matter if it was during his cooking, which I presume to be unscripted, or in the head-shot interviews that this type of show utilizes, his language was peppered with swears.

At first he wasn't beeped when twice he invoked the name of Jesus in a way I knew was no prayer and I cringed. Then, when he said a different word that I could lipread and he was beeped, I became even more disgusted. Why did the producers see fit to beep out the four-letter word, but thought it okay to leave in his blasphemous language against my Lord? But from that point on, the guy was beeped for the rest of the show, and I could at least watch the competition without being offended. But my pity for the man stayed with me.

What did he think when he saw the show? The other three chefs never said anything that required beeps, yet every time he was on camera, it felt as though I was on a New York City street from all the beeping. If others can control their language on a show, why not him?

Movie makers often say that they include swears in their scripts because it's the way people talk. Maybe a prison scene would be more authentic with bad language, or a battle scene in a war movie, but I really wonder how often that much swearing goes on in real life for a majority of people. I worked in the secular world for many years and, except on rare occasions, I never had to endure that much swearing.

The other day I came across a forum on the Internet where people were discussing if Christian fiction should include actual swear words. The consensus was that it wasn't necessary. The author can show through narrative that the characters are using rough language and do it in such a way that the reader knows the kind of language being used without being subjected to it. I suppose in a reality show, producers feel they have to keep the reality in by not asking people to refrain from swearing. I know most people can control their tongue if they know they need to. I'm willing to bet (if I were a betting woman) that this guy doesn't talk that way in front of his mother!

I hope I never become so deadened to the words from the overuse of potty language that I don't even notice it.

One thing I know for sure. You'll never find a swear in any of my stories. If the novel needs that kind of dialogue to sell it, it's not worth selling.

Monday, July 20, 2009

CFBA Blog Tour - Thinks Left Unspoken by Eva Marie Everson

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Eva Marie Everson taught Old Testament theology for six years at Life Training Center in Longwood, Florida and has written numerous articles for Crosswalk.com (including the acclaimed Falling Into The Bible series), and has had articles featured in numerous publications, including Christianity Today, Evangel, Christian Bride, Christian Retailing, The Godly BusinessWoman and Marriage Partnership magazines. Eva Marie has been interviewed by radio, television, newspaper, and Internet media outlets. In 2002Eva Marie was one of six Christian journalists sent to Israel for a special ten-day press tour.

Eva Marie’s work includes the award-winning titles Reflections of God's Holy Land; A Personal Journey Through Israel, Shadow of Dreams, Sex, Lies and the Media, and The Potluck Club series.

She is married, has four children and five grandchildren, and lives in Central Florida.


ABOUT THE BOOK

Every family--and every house--has its secrets. Jo-Lynn Hunter is at a crossroads in life when her great-aunt Stella insists that she return home to restore the old family manse in sleepy Cottonwood, Georgia. Jo-Lynn longs to get her teeth into a noteworthy and satisfying project. And it's the perfect excuse for some therapeutic time away from her self-absorbed husband and his snobby Atlanta friends.

Beneath the dust and the peeling wallpaper, things are not what they seem, and what Jo-Lynn doesn't know about her family holds just as many surprises. Was her great-grandfather the pillar of the community she thought he was? What is Aunt Stella hiding? And will her own marriage survive the renovation? Jo-Lynn isn't sure she wants to know the truth--but sometimes the truth has a way of making itself known.

If you would like to read the first chapter of Things Left Unspoken, go HERE




Buy it at Amazon!


Tuesday, June 30, 2009

CFBA Blog Tour - Exposure by Brandilyn Collins



Fasten your seatbelt and don't forget to breathe! Two cautions always connected with the writing of Suspense Novelist Brandilyn Collins. And they are cautions well taken when reading her newest novel, Exposure.

A few days ago, I strapped myself in and took a deep breath as I began to read page one. Did I breathe before I read the last page? It didn't feel like it, but I must have because it took me two days to read the story. If hadn't had to stop to sleep (and yes, I was able to sleep LOL), eat and other necessities of life, I would have read straight through to the end. A definite page-turner.

Kaycee Raye is sure someone is watching her, but she's already been to the police countless times before with the same complaint. She's certain when they see her coming they roll their eyes thinking here comes that goofy woman again. But she can't blame them because if she were them, she'd wonder too. Who would believe anyone who had no proof that she was being watched except for the creepy feeling in her gut? Then when she suddenly does have proof, by the time the cop shows up, the proof has vanished.

All this when she'd thought she'd finally overcome her fear of being watched, so much so that she'd actually made a career out of writing a column about living with fear and overcoming it.

That's all I'm going to tell you about the story because if I reveal anymore, I'd have to write "SPOILER" at the top of this review. And I'm not going to do that.

Brandilyn Collins fans know what to expect when they pick up one of her books. In fact, some people don't pick up her books and have united to actually form a Big Honkin' Chicken's Club. They even have T-shirts and stuff like that. If that don't beat all! Maybe they should read Exposure and overcome their fears like Kaycee is trying to do. You can read about the club and other juicy tidbits at Brandilyn's Blog.

If you want a fast-pasted, filled-to-the brim-with-suspense story that will have you thinking twice before you pick up your digital camera again, this book is for you!

To read the first chapter, go HERE.

“More twists and turns than a Coney Island roller coaster! Highly recommended.” ~CBA Retailers

“Mesmerizing mystery…authentic characters…a fast-paced, twisting tale of desperate choices.” ~TitleTrakk

“Brandilyn Collins is a master of suspense, and Exposure is her best book yet!” ~Dianne Burnett, Christianbook.com
You can pick up the book at your local bookstore or from Amazon.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


Brandilyn Collins is an award-winning and best-selling novelist known for her trademark Seatbelt Suspense®. These harrowing crime thrillers have earned her the tagline "Don't forget to b r e a t h e . . ."® Brandilyn's first book, A Question of Innocence, was a true crime published by Avon in 1995. Its promotion landed her on local and national TV and radio, including the Phil Donahue and Leeza talk shows. Brandilyn is also known for her distinctive book on fiction-writing techniques, Getting Into Character: Seven Secrets a Novelist Can Learn From Actors (John Wiley & Sons). She is now working on her 20th book.

In addition to Exposure, Brandilyn’s other latest release is Always Watching, first in The Rayne Tour series—young adult suspense co-written with her daughter, Amberly. The Rayne Tour series features Shaley O’Connor, daughter of a rock star, who just may have it all—until murder crashes her world.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Debut Novel: Love's Rescue by Tammy Barley


This past week I had the pleasure of reading my friend Tammy Barley's debut novel Love's Rescue, published this July by Whitaker House Publishers.

Folks, this book is outstanding.

During 1863 as the Civil War is raging in the East, in Carson City, Nevada, Jessica Hale is embroiled in her own version of the War when Northern empathizers overhear her sending a telegram regarding the whereabouts of her Confederate soldier brother, Ambrose. Later that same day she loses her entire family in a fire, and cattleman, Jake Bennett, comes to her rescue. He takes her to his remote ranch in the beautiful Sierra Nevada Mountains. From there the reader is taken into the world of the old West where life is at times almost idyllic, and at other times as raw as the land.

As I walked alongside Jess's soul-journey from despair and hopelessness to abiding joy and hope restored through her relationship with God and with Jake, I found I didn't want to put the book down. Tammy's beautiful way of bringing out setting and making it come alive caused me to feel like I was right there with the cattlemen as they wrangled calves, cut the herds and chased down stampeding Mustangs. I was also there as Jess found herself restored through her coming to peace with what had happened to her and her family.

Jake also has a backstory of difficulties, and as he works to help Jess heal, he finds himself able to finally heal as well, and to love again.

The only quibble I have with the story is that I felt that the prologue could have been either cut or woven into the story altogether. I am not a great lover of prologues and find the use of any over the length of a page or so a great bother. Even so, I did read it, and it did provide background information necessary to understanding Jessica's point of view at the beginning of the story.

After that, it was a long, delightful and most enjoyable read. All told at a calming pace that made me feel each time I picked the book up like I was sitting on Tammy's front porch with a frosty glass of sweet tea and being told the most wonderful of stories.

To help whet your appitite, check out this trailer, then head on over to Amazon or CBD and lasso yourself a copy:

Saturday, June 20, 2009

A Metephor for Life


The Chicago area has had a very cool spring and start to summer. As a result the usual thunderstorms and tornado warningss have been all but nonexistent. We've had plenty of rain. Just no bad storms. As much as I've joined the chorus of asking "Where's summer?" I must admit the absence of thunderstorms has been delightful for me.

For as long as I can remember I've hated storms. As much as some people love to stand at the window and watch angry black clouds full of lightning coming toward them, I would rather be anyplace else. Years ago I went to Canada with my cousins and aunt. At a hotel in Quebec we had a lovely room facing a large lake. The afternoon we arrived, huge menacing clouds started gathering across the lake. Everyone became excited, exclaiming what a wonderful view we'd have for watching the storm as it approached. Everyone but me.

When the thing finally hit, the winds tore at the roof overhead. Outside, unseen things crashed about while rain pounded the window. I took to the floor and tried to crawl under the bed, but the box spring was too low. So I just huddled there, eyes squeezed shut. When everything calmed down, I opened my eyes to see my 11-year-old cousin crouched next to me. I figured it must have been bad if she was there too.

When we ventured outside, we found trees down everywhere and breathed sighs of relief that our camper was intact. And I felt vindicated for my fear. It was truly a dangerous storm. Later, my cousins teased me for trying to crawl under the bed. I defended saying, "But Terri was there too." Then the truth came out. "But, Pam, I was only doing that so you would be comforted. I wasn't scared."

It was a good laugh and we all still laugh about it today. Terri is still the same sweet caring person she was back then. But, I learned last night that I'm different.

Yesterday we had a number of really bad storms plow through our area, starting at 3 a.m. True to form, I did check the radar to see what we were in for, but my heart didn't race, and I didn't start praying a loop of prayers, saying "Please God help us." I prayed for protection then calmly waited until the storm passed by. Last night another line of storms roared through. Ordinarily I would be checking the radar, praying like crazy, and deciding if I should sit in the bathroom until it was over. But I didn't. I spent the time messing with my new breadmaker, trying to get the right combo of ingredients. I figured if we lost power so what. When the thing finally passed by, I sat here amazed at my calmness. Then I realized the day had been a metaphor of my life in recent months.

After a rather peaceful time of little stress, 2009 started out pretty stormy. I'd begun the year on my knees, turning every part of my life over to God. It wasn't but a short time later that every part that I'd turned over to Him began going through turmoil. I can't go into all the storms I've weathered since then, but some have been pretty difficult. Through each one God has proven Himself true. He is always with me, sustaining, nurturing, and sometimes carrying me. When Jesus came walking across the water toward his disciples in the boat, they became fearful. Scared out of their wits. Jesus said to them "Take courage. It is I. Don't be afraid." That's been a phrase I've hung on to through each storm in my life. Even the physical storms like yesterday's.

Jesus came to give peace. Not always peace without, but peace within.

He is so good.

Monday, June 01, 2009

Book Review: A Passion Denied by Julie Lessman

One of this past year's debut authors who has become an auto-buy for me is Julie Lessman. Julie's Daughters of Boston series is absolutely a must read for anyone who likes historical fiction and enjoys a good romance that delivers a good dose of high-stakes emotion and passion (within the boundaries of God's standards). Along with that, Julie's stories always include a strong spiritual arc that never fails to gives me a lesson from God without hitting me over the head.

A Passion Denied is the third and last book in the series and focuses on the third O'Connor daughter, Lizzie (called Beth in the other two books). The story opens by introducing the reader to a more grown up Beth than we last knew in Charity's story, A Passion Redeemed. She's changed her name to Lizzie to sound more sophisticated for the 1920s, has bobbed her hair and is almost eighteen years old. What hasn't changed is her strong feelings for John Brady, business partner and war buddy of Collin, Lizzie's brother-in-law. John, who goes by Brady, is in Lizzie's eyes the "perfect" man for her. A man of God, dependable, considerate, hard-working, and gorgeous. The only problem is that Brady insists on calling her the sister he never had and treats her as such except on rare occasions when his mask slips a little and his true passion for Lizzie bursts through just enough to encourage her to keep hope alive.

John has worked very hard to hide his past, and the only way he sees to succeed with this is to swear off women and devote his time to Bible study and running the print shop with his partner, Collin.

The story takes the reader through the twists and turns of Lizzie and Bray's relationship in surprising and entertaining ways. And not to be left out, subplots involving the entire O'Connor family, especially Faith, Charity and parents, Patrick and Marcy make the story complete.

I highly recommend this book. If you've already read the first two in the series, you're going to love finding out what has been happening with the O'Connor girls. If you've not read the other books, you can easily pick this one up and not feel left out. But I do recommend reading them in order if you can.

I was ecstatic to see that the fourth O'Connor daughter's story is scheduled to hit the shelves in 2010. Don't yet know the title of the series or the first book, but the beginning pages are printed at the back of A Passion Denied.

Don't overlook picking up this book at your favorite Christian book store or at Amazon or Christianbook.com.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

CFBA Blog Tour - Rose House by Tina Ann Forkner

When I had the opportunity to read an early copy of Tina Forkner's Rose House for review on this blog I snagged it. I read Tina's first novel, Ruby Among Us, which I adored, and that was all I needed to know. The day the book arrived in the mail I started reading, and I wasn't disappointed.

Although not directly a sequel to "Ruby," the setting is in the same fictional California town of LaRosaleda with the focal point being the rose-covered cottage on the Frances-DiCamillo vineyard property. The cottage almost becomes a character in the story as much as Lillian Diamon, the heroine. Forkner's words draw the reader into the setting in such a gentle way that you feel as though you are right there inhaling the roses' sweet scent.

Romance, intrigue, family tension and God's sustaining love all combine to make Rose House one great read that needs to be on your summer reading list.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


Tina Ann Forkner writes contemporary fiction that challenges and inspires. She grew up in Oklahoma and graduated with honors from CSU Sacramento before settling in Wyoming. She lives with her husband, their three bright children and their dog and stays busy serving on the Laramie County Library Foundation Board of Directors. She is the author of Ruby Among Us, her debut novel, and Rose House, which recently released from Waterbrook Press/Random House.



ABOUT THE BOOK

A vivid story of a private grief, a secret painting, and one woman’s search for hope

Still mourning the loss of her family in a tragic accident, Lillian Diamon finds herself drawn back to the Rose House, a quiet cottage where four years earlier she had poured out her anguish among its fragrant blossoms.

She returns to the rolling hills and lush vineyards of the Sonoma Valley in search of something she can’t quite name. But then Lillian stumbles onto an unexpected discovery: displayed in the La Rosaleda Gallery is a painting that captures every detail of her most private moment of misery, from the sorrow etched across her face to the sandals on her feet.

What kind of artist would dare to intrude on such a personal scene, and how did he happen to witness Lillian’s pain? As the mystery surrounding the portrait becomes entangled with the accident that claimed the lives of her husband and children, Lillian is forced to rethink her assumptions about what really happened that day.

A captivating novel rich with detail, Rose House explores how the brushstrokes of pain can illuminate the true beauty of life.

If you would like to read an excerpt from Rose House, go HERE

You can order it at Amazon!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

You Can Go Home Again - Lake Geneva, Wisconsin


From the age of two until my mid-twenties I called a certain southern Wisconsin town home. When my family moved to Lake Geneva for my dad's job, the town was mostly tourist with a spattering of industry. Over the years more industry moved in, but that didn't take away from the main draw--the beautiful lake.

Ever since the 19th Century, Chicagoans have flocked to this gorgeous area which sits about 12 miles north of the Illinois-Wisconsin boarder. During the 1800s, wealthy industrialists built their "summer cottages" on the lake. Many of these mansions still stand today and are the focal point of the excursion boats that travel the 26 miles of shoreline. During summers the wealthy families moved out to the "country" to escape the summer heat of the city. And after the Chicago fire, some had to make their Lake Geneva homes semi-permanent while their city homes were being rebuilt.

But that isn't the only history to be found in this slice of heaven on earth. During the early 1930s the city passed a vote to erect a new "recreation building" using WPA funds. The project provided jobs during the depression and gave the town an energy of excitement. The building was erected in an amazing five months and contained a bath house on the first level along with concessions to feed hungry beach-goers and a state-of-the art ballroom with a parquet wood dance floor on the second level. Wayne King and his band appeared at the grand opening in May 1933, and after him, many of the big bands played there including Tommy Dorsey and Louie Armstrong. Named the Riviera, the building was recently refurbished to its original glory and now hosts wedding receptions, meetings, and, of course, dances. In fact, when I attended a high school reunion a year and a half ago, that is where it was held. That's a picture of it at the top of this blog.

The Riveria is the feature of my new WIP which will be set in the 1930s when the Riv was first built. I am so jazzed about this subject and excited to feature my hometown in a story. Last Thursday I drove up there (about an hour's drive away) and spent the day pouring over microfilm copies of the local paper during that time. This week, I hope to go back and visit the museum and scour their folders, gathering facts and ideas to incorporate into my story. Even though I grew up there, I realized I really knew so little about how the building of the Riviera came to be.

I have many memories of lazy summer days on the beach, countless boat rides around the lake when my high school boyfriend worked on one of the excursion boats, learning how to water ski behind the ski boat of a classmate, hikes along the lake shore path, and the plain old joy of growing up in a small town.

Many of the pics in this video showcase the Riviera. I hope you'll check back again to see what's next on my writing journey as this story comes together!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

When Did I Ever Have Time to Go to Work?


A little over 3-1/2 years ago I took early retirement from a job I'd worked at for almost 20 years. Five days a week I was out the door by 7:20 a.m. and didn't return until 5:00 p.m. or later. I had to squeeze writing time into the evenings and weekends, or days off. Still, I managed to hammer out several novels over the course of about eight or nine years.

I'm still hammering out novels and, in addition, performing duties related to my ACFW board position, doing volunteer work in an ESL program sponsored by the high school district, leading Bible study, and doing a number of other things. I'm still up at the crack of dawn, but at least if I want, I can stay in my jammies till later in the morning. At least on days I'm not volunteering! And, I don't have a commute. Especially nice on snowy days.

I have to ask , "When did I ever find time to go to work?"

I can't imagine not having something to do. If I weren't a writer I'd be looking for another thing to occupy my time. Maybe working part-time in a book store or doing more volunteer work.

God has granted me the love of writing and the ability to write. And I love it! I am so blessed.

Just some thoughts on a sunny May afternoon. Now I'd better get back to that novel I'm working on!

Monday, April 27, 2009

And the winner of Sara Mills's Book is . . .

Michelle Sutton!

Thanks to all who entered the contest. I'll be getting Michelle's book off to her soon.


Saturday, April 18, 2009

Win A Copy of Sara Mills's Miss Match Right Here!


As promised, I am promoting two novels by Sara Mills, a fellow ACFW member. About two weeks ago, Sara's husband suddenly died of a massive heart attack, leaving her a widow with three young kids.

No one is prepared for this at this time of their lives. Many of us at ACFW are rallying to get the word out about Sara's books. If anyone needs book sales right now it's Sara. And what's even better is that we're not asking anyone to buy a book that isn't a good read.

If you like mystery, stories about female private eyes, stories set in the 40s in New York City and points beyond, then these books are for you!

Her first book, Miss Fortune, came out last September about the time of the ACFW Conference and her second book, Miss Match, is being released right about now. I am currently reading Miss Fortune and I have to say -- I LOVE IT!

I just happen to have an extra copy of Miss Match and will be giving it away this coming week through a drawing. Below is an interview fellow ACFW board member, Cara Putman, did with Sara prior to this tragic occurance in her life. At the end of the interview click on the link and leave a comment. I will gather all comments on Monday April 27th and will pull a name from the bunch for a copy of your free book.

Note that you can click on the links next to each book's picture and it will take you directly to the Christianbook.com website where they are featuring the books at a discount!

Here's Cara's interview:

These books are so good, I wish I'd written them. How did you set the stage to capture that gritty PI feel without being dark?

I find that a lot of PI stories are gritty and dark, focusing on the worst of the humanity, and while I wanted the Allie Fortune mysteries to be exciting and tension-filled I didn’t want them to be stark and hopeless.

One of the things I tried to do to counteract the darkness was to give Allie a multi-layered life. She has cases, relationships, friends and family, all of which I hope combine to make the stories textured, rich and full of life.

Allie is a character I'd love to have coffee with. What did she teach you while you wrote these books?

Allie was a great character to write. One of the things I learned from her was that human relationships (man/woman, mother/daughter, friends) are complicated and full of unspoken rules and expectations. Allie is a rule-breaker at heart and it complicates her life on a regular basis. One of the storylines I loved most is Allie’s relationship with her mother and how it grows and changes and how it’s shaped her.

Another dimension of Allie’s character that really taught me a lot was her willingness to do whatever was needed to help those she loves. There is no price on that kind of friendship and it’s a characteristic I’d like to see more of in myself. Okay I admit it, I’ve got a bit of a friend-crush on Allie. LOL.

One last question: If you could be anywhere in the world right now, where would that be and who would you take with you?

If I could go anywhere right now I’d head to Monterey, California (I’m writing a book set there right now) and I’d plant myself on the beach with a notebook, writing my story as the waves crashed. Sounds like my idea of heaven on earth. There’s something about the wind-shaped Cypress trees and the crash of the surf in Monterey that calls to me. I don’t know why, it just is.







469260: Miss Fortune, Allie Fortune Mystery Series #1Miss Fortune, Allie Fortune Mystery Series #1

By Sara Mills / Moody Publishers


In 1947 Allie Fortune is the only female private investigator in New York City, but she's kept awake at night by a mystery of her own: her fianci disappeared in the war and no one knows if he's still alive. Until Allie finds out, she will have no peace. When there's a knock on her office door at four in the morning, Allie suspects trouble as usual, and Mary Gordon is no exception. Mary claims someone is following her, that her apartment has been ransacked, and that she's been shot at, but she has no idea why any of this is happening. Allie takes the case, and in the process discovers an international mystery that puts her own life in danger.

Meanwhile, the FBI is working the case as well, and she is partnered up with an attractive, single agent who would be perfect for her under other circumstances-if only she knew whether her fianci was still alive.





469270: Miss Match, Allie Fortune Mystery Series #2Miss Match, Allie Fortune Mystery Series #2

By Sara Mills / Moody Publishers


FBI agent Jack O'Connor receives a letter from Maggie, a woman he used to love, saying she's in trouble in Berlin. The FBI refuses to get involved, so Jack asks Allie Fortune to help him investigate. Allie and Jack pose as a missionary couple who want to bring orphans back to the United States.

A child finds important documents that everyone in the city - Soviets and allies alike - want for themselves. Maggie refuses to tell Jack what the documents are, saying if things go wrong, they are better off not knowing. Through the course of the search, Allie's past is brought back to her, half a world away from home.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Where Have I Been??

When I looked at the date on my last blog entry, I nearly fell over. March 2nd! Over a month ago. Can I just say that the month of March went by faster than the speed of lightning?

The first week found me working like mad to get all things done that needed doing before the next week when I headed to Denver for the ACFW Operating Board and Advisory Board meetings. You think Denver and you think mountains, beautiful scenery, seeing friends and family. NOT!

We secluded ourselves in our hotel from morning to night both Friday and Saturday for meetings. By the time we emerged on Friday night to go to Outback for dinner, it was dark. Not exactly helpful for viewing mountains. Oh, and said mountains were barely visible the day I arrived thanks to haze. Saturday we were so tired by the end of that day's meetings we didn't even go out for dinner. Instead we ate at the hotel.

So, at 7 a.m. as the shuttle taking me to the airport made a turn to the west I gasped. At the time I was on the cell with a friend and he said, "What's wrong." I said, "Nothing at all. I'm seeing the mountains for the first time and here I am leaving." And what a sight they were. All snow-capped and glistening in the morning sun. I was able to see them right up until my plane turned east for takeoff. I kept my eyes pinned on Long's Peak, near the site of Estes Park where nearly two years ago I attended the Colorado Christian Writers Conference. It was an hello and good-bye moment.


Once back from Denver it was business as usual, getting the minutes for both meetings written and then the regular minutes for all the board discussions that month completed. In addition, the end of the month saw the end of the scholarship applications and the judging began. We had clear winners of all available scholarships and it was my job to contact them and coordinate all that is involved, including letting the other 53 applicants know they didn't make it.

April started out with just as much of a bang, and here it is already the middle of the month.

Stay tuned. I'm about to post an interview with an up and coming new author, Sara Mills. I'm having a drawing too!

Monday, March 02, 2009

CFBA Blog Tour: Love Finds You in Humble, TX by Anita Higman

The last time I was in Humble, Texas was when I attended the 2003 ACFW conference which was held at the Marriott Hotel at Bush International Airport.

Picture this. My friend dropped me off at O'Hare and drove off. I went to the curbside check-in and realized after my large suitcase was processed, that all I had to carry on the plane was my purse. Where was my bag with my meds, my makeup, my proposals and one-sheets? (This was before there was a restriction on liquids, etc.). I'd left my carry-on bag on the floor of the front passenger seat, and it was now on the way back to my friend's house. She had no cell phone to call, and I was stuck.

Upon arrival at the hotel in Houston, I arranged with the desk for the shuttle to take me to a nearby Walgreen's where I could get my prescriptions and buy some makeup so I wouldn't scare the attendees half to death LOL. Two other authors ended up riding with me, and the shuttle took us to a small shopping center in a suburb adjacent to the airport. The name of the burb? Humble, Texas.

I didn't realize there was anything more to Humble than the strip mall we went to, but I've learned there is thanks to Anita Higman's contribution to Summerside Press's Love Finds You line. Summerside has a fun concept of locating uniquely named towns and asking authors to use them as settings for their contemporary romance stories. If you haven't yet picked up one of these books, don't delay. Not only are they fun, but it's a great opporutnity to learn something about a town you might never have known.




ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Anita Higman is the author of 24 books including fiction, nonfiction, childrens books and plays. Among her published romance titles are Larkspur Dreams, The Love Song and Castles in the Air, all coauthored with Janice A. Thompson. Her mysteries include Another Stab at Life and Another Hour to Kill. Anita is a member of ACFW and the Christian Humor Writers Group and she has been recognized for her involvement in literacy programs. A Texan for the past 24 years, Anita has coauthored an awardwinning book about her home state, A Tribute to Early Texas. She lives with her family near Houston.


Other books by Anita are Another Hour To Kill and Another Stab At Life

ABOUT THE BOOK:

The Abernathy sisters. One is bright, one is beautiful, but both are in love with the same man. One sister will let go of love, and like a kite string untethering in the wind, the choice will undo each of their lives. What will it take to heal their hearts, for love to find them in a place called Humble, Texas?

Trudie Abernathy is a little inelegant, and she's never had much luck in love. To make matters worse, her thirtieth birthday is fast approaching and her sister, Lane, has decided to treat her to a makeover and a few blind dates. Trudie is about to protest, but then she meets the kind and handsome Mason Williamson. In spite of her humble manner, Mason finds her attractive, funny and smart. But Lane inexplicably pushes Trudie away from Mason and toward the other willing suitors. The makeover has transformed Trudie from ordinary into stunning, but she isnt sure how she feels about all the attention from men. Can Trudie stay true to her humble self and find her hearts desire in the process?

If you would like to read the first chapter of Love Finds You In Humble Texas, go HERE

Watch the trailer for this book:



Buy it at Amazon!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Book Review: The Renewal by Terri Kraus


I'm one of those HGTV junkies (House and Garden Channel), so when my friend Terri Kraus asked for influencers for her new book, The Renewal, the second book in her Restoration series, I raised my hand. As a professional interior designer, Terri knows her stuff and I was excited to read the story she crafted in such a setting as restoring older buildings to their prime.

Leslie Ruskin, a single mom looking for a new start, comes to Butler, Pennsylvania and purchases an old structure known as the Midlands Building. A place with good bones in need of some TLC. She sees it as a place to put down roots with her five-year-old daughter Ava.

At the same time, Jack Kenyon is looking to make a new start with his one-man construction business. He's got some skeletons in his closet he'd prefer keeping there and figures starting over in a new town he'll be able to do that. But God has other plans.

When Leslie hires Jack to help renovate one of the apartments in her new building, neither realizes how God will work on these two lonely souls, restoring them while they restore the building.

Terri tells the story in the manner of storytellers of old. With the turn of each page more facets are revealed and woven into the fabric of a whole through the intermingling of the townspeople both Leslie and Jack meet and how, as the story progresses, the issues that drive them are brought out. The spiritual arc also weaves itself into the story like a golden thread of hope, drawing both Jack and Leslie to a place where they are finally able to trust in God and in each other.

Along with the story, I found the setting of an old building in need of restoration a wonderful parallel to the lives in need of the same attention.

This is a great story to curl up with a cup of tea and spend an afternoon devouring. You can pick it up at Amazon or Christian Book Distributors.