Tuesday, December 19, 2006

A Christmas Speculation, Part 2

Joseph crouched next to Mary’s prone form. The babe lay nestled in the crook of her arm, either content in her warmth or unaware of his meager surroundings. Joseph knew not which, only that such circumstances were unbefitting a king.

All because of Augustus’ vile decree. They’d barely made it to Bethlehem in time for Mary to give birth. Now his wife lay in a bed of straw and a trough would serve as the babe’s first bed.

He stared at the child—at Jesus in awestruck wonder, then hung his head in shame. Had he failed the boy already? Had he failed Mary? More importantly, had he failed God? He’d almost walked away when he first learned of Mary’s pregnancy, yet God had given him a second chance. Would God give him a third?

Joseph felt Mary’s hand on his cheek, recognized her jasmine scent. He lifted his head. What would he see reflected back in her eyes?

Mary searched his face. A tender smile curved her lips. Understanding and love saturated her stare. “All is well, Joseph, and as it should be.”

Throat tight with his gratitude, he could only nod. Such trust! No wonder God had chosen Mary for such an honor as carrying the Son of God. That he could be half as worthy.

But why him? What did God see in a simple carpenter like Joseph? He leaned over and kissed Mary’s forehead, then did the same to Jesus. As his lips touched the downy skin of the babe, Joseph’s heart surged with love—a love like nothing he’d ever experienced.

He knew then he’d do anything for the tiny baby. He’d sacrifice everything, even himself if need be. Everything he had and was, he gladly gave to the babe put in his charge—to his “son.”

To Jesus.

All fear vanished.

All shame fled.

All trepidation over the future left in the wake of peace.

And Joseph knew all would be well.

Just as Mary said.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

An Amazing Thought


I read the most amazing description in the Upper Room devotional this week. A quote from Peter Larson:

"Despite our efforts to keep Him out, God intrudes. The life of Jesus is bracketed by two impossibilities: a virgin's womb and an empty tomb. Jesus entered our world through a door marked 'No Entrance' and left through a door marked 'No Exit.'"
He is a God of impossibilities, of new beginnings, of extreme faithfulness, and magnificent love. And all we are called to do is to embrace Him.

Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 10, 2006

A Christmas Speculation

“You can still change your mind.”

He looked at his father, the embodiment of love. "You know I won’t. There’s too much at stake.”

Mind focused on the unseen, his father stared past him. “It’s a wondrous plan.”

As his son, he ached to know the complete picture, but he trusted his father emphatically. Time had proven his wisdom and faithfulness. “Is it time to go yet?”

His father met his gaze. “Soon. Everything’s almost in place. Donkey’s aren’t the most efficient form of transportation.”

He smiled at his father’s humor. “”Maybe the next model will move faster.”

His father chuckled, then turned somber. “Next time it will be a pony that carries you.”

“I’m glad to do this.” He glanced away. “I only wish…”

“Yes?” A knowing look graced his father’s glowing face.

“I dread the separation.”

His father approached him, his eyes full of love…and pain. “If there were any other way…”

He nodded. “I know. That’s why I’m going. It is a wondrous plan.”

Passion filled his father’s voice. “Wait until you see the ending.”

“I’m ready to go now.”

His father settled a hand on his cheek. “I’m always with you, my son.”

He embraced his father one last time. He’d eventually return, but in the meantime he cherished the moment. He stepped back and waited.

His father seemed to brim with pride as he lifted his hand. “This is my son, with whom I am pleased.”

Chest swelling with his own pride, he smiled again at his father. “This my father, with whom I have the honor to serve.”

In a blink, darkness surrounded him. He no longer could see his father, but he did hear the wail of a baby.

And realized it was his own.

Monday, December 04, 2006

This and That

A few tidbits for you:
The winner of Calm, Cool, & Adjusted is Heather Tipton! Yay Heather!

Now about a book...
I recently finished Saint by Ted Dekker. I have to say, I was chomping at the bit to read this book after I read chatper one at the end of Showdown. That first chapter is a grabber, a real hook you and make you want to know the rest kind of read. Unfortunately, I've now finished the book, and I'm wondering what happened.

The punch and intensity of the beginning seemed to get muddled in ambiguity and haziness. I love the premise of the book—a mind-manipulated assassin—but I'm wondering if the strength of the story got watered down by Dekker's attempt to tie it to the Showdown Project, which connects to his books Black, Red, and White.

Aside from a one-line POV shift in once scene, a character placement error in another, and a few missing words, the writing was strong, Ted Dekker style. I guess I just didn't feel like the ending held together well enough to be satisfying.

The characters were basically strong, although the antagonist was a bit two-dimensional. The hero seemed a bit whimpy at times emotionally, and the heroine didn't seem well defined. I had a hard time figuring out what made her tick.

Thing is, I love Dekker's books. I'll admit, I did get a little frustrated with the Circle series (Black, Red, White), but his message was stellar. Showdown had a sacrificial message as well, but perhaps he hung too much weight on that to carry through this book.

Don't get me wrong, Saint had some pretty awesome moments though, and you can be sure I'll be gearing up to read his next book, Skin. This one also has a killer first chapter at the end of Saint. I just hope it will follow through and deliver the punch it promises.

Friday, December 01, 2006




It is December 1st, time for the FIRST Day Blog Tour! (Join our alliance! Click the button!) The FIRST day of every month we will feature an author and their latest book's FIRST chapter!

This month's feature author is:

BRYAN DAVIS

and his latest book:

Eye of the Oracle

Bryan Davis is the author of the four book Dragons in Our Midst series, a contemporary/fantasy blend for young people. The first book, Raising Dragons, was released in July of 2004. The second book, The Candlestone, followed in October. Circles of Seven debuted in April of 2005, followed in November by Tears of a Dragon.

Bryan is the author of several other works including The Image of a Father (AMG) and Spit and Polish for Husbands (AMG), and four books in the Arch Books series: The Story of Jesusí Baptism and Temptation, The Day Jesus Died, The Story of the Empty Tomb (over 100,000 sold), and Jacobís Dream. Bryan lives in Winter Park, Florida with his wife, Susie, and their children. Bryan and Susie have homeschooled their four girls and three boys.

To read more about Bryan and his books, visit the
Dragons in our Midst Website or visit Bryan's blog.


Eye of the Oracle

by Bryan Davis

Dragons in our Midst - Prequel
Oracles of Fire - Volume 1

~1~

The Seeds of Eden

Angling into a plunging dive, the dragon blasted a fireball at Lilith and Naamah. The two women dropped to the ground just as the flaming sphere sizzled over their heads. Naamah swatted her hair, whipping away stinging sparks that rained down from the fireball's tail.

With a flurry of wings and a gust of wind, the dragon swooped low. As razor sharp claws jabbed at the women, Naamah lunged to the side, and Lilith rolled through the grass. A single claw caught Lilith's long black dress, ripping it as the dragon lifted toward the sky.

Naamah jumped to her feet and helped Lilith up. The dragon made a sharp turn in the air, and, with its jagged-toothed maw stretching open, charged back toward them.

Lilith pushed a trembling hand into the pocket of her dress. "Only one hope left," she said, panting. Pulling out a handful of black powder, she tossed it over her head. "Give me darkness!" she cried.

The powder spread out into a cloud and surrounded the women. Naamah coughed and spat. The noxious fumes blinded her and coated her throat with an acrid film. A hand grabbed her wrist and jerked her down to her knees just as another flaming cannon ball passed over their heads.

"Crawl!" Lilith ordered.

For the rest of chapter one, go to FIRST and enjoy!


Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Missing the Presence of a Friend


The last week has been such a blessing to me. Best friend Heather Tipton came and spent Thanksgiving with me and my family. Little did I realize the week would turn into a vacation—a much needed vacation—for me as well. We ate turkey together, bought a Christmas tree, and transformed our home from a cozy fall decor to full blown Christmas red and green. I loved sharing all of it with her. I loved sharing my family with her. I loved sharing details of my life with her. And we laughed—a lot.

Today she went home, and I'm keenly feeling her absence. Amazing how we can be comforted by the presence of another. I read again recently about the disciples after the death of Christ and it suddenly struck me how bereft they must have felt at the loss of their Rabbi and friend. They'd spent three years with Jesus.

Three years.

Three years of sharing a common goal. Three years of learning at his feet. Three years of friendship with the greatest friend of all. Then in one day, He was gone. As far as the disciples could see, they'd lost their best friend, their teacher, their mentor...their hope.

I know the gap I feel at this moment, yet its poignancy is diminised in knowing I can talk to my friend on the phone, that I will see her next year sometime (I better!), that she's alive and well—just not here. I can barely imagine the grief these men experienced. The huge (and I mean HUGE) gap left by Christ's presence.

No wonder they went back to what they knew. Their grief had to be enormous. They did the only thing they could at that moment. Fish. (see John 21:3) The comfort of the known—no matter how miniscule—undoubtedly was the only thing keeping them from overwhelming despair. I can imagine Peter's thoughts as he returned to the familiar. His hands doing what they'd long remembered. The feel of the roping, the flexing of muscle as he tossed the net over the side. The pull of the water, the repetive motion as he sent the empty net back to the deep. Did he notice he caught nothing? Did he care?

I can imagine his thoughts. Had the last three years meant nothing? Had he been deceived? What did he do now? And I can imagine the enemy feeding these desparaging moments with hopeless thoughts of failure and waste. Just as he labored in vain to catch fish, Peter's thoughts could have turned to seeing his life as a labor in vain as well. He'd lost everything.

And in the midst of their pain and despair, Christ appeared to them—real and alive. In his third appearance to the disciples, He proved his presence as He prepared breakfast and dined with them (implied). He'd leave no doubts in the minds of his disciples that He was present just as He'd always been. Yet now the circumstances had changed. After Pentecost, Christ would be with them forever and always. Not as they had come to expect, but indwelt and filled with the presence of the one they'd come to so revere. No matter where they went, Christ would be with them always. Time and distance no longer had any relevance. Nor did death.

I can't imagine my life without my friends. Especially those closest to me. And I especially can't imagine my life without Christ. The thought is almost inconceivable. The more I learn of him, the more I hunger to know and love him better.

Distance may separate us from our friends, but the bond is still there, however tenuous. And just as sin once separated us from God, Jesus became our bond. And He's always, always, right there with us.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Calm, Cool, and Adjusted


This week, the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance is posting about Calm, Cool, and Adjusted by Kristin Billerbeck


Win a copy of Kristin's latest book!
Leave a comment and tell me your favorite way to relax.
The most creative one wins!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: (From the CBFA Blog)

Kristin Billerbeck was born in Redwood City, California. She went to San Jose State University and majored in Advertising, then worked at the Fairmont Hotel in PR, a small ad agency as an account exec, and then,
she was thrust into the exciting world of shopping mall marketing. She got married, had four kids, and started writing romance novels until she found her passion: Chick Lit.

ABOUT THE BOOK:

Calm, Cool, and Adjusted is the third book in the Spa Girls Novels.

Billerbeck did a great job with the characterization of Poppy, a quirky Christian chiropractor who is a health nut. I'm talking real NUT. She is so obsessed with health that she forgets about living. When she finally realizes that she is over the edge obsessed, she doesn't know how to stop herself.

Best friends since Johnny Depp wore scissors for hands, "The Spa Girls" live very separate lives, but stay in touch with routine visits to California's Spa Del Mar.

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.

BIG FAT JUICY DETAIL: The winner of Scoop is Connie!

Happy Thanksgiving!!!

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Gott ist immer treu...

The title is German for "God is ever faithful." Or translated literally, "God is always true."

I learned of God's faithfulness while we were living in Switzerland. Our daughters attended the local school in the small community where we lived. Unfortunately, they weren't readily accepted and our oldest became a target of scorn and ridicule. There, they call it mugging. I find the term quite appropriate for what she endured.

The days of this torment stretched into weeks, then into months. I watched my bright, caring young girl become closed in and depressed. Never had I felt so helpless as a mother. Every avenue I pursued ended in a dead end, until I had no choice but to completely—and I mean completely—trust God with her well being.

That's when I began to learn of God's faithfulness. I knew the word in English, but in my small group, we spoke mostly German. I struggled to find the correct word to express to the dear ladies I prayed with. With a dictionary and comparing Scriptures in German to English, we descovered the German word for faithfulness is "treu."

Looks so similar to our English word "true," doesn't it? And that's its first definition—true. God is true. Our time in Europe wasn't easy, and I wouldn't want to go through it again, but the lesson learned is invaluable and one I've recently appreciated anew. Here are my observations.

  • God keeps his word.
  • He never vascilates.
  • He is incapable of deception.
  • He, above all people, can be depended upon completely.
  • No one can promise me what He does.
  • When I am at my worst, He remains by my side.
  • And when things get bad, He's right there going through the muck with me.

Nothing, nothing, no thing can take his love from us, nor his truth. He is truth so there can be no separation. He is the one and only perfect truth in this world. Even after several years, the German translation is the one that comes to me first. I find that so fitting, because that's when I truly learned of God's faithfulness.

Circumstances recently played a scary hand for my family and me. Amazingly, it was the time in Switzerland that gave me the strength I desperately needed. I knew no matter what, my daughter would be okay. God had her in his hands. And He had me. All I had to do was trust what I knew to be true.

Gott ist immer treu. God is ever faithful.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Imagine This...

Have you ever found yourself in a most unlikely situation? The day started out fairly normal, but then by, say midday, you're suddenly so far away from normal, you have no idea how you got there? What would you think first? Where did I go wrong? What could I have done differently?

What if you left one day to go to work and wound up in a completely different state but don't remember how you got there? What would you do first? Call a loved one to see if he or she even noticed your absence or call your place of employment to save your job?

Pretend you're the best friend you had in elementary school. Now imagine where that person is right now. Based upon what you remember, what would have been the most likely path for him or her to have taken in life? Least unlikely?

Think of your spouse or a close friend. What's the one thing that he or she could do that would surprise you the most? Hurt you the most? Please you the most? What's the one thing you could do that would surprise, hurt, or please this person?

Now imagine you're in a room with a complete stranger and that stranger tells you he knows one thing about you that you don't even know. What would you ask first? What does he know or how does he—someone you've never met—know something about you?

What would happen if you took each of these situations and envisioned them in a completely different way? Imagine the complete opposite of what you first came up with. You might just wind up with a story in the making or the beginnings of a headache.

Welcome to the world of a writer.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Scoop by Rene Gutteridge


This week, the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance is posting about Scoop by Rene Gutteridge. and looks to be a great read! I'm looking forward to digging into this one myself. BONUS: Be sure to leave a comment. Winner gets a copy!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

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 (WaterBrook Press).

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.

ABOUT THE BOOK:

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 norms...like 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.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

A Most Interesting Marketing Approach

Stephen and Janet Bly are putting together a rather innovative marketing promotion for Stephen's new book, One Step Over the Border. I'll be very interested to see how well their "Have You Seen My Juanita?" campaign does. The idea looks very promising. Check it out.

AUTHOR TAKES ON CHARACTER’S QUEST

Stephen Bly of Winchester, Idaho, award winning author of 100 books, has so gotten into his newest character’s life, that he’s caught up in the search to find Juanita, the girl of rodeo cowboy Hap Bowman’s dreams. “An idiot obsession,” Hap’s roping partner, Laramie, chides. But Hap and Steve keep looking anyway. And so does Bly’s family, friends and fans. He’s listed her description on the home page of www.OneStepOvertheBorder.com: raven dark hair, dark eyes, has a petite birthmark the shape of a horse’s head under her right ear. She lived in sight of the Rio Grande and spent time with 12-year-old Hap Bowman in Central Wyoming, summer of 1988 and is 31 years old now.

Bly’s hoping to see “Have you seen my Juanita?” signs pop up everywhere—on websites and message boards, in waiting rooms and bulletin boards, on car bumpers and t-shirts, at rest stops and stuck to magnetic surfaces. “Maybe we really will find her,” Bly says, “If so, she’ll be featured on our website for sure.”

One Step Over the Border is a romp, a road adventure. It's CowboyLit that has inspired a blog by Hap Bowman, a Juanita Sightings page, and an audio poetry reading. Bly’s three sons are working on a video for the site and they’ve gotten the whole family involved in the production. There’s even a free “Have You Seen My Juanita?” Search Kit ready to send to those who e-mail cowboy Hap at HapBowman@yahoo.com with their snail mail address.

Bly’s no stranger to getting heavily involved into his characters. In Paperback Writer a distracted detective rides along with his author, serving as alter ego and companion in troubles on the road. “Life imitates art, they say,” Bly muses. “I care so much for my characters I find it hard to let them go. But also my desire is for the reader to find their own real life discoveries, to be encouraged in their own struggles, by the vicarious ‘entering into’ the quests of my fictional characters.”

The story of Hap’s search to find his Juanita, in the book One Step Over the Border, releases June 2007, by Center Street/Hachette Book Group, USA. Pre-orders are now available through www.blybooks.com and soon will be via www.amazon.com or your favorite online bookstore.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Finally!

Nailing down a teenager isn't easy! I had the artiste look at your wonderful suggestions. Rachel's favorites are:

Blue Monday - suggested by Mir

Confliction - suggested by Robin


Rachel will keep these two in mind as she continues to discern the message within her painting. LOL! Thank you to everyone for the suggestions.

Looks like Mir, Lynn, and Alison get books. (Yes, decided I'd throw one more in there.) Ladies, send me your address info so I can get those out to you.

Hope you all are having a great weekend. I'm in computer transition again. Hubby got this brilliant idea to sell my G5 Powermac and my Titanium Powerbook to condense to a Macbook Pro. The best part will be having one computer and not having to switch back and forth since my larger monitor (which I need for my design work) can plug into the new laptop. So, if you are in the market for a used, computer let me know.

On the more interesting side, Betsy St. Armant has just sold a book to The Wild Rose Press. Isn't that great news? I'm thrilled to death for this cute dynamo of talent.

Congratulations, Betsy!!!

And finally, I'm happy to announce the completion of Manna Reign, my latest manuscript. I can't tell you how good it felt to ship that thing to my agent Friday. That book has taken over a year to write because of research and other detours to add or edit the other two books I've written. I think this new one might have a shot at wearing a book jacket. We'll see...

Friday, October 27, 2006

Name the Painting

This painting is my daughter's latest creation. Unfortunately, it lacks a title and darling daughter Rachel is asking for help coming up with one. So, just a little deviation from the normal fiction fun, we will make a contest out of naming her work of art.

So here's the fun. Leave comments with suggestions for titles. Hey, there's no pass or fail to this. Just have fun and tell us what you see. I will hold a drawing next Wednesday and two lucky people will win a book—either a signed copy of Brandilyn Collin's Violet Dawn or a copy of Janice Thompson's book The Wedding Caper.

Even if you don't want the books (be sure to let me know), leave suggestions. All ideas are welcome. I'll also announce if Rachel uses one of the titles. If one of the suggestions is chosen, that person just might receive a tasty surprise! So have fun!

Thursday, October 26, 2006

CFBA Review: THE ELECTION

This week, the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance is reviewing Jerome Teel's latest book, The Election..

ABOUT THE AUTHOR :

Jerome Teel is a graduate of Union University, where he received his JD, cum laude, from the Ole Miss School of Law. He is actively involved in his church, local charities, and youth sports.

He has always loved legal-suspense novels and is a political junkie. Jerome and his wife, Jennifer, have three children-Brittney, Trey, and Matthew-and reside in Tennessee, where he practices law and is at work on a new novel.

The book: THE ELECTION

They seek ultimate power.
Nothing can stand in their way.

Ed Burke has waited a lifetime to become president of the United States. He's not about to let his nemesis, Mac Foster, stop him now...especially when he's sold his soul for the Oval Office.

Claudia Duval has lived a rough life. And finally, things have turned around for her after meeting the wealthy Hudson Kinney. But is all what is seems?

When a prominent citizen is murdered in Jackson, Tennessee, attorney Jake Reed doesn't want to know the truth. He just wants to get his client off. But as he investigates, he uncovers a sinister scheme. A scheme that would undermine the very democracy of America...and the freedom of the entire world.

The Election, by Jerome Teel, is a fast-paced, highly readable mystery filled with suspense, intrigue, and political conspiracy. Teel skillfully weaves together themes of faith, family, suffering, and providence in a way that not only compels, but enlightens."
David S. Dockery-President, Union University

Friday, October 20, 2006

NEWS! NEWS! NEWS!

Hey there, fiction-freaks and all you other readers and writers. Here's some news for you:

Announcement #1: Dear friend and amazing crit partner, Robin Miller (Caroll) has sold her first book!

WAY TO GO, ROBIN! CONGRATULATIONS!!!
(The crowd roars! The stands are filled with the shouts and stamping of those who adore her, celebrating her new success!)

Robin is an amazing woman. All I can say is, "FINALLY!" She's worked so hard for this and her future publisher is lucky to have such an awesomely talented and hardworking author.


Announcement #2: Click here for Ted Dekker's Thr3e movie trailer. Can't wait to see this. The book is awesome and the movie looks like it will be great too. Should be out in January 2007.


Announcement #3: This week, the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance is posting about Karen Kingsbury's latest book, Like Dandelion Dust.

About the Author:

USA Today and New York Times bestselling author Karen Kingsbury is America's #1 inspirational novelist. There are nearly 5 million copies of her award-winning books in print, including more than two million copies sold in the past year. Karen has written more than 30 novels, nine of which have hit #1 on national lists, including award-winning Oceans Apart, One Tuesday Morning, Beyond Tuesday Morning, the Redemption Series and Firstborn Series, and several other bestsellers, one of which was the basis for a CBS Movie-of-the-Week and Gideon's Gift, which is currently in production as a major theatrical release for Christmas 2007.

Karen lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband, Don, and their six children, three of whom are adopted from Haiti.

About the Book:


A PEACEFUL TOWN...
AN IDYLLIC FAMILY...
A PHONE CALL THAT THREATENS THEM ALL.

Jack and Molly Campbell enjoyed an idyllic life (great house in a fancy neighborhood, high-paying job, and a beautiful little boy) in their small hometown outside Atlanta with their adopted 4-year-old, Joey. Then they receive the phone call that shatters their world: a social worker delivers the news that Joey's biological father has been released from prison and is ready to start lifeover with his son. (It's discovered that Joey's birth mother forged the signature of Joey's birth father, making it a fraudulent adoption.) When a judge rules that Joey must be returned to his father (a man who cannot separatee love and violence), the Campbells, in a silent haze of grief and utter disbelief, watch their son pick a dandelion and blow the feathery seeds into the wind.

Struggling with the dilemma of following the law, their hearts, and what they know to be morally right, the Campbells find that desperation leads to dangerous thoughts. What if they can devise a plan? Take Joey and simply disappear....LIKE DANDELION DUST.

Review by Mimi Pearson

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Bailey's on Scenes and Beans

Go check out Bailey's post on Scenes and Beans about her encounter with a celebrity! What a tale! That lady has some guts. I want to be like Bailey when I grow up. ;-)

Have a blessed week!

Friday, October 13, 2006

Holy Vessels

My women's ministry group at church is studying Daniel by Beth Moore. Once again, Beth puts together an amazing study. Believing God has always been my favorite of her studies, but Daniel may usurp its place.

Doing this study is making me so aware of how much our culture reflects that Babylonian mentality. And never has it been more evident with what's going on with the Republican Party. Foley just makes my skin crawl. And those who placed his political value over the welfare of these pages are just as guilty.

I read an article today about China drafting a law to empower unions and end labor abuse. Seems like it would be such a good thing for its people. The abuse there is unbelievable. Yet "American and foreign corporations have lobbied against it by hinting that they may build fewer factories" (New York Times/Oct.12). Again the bottom line is placed above human welfare. And my dad wonders why I don't like to watch the news.

Isaiah 47 is about the fall of Babylon. Verses eight and ten describe this mentality: "I am and there is none besides me." They reached the point of no return when Belshazzer defiled the temple goblets by using them to worship their own gods. Talk about a smack in God's face. No wonder He sent a message. The writing was truly on the wall (Daniel 5). God had had enough, and Belshazzer and the Babylonian Empire fell that very night.

I'm amazed at how symbolic the book of Daniel is, about keeping the holy undefiled. Even Daniel understood this when he refused to eat the royal wine and food. But it's just food, right? No, it represented the indulgance of a culture devoted to worshiping themselves. Daniel wanted no part of it. He recognized that eating that food would begin his absorbtion into a self-worshiping culture. He resisted and God honored him for it. Daniel took what the Babylonians considered to be "less" and wound up healthier. He kept himself holy.

This weeks lesson pulls this all together and points to ourselves as God's holy vessels. We are the vessels containing His Holy Spirit, and the enemy works very hard to defile these vessels—us.

And we let him.

We allow our bodies to be used to worship so many false gods—money, sex, youth. I had to really sit and think about this, apply it to myself. Because I know I am NOT innocent. God is showing me where I have used His Holy Vessel improperly, where the enemy has defiled me, how I've allowed myself to be taken into bondage. Yet in all this his mercy is so great. His only desire is to see his holy vessel washed clean and made holy again.

Those who love him are his holy vessels, no matter how unholy we might become. There is always a way back. The enemy only has as much power as we give him, because He who is in us is stronger than he who is in the world.

I'm ready for holiness again. How about you?

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

It's all about me...well mostly

Great title, huh? Well, actually there is this interview that's all about me. LOL! So, if you want to know how I answered questions like:
  • When and how did you know God had called you to write for Him?
  • In your opinion, what is the primary role of the fiction writer? Why?
Check out MaryAnn Diorio's blog for the answers.


BIG FAT JUICY SIDE NOTE: Check the scoop on Alison Strobel's book, Violette Between.

Alison Strobel graduated with a degree in elementary education, and in the summer of 2000 she moved from Chicago to southern California where she taught elementary school for three years. It was in Orange County that she met her husband, Daniel Morrow, and the story developed for her first novel, Worlds Collide.

Violette Between is a poinant story of a true artist. When the love of Violette's life, Saul suddenly died, she died too. Then she meets Christian, who also is morning the loss of a loved one.

As Violette and Christian begin to feel something that they both thought was impossible. Tragedy strikes again. Christian finds Violette on the floor of his waiting room, that she had been painting to look like a New York rooftop restaurant.

As Christian holds a vigil at her bedside, begging her to come back to him, Violette is in a coma, traveling to a place where she meets her beloved Saul. And she finds that she may not want to come back!

What would it be like to choose a place between the past and the present?

Friday, October 06, 2006

Book Winners and a Special Announcement

Hey there, fiction freaks. I say that affectionately. Especially since I'm one of them. Okay, first things first.

The winner of Violet Dawn is Shauna. Send me your info, girl, so I can get this book out to you!

The winner of Dark Hour is Cynthia Hickey. Now that's what I call a short path to a chuckle. Good job! Send me your info, Cindy.

Now for a very special announcement. Dun dun dun dun...

I HAVE AN AGENT!!! Woohooo! I've joined the ranks of some fine writers at Mortimer Literary Agency. I'm so excited to be working with Kelly Mortimer. She so passionate about her clients' work and getting them pubbed. I'm truly grateful she decided to sign me on, and to God for the doors He's opening.

So, there's the scoop. I'm neck deep trying to finish a manuscript that seemed to catch some interest. Guess we'll see what comes next.

I haven't talked about the conference yet. So much happened. I was blessed in so many ways. The best parts weren't what I expected them to be. Being able to serve other writers gave me such a sense of gratification. I realized I really do have a form of ministry, it's just not the kind you find in a church.

Camy and Robin did such a good job on the awards ceremony. Camy's Powerpoint presentation was awesome! Like being at the Emmy's. Everyone looked so nice. What an evening. And I got to hang with my amazing writing buds!

From left to right: Heather Tipton, Robin Miller, Me!, and Ronie Kendig

Have an awesome weekend!

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Dark Hour by Ginger Garrett



It is October 1st, time for the FIRST Day Blog Tour! (Join our alliance! Click the button!) The FIRST day of every month we will feature an author and their latest book's FIRST chapter!

This month's feature author is:

GINGER GARRETT

Guess what? The publicists for Ginger have agreed to a book contest for each FIRST member's blog post on Dark Hour! It is up to the member on how they judge which commenter wins the free book...so, comment and you might become a winner!

About the author:

Ginger Garrett is an acclaimed novelist and expert in ancient women's history.

Her first novel, Chosen, was recognized as one of the best five novels of the year by the Christian publishing industry. Ginger enjoys a diverse reader base and creates conversation between cultures.

In addition to her 2006 and 2007 novels about the most evil women in biblical history, she will release Beauty Secrets of the Bible (published by Thomas Nelson) in Summer 2007.

Ginger Garrett's Dark Hour delves into the biblical account of Jezebel's daughter and her attempt to end the line of David.

And now, a special Q&A with Ginger Garrett:

1.) First, tell us a bit about Dark Hour.

I was praying about what book to write after Chosen, and accidentally left my open Bible on the kitchen table. (A dangerous thing, since in my house, small children and large dogs routinely scavenge with dirty hands and noses for snacks!) As I walked past it, I saw a caption about someone named Athaliah and a mass murder. I stopped cold. I knew it was my story.

Athaliah was the daughter of Jezebel--a real woman in history--who tried to destroy all the descendents of King David in a massacre. God made a promise that a descendent of King David would always sit on the throne, and one day a Messiah would come from this line. If Athaliah succeeded, she would break the promise between God and the people, and destroy all hope for a Messiah.

One woman, her step-daughter, Jehoshebeth, defied her. She stole a baby during the massacre and hid him. Between them, the two women literally fought for the fate of the world.


2.) What drew you to write biblical fiction?

The similarities between the lives of ancient women and our lives. We get distracted by their "packaging," the way they dressed and lived, but at heart, our stories are parallel.


3.) How much time is spent researching the novel versus writing the novel?

Equal amounts, and I don't stop researching while I write. I have a historical expert, probably the best in the world in his field, review the manuscript and point out errors. The tough part is deciding when to ignore his advice. He pointed out that most everyone rode donkeys if they weren't in the military, but a key scene in the novel involves riding a horse to the rescue. It would have been anti-climatic to charge in on a donkey! :) So I ignored his advice on that one.


4.) Dark Hour takes its reader deep into the heart of palace intrigue and betrayals. Were parts of this book difficult to write?

I left out much of the darkest material I uncovered in research. It was important to show how violent and treacherous these times and this woman (Athaliah) could be, but I tried to be cautious about how to do it. The story was so powerful and hopeful--how one woman's courage in the face of evil saved the world--but the evil was depressing. I tried to move quickly past it. I wanted balance. Our heroine suffers and some wounds are not completely healed in her lifetime. That's true for us, too.


5.) What would modern readers find surprising about ancient women?

They had a powerful sense of the community of women. They also wore make-up: blush, glitter eyeshadow, lipstick, powder, and perfume! They drank beer with straws, and enjoyed "Fritos": ground grains, fried and salted. Many of our foods are the same today, but they loved to serve pate made from dried locusts, finely ground. Ugh!

Without further ado...here is the FIRST chapter of Dark Hour by Ginger Garrett. Judge for yourself if you'd like to read more!

(There is a prologue before chapter one regarding the birth of Jehoshebeth... Athaliah is not Jehoshebeth's biological mother.)


c h a p t e r O n e

Fifteen Years Later

HER BARU, the priest of divination, opened the goatskin bag and spread the wet liver along the floor, leaving a path of blood as he worked. Retrieving a wooden board and pegs from his other satchel, the satchel that held the knives and charms, he placed pegs in the board according to where the liver was marked by fat and disease. He turned the black liver over, revealing a ragged abscess.

Athaliah covered her mouth and nose with her hands to ward off the smell but would not turn way.

"Worms," her sorcerer said, not looking up. He placed more pegs in the board before he stopped, and his breath caught.

A freezing wind touched them, though they were in the heart of the palace in the heat of the afternoon. Athaliah cursed this cold thing that had found her again and watched the sorcerer search for the source of the chill before he returned to the divination. There was no source of wind here; in her chamber there was a bed, the table where her servants applied her cosmetics from ornate and lovely jars shaped like animals, a limestone toilet, and in the farthest corner so that no one at the chamber door would see it, her shrine. Statues of Baal, the storm god, and the great goddess Asherah, who called all life into being, stood among the panting lions carved from ivory and the oil lamps that burned at all hours. Here she placed her offerings of incense and oil, and here she whispered to the icy thing as it worshiped alongside her.

The baru watched as the flames in the shrine swayed, the chill moving among the gods. The flames stayed at an angle until one began to burn the face of Asherah. Her painted face began to melt, first her eyes running black and then her mouth flowing red. He gasped and stood.

"I must return to the city."

Athaliah stood, blocking him from his satchel.

"What does the liver say?"

"It is not good that I have come. We will work another day."

She did not move. He glanced at the door. Guards with sharp swords were posted outside.

"A dead king still rules here. You set yourself against him and are damned."

Athaliah sighed. "You speak of David."

The baru nodded and bent closer so no other thing would hear his whisper. "There is a prophecy about him, that one from the house of David will always reign in Judah. His light will never die."

"I fear no man, dead or living."

The baru continued to whisper, fear pushing into his eyes, making them wide. "It is not the man you must fear. It is his God."

To finish chapter one, click here.


BIG FAT JUICY SIDE NOTE: I'll announce a winner for Violet Dawn on Monday so you still have time to leave a comment. The winner for Dark Hour will be announced Friday. The commenter who makes me laugh the hardest gets a copy of this book, so have at it!

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Violet Dawn by Brandilyn Collins

True to her skill in suspense, Brandilyn Collins creates another breath stopping scenario with Violet Dawn, promising to make you wish they required seatbelts on living room furniture. The mental image of one of the first scenes will never leave this readers brain. Just fantastic imagery and writing. Great characters and vivid settings.

The local hangout in the book, Scenes and Beans, has now become a real live blog. Brandilyn has brought her characters to life with writers (sometimes several writing for one character) blogging in character. Ever tried something like this? Well, stay tuned. Your chance is coming up in a few months to audition. Keep circling the "blogosphere" for more details, or better yet, come back here!

Now, for a real treat. Leave a comment and you'll be eligible to win a signed copy of her book. Come on now, don't be afraid. This book is worth the pitter patter of speeding heartbeat or the audible gasp of a sudden startle. Just reading about Wilbur and his scar or S-man's wacky characters is worth the ride. And just think. It has a sequel...

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

I have pictures!!!

The ACFW Conference was AWESOME! Wanna see some pictures? Follow the link... What an amazing week we had. So much happened on so many levels—professionally, spiritually, emotionally. I'm still processing it and hope to blog more about it in the future. Thanks for checking in!

Friday, September 15, 2006

This, That and a Ritual

The Baileys are blogging today over at Scenes and Beans. Hop on over and take a look. Bailey's already talking about Christmas.

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance has a review posted of Squat by Taylor Field.

Fall is on the way—and I am lovin' it. I sit at my desk with the glass sliding door open next to me, feeling the cool breeze blow in. I have to wear slippers to keep my toes warm. It's glorious. Almost time to break out the fall table cloth in its rich hues of orange, burnt sienna, and brick red. In the center I place striped candles in a similar color scheme and a stuffed velvet pumpkin.

On the door I hang the fall wreath—a circle of delicate glass-like leaves in the full array of fall colors. The windows stay open, the down comforter goes back into the duvet for those chilly nights, and my favorite afgan will soon be back on the couch. My fireplace waits patiently for the first blazing fire soon to come.

It's all about promise and hope—of things to come. This is my ritual to welcome fall, this glorious time of year God created to herald a more precious coming. Christmas, the birth of our Saviour.

What's your favorite ritual and what are you waiting for?

Thursday, September 07, 2006

A New Location

In case you're interested, C.R.A.P. (The Christian Terminological Inexactitude Writers Assocation) has moved to a new addy due to some unforseeable "sewage." Make a note of it...if you dare.

BIG FAT JUICY SIDE NOTE: Did you know it's only two weeks until the first day of fall? Can't you just feel it in the air? I can, and I am sooooooooo ready for the change. Of season that is.

Monday, September 04, 2006

A Book Winner and Squat

The lucky winner of a copy of DiAnn Mill's book, Lanterns and Lace, is M. C. Pearson. Congratulations Mimi! Now a little treat for you fiction hounds:


September has started (who knew?) and it's time for the FIRST Day Blog Tour! (Join our alliance! Click the button!) The FIRST day of every month we will feature an author and their latest book's FIRST chapter!

This month's feature author is:
Taylor Field

"We live in a squat. We don't know squat. We don't have squat. We don't do squat. We don't give a squat. People say we're not worth squat."

Taylor Field has worked since 1986 in the inner city of New York where he is pastor of East Seventh Baptist Church/Graffiti Community Ministries. He holds a M.Div. from Princeton and Ph.D. from Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary. Among his previous books is the award-winning Mercy Streets. Field and his family live in New York, New York.

If you want to know more, please visit The SQUAT Website!

To order Squat, click HERE.

Author interview contact is Andrea Irwin at Broadman & Holman.


Please Note:
All author proceeds from Squat will go to Graffiti Community Ministries, Inc., a service arm of the East Seventh Street Baptist Church on the Lower East Side of Manhattan where Field preaches.

Back Cover Copy:

In the shadow of Wall Streetís wealth, homeless citizens with names like Squid, Saw, and Bonehead live in abandoned buildings known as "squats" where life is hand to mouth, where fear and violence fester. The light in lovable Squidís obsessive-compulsive mindís eye is Rachel, a loving soup kitchen missionary who tells him about faith and unfaith, hypocrisy and justice, the character of God and finding identity in Him.

But among the squats and so many other abandoned lives, will such talk be enough to make Squid believe that his life may actually amount to something?



CHAPTER 1
CALMLY, THE GIRL on the sofa reached out and pulled up a flap of skin on the little boy’s thin arm. It could have been a gesture of affection. But then she pinched the skin and twisted it. Hard.

“Ouch!” He whipped his pencil in front of her face once, like a club, and then cracked it on her forehead. He pulled the pencil back, ready to strike her again, crouching against the back of the couch like a cornered weasel.

The little girl wrinkled up her round freckled face but did not cry out. She looked toward her mom, who was talking to the receptionist. The boy’s mom, seated across the room, didn’t look up. She continued to look through the pages of her magazine, snapping each page like a whip.
“You could have put my eye out!” the freckled girl hissed.

The boy rubbed the two blue marks on his arm. He looked her steadily in the eyes and growled.
His mom called him over. “Come sit by me, honey, and stop making so much noise.” She patted his hair down in the back and smiled at him. She wore lots of eyeliner and widened her eyes to make even sitting in a waiting room seem like an adventure. “You’re such a big man, now,” she had said this morning as she combed his hair and helped him put on his best shirt. She was humming “Getting to Know You” even though her voice quivered just a little. She had put a lot of extra perfume and sprays on this morning. She smelled like the women’s aisle in a drugstore.
Once the little girl’s mom finished with the receptionist and returned to the sofa, the little girl started crying with one soft, unending whine.

The boy rolled his eyes and looked for a book to bury his head in.

“What’s wrong, honey?” the mom asked as she swept her little girl up.

“That boy hit me.”

A stuffy silence reigned in the waiting room except for the sound of the bubbles in the aquarium above the magazine table. The girl’s mother glared at the boy and then at his mother. The boy picked up a children’s book with some torn pages and began studying it seriously. His mom hadn’t been listening to the girl. She was still snapping through the magazine’s pages.

Finally, she threw it down with disgust and looked at her watch again. “I’m going outside to smoke a cigarette, honey,” she said, oblivious to the stares of the mother and daughter across the room. She stood up, adjusted her dress with an efficient tug, and stepped outside the office. They gaped at her departure with their mouths open, like two goldfish.

The aquarium continued to gurgle. In the following silence, the little boy became dramatically interested in the book in front of him. It had been pawed over by a lot of children waiting in this doctor’s office, and the first few pages had been torn out. The pages that remained had rounded corners and smudges along the edges. The little boy squinted his eyes in exaggerated concentration. He preferred the smudged pictures to the astonished fish eyes of the adult across the room.

He studied a picture of a man who wore a robe down to his ankles. He had a beard and a sad look in his eyes. In front of him was a young man with no beard, lying on a stone with his hands tied. The man with a beard had a knife in his hand and had his hand raised high up as if he were going to stab the boy. Out of a cloud an angel was reaching out to grab the hand of the man. The angel hadn’t touched the man yet, but his hand was getting close. The man didn’t yet know that the angel was there.

The boy forgot about the girl and her mother. The color of the man’s robe was so deep and blue. The angel’s wings were more gold than his mother’s best bracelet. The boy on the stone had a robe that was silvery-white like clouds. The sun in the background was redder than any sun he had ever seen. It was as red as a hot dog. The little boy felt he was swimming in this world of rich colors and robes, a sleepy world tempered by the sound of the bubbles in the doctor’s aquarium. The boy put his finger above the picture book, to the right of the book, and then to the left of the book. “One, two, three. One, two, three. One, two, three,” he whispered to himself, touching each of the three points three times.

His mom opened the door and came back in. The summer heat from outside reached in to bathe him in warmth. She shut the door with exasperation. She sat down beside him, reeking of cigarette smoke and hair spray. She adjusted his collar and gave him a nervous smile. “You’re such a big man now,” she said and patted his hair again.

The boy pointed to the man in the robe in the picture. “Mom, is that boy that man’s son?”

“I don’t know, honey.” She picked up the same magazine again and started ripping through it at lightning speed.

“What’s he doing with the knife, Mom?”

To read the rest of chapter one, click here.

Thursday, August 31, 2006

An Interview with DiAnn Mills

I’m tickled to have award-winning author, DiAnn Mills, with us today. She launched her career in 1998 with the publication of her first book and hasn’t stopped since! Currently she has nineteen novels, fifteen novellas, a non-fiction book, several articles, and short stories to her credit and has sold more than a million books. (Can you say mouth-dropping-open sales? No drooling, please.)
DM: DiAnn, so great to have you here. Your tagline is “Expect an Adventure.” Tell us what this means for your readers.

DiM: My goal is for each reader to expect an adventure and not be disappointed. Whether the book is an historical or a contemporary, a romance or suspense, the reader’s journey will be exciting and memorable.

DM: Your new book, LANTERNS AND LACE releases today and is the sequel to LEATHER AND LACE. Are Casey and Morgan back for more adventures?

DiM: LANTERNS AND LACE, the second book in the Texas Legacy Series, is about Morgan’s brother Grant. Casey and Morgan play a role in this book, but the focus is on Grant. In the first book, Grant was seventeen years old and had much to learn about life. In the second book, he is a single doctor who takes on the task of raising an orphaned baby girl and protecting those he loves while in the midst of an evil plot.

DM: You’ve written suspense fiction as well, and even your historicals keep your readers turning the page. What’s your approach to finding the story you want to tell and keeping the reader interested?

DiM: In a word: characterization. A strong, well-defined character will accept challenges and seek to find solutions to problems. The character takes a leap into the unknown with knowledge and strong faith.

DM: You have some really rich historical details in you stories. How do you go about researching your stories?

DiM: I visit the area if at all possible. I read books. Search reliable sites online. I seek out historical documentaries. I always research more than I will need so I can better understand my characters life and culture.

DM: What makes your characters come to life for you?

DiM:
Living with them. Interviewing them. Taking the character’s traits and applying them to various situations. Sensory perception is important to me.

DM: What do you find to be the most challenging part of the writing process?

DiM: Staying true to character in allowing them to fail before they succeed, allowing them to make mistakes in order to grow, and putting obstacles in their way that look impossible to overcome.

DM: How do you balance your faith with the demands of the writing life?

DiM: My day begins with a quiet time to worship and acknowledge the Creator who has the highest priority in my life and given me the gift of writing. I view my writing as a ministry—every opportunity to speak, teach, or write is an opportunity to mirror my faith and give others a glimpse of what it is like to live a Christian life. Of course, if I mess up, I have to ask forgiveness. ☺ The demands are a discipline.

DM: You’ve written both a fiction, WHEN THE LION ROARS and non-fiction, LOST BOY NO MORE about the plight of the Sudanese people. I hear you will soon be taking a trip to Sudan. Can you tell us more about that?
DiM: My Sudan trip is scheduled for November, and my friend, Rebeca Seitz of Glass Road Public Relations, is going with me. This trip is a combination of research and ministry to ensure my facts are correct in my writing, to help the Sudanese in any way I can, and report my findings to groups in the States. Since writing LOST BOY NO MORE, I’ve acquired a deep passion for Sudan. The ultimate goal is to make the international community aware of the critical needs there. And did I say I was excited? Moody Publishers is helping to finance this trip, which is quite humbling to realize they have faith in my abilities as a writer. This new novel will be released in the fall of 2007. The working title is WHEN THE NILE RUNS RED, but of course that may change.

DM: DiAnn, thank you so much for being here and sharing with us.

DiM: Thank you for allowing me to be a part of your author interviews! I encourage readers to subscribe to my monthly newsletter from my website. If you are not involved in a Christian writer’s group, I urge you to look within your community for a group and to research www.americanchristianfictionwriters.com. Let me hear from you!

Don’t forget to stop by DiAnn’s website for more information about her other books and her efforts to raise support and awareness for the Sudanese people. And be sure to leave a comment for a chance to win a copy of her new book! (Drawing held on Sunday.)

BIG FAT JUICY SIDE NOTE: Bailey Truitt is blogging over at Scenes and Beans today. I'm kind of partial to her posts. LOL! (wink-wink) Hope you enjoy today's post, which us Bailey girls worked very hard to create.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Fat Factor

Can a viral infection or gut microflora cause you to gain weight or keep you obese even if you don't eat a lot? Here's a link to a NYTimes article entitled Fat Factor by Robin Marantz Henig that shares some startling results.

WARNING: Article is long but definitely worth skimming.

Friday, August 18, 2006

CRAP

Lisa Samson looked up the meaning of the word fiction and look what she found.

Main Entry: fiction
Part of Speech: noun
Definition: story
Synonyms: BS, anecdote, banana oil, book, cliff-hanger*, clothesline*, cock-and-bull story, concoction, crap, crock*, drama, fable, fabrication, falsehood, fancy, fantasy, fib, fish story*, hooey*, imagination, improvisation, invention, jazz, legend, lie, misrepresentation, myth, narrative, novel, potboiler*, prevarication, romance, smoke*, story, storytelling, tale, tall story*, terminological inexactitude, untruth, whopper*, yarn*

Thus the Christian Terminological Inexactitude Writers Association, or CiTIWA, was born, as well as a new blog. So if you write CRAP, too, go check it out.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Meme Tag!

I was tagged by Tracey in Mich. and Betsy Ann for a meme created by "the secretly wants to be a suspense writer but writes chicklit," Meredith Efken. I'm supposed to answer one these three questions and then tag five people. So, without further ado, here goes.
1. If you could write a novel about any subject, what would it be? (Just the subject–don’t give away your plot idea!)

2. If just the thought of having to write anything gives you hives, what would you like to read about in a novel that you’ve never seen done before?

3. If you hate reading fiction (you can get counseling for that, you know), what subject might make you change your mind or try it anyway?
Hmm...what shall I say? Three just doesn't apply. I love fiction. Two won't work either since I write for a living. LOL! Ok, one it is.

I would have to say I'd love to write a story that delves into more of the unknown, perhaps with some supernatural elements in it. Oh wait! I'm doing that now. LOL! And it's pushing me to the limits of what I thought I could write. Let me tell ya!

And I will honestly admit there is no way I could have come up with this story on my own. God brought this one along, really and truly. He started with a Bible verse, then the characters. Then woke me in the dead of night with one line, which I still haven't figured out how it will be in the book. Who knows? God does! And He's the best author I know.

(As for tagging, I choose Ronie, Camy, Ron (gotta get a guy in this), Jennifer T., and Michelle P. Have at it folks! (but only if you want to.)

Saturday, August 12, 2006

I Love My Atheist

I spent a glorious morning by myself, watching TV. Ok, before you shake your head and run off, let me tell you what I watched. I found this show called 30 Days, a reality show on FX. I'd seen a part of a preview for it last night. The next show was to be about an atheist going to live with a Christian family for 30 Days.

Was I intrigued? You bet. Funny thing is, I had no clue when it would be on. I got up this morning, watched my show, then, reluctant to leave my cozy chair, I flipped through the channel guide and low and behold, there it was. I quickly switched it on and snuggled into my chair.

I found it very fascinating to watch how this Christian couple interacted with the atheist. The wife seemed to get the naturalist standpoint this woman came from, but the husband seemed to really struggle with the idea that their guest didn't believe in any higher power what-so-ever. I can understand that. I've had similar discussions with my husband. The idea can take some getting used to.

As the show progressed it was obvious this couple's goal was to show compassion and understanding to their atheist guest. She was a wife, a mother, a regular human being living her life as she believed she should. She also seemed to gain a greater understand of Christians in that they shared similar goals. To live their lives as they believed.

Toward the end they all gave their final input. The husband talked about realizing that just because this family didn't believe in God, didn't mean they were amoral people. They had standards they lived by, they were a happy family living "the good life," and chose to live by a different belief system.

Now, don't misunderstand my point here, nor this man's. I share his belief that the only way to salvation is through Jesus Christ. This is not the issue on the table here. What struck me again was that he had believed prior to this experience, that if you were atheist, you were immoral and unable to live decent life.

I've run into this several times. When we lived in Europe, I joined a small group Bible study in my neighborhood. One of the young women in the group was very outspoken in her faith. We had a gathering at a friend's one night and everyone was invited, including our families. I brought my husband and introduced him to my new friends.

The next time I saw this young woman, she told me she was amazed my husband was such a nice man. What did she expect, the boogeyman? I've since run into this mentality several times, once recently.

The Bible addresses this in Romans 2: 14-15:
13 For it is not those who hear the law who are righteous in God's sight, but it is those who obey the law who will be declared righteous. 14 (Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law, 15 since they show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts now accusing, now even defending them.) 16 This will take place on the day when God will judge men's secrets through Jesus Christ, as my gospel declares.
God recognized that some people would live by the "law" naturally. It even talks about the requirements being written on their hearts. They know right from wrong. Atheism doesn't mean you don't know right from wrong, it means you don't beleive in God. Seeing this quick association and assumption as to what an atheist is makes me wonder if we've come to associate religion with morals in the strictest sense. And I'm seeing how destructive assumptions truly can be.

Speaking from a personal standpoint. My husband is one of the most moral people I've ever met. He's also one of the most forgiving people I've ever known. Does that surprise you? It does me sometimes in the sense that I expect that from my Christian community, yet see it exibited in my atheist husband more.

I think watching this show really helped me to affirm the difference between "agreeing to disagree" vs. judigng vs. tolerance. I can still love my husband even though he's chosen to reject God. In fact, God commands me to. Just like he commands us to love our neighbor. He didn't say judge them worthy to love. He just said to love them.

The Bible says to overcome evil with good. I personally believe that has to come from love. I want more than anything to see my husband embrace Jesus as his savior, but the judging part, that I'm leaving up to God. For me, it's simple. I love my atheist.

Friday, August 11, 2006

10 Blessings

Dear friend Ronie tagged me with her homemade meme about ten things you're blessed with, so here goes...

1. A friend who has blessed me: (I'm changing this one to friends.) Ronie, my wonderful twin who finishes my thoughts before I think them, Heather, my cheerleading confidant who keeps me going and knows me so well, Robin, bless her heart, LOL! She keeps me in line and knows I would be completely lost without her.

2. An unexpected gift: Hellyer, kitty #5. We rescued him from nearby Hellyer Park, and he's kept us laughing ever since. Hellyer will be appearing in my next book.

3. A kind word shared with me recently: Robin reassured me I would get an agent and would even change sides if she had to. LOL! Gotta love that woman.

4. Something that makes me stop and praise God: When my older daughter gives my younger daughter a hug and tells her she loves her; a sunset on the beach.

5. Something I'm looking forward to: The ACFW conference! Yeah! Get to hang out with all you writer weirdos.

6. A particular part of me I'm pleased with: The color of my eyes and my curly hair.

7. Something in my life that I wanted but never expected: Writing a book.

8. A place that moved/moves me: Meteor Crator. Weird I know, but now I know what true silence "sounds" like.

9. One thing/person that always makes me smile: My family.

10. Most recent "love note" from God: He told me he made me just as I am, (appearance) and it displeased him that I wasn't happy with his handiwork. Ouch! Ain't He cool?

Ta da! Fini! So who's next? I tag Camy (if she hasn't already been tagged), Ron, Heather G. (Hee hee, don't kill me.), and Robin (again, please don't kill me.)

Have an awesome weekend!

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Goofing Off

I should be working on my book, but I decided to come play here first. I took down the little dealy on the side showing my progress because it was too much work. LOL! But I'm excited to tell you I'm at almost 50k with this book. That's just past the halfway mark. Shooting to be finished by the end of August so I can have a few weeks to edit before the ACFW Conference in September.

I think so many of us have our sites focused on that conference, getting ready, wondering what to expect. Seems we put so much pressure on ourselves to get our babies (manuscripts, just want to be sure we're on the same track) polished and ready to pitch.

In the meantime, so much is happening in the industry. Puslishers seem to be changing hands faster than stocks on NASDEQ. A feeling of uncertainty is settling over many of the writers I know as we watch more and more doors close.

It is truly a time of change. Which makes it even more important to keep an ear tilted in God's direction. Such a time can be so discouraging, yet if we are working for Him, we have to trust in His plan, right? Gives a whole new meaning to the word perseverence. (And did you notice the word severe in the middle of that word?)

I'm digging my feet in. I've come this far. Not going to quit now. This road is taking a whole lot more rubber than I ever anticipated. When I doubt (and yes, I'm wondering about the whole writing gig myself at the moment, where it's heading, and how I'm going to ride it out) I go back to the moments that confirmed this writing journey. Thankfully, I wrote several down so I can go back and read them. Just like a writer.

And that's what I am, a writer.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Why to Have Business Partners

A friend recently asked me the benefits to having business partners. I thought it was a funny question and came up with a top ten list (Ron, you are my inspiration). I've always loved top ten lists. I guess I have David Letterman to thank. Always the best part of his show.

So, here we go.

1. To make your life hell.

2. Just to spice things up a bit.

3. To be used as punching bags at will.

4. Fodder for your next book.

5. A way to excuse the stupidness in the world.

6. To make you look good.

7. To show that there really is a God and that forgiveness can be a minute by minute effort.

8. In case you get bored.

9. To show you really are credible and that you have people to vouch for you (just don't tell anyone no one will vouch for them).

And finally, the one she found the most appalling,

10. To make more money.

LOL! It is what it is.