Tuesday, April 29, 2008
Two weeks ago I decided not to leave the house until our middle child was potty trained. It was a wonderful plan--divinely inspired, I believe--and probably long overdue. One week turned into two (just so we could be sure everything "took") and the result? A child who knows her limitations...and a slush brain for me.
You see, not only did I take time off from extra running around and exercising, I seemed to taken a break from the creative flow. Yep, last week my word count took a nosedive. The hard part is picking up where I left off and resetting the pace. It's like trying to work an old, rusty gear, or powering up the lawn mower at the start of summer, or (__insert another lame metaphor!__) See? I told you the writing mechanism in my brain is on vacation.
Anyhoo, today was supposed to be the perfect day for writing since I was sans kids for a few hours. Yes, I wrote a few pages, but MAN was it hard! Every word I typed was like squeezing water from a dry sponge (more lame verbage--but hey, I'm on a roll.) Tomorrow should be better, and the day after that too, provided I can park myself in front of the computer. Oy.
Monday, April 28, 2008
Oh man, I wish I'd read the first two books in this series. From the moment I started reading, I just HAD to know what was happening next. There was not one bit of fluff or extra verbage between the pages. One caution for sensitive readers: there are a few references to drinking, and one scene in a strip club (but it's not graphic.) In all, I thoroughly enjoyed My Soul to Keep. On a writerly note, this is an excellent study in 1st person. This is exactly how it should be done! I really need to go back and read the 1st two books, and you can be sure I'm picking up anything else Melanie Wells writes.
Here's the blurb:
As nasty as I knew Peter Terry to be, I never expected him to start kidnapping kids. Much less a sweet, funny little boy with nothing to protect him but a few knock-kneed women, two rabbits, and a staple gun…
It’s psychology professor Dylan Foster’s favorite day of the academic year–graduation day. A day of pomp, circumstance, and celebration. And after all the mortar boards are thrown, Dylan and some of her best friends will gather around a strawberry cake to celebrate Christine Zocci’s sixth birthday. But the joyful summer afternoon goes south when a little boy is snatched from a neighborhood park, setting off a chain of events that seem to lead exactly nowhere.
Police are baffled, but Christine’s eerie connection with the kidnapped child sends Dylan on a chilling investigation of her own. Is the pasty, elusive stranger Peter Terry to blame? Exploding light bulbs, the deadly buzz of a Texas rattlesnake, and the vivid, disturbing dreams of a little girl are just pieces in a long trail of tantalizing clues leading Dylan in her dogged search for the truth.
About the author: A native of the Texas panhandle and the child of musicians, Melanie Wells attended Southern Methodist University on a music scholarship (she's a fiddle player), and later completed graduate degrees in counseling psychology and Biblical studies at Our Lady of the Lake University and Dallas Theological Seminary.
She has taught at the graduate level at both OLLU and DTS, and has been in private practice as a counselor since 1992. She is the founder and director of LifeWorks counseling associates in Dallas, Texas, a collaborative community of creative therapists.
When the Day of Evil Comes is her first published work of fiction, and the first of a three-book series. The second work, The Soul Hunter was released in May, 2006. Melanie lives and writes in Dallas.
Click here to buy the book!
See if you can spot my car in this video.
OK, I'm sure you know my actual car wasn't in the video, but we were LOWRIDERS last week until my dear hubby got our car fixed. Couldn't have been more than 6 inches off the ground. Keep in mind we live where there are tons of speed bumps. Imagine the fun. Take a look.
Thankfully we're all fixed and I can take the fuzzy dice out of the window since we're back to having a respectable retirement-style vehicle. Remember two weeks ago when I told you there's always something wrong with our car? Well, I was telling the truth! What does that have to do with writing? Not a thing, unless you count the fact that I lost a day of writing uninterrupted because of the car. Sigh. Someday--someday, I tell you!--we will break down (literally) and buy a new car. Until then you'll just have to read about our transporation plights. What are friends for?
Friday, April 25, 2008
Oh friends--this is a must read. I really, really wanted to finish the book before blogging on it, but alas time prevents me. Anyway, I'm about halfway through and totally engrossed. Winter Haven has one of THE best uses of setting in recent memory, and Athol Dickson has a masterful use of language. The whole mood of the book has me looking over my shoulder, and reading with all the lights on. In fact, I'm going to hunt down Dickson's previous novels! This is a literary treat. Here's the blurb:
Boys who never age, giants lost in time, mist that never rises, questions never asked...on the most remote of islands off the coast of Maine, history haunts the present and Vera Gamble wrestles with a past that will not yield. Will she find refuge there, or will her ghosts prevail on...Winter Haven.
Eleven years ago, Vera Gamble's brother left their house never to be seen again. Until the day Vera gets a phone call that his body has been found...washed ashore in the tiny island town of Winter Haven, Maine. His only surviving kin, Vera travels north to claim the body...and finds herself tumbling into a tangled mystery. Her brother hasn't aged a day since last she saw him.
Determined to uncover what happened in those lost years, Vera soon discovers there are other secrets lurking in this isolated town. But Winter Haven's murky past now seems bound to come to light as one woman seeks the undeniable and flooding light of truth.
Athol Dickson's university-level training in painting, sculpture, and architecture was followed by a long career as an architect then his decision several years ago to devote full time to writing.
Athol Dickson’s writing has been favorably compared to the work of Octavia Butler(Publisher’s Weekly), Daphne du Maurier (Cindy Crosby, FaithfulReader.com) and FlanneryO’Connor (The New York Times).
His They Shall See God was a Christy Award finalist and his River Rising was a Christy Award winner, selected as one of the Booklist Top Ten Christian Novels of 2006 and a finalist for Christianity Today's Best Novel of 2006.
He and his wife, Sue, live in Southern California. Visit AtholDickson.com for more information.
Here's the link to PURCHASE.
I'm rubbing my hands together. This is an exciting day, and the first time I've drawn two names. Are you ready? Drumroll please...............
And the winners are.......
Betsy and Carole!!!!
Thanks for playing everyone!
Thursday, April 24, 2008
You Are Classical Music
You are a somewhat serious person who enjoys studying subjects deeply.
Art of all kinds interests you, and a good piece of art can really effect you emotionally.
You are inspired by human achievement, and you appreciate work that takes years to accomplish.
For you, the finer things in life are not about snobbery - they're about quality.
Tuesday, April 22, 2008
The Change and Cherish series by Jane Kirkpatrick is the one I've been telling you about this past week. Of course I'd like to share with you all, so leave your name in the comments section and I'll draw for not one, but TWO copies of A Mending at the Edge, book three in the series! The thing that's really cool about these books is that they're based on a true story, and the rich details Jane supplies makes it come to life.
It all began with A Clearing in the Wild. Spirited young Emma Wagner chafes at the constraints of her 1850s religious community, which values conformity over independent thought, especially in women. Skeptical of the colony’s growing emphasis on preparing for “the last days,” Emma clashes with their increasingly autocratic leader—and faces the unexpected consequences of pursuing independence.
The story continues with A Tendering in the Storm. This lyrical novel, based on an historical figure of the 1800s, follows the spirited and intelligent Emma Giesy, who achieves her goal of separating her family from the repressive religious community in which she grew up. But unexpected and dire consequences leave her family—and her faith—struggling to survive.
You ladies are going to really like these books. Just remember everything I blogged about while I was reading this series--these are stories that are going to stick with you long after you close the books. Leave your email addy in the comments section for the drawing to be held on Friday. As I mentioned before, there are TWO copies of A Mending at the Edge up for grabs!
Monday, April 21, 2008
Last week I told you how I'd been enjoying the Change and Cherish historical series. Well, I'm here to tell you there's more to the story.
While reading the first book, I began to see myself and some of my tendencies in the heroine. That's when I began to question some of my own heart's motives, and the way I react to situations when I'm not getting my way (which was a bit different than the heroine reacted.)
By the end of the series I realized I have some issues that I need to work on. I began right away, and I can honestly say I'm a better wife and mother for having read those three books, and I *think* it shows in my behavior the last few days.
Did the books come across as preachy? Not even a little. There was nothing between the pages but a gripping, well-told story. I believe God used it to touch a nerve inside me. Now that's some good reading! For the naysayers who claim that reading fiction is a waste of time, I can only point to my own experience, and how God used a story to get through to me. Jesus did it through parables when He walked the Earth. I'll blog on the books later this week, but I really wanted to share my discovery with you today.
Have you read a book (besides the Bible or a non-fiction) that affected you in a positive way, and maybe even changed your behavior or outlook?
Friday, April 18, 2008
Happy Friday! Since I don't have a book review today (still reading the historical series), and since I didn't post a fun quiz yesterday, today I present the Chocolate Quiz! And really, who doesn't love chocolate?
What Your Taste in Chocolate Says About You
You are sweet, mellow, and easily satisfied.
You don't like anything too intense and dramatic.
Deep down, you're a kid at heart... and you're nostalgic for the past.
You are emotionally expressive and sensitive.
You're effected by everything around you.
Your friends appreciate your open heart, but they are afraid of hurting your feelings.
You love the feeling of accomplishment. You enjoy doing what's important.
You feel lost when you have to do frivolous tasks or hang out with shallow people.
Wednesday, April 16, 2008
This week I decided to take a break from the athletic club, and focus on potty training my three-year-old. I fully expected to go an entire week without the benefit of cardio or heavy breathing. Not so.
Today the tots and I left to pick the teen up after school. Because we didn't have anything else on our agenda--potty training requires close proximity to a restroom--the kids had orphan hair and summer clothes, even though it's windy. For some reason the car was pulling to the right--not unusual since there's always something wrong with our car. Merrily we rolled along, me eating Hot Cheetos, and the babies enjoying their juice. When we pulled up in front of the school, my daughter got into the car and said the dreaded words, "Mom, the tire is flat. I mean, flat-flat, like a pancake."
Great. We were at least a half mile from an air pump. With clenched teeth we drove to the nearest gas station and filled the tire. As soon as I finished, I could hear the air leaking. I scrambled back into the car, determined to quickly drive the five miles to the tire store before the pancake situation took over again.
Naturally we had to go through a school zone with a super-conscientious crossing guard, who waved at least fifty stragglers through while I was sinking. Then, we got stopped by not one, but TWO trains. The whole time we're stuck I know in my heart the tire is losing air. We barely made it to the tire store--and of course the tire was, as my daughter so eloquently put it, flat-flat.
The tire man, who assessed that our tire was not fixable, said it would take at least an hour and a half to replace. Here's where the unintended exercise came in: we live about a mile from the store. We popped open the dual stroller and put the kids (with orphan hair and summer clothes) into their seats and began the long journey home.
You'd think with all those miles I put in on the treadmill that I'd be prepared for the most dire of circumstances, but no. I will mention, however, that I was pushing a dual stroller with sixty-five pounds worth of children in it. My heart thumped so hard in my neck I had to stop and make my oldest daughter check it out, just so she could feel sorry for me. Unfortunately, she said my pulse didn't even feel human. Thanks.
The moral of this story is: always get the warranty on the tires, and never let your children leave the house looking like orphans.
P.S. I still have to walk back to pick up the car. Yay, more exercise.
Tuesday, April 15, 2008
Attending a conference is not cheap--unless you're a multi-millionaire, then it's all relative. Back to my point: attending conference is not cheap. But even with rising airfare and wanting a little splurge at the bookstore before the Mall of America book signing, saving your shekels is doable. Here are some of my best ideas:
*Hold a massive garage sale. It's the right time of year to begin sorting through your old stuff and deciding what you can live without. Not only will you make money, you'll get rid of some clutter. Pick a Saturday and go for it!
*Not wanting to see strangers paw through your stuff? Do it online through Ebay. C'mon, you know there's stuff you don't use that someone else will want for a price.
*Suave. You heard me, buy Suave. Unless you have unruly hair, cut a corner and go for the $1 shampoo and conditioner...at least until conference is over. (It's only 5 months away!) Along the same lines, why buy expensive body wash? Use the shampoo since the ingredients are almost identical. The same could really be said for most brand-name products.
*Take-Out. If you adore eating out and refuse to give up that little treat (like our family) then do take-out and eat picnic-style. Bring your own drinks. Do you realize how much you'll save on drinks and tips? For our family, that adds up to more than $20 a week. If you're really feeling industrious, cook at home =)
*Oy, I really don't want to name this one since it hits me right in the gut: Starbucks. My husband has spoiled me with Starbucks coffee, even at home. Is it absolutely necessary? Probably not, although that smooth, rich flavor is hard to duplicate. Still, how much could I save by drinking Folgers?
*Couch cushions contain a gold mine--if not the cushions then the ash tray in the car, or the bottom of your purse. I've been saving coins since last year in a big cup. Last year's big cup contained over $60 that I took with me to conference. With 5 months to go, this year should produce even more.
*With the rising cost of gas, driving less can add up. Gone are the days of leisurely Sunday drives. By not racking up the miles, there's more $$ for the couch cushion fund =)
*Shop for sales--it's a rare occasion that I buy anything regular price. Why do it when it'll likely be on sale at some point in the month?
*Use everything. Don't miss out on those last precious drops at the bottom of the lotion bottle, or milk carton, or whatever. Use a funnel if you have to, but don't throw anything away unused. Especially food! Eat those leftovers instead of letting them grow penicillin in the fridge.
*Try going on a spending moratorium. That's right, quit spending. If you stay home more, you'll spend less. Pick a week where you challenge yourself not to spend a dime. Live off the land. Let's see that pioneering spirit!
Whatever methods you choose, attending the conference is sooo worth the effort. Now it's your turn--have any tips to share?
Monday, April 14, 2008
Perhaps it's because two of my crit partners, Erica and Kaye, write historicals. Or maybe it's because last week Betsy rattled off a list of books I should read and piqued my interest. Or maybe--just maybe--it's because Multnomah/Waterbrook sent me several fantastic books to sink my teeth into this month. Whatever the reason, I'm reading historicals!
We all have our favorite genres, specific titles/authors we look for when we head into the store. You all know mine: chick lit, suspense, women's fic. Now I can add one more to the list. What have I been missing out on? This weekend I was glued to the pages of A Clearing in the Wild, by Jane Kirkpatrick. I'll blog on it once I finish the trilogy--shouldn't take me long, all things considered.
What I've come to realize--yet again--is that reading really is about the story. While engaging in my favorites genres can increase the enjoyment factor, a good story is what will keep me flipping pages and ignoring the laundry until I see how things play out. So let's hear it for a resurgance in historical fiction!!!
I'm curious about when you may have crossed over and enjoyed a genre you'd previously not picked up. And if you can remember, what title caused you to do so?
Friday, April 11, 2008
Today I'm borrowing from Erica's blog, and updating my goals. It's been a while, and we Type A's love to have a list because it makes us feel accomplished, and keeps us focused. Hey, I take joy in the small things =)
*This week I started another book, and I plan to have this finished by the time the ACFW conference rolls around. Yes, I get to go! (Thanks, Honey!)
*Market Table for One--the paperback becomes available in 90 days. Woot woot.
*Finish reading two craft books that I started last year and forgot about. How bad is that? Usually I devour craft books the moment I get them, but I guess I got burned out. Hmm...
*This one I have little control over, other than being persistent: find an agent.
Do you have a list? Care to share?
Wednesday, April 09, 2008
Amber Morn was the perfect way to finish the series. Having followed the residents of Kannar Lake through the previous books, the situation that develops in Amber Morn had more impact and kept me frantically flipping pages until the end. While this book was not as "scary" as the others, it rates high on the suspense factor, and makes me really sad the series is over. If you haven't read The Kannar Lake series, please do.
The whole thing couldn’t have taken more than sixty seconds.
Bailey hung on to the counter, dazed. If she let go, she’d collapse—and the twitching fingers of the gunman would pull the trigger. The rest of her group huddled in frozen shock.
Dear God, help us! Tell me this is a dream . . .
The shooter’s teeth clenched. “ Anybody who moves is dead.”
On a beautiful Saturday morning the nationally read “Scenes and Beans” bloggers gather at Java Joint for a special celebration. Chaos erupts when three gunmen burst in and take them all hostage. One person is shot and dumped outside.
Police Chief Vince Edwards must negotiate with the desperate trio. The gunmen insist on communicating through the “comments” section of the blog—so all the world can hear their story. What they demand, Vince can’t possibly provide. But if he doesn’t, over a dozen beloved Kanner Lake citizens will die...
Amber Morn is the climactic finale to Collins’ widely read Kanner Lake series. All first three titles in the series, Violet Dawn, Coral Moon, and Crimson Eve, were bestsellers. Library Journal placed Crimson Eve on its Best Books of 2007 list, and hailed it the “Best Christian suspense of 2007.”
A few early reviews of Amber Morn:
“… essential reading … a harrowing hostage drama.” – Library Journal
“… heart-pounding … breakneck pace … satisfying and meaningful ending.” – RT Bookreviews
“This cataclysmic ending left me breathless … Kanner Lake is the Best Suspense Series of 2007/2008.” – deenasbooks.blogspot.com
“Collins has saved the best for a last .. a powerful ensemble performance.” -- BookshelfReview.com
“… a staccato tempo … Sometimes you just have to close the book in order to come up for air.” – Dale Lewis
“…a masterpiece of page-turning suspense with a cast of dozens.” – Peg Phifer
“Don’t forget to b r e a t h e …®”
Brandilyn writes for Zondervan, the Christian division of HarperCollins Publishers, and is currently at work on her 19th book. Her first, 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.
She’s also known for her distinctive book on fiction-writing techniques, Getting Into Character: Seven Secrets a Novelist Can Learn From Actors (John Wiley & Sons), and often teaches at writers conferences.
Brandilyn blogs at Forensics and Faith. Visit her Websiteto read the first chapters of all her books.
Please friends, click here to get this book!
Tuesday, April 08, 2008
Monday, April 07, 2008
Reading Chill Out, Josey! felt like spending time with an old friend. Because I adore all things Russian, this book particularly interested me with the flavor and setting. Watching Josey's spiritual journey made the book rich and insightful, not to mention delightfully funny!
Josey Anderson will be the perfect wife. She and Chase did have the perfect wedding--if you don't count the matron of honor going into labor. Now all she has to do is find a cute Cape-style house, report for the Gull Lake, Minnesota paper, bake cookies and learn to sew--is that so difficult?
But when Chase lands a new job--in Moscow--Josey's dreams disintegrate. After all, she's been there, done that as a missionary, and a city without year-round hot water, decent takeout or...maternity clothes--that's not perfection! But what's the perfect wife to do?To enter the drawing, leave your email addy in the comments. Drawing on Wednesday!
Friday, April 04, 2008
Cozy mystery fans, this is your book! This is the kind of book where you really do get "cozy" when you sit down to read. Sit back, relax, and enjoy When Zeffie Got A Clue.
It’s an ordinary afternoon in Summer Breeze, Florida, when a young, wide-eyed girl steps into I Saw It First, the trash-to-treasure shop Christy Castleman and her Aunt Bobbie have opened. Clutching a jewelry box, Zeffie Adams tells Christy she needs money to pay her grandmother’s medical bills, prompting Christy to offer this curious visitor more than the jewelry box is worth–or so she thinks.
But complicated questions form when Christy rips out the box’s lining and uncovers a clue to a cold case murder mystery from eight years ago. Despite warnings from her family and handsome boyfriend Dan Brockman, Christy decides to do a little detective work of her own. After all, the infamous murder happened close to her grandmother’s farm. How risky could it be to take the jewelry box back to the Strickland plantation and ask around about it?
Soon Christy finds there is more to the small box than someone wants her to know. A jewelry theft. A mansion murder. Dangerous family secrets buried in history. Can Christy convince others to let go of the past before it’s too late?
Peggy Darty is the award-winning author of twenty-seven books, including two other cozy mysteries set in Summer Breeze, Florida: When the Sandpiper Calls and When Bobbie Sang the Blues. She has worked in film, researched for CBS, and led writing workshops around the country. Darty and her husband call Alabama home but spend a great deal of time in Colorado, Montana, and on Florida’s Emerald Coast.
CLICK HERE to get your copy!
Thursday, April 03, 2008
Somehow, this is oddly on target.
You Are Danishes
Indulgent and a bit greedy, you eat whatever you feel like eating... nutrition, what's that?
You have a total sweet tooth, and you pretty much give into it whenever you feel like it.
While it treating yourself is nice occasionally, try eating a vegetable every once and a while.
Lay off the donuts and muffins, unless you want to be sporting a "muffin top" of your own!
Wednesday, April 02, 2008
It's not often there's a call for inspirational short stories, so I thought I'd put a bug in your ear about this contest sponsored by The Wild Rose Press:
--Begin Announcement: Permission to Forward--
The Wild Rose Press Announces the Easter Lilies Short Story Contest, sponsored by the White Rose inspirational line. We invite you to enter for your chance to win one of three publication slots.
Rules for Entry:The defining Scripture is Solomon 2:2 "Like a lily among thorns is my darling among the maidens."
Stories should be between 5,000 and 10,000 words. Authors may enter more than one story, but each should be original and never-before-published. Current TWRP authors are eligible to enter.
You may incorporate both the hero's and heroine's points of view, however, as the Scripture is a man speaking of his lady, ideally, these stories should focus on your hero's love developing for his heroine. These stories may be historical or contemporary, but they must be set around the Easter holiday.
In addition to using this Scripture as the reference, some symbol of the Easter Lily must also be incorporated. Easter lilies have long been a symbol of purity, motherhood, the trumpet herald of the Angel Gabriel as he visited the Virgin Mary, of resurrection, and more. (Feel free to research and use different symbols. These are listed as example only).
How you incorporate any of the symbols is up to you. Whether it's an actual flower that the hero gives to the heroine (or vice versa), or a piece of jewelry, or a spiritual experience. The use is up to you. Perhaps your hero is a Christian musician who plays the trumpet. Perhaps your heroine has lily earrings that have been passed through her family. Perhaps your hero had a "resurrection" of his faith through some experience past or present, or maybe your heroine is a mother. How you incorporate the Easter lily symbolism is up to you. It can be subtle or overt, but it has to be there.
Three stories will be chosen, and winners will receive a publishing contract from The Wild Rose Press. Stories will be released in electronic format one per day on the three days preceding Easter 2009.
Entries must be received via email on or before July 1, 2008. Winners will be announced no later than October 3, 2008.
The subject line of all entries must read:
TWRP Easter Lilies: [title of entry] [last name of author]Entries that do not have this subject line will be disqualified and deleted.
In the body of the email include:
Title:Author Name (and pseudonym, if applicable):One-word description of symbolism used: (eg. "trumpet" "resurrection" "purity" "herald")
Your story should be typed in standard manuscript format and be attached to your entry email as a Word .doc or .rtf file. Entitle your entry file: TWRP_EL_[name of story]Send entries to: NMartinez@thewildrosepress..com
You will receive a receipt confirmation email in return.
Tuesday, April 01, 2008
I'm not one to play pranks, and to tell the truth I don't notice when someone is playing one on me until it's too late. Over the years, I've had friends who could pull off some real doozies:
*One friend set all the clocks in the house ahead 2 hours. When the alarm went off in the morning (3:30 real time) her husband couldn't figure out why it was so dark outside and why he was exhausted. She got up and showered as usual, pretending nothing was different. When it was "time" for him to go to work, she fessed up--then took him out to breakfast.
*One friend--okay, same friend--went to the movies. When her husband got up to use the restroom, she took a plastic mouse from her purse and put it in the popcorn bucket. Because her husband ate popcorn by the handful, she knew he'd be the one to grab it. Needless to say, he screamed like a girl when he pulled out the mouse.
I'm still trying to think of a prank to pull today, but my mind doesn't work like that. One day I will pull off a doozy of my own, and have a fabulous story to tell. In the meantime, I'm looking for suggestions. Pranks, anyone? Do tell!