Friday, May 30, 2008

SKID

I can't wipe the silly smile off my face after reading Skid. A combination of quirky characters and an adventure in the sky makes for a fun read in the third book of the Occupational Hazards series--and I have to say this is my favorite in the series, by far. I'll never look at flying the same way again! If you're a writer, this is a fantastic study in POV, dialogue, and pace. Only Rene Gutteridge can bring together all these elements, throw in a pig, and come out with a memorable book to whisk her readers away into the not-so-friendly skies.

Here's the blurb:

Blissfully unaware that Atlantica Flight 1945 from Atlanta to Amsterdam is about to make aviation history, First Officer Danny McSweeney focuses his energies on navigating the turbulent personalities of an eccentric female captain, a co-pilot with a talent for tactless comments and conspiracy theories, and a lead flight attendant with an outsized attitude that definitely exceeds the limits for carry-on baggage.

On the other side of the cockpit door, the unscheduled in-flight entertainment includes a potbellied pig, a jittery diamond courier, and the recently jilted Lucy Meredith, whose personal mantra of “What Would Oprah Do?” will be challenged by the sudden appearance of her ex and his new traveling partner. On her left sits Hank Hazard, whose unusually polite but constant requests–prompted by his covert role as a spy for the airline–test the limits of the crew’s customer service.

But as Lucy and the rest of the crew discover, Hank’s odd behavior is linked to a quiet faith that may play a key role in the fate of everyone on board. Especially when an unexpected traveler sets this already bumpy flight on a course toward the unfriendly skies.


Rene Gutteridge is the author of twelve novels, including the Boo series, the Storm series, and the novelization for The Ultimate Gift, as well as Scoop and Snitch, the first two Occupational Hazard novels. She lives with her husband, Sean, and their two children in Oklahoma City.

CLICK HERE TO GET YOUR COPY!!!

Thursday, May 29, 2008

A DIFFERENT KIND OF TEST

It's been almost a year since we've had this one, so I thought I'd take this test again. It's the TYPING TEST! The last nine months has brought a noticeable improvement in my typing skills. Last time around, I was at an abysmal 54 WPM--no joke. This time:

89 WPM, 1 mistake (I spelled "people" as "poeple")

So warm up those fingers, and click here to take the test. Remember to report back with your results!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

WRITER'S RUMP

Yeah, you read it right. Today I'm talking about writer's rump. We've all heard that the best way to get a book written is the Butt In Chair method, meaning sit down and write until it's written.

Well, therein lies the problem. I'm trying that today since I actually have more than a few uninterrupted hours, but I've discovered something about myself:

I CAN'T SIT STILL.

I'm fidgety, and even though I'm not chasing children today, I'm hopping out of my chair every few minutes just because. Then, I circle the island in the kitchen, and sit back down. Finally, I've gotten used to pounding out the words in snatches and I can't do it any other way. Whatever works, I suppose. I can't help but wonder how many words I'd write per day if I could sit still and focus.

I MUST BE FREE TO CREATE!

Okay, probably a little melodramatic, but it had to be said. =P

So what's your biggest obstacle to writing today? C'mon friends, I know I'm not the only one!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008



This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing


Ruby Among Us

(WaterBrook Press May 20, 2008)

by

Tina Ann Forkner



ABOUT THE AUTHOR:





Tina Ann Forkner writes contemporary fiction that challenges and inspires. Originally from Oklahoma, she graduated with honors in English from CSU Sacramento before ultimately settling in the wide-open spaces of Wyoming where she now resides with her husband and their three children. Tina serves on the Laramie County Library Foundation Board of Directors and enjoys gardening, spending time outdoors with her family, and works as a full-time writer.



ABOUT THE BOOK

Sometimes, the key that unlocks your future lies in someone else’s past...

In Ruby Among Us, Lucy DiCamillo is safely surrounded by her books, music, and art─but none of these reclusive comforts or even the protective efforts of her grandmother, Kitty can shield her from the memory of the mother she can no longer remember. Lucy senses her grandmother holds the key, but Kitty seems as eager to hide from the past as Lucy is eager to find it.

From the streets of San Francisco and Sacramento, to the lush vineyards of the Sonoma Valley, Lucy follows the thread of memory in search for a heritage that seems long-buried with her mother, Ruby.

What she finds is enigmatic and stirring in this redemptive tale about the power of faith and mother-daughter love.

“What an incredible story. As both mothers and daughters, Ruby Among Us struck a special cord in each of the four of us. Tina writes in a way that makes us feel like we’re there; from the first line, we were captivated and drawn into an intricate weaving of the precious and fragile relationships that define us.”
~Point of Grace~

“Reading is a passion of mine, and when I find myself identifying with the characters, anxious to get to the next page to find answers to my questions, I know I’m into a good book! The daughter-mother-grandmother theme in Ruby Among Us pulled me in. Wonderful story-telling.”
~Jordin Sparks~, 2007 winner of American Idol

“Highly recommended. If you’re a mother or daughter, you’re going to love Ruby Among Us. Forkner does an extraordinary job…. I look forward to more from this author.”
~Ane Mulligan~, Novel Journey

“Don’t miss this one! Tina Ann Forkner is a strong new voice in fiction and Ruby Among Us is an amazing story of trials, regrets, and, ultimately, redemption. Lucy and her family history in the historic wine country of Sonoma bring to life the Scriptures about the Vine and His branches.”
~Kristin Billerbeck~, author of The Trophy Wives Club


If you would like to read the first chapter go HERE

Monday, May 26, 2008

FIVE THINGS I WANT TO ACCOMPLISH THIS WEEK:

1. Read the book of Acts since I finished John this morning.

2. Write 4 new chapters in my book. My chapters tend to be on the short side, so this is possible.

3. Exercise 3 times and run/walk/crawl at least as many miles as last week.

4. Read to babies and work on letters/numbers daily.

5. Stay on top of laundry. Lately it's been mushrooming out of the basket.

*bonus* Cook at home--far too much eating out lately.

What's on your list this week?

Friday, May 23, 2008

AND THE WINNER IS...

Lori! You've won the copy of Embrace Me, by Lisa Samson. Enjoy!
BROKEN ANGEL


This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Broken Angel

(WaterBrook Press (May 20, 2008)

by

Sigmund Brouwer



ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Sigmund Brouwer is the author of eighteen best-selling novels for children and adults. His newest book is Fuse of Armageddon and his novel The Last Disciple was featured in Time magazine and on ABC’s Good Morning America. A champion of literacy, he teaches writing workshops for students in schools from the Arctic Circle to inner city Los Angeles. Sigmund is married to Christian recording artist Cindy Morgan, and they and their two daughters divide their time between homes in Red Deer, Alberta, Canada and Nashville, Tennessee.


ABOUT THE BOOK

Her birth was shrouded in mystery and tragedy.
Her destiny is beyond comprehension.
Her pursuers long to see her broken.
She fights to soar.

A father's love for his daughter…a decision that would change both their lives forever. But who is she really─and why must she now run for her life?

Caitlin's body has made her an outcast, a freak, and the target of vicious bounty hunters. As she begins a perilous journey, she is forced to seek answers for her father's betrayal in the only things she can carry with her─a letter he passes her before forcing her to run, and their shared memories together.

Being hunted forces Caitlyn to partner with two equally lonely companions, one longing to escape the horror of factory life in Appalachia and the others, an unexpected fugitive. Together the three will fight to reach a mysterious group that might be friend or foe, where Caitlyn hopes to uncover the secrets of her past...and the destiny she must fulfill.

In the rough, shadowy hills of Appalachia, a nation carved from the United States following years of government infighting, Caitlyn and her companions are the prey in a terrifying hunt. They must outwit the relentless bounty hunters, skirt an oppressive, ever-watchful society, and find passage over the walls of Appalachia to reveal the dark secrets behind Caitlyn’s existence–and understand her father’s betrayal.

Prepare yourself to experience a chilling America of the very near future, as you discover the unforgettable secret of the Broken Angel.

In this engrossing, lightning-paced story with a post-apocalyptic edge, best-selling author Sigmund Brouwer weaves a heroic, harrowing journey through the path of a treacherous culture only one or two steps removed from our own.

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

Thursday, May 22, 2008

ETHEL MERTZ--Ode to the Sidekick


What would Lucy Ricardo be without Ethel? Think of all your comedy favorites, and then name their sidekick. Let's face it, every setup is so much more fun with a duo. If you haven't guessed by now, Ethel is my all-time favorite sidekick.

That's what I'm working on today--well, all this week, if I'm honest about it. I'm developing my heroine's sidekick. Originally I didn't have one, and I kept feeling like something important was missing from my story. Thankfully I'm less than 100 pages in before coming to this realization.

Here are my random thoughts on what a good sidekick does, and this is by no means an exhaustive list:

*A good sidekick shows the main character what they can't see about themselves through actions and dialogue. I think this works especially well if they have opposite personalities. Also, a good SK will tell it like she sees it. Think about it: Lucy always has a plan and is gung-ho. Ethel, on the other hand, is cautious and looks ahead to the consequences.

*A good sidekick adds to the conflict, or helps the heroine solve the conflict. Often, they are a partner in crime. Ethel may try to stay away from Lucy's plans, but in the end she's right there next to her.

*A good sidekick will help the main character see the motivations of others. This is especially important in first person books where the heroine can't know or see everything for herself. Many times this will be revealed in sounding board scenes. In my books they have a tendency to be in shopping or eating scenes.

*A good sidekick rounds out the main character. They don't upstage, but they are the proverbial wind beneath the MC's wings.

I love the sidekicks I've created thus far. In Table for One, the sidekick is level-headed Dinah who tells Lucy (heroine) to quit being paranoid. Lucy then responds, "Just because I'm paranoid, doesn't mean people aren't out to get me."

In Honey Do Inc., the sidekick is named Elle, and she tries to get Molly (heroine) to confront her feelings about love and men, all while trying to help Molly stay out of trouble.

Tell me about your favorite sidekicks--either TV/movie/book, or your own!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

I'M CAPABLE OF RANDOM VIOLENCE?

Well, I suppose it depends on traffic. Just kidding friends, but evidently I am lightning, which is pretty cool.









You Are Lightning




Beautiful yet dangerous

People will stop and watch you when you appear

Even though you're capable of random violence



You are best known for: your power



Your dominant state: performing







Take the quiz then come back and let us know!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

EMBRACE ME

Oh. Wow. I'd have to say that Embrace Me has my vote for most inventive storyline. If you gave me a million years, my brain would never come up with such a unique tale. The characters are fascinating and so human, and their spiritual journies are raw and true to life. I'm quickly becoming a Lisa Samson fan. Parting with this book is going to be hard, but I'll make the sacrifice. Leave your name and email in the comments, and I'll draw on Friday.






This week, the


Christian Fiction Blog Alliance


is introducing


Embrace Me


(Thomas Nelson March 4, 2008)


by


Lisa Samson




ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


Lisa Samson is a Christy Award-winning author of 19 books, including the Women of the Faith Novel of the Year, Quaker Summer. Lisa has been hailed by Publishers Weekly as "a talented novelist who isn't afraid to take risks."


In Embrace Me, the latest novel by acclaimed author Lisa Samson, readers are privy to the realization that regardless of outward appearances…hideous, attractive, or even ordinary…persons are all looking for the same things: love, forgiveness, and redemption.

This story explores a world that is neither comfortable nor safe, a world that people like Valentine know all too well. Masterfully crafted by Samson and populated by her most compelling cast of characters yet. It is a tale of forgiveness that extends into all spheres of life: forgiving others, forgiving oneself, forgiving the past.

She lives in Lexinton, Kentucky, with her husband and three kids.


ABOUT THE BOOK

Biting and gentle, hard-edged and hopeful...a beautiful fable of love and power, hiding and seeking, woundedness and redemption.


When a "lizard woman," a self-mutilating preacher, a tattooed monk, and a sleazy lobbyist find themselves in the same North Carolina town one winter, their lives are edging precariously close to disaster...and improbably close to grace.

Valentine, due to her own drastic self-disfigurement, ahs very few friends in this world and, it appears as if she may be destined to spend the rest of her life practically alone. But life gives her one good friend, Lella, whose own handicap puts her in the same freakish category as Valentine. As part of Roland's Wayfaring Marvel and Oddities Show, a traveling band of misfits, they seem to have found their niches in an often curiously cruel world.

Residing in a world where masks are mandatory, Valentine has a hard time removing hers, because of her disfigured face but more so because of her damaged soul. It is much easier for her to listen endlessly to different versions of a favorite song, Embraceable You, and escape reality. Yet, life has more in store for her when she meets Augustine, replete with the tattoos, dreadlocks, and his own secrets. With his arrival, Valentine's soul takes a turn.

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

To get this book, click HERE.

Leave your name and email addy in the comments for a chance to win! I'll hold the drawing on Friday.

Monday, May 19, 2008

SHOUTING FROM THE ROOFTOP

Happy Monday, Cyber Friends! I have some news to share, are you ready? Janet Benrey, of Benrey Literary, enjoyed my book, Honey Do Inc., and has agreed to represent me. Yes,

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We had the most pleasant conversation last Thursday, and I look forward to working with her. Things are looking good!
THE WINNER OF HEALING PROMISES IS...

Jo! Congratulations! I'll be contacting your shortly.

Thanks to all who entered. Remember to sign up for the feeds on the bottom left-hand side of the blog, that way you'll always know when another book goes up for grabs.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

HEALING PROMISES

This is a story of hope and faith, wrapped up in an exciting plot that has you hooked on page one. I'm also really impressed by the level of law enforcement/FBI research that had to go into the book. Very realistic. This week I get to share the fun! If you'd like to win a copy, please leave a comment with your email address at the bottom of the post. I'll draw a winner on Monday.




This week, the



Christian Fiction Blog Alliance



is introducing



Healing Promises



(Multnomah Publishers - April 15, 2008)



by



Amy Wallace


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:



Amy Wallace is the author of Ransomed Dreams, a homeschool mom, and a self-confessed chocoholic. She is a graduate of the Gwinnett County Citizens Police Academy and a contributing author of several books, including God Answers Moms’ Prayers and Chicken Soup for the Soul Healthy Living Series: Diabetes. She lives with her husband and three children in Georgia.

ABOUT THE BOOK

Facing a new threat.

When FBI Agent Clint Rollins takes a bullet during a standoff, it might just save his life. But not even the ugly things he’s seen during his years working in the Crimes Against Children Unit could prepare him for the overwhelming powerlessness of hospital tests revealing an unexpected diagnosis. If only Sara weren’t retreating into doctor mode…he needs his wife now more than ever.

Frozen in fear.

Sara Rollins is an oncologist with a mission–beating cancer when she can, easing her patients’ suffering at the very least. Now the life of her tall Texan husband is at stake. She never let the odds steal her hope before, but in this case, the question of God’s healing promises is personal. Can she hold on to the truth she claimed to believe?

Faith under fire.

As Clint continues to track down a serial kidnapper despite his illness, former investigations haunt his nightmares, pushing him beyond solving the case into risking his life and career. Clint struggles to believe God is still the God of miracles. Especially when he needs not one, but two. Everything in his life is reduced to one all-important question: Can God be trusted?

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

To purchase a copy, click HERE!
FINDING HOLLYWOOD NOBODY


My heart sighed with a warm, fuzzy feeling when I finished Finding Hollywood Nobody. Scotty, the heroine, was quirky and cute, and you can't help but cheer her on as she makes her way through life. It's a story about family, friendship, and acceptance, and the spiritual thread is the icing on the cake. The only thing that could have enhanced the story for me would be to have read the first book in the series. Author Lisa Samson does a great job of catching the reader up on what's happened, but I think I'd have really enjoyed book one. I definitely want to read book three when it comes out. If you have a teen girl in your life, I highly recommend Finding Hollywood Nobody!


Here's the blurb:


Scotty Fitzgerald, oft-neglected daughter of well-known Hollywood food stylist Charley, knows the “inside scoop” about the Hollywood stars we can’t get enough of. Having spent her life in an RV driving from set to set while her mom “styled food” for celebrities, Scotty sees what the fans do not. And she reveals it regularly on her Hollywood Nobody blog, though she’d rather be as far away from Hollywood as anyone can get. After all, Scotty has enough drama in her own life!


After learning that her ‘mother’ is really her grandmother, Charley finds out her real parents were probably killed in a mafia-style shooting reminiscent of The Sopranos. Scotty’s now certain a sinister “Biker Guy” who’s continued to track her and her mom must be connected to her parents’ shooting. There’s a pretty good chance, she decides, that he’s looking to finish the job by taking her life.


So Scotty and Charley do what they’ve always done—run and avoid the situation. But a life on the run is exhausting and Scotty’s had just about enough—enough to ignore Charley’s motherly direction and chart her own course. Let’s just hope it isn’t a course that puts her in the crosshairs of her own parents’ murderer.



About Lisa Samson :

Lisa Samson is the author of twenty books, including the Christy-Award-winning Songbird. Finding Hollywood Nobody is the second book in the Hollywood series. Lisa is the mother of three children. To learn more, visit lisasamson.typepad.com.

Q&A with Lisa Samson, author of Finding Hollywood Nobody

Q. Discovering who you are is a major theme in Finding Hollywood Nobody. Scotty feels compelled to learn more about her real parents when she discovers that her ?mother? is really her grandmother and that her parents were likely killed in a mafia-style shootout. What do you think principally defines who we are ? genetics & family or how we see ourselves?

A. Being no expert in such things, I really couldn't say. There are way too many stories of twins separated at birth, growing up in very different homes, who end up living very similar lives. So I'd say genetics plays a large part. But just look and see what happens to people who are raised with many more advantages than those who aren't. So family as well as social standing hold a lot of sway as well. And then . . . how we see ourselves is a large part, especially how we see ourselves in light of God. Do we really believe God loves us? So can I answer yes to all three? I think we tend to get in trouble when we try and reduce the human psyche to one principle issue, anyway. As the Bible says, "we are fearfully and wonderfully made."

Q. What would you recommend to people in a similar situation as Scotty either through adoption or other circumstances? In your opinion - is finding your genetic heritage worth risking everything?

A. I wouldn't recommend anything! I think every situation is different and I would recommend commiting the matter of finding one's biological parent to intense prayer before even thinking of making a move. Let the Spirit guide above all else.

Q. What was your inspiration behind the Hollywood Nobody series?

A. I I just wanted to write a fun series. There are a lot of good series out there with teens in a more typical home situation, with either one parent around or two, living in a town, going to school, dealing with friends. But I wanted to remove my main character from the everyday world teens find themselves in and see what she did. I'm fascinated by what happens in Hollywood so setting it in that world, but on its edges, was something interesting for me. I swear, there are times I read what's happening to some of these young actresses and singers and can hardly believe my ears. I wanted to be able to explore a teenage girl's reaction to some of these foibles.

Q. What can you tell us about what?s in store for Scotty in Book 3?

A. Scotty finds some romance! As does Charley. And, of course, Seth "hottie" Haas, finds himself feeling a little threatened! The search for her mother continues full force. The book takes place in the mountains surrounding Asheville, North Carolina on the set of a Scottish epic film. Lots of guys in kilts. i'm just sayin'!

To buy this book, CLICK HERE!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

TFO IS JOYFULLY RECOMMENDED!

The Joyfully Reviewed book review site has "Joyfully Recommended" Table for One for May! Here's a bit of their review:

"Table for One is a hilarious read. Georgiana Daniels wrote some down to earth characters in this book, and I had no problem believing the story. It felt like a good friend telling you about how she met her husband. Lucy is someone I would be a friend with, klutzy and funny. Edgar’s mother would make any woman hug her mother-in-law and thank them for being so kind. Edgar is sweet and patient; he is the underdog you have to root for."

For the complete review, click HERE.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

THE AUTHOR OF THE MYSTERY QUOTE IS...

...Elizabeth George. She's a fantastic writer--I mean absolutely. The fact that she'd have the same doubts as anyone else just astonishes me. Her books are so involving that I can't read them while I'm working on a manuscript because it seriously messes with my voice. (For my crit buds, that's when I start spewing out long, complicated sentences that somehow don't sound as wonderful as EG's.) Her new book came out, and I must lay hold of a copy as soon as I finish What Came Before He Shot Her. I need to mention here that her books take me a full week to read, so trying to work that in between projects is a project in itself =)

P.S. How come no one guessed Dr. Seuss?

Monday, May 12, 2008

WHO SAID THIS?

Writing continues to be a scary proposition for me,
as I don't see myself as particularly
talented and I wonder how much longer
I'll be able to massage novles out of my meager storehouse of gifts.
Daily, I show up at the computer, and I hope for the best.
But whenI'm reading someone's stunning first
novel--like Cold Mountain or Ingenious Pain,
a British first novel that I'm reading--I think, What am I doing?
My God, I am so insignificant a storyteller in comparison with these guys.
But then I tell myself that all I can do is my best,
telling the story as well as I can, leaving the rest up to God.


A. Tom Clancy
B. Elizabeth George
C. Me
D. James Patterson
E. Dr. Seuss


This is the easiest quiz ever, if you've been reading this blog for any length of time. That said, isn't it wonderful to know that everyone has their doubts, and that even the greats have to sit down and go through the same emotional process as the rest of us? Wow--it really is up to God. I just thought I'd share this quote today because I find it particularly inspiring as I set out to start another week. If you can't figure out the answer, I'll let you know tomorrow (wink, wink.)

Friday, May 09, 2008

THE WARRIORS


This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

The Warriors

(Bethany House April 1, 2008)

by

Mark Andrew Olsen



ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

MARK ANDREW OLSEN whose novel The Assignment was a Christy Award finalist, also collaborated on bestsellers Hadassah (now the major motion picture: One Night With the King), The Hadassah Covenant, and Rescued. His last novel was the supernatural thriller The Watchers.

The son of missionaries to France, Mark is a Professional Writing graduate of Baylor University. He and his wife, Connie, live in Colorado Springs with their three children.

ABOUT THE BOOK

A failed recon mission deep in the tunnels of Afghanistan has provoked a demonic onslaught that had been brewing for centuries. The mission's sole survivor is reformed black ops assassin Dylan Hatfield, and he once again teams up with Abby Sherman, now at the helm of the Watchers, an ancient spiritual force. Uncovering and preventing a secret wave of death whispered across cyberspace and threatening to be unleash against civilization will require another level of spiritual power and expertise--the Warriors.

Journeying across the Alps of Europe through the multilayered history of warfare in the unseen world, Dylan and Abby uncover an age-old stone engraving that rouses the church's Warriors to action, placing them dead center in one of the fiercest spiritual battles of their time!

And once again they are reminded: This is all part of a vast and perpetual war, a war beyond all human conflicts, one that has engulfed heaven and earth since before the dawn of history....

Abby Sherman is headed back to Israel, where a Watcher, the Sentinel of Jerusalem, lies dying. In her last breaths the old woman tells Abby of an ancient document prophesying humanity's full-scale entry into the ongoing conflict between armies of heaven and fallen angels.

Dylan Hatfield has decided to answer a summons from his old boss and join a secret operation, its mission to reconnoiter the Afghani tunnel complex from which Osama bin Laden escaped in 2001. What he discovers sears his very soul and likely will end his life.

Abby learns of the peril facing Dylan, and she sends out a call for intercession on his behalf. Her frantic email message sets in motion a series of harrowing events, propelling the two on a new mission and quest--one where the stakes are the lives of millions!

The Warriors is packed with high-octane action, featuring exotic international locales, with characters in a clash against spiritual "principalities and powers" with eternal consequences, The Warriors is a story that will enthrall, enlighten, and engage its readers.

If that piques your interest, you can read the first chapter HERE

"Olsen, one of the better writers in this subgenre, delivers powerful, action-packed plots that delve into mystical paranormal worlds."
~Library Journal, Feb. 2008

"Olsen delivers an entertaining thriller likely to be enjoyed especially by fans of the spiritual warfare genre."
~PUBLISHERS WEEKLY

CLICK HERE TO BUY THIS BOOK!

Thursday, May 08, 2008

MY FAVORITES HAVE SOMETHING IN COMMON

This has been the year of really good reading. If you've read my book reviews, you know that most of them are on the positive, upbeat side. I keep track of everything I read on Shelfari, and since the beginning of the year I've read 37 books--and only have 21 left on my shelf to read (on no!) As I browsed my "I have read" shelf I made myself pick my top three favorites of the year. These are in no particular order, and I listed them with my original thoughts when I did their reviews:

*Winter Haven, by Athol Dickson--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!

*Whispers of the Bayou, by Mindy Starns Clark--Is unputdownable a word? That's the only word to describe Whispers of the Bayou. The setting in this book is so rich it was like pulling out of a vivid dream everytime I had to stop reading--which I was loathe to do! This is one book that I did NOT want to end.”

*First the Dead, by Tim Downs--Talk about a gripping book! Even without having read the first two novels in the Bug Man series, I loved following forensic entomologist Nick Polchak in the early days after Hurricane Katrina. Both characterization and setting are stellar in this book to the point where I set everything else aside in order to read. I'm squeamish when it comes to creepy crawlies, but this is one case where bugs and bodies make the perfect blend.”

This was a super tough decision. After I picked, I noticed what they all had in common: amazing setting. The one thing that stayed with me was the sense of place and feeling that each book evoked. This is one area that I want to strengthen in my own manuscripts, and I have some work to do!

What have been your favorite books of '08, and why?

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

THE RACE IS ON!

It started last week: the big time crunch. Today we have not one, but TWO trips to gymnastics, three quick runs to grandma's house, and a two and a half hour vocal rehearsal this evening (where I can either entertain the tots on the other side of town, or race home and make a 2nd trip all the way back across town--gas prices, you know.)

I used to be a master at time management (in my own mind at least--wink, wink). Somewhere along the way I lost my skill--either that or things just got busier. Thankfully I don't have a 9-5 job! Needless to say, there's no way I'm going to get my word count in since I'll be playing chauffeur. Friends, this is just the beginning--as we shift into summer here in a few weeks, the schedule looks much the same all the way through.

For those of you in the rat race (9-5 job), or for those of you in the transportation field (a la me) how do you get those words pounded out? Stay up late? Get up early? Alphasmart? Must have ideas, as I am about to undergo another transition.

Monday, May 05, 2008

BEYOND A & B

When I decided to step back into romance and comedy, I thought it would be loads of fun to throw two people together who are opposites. An uptight business woman and a drifter. Hmm. Not only that, she'd be a Type A, and he'd naturally have to be an easy going B. So far, writing about these two has been a hoot, and I get a kick out of creating snappy dialogue (okay, to me it's snappy) and scenes where their personalities naturally create a bit of friction.

A few weeks ago I started reading Writing the Romantic Comedy, by Billy Mernit. Although it's geared toward screenwriters, it's taught me oodles of things I thought I knew, but didn't really have a handle on. For example, he says that characters have to have something specific the other one needs, whether they know it or not. And, "Your protagonists should come equipped-- like interlocking puzzle pieces--with just the right-shaped edges to match each other's profile."

Call me crazy, but this was a Light Bulb Moment for me. This whole concept not only creates some friction, it also creates completion. Wow. It gets even better than this, friends. I realized that this is the same thing that God does with us--it's the same thing He did with my husband and me. Two halves of the same whole. For example, my hubby loves to go out and do stuff, and I'm the quintessential homebody. Without him (and the kids) I'd be a hermit. Without me, he wouldn't stop to enjoy home base.

By now you're probably thinking I'm slow to the party because this is elementary stuff everyone already knows. And if I look at real life, I did know it, and it's something my husband and I have commented on before. So why didn't I think to apply it to my fiction? Duh. I don't know. I did it in Table for One, but I assure you it was intuitive (always-looking-for-fun girl falls for somewhat nerdy schoolteacher.) Now I can do it by design. This takes my Type A falls in love with Type B a step further.

It really goes to show that characterization is king. BTW, Kaye Dacus is doing an awesome series on writing romance right now, and she's incorporating scads of info using Writing the Romantic Comedy and other sources. This book is really adding some structure to my story, and it's refreshing to read examples from movies. In fact, this weekend we watched 27 Dresses and I was able to critically pick it apart. During the show I pointed out all the different elements to my family, which ironically they didn't appreciate. Hmm.....

So how about you? Do your lead characters fit together like puzzle pieces?

Friday, May 02, 2008

THE BIG PICTURE




This week, the


Christian Fiction Blog Alliance


is introducing


The Big Picture


(NavPress Publishing Group April 15, 2008)


by


Jenny B. Jones


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Jenny B. Jones is the author of A Katie Parker Production series. The other books in the series are In Between and On The Loose. Though now an adult, she still relates to the trauma and drama of teen life. She is thrilled to see her writing dreams come true, as her previous claim to fame was singing the Star Spangled Banner at a mule-jumping championship. (The mules were greatly inspired.)

Jenny resides in Arkansas, where, as a teacher, she hangs out with teens on a regular basis.

ABOUT THE BOOK
Sometimes there’s a fine line between comedy and tragedy—and Katie Parker is walking it.

School is winding down for the summer but Katie Parker is having a bad day. After leaving the drive-in, where her imploding love life was the main attraction, Katie arrives home to a big surprise on the Scott's front porch.

Her mother, Bobbie Ann Parker, a former convict and recovering addict, wants to take Katie away from her family, friends, and church. Now Katie's life will be changed by a series of dramatic choices as she struggles to understand what family and home really means.

Katie is forced to walk away from In Between, leaving behind a family who loves her, a town drive-in to save, and a boyfriend who suddenly can’t take his eyes off his ex. When the life her mother promised begins to sink faster than one of Maxine’s stuffed bras, Katie knows she needs to rely on God to keep it together.

But where is he in all this? Can Katie survive a chaotic life with her mother—and one without the Scotts? And if God is there, will he come through before it’s too late?

A Katie Parker Production series offers teen girls real-world fiction balanced by hope and humor. The The Big Picture helps us realize that the difficult chapters in our journey are only part of God's big story for our lives.

You can read the first chapter HERE


"A heroine to love. Jones just gets better with every book, and The Big Picture is her best one yet."
~BARBARA WARREN, author of The Gathering Storm


"Such inspiration in a package of fun and faith!"
~EVA MARIE EVERSON, author of the Potluck Club series

ME HERE: My teen daughter absolutely LOVED this book! Her only regret was not having read the other books, so no doubt we'll be making some purchases. One thing is sure, Jenny Jones has a new fan in our house!

Click HERE to buy this book!

Thursday, May 01, 2008

OH NO, I'M A BOY!





Your Brain is 47% Female, 53% Male



Your brain is a healthy mix of male and female

You are both sensitive and savvy

Rational and reasonable, you tend to keep level headed

But you also tend to wear your heart on your sleeve



Please tell me I'm not the only girl-boy here!
A PROMISE FOR TOMORROW


In the mid 1950’s small town, Sugar Hill, Alabama was quiet and sleepy in every way imaginable. Fannie Lea Rockwell has few pressing concerns, save for her dreadful nickname, Flea. Few concerns that is until she crosses paths with Mr. Boyd, Sugar Hill’s resident hermit and mysterious citizen. Mr. Boyd lives across the railroad tracks deep in the woods and his anti-social tendencies only fuel the gossip fire; its rumored that he keeps his daughter, Mavis, locked in the attic all day and that he brews moonshine in the woods behind his house.

One day when Flea and her brother, Rand, trespass on Mr. Boyd’s property to get a better view of Mavis, they encounter more than they bargained for. A grip around her waist, a knife to her throat and a threat on her life are quite enough to convince Flea to never return. His breath which smelled of rotting cabbage only served to fuel her fear.

As she unravels the mystery behind Mavis Boyd, Flea uncovers secrets of other Sugar Hill residents and soon discovers how little she actually knows her neighbors. Soon Flea will find herself in a life-or-death situation where she places herself in danger to save the life of someone more helpless than herself.

About Sara DuBose
Sara DuBose is a motivational speaker and author of three other novels: Where Hearts Live, Where Love Grows, and Where Memories Linger. Sara is also author of Conquering Anxiety, published by the Presbyterian Church in America. Her other writing credits include numerous articles and stories for publications such as The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Today’s Christian Woman, Virtue, Decision, The Christian Reader, and Family Life Today. She also appears in several anthologies published by Multnomah and Barbour. Sara received a first place fiction award from Putting Your Passion into Print and a first place fiction award from the Southeastern Writer’s Association. She currently travels as a speaker for seminars, festivals, civic clubs, schools and churches and may be contacted at www.saradubose.com. Sara and her husband live in Montgomery, Alabama. She is the mother of two daughters.

Q&A with Sara DuBose, author of A Promise for Tomorrow

Q. Everyone seems to be affected by today's tenuous economic environment. From housing to jobs, it seems there's always bad news on the 5 o'clock news. How can you 'live expectantly' in these uncertain times?

A. Sometimes our children show us how to live expectantly. Years ago I lifted my sick three-year-old from her bed and plopped us both in the rocking chair. Cherie felt hot and clammy. I was hot with fatigue and anxiety, having nursed sick people for over a month. I said, “Honey, I’m so sorry you are not feeling good.”

Sensing my frustration, Cherie pushed the hair back from my eyes and replied, “Dats all right, mama. We pray about it, den you won’t haf to worry.”

Can three or four-year-old children show us the way home? They can when our home is with the heart of God who said, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid” (John 14:27). So, whether it’s personal, financial, or even a global crisis, the Christian won’t find rest in another news report of the latest terrorist attack, freeway accident, or stock market slide. No, lasting peace is only found in Christ who lifts us from our sick bed of worry, pushes the hair back from our eyes, and rocks us for awhile.

Q. Worry seems to be the opposite of 'living expectantly,' but isn't some worry necessary for day-to-day life?

A. Yes, some anxiety or tension is warranted. We want to be alert when we pull into a six-lane highway at rush hour, take a test, or interview for a job. Above all, we want to be anxious to please God. As we begin to recognize and appreciate a holy, sovereign, just and merciful God we begin to lose our fear and anxiety over other people, our needs, adversities, or any uncertainties of life. The closer we draw to the Lord the further we withdraw from worry and fear.

Q. In A Promise for Tomorrow, Flea learns a lot about God's promises to His children. What can we derive from His promises for tomorrow?

A. Flea observes, and later interacts, with a neighbor who has become a victim of her circumstances. By applying what she has learned from her father and through her own spiritual growth she is able to offer a compassionate reprimand. Flea also learns the truth of Proverbs 17:22: “A cheerful heart is good medicine.” As the story progresses, Flea begins to understand a basic principle. Life is hard, but it can still be lived with hope.

Q. I've heard it said that faith is the opposite of fear, but many times Christians feel afraid even though they have faith that God will deliver them from the situation at hand. How do you balance faith and fear?

A. Yes, Christians are sometimes afraid just as Christ’s disciples were fearful during a storm (Luke 8: 22-25). In fact, those guys panicked as the squall continued and the boat began to sink. After bailing the water with little results, they called to their sleeping Savior. Three words from Jesus and the winds and waves obeyed.

“Quiet! Be still!” Then came the questions. “Why are you so afraid? Where is your faith?”

I think we should take note of these questions. Jesus didn’t say, “You have no faith,” but he did tell them to exercise it. As you and I apply our faith, fear must leave because faith and fear don’t belong in the same mind. Alarm, fear, and worry should never rule our lives, not when Jesus is in the boat with us.

ME HERE: Readers nostalgic for the 1950's will especially enjoy this book. The setting comes across beautifully, seen through the eyes of a child. Click here to buy this book.
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