Tuesday, September 29, 2009

I'm getting a present!

Okay... so I have been having so much trouble being productive on my book. A lot of it is pain related.

Some of you may not know - but I have fibromyalgia. It's not so bad, but I just cannot sit in my chair for very long before I am just in terrible pain. I have to get up and wander. I can't walk long either - so I end up on our love seat - where I can shift position often and I have back support and all that. It's the most comfortable place for me.

However, it doesn't help me write when my computer is in the office.

My hubby surprised me and volunteered to get me one of those mini laptops - so I could use it for my writing. It won't be for anything else - and I know they have their limitations... but to use to write... it will be wonderful! I will be able to get so much more done!

You all may see that book yet. lol

Anyway, it won't get here until mid Oct probably (we ordered a Dell) but I am on cloud nine. :o)

Monday, September 28, 2009

Mailbox Monday

I am without my computer... (borrowing hubby's for this post). So this will be a little bland as I won't be adding the pics to go with the titles. Bear with me.

I finally got in my box from Library & Educational Services today (I hope that counts). In any case, if you all don't know about them, they sell books at a great discount for special... qualifiers. Like I qualify as a homeschooler, pastors qualify... I don't know all the other groups that do - but I could check it out. They send out some paper mailings and e-mail specials. Their books lean towards the educational and Christian.

They do not accept credit cards - only checks and possibly PayPal... I can't remember.

In any case if you want more info, you can ask me about it or look them up.

The books I got today were:

A Bride in the Bargain by Deeanne Gist 8.25 (amazon 10.19)
No Place for a Lady by Maggie Brendan 8.35 (amazon 11.19)
Montana Rose by Mary Connealy 6.48 (amazon 7.89)
That Certain Spark by Cathy Marie Hake 8.25 (amazon (10.05)
The Bachelor's Bargain by Catherine Palmer 8.18 (amazon 10.39)
Green (Hardcover) by Ted Dekker 15.85 (amazon 15.20 - and they lowered it after I bought it here)

I also got 20% off my order and so I saved an additional 11.07. That made it even cheaper to buy from them.

I am thrilled and ready to get started reading!

Friday, September 25, 2009

Two for the Price of One

Title: The Jewel of His Heart

Author: Maggie Brendan

ISBN: 978-0-8007-3350-6

From the back cover:

Juliana Brady is alone in an 1890s Montana mining town, with few prospects for making a living. But she is determined not to be dependent on the charity of others.

Josh McBride is trying to scrape up a living from his sheep herd while he builds his ranch. But when he discovers some rare stones on his property, he’s tempted by the prospect of fast money.

When their paths cross, Juliana and Josh must make a choice—the world’s riches and promises, or the eternal value of love.


I really do despise reading a series out of order; and I am currently expecting book one in the mail… But I got this first and had nothing else new to read but boring old writing books. {wink} I just couldn’t wait. I finished it in less than a day.

I identified with this book and the characters on many levels. Juliana didn’t want to be dependent on others—a charity case. I have felt the same way with the limitations my health has placed on me. There is also the whole idea of how people associate or identify with you and how your personality is… perceived by others. Sometimes they can be mistaken. I have experienced that firsthand as well. I dabble in jewelry ~ and sapphires are my birthstone, so the whole history of the Yogo Sapphire was fascinating.

In fact, I found a wonderful pic that shows the color range of Yogos to share with you. Unlike other stones, they are not heated or treated in any way – and are said to be just as beautiful in artificial light as they are in sunlight. I would love to see one in real life one day.

The characters all interacted in a natural way that was at once heartening and challenging. The author did such good work on all her characters that I expected even the smaller ones to walk into the room and sit down on the couch beside me. The love story between Josh and Juliana was beautiful, passionate and touching. I think Maggie has done a beautiful job and I can’t wait to read the rest of the series.

PS ~ On a personal note, my leady lady and hero have names that start with the same letter as well. I was told that can be off-putting to some editors. My own editor never mentioned it to me, and neither did any of my readers. I was happy to say I never even noticed it until I went to write the review for these two and realized that in some ways the names starting the same was another bond for them… a way to make them seem connected. Saying their names together “sounds” good. That’s my opinion – what’s yours?


Title: The Art & Craft of Writing Christian Fiction

Author: Jeff Gerke

ISBN: 978-0-9821049-6-5

I’m going to break away from my normal routine of telling what is on the back cover because this isn’t fiction. Perhaps I should still share it, but I’m making an executive decision here. {wink}

I don’t know if Jeff’s book was the most helpful book I’ve ever read on writing. I do know it was the most fun. It was also the most well-organized. Each area is broken down into manageable chunks that make it easy to go back to a section you want to look up later. I will remember sections and look them up again too—if just for the fun of it. I loved the way he explained things with creative language, references to popular movies and excerpts from his own writing… I felt as if I were talking to someone who was coaching me through the process in a fun, approachable way.

Make no mistake, there is plenty of good information wedged between those softcovers. Each time he added a mistake new writers make, or some horrible manuscript that had crossed his desk, I shuddered to think how he would respond to my manuscript.

Perhaps that and keeping his book placed prominently on my desk will be enough for me to avoid making some of those errors. Maybe I should read it again—just to make sure I’ve crafted my lightsaber properly.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Splash Award

I just received The Splash Award from my friend Lori @ Some of My Favorite Books! Thank you so much, Lori!! I am honored to receive this award. Isn't it beautiful?!?!

The Splash Award is given to alluring, amusing,
bewitching, impressive, and inspiring blogs.

When you receive this award, you must:

- Put the logo on your blog/post.
- Nominate & link up to 9 blogs which allure, amuse, bewitch, impress or inspire you.
- Let them know that they have been splashed by commenting on their blog.
- Remember to link to the person from whom you received your Splash Award.

Now Lori knows I am new to blogging and she knows everyone I know, so it is hard for me to come up with new blogs... but here are a couple:

1. Edgy Inspirational Author Blog
2. Rants and Ramblings on Life as a Literary Agent
3. Woman of Faith

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Conflict/Tension ~ Balance

Lori's review the other day got me thinking about conflict & tension in the books we read/write. As a writer I know that every good book needs conflict in order to keep a story moving. We are taught that every character needs a goal, motivation to obtain that goal, and conflict that gets in the way of obtaining the goal.

As a reader we like the tension that conflict in a story provides, even if we don't consciously think about why we like it or what the author is doing to keep us riveted to the page.

I used to attend a women's Bible study led a good friend of mine who taught us all kinds of things from the very Martha (practical) to the very Mary (spiritual). We all agreed that spiritual things are practical ~ so no hate mail. lol The thing I remember most about her sessions is that we would always get around to the principle of "balance."

For example ~

It is good to clean and organize your house, and she shared tips on how to do this more effectively ~ but if you let cleaning your house become your priority instead of your relationship with God and your family... you are out of balance. You have missed what is better.

It is good to want to look pretty for your spouse and there is nothing wrong with "cleaning up" and sprucing up to try and impress him/her ~ but if you become vain and care only about how you look and what kind of impression you make on others... you are out of balance.

You really can do the whole balance idea with just about anything. I remember we would get to that point in the study and one of us would say, "It's the whole balance thing, isn't it?" Everyone would groan and/or smile. Of course it is.

Balance is necessary with conflict too. That's what I meant when I was talking with Lori about conflict with one of the reviews she shared. We need the books we read to engage us and tug at our hearts. We need to want to pull for them. In order to have that need - they have to be going through something... fighting something... overcoming. If not, what's the point? On the other hand.... Let's say this happens...

If an author takes your hero and in scene one you meet him and like him. He's a nice guy with a good job, close relationship to his mother, has a neat cat that does tricks and just met a really pretty girl - and suddenly he's in a terrible car accident with his new girlfriend; you want them to recover, right? You think this book will be about them overcoming and recovering from the car accident. Then - the very next scene a nurse comes in and puts a strange liquid in the IV and your character begins to convulse in the bed... someone has tried to kill him!

Let's say he survives that and the police show up and start and the investigation and post guards at the door. One of the guards has to go to the bathroom and the other falls asleep and yet another attempt is made - this time with a pillow. Your hero fights with the person, scratching their arm... and the police come in and arrest the villain only to find out it's just a hired killer who promptly commits suicide.

Then your hero is released and finds out the new girlfriend died in the crash, his mom died today and his cat ran away. So he has nobody to comfort him. He isn't allowed to travel to the funeral because of the investigation - and his boss fired him because he didn't show up for work - you know, when he was in the hospital because he was hit by a car. The landlord has decided to raise the rent, and without a job, our hero will be out on the streets if he can't come up with the money in two days. He walks down to the ATM to get some cash so he can at least get some dinner and finds that all his accounts have been emptied. Someone accessed his information and took every last penny and now he's worried they may have stolen his identity too.

A little much? See by now I would have already put down the book and reached for the phone number of the nearest suicide hotline. How depressing! Balance, it's important.

Of course ~ I'm new at this whole writing business, and as some have said, "Where am I going wrong with this?" Let me know what you think.
By the way ~ because I started with a car accident, and talked about tension, I didn't want anyone to think I was talking about The Familiar Stranger. I reviewed that book earlier in my blog and LOVED it. I think Christina Berry did a fabulous job of balancing it all.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Reading Meme

(I found this meme over at Some of My Favorite Things and decided to participate.)

Today's challenge is a Reading Meme. I am encouraged to be creative with this.
Please choose one or two questions to answer or try to answer all the questions in five words or less. Or choose a picture to answer a question! Brevity is the goal of today! I chose to answer the questions in as few words as possible!

Do you snack while you read? If so, favorite reading snack?
Sometimes...Baked Tostitos.

Do you tend to mark your books as you read, or does the idea of writing in books horrify you?
I wouldn't mark my books.

How do you keep your place while reading a book...Bookmark? Dog-ears? Laying the book flat open?
Bookmarks & laying it open (ducks)

Fiction, Non-fiction, or both?

Hard copy or audiobooks?
Hard copy

Are you a person who tends to read to the end of chapters, or are you able to put a book down at any point?
I can can stop anywhere.

If you come across an unfamiliar word, do you stop to look it up right away?

What are you currently reading?

What is the last book you bought?
The Edge of Light.

Are you the type of person that only reads one book at a time or can you read more than one at a time?
More than one.

Do you have a favorite time of day and/or place to read?
The couch ~ all the time.

Do you prefer series books or stand alone books?
Stand alone, unless the series is finished.

Is there a specific book or author that you find yourself recommending over and over? I hate to do that because there are too many good ones... Julie Lessman, Sharlene MacLaren, Kaye Dacus...

How do you organize your books? (By genre, title, author’s last name, etc.?) By genre, series, size, author's last name...It depends on what works best for that type of book.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

The Familiar Stranger

Title: The Familiar Stranger
Author: Christina Berry
ISBN: 978-0-8024-4731-9

From the back cover:

"Why is Craig so cold and distant? Denise wonders. Is it his job? The family? Or is it me? Though she’s poured her heart into her marriage, years of enduring his long hours, frequent times away, and short temper have left her with a deep sadness.

Then one morning in the middle of church her cell phone rings. Embarrassed, she heads to the lobby takes the call…and is shocked by the news she hears. Craig’s been in an accident.
So begins their fresh start. While keeping vigil by his bedside she wills herself to make their marriage work, whatever the cost. And when Craig finally regains consciousness, he appears to want the same thing—except for one detail. He doesn’t know who she is.

Nor does he remember anything about their life, their children, or why he was parked on the side of the freeway when the accident occurred. As he struggles to recall the past, he also shows a new love for Denise characterized by tender strength and consideration. So what is she to do when ugly betrayals emerge? Is it possible to forgive a man who thoroughly violated her trust? How many more lies and secrets are yet to be discovered?
And then, without warning, his memories come flooding back… "

Wow! I kept saying that over and over as I read this book. I just couldn’t believe the next surprise~ the next twist… Christina Berry amazed me with the not only the revelations her characters dealt with, and their responses to it – but how believable it all was. I was reading this incredible story and the people in it seemed as flesh and bone as my own sons and husband in the next room.

Denise is not perfect, but she is the kind of woman you want to be. She is brave, forgiving, loves God and her family. Her sons reminded me so much of my own – including their near opposite personalities. I was heartbroken at the hurt and inspired by the healing that happened in the book.

If I had a negative it would only be that the end came too swiftly and I would have loved for that storyline to continue.

I am always more ... "open" on my blog and tell you all what I was thinking and feeling even more than I share on my website and the reviews I do on Amazon and places like that... I have to tell you that this book caught me totally off guard. I was prepared not to like it. I liked the author's page and her personality seemed wonderful - but when I read the back cover and I thought about the premise of reading about a bad marriage and could she forgive betrayals... well I just don't read stuff that depresses me. I like to be inspired and happy. Call it lazy of me. I am not one of those deep literary types that needs angst to survive. I like my happy endings.

This book did challenge me - and it did inspire me. It gave me so much more than a happy ending. I cannot believe this is her first book. It makes me want to shred my manuscript and start over again. You really should read it. I hope you will and I hope you like it.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

What do you Read?

I got this from Christy at Southern Sassy Things who originally found this over on J. Kaye's Book Blog, but then went and got the original from Psychotic State's blog. I thought it looked like a great list and asked her permission to use it on my blog as well. :o)

1. What author do you own the most books by?
I am not sure. It would probably be either Jane Austen, Max Lucado or John Piper.

2. What book do you own the most copies of?
The Bible, I have every kind of translation/format I can come up with. I think the last time I counted there were something like 20.

3. What fictional character are you secretly in love with?
Secretly? It's no secret that Darcy won my heart... and Julie Lessman had me practically panting for Collin.

4. What book have you read more than any other?
The Bible

5. What was your favorite book when you were 10 years old?
Hmm... I think it was probably The Girl With the Silver Eyes.

6. What is the worst book you've read in the past year?
I don't know. I wouldn't want to say even if I did remember because I wouldn't want to hurt anyone's feelings.

7. What is the best book you've read in the past year?
I have read a lot of good books this past year. I don't know that I could narrow it down. I really liked Self Editing for Fiction Writers by Renni Browne & Dave King. That has been the most helpful writing book (overall) that I have read so far. I read a secular fiction book called Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict by Laurie Viera Rigler. It was witty ~ and had a twist that was totally unexpected. I enjoyed it. My favorite books overall would have to have been The Daughters of Boston series by Julie Lessman. I loved all three of those books. I lost myself in the setting, loved the people... and I re-read them. That is the ultimate test of a truly good read. It may be a wonderful book and you may enjoy it and put it down with a feeling of contentment ~ but if you want to pick it back up again, then you know it's a great book.

8. If you could tell everyone you tagged to read one book, what would it be?
I don't know... if not the Bible ~ Pride and Prejudice.

9. What is the most difficult book you've ever read?
Oliver Twist. I think I believed and saw it all too perfectly. I was so depressed reading that book.

10. Do you prefer the French or the Russians?

11. Shakespeare, Milton or Chaucer?

12. Austen or Eliot?
Austen ~ I love Jane Austen.

13. What is the biggest or most embarrassing gap in your reading?
I don't know... I read just about every day. I cant think of a time when I skipped.

14. What is your favorite novel?
Pride and Prejudice

15. What is your favorite play?
Les Miserables

16. Poem?
If - by Rudyard Kipling

17. Essay?
I don't know.

18. Short Story?
I don't read a lot of them - but I used to read some Father Brown stories.

19. Nonfiction?
I like Max Lucado, John Piper, Charles Swindoll... those kinds of things for spiritual nonfiction. My favorite writing books have been Self Editing for Fiction Writers by Browne & King, The Fire in Fiction by Donald Maass, and The Art & Craft of Writing Christian Fiction by Jeff Gerke.

20. Graphic Novel?
I don't read them.

21. Science Fiction?
I haven't really read any of that. I watch it on TV, but I haven't read any.

22. Who is your favorite writer?
Hmmm, I read a lot of different people and I wouldn't know what to pick. Classics - Jane Austen. People alive today? That's much harder.... I like so many. Too many to choose.

23. Who is the most overrated writer alive today?
Oh my ~ what a loaded question! I wouldn't touch this one with a 10 foot pole. I have no idea. I think I am too new to judge this anyway.

24. What are you reading right now?
I just finished The Familiar Stranger by Christina Berry and I am getting ready to write a review on it. Great book, by the way. lol

25. Best memoir?
I don't read memoirs.

26. Best history?
A History book? Who likes those? lol I actually have some that are kind of fun to read made by American Vision. They are the "To Pledge Allegiance" series. They have lots of pics, fun inserts, timelines and don't sound as dry.

27. Best mystery or noir?
I don't read a whole lot of mystery either. I read one called Evidence of Murder by Jill Elizabeth Nelson that was well done. It was really more of a suspense than mystery though.

Feel free to grab these questions for yourself, just give the proper credit for the original blogs please. Thanks! :o)

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Heartfelt Award

Thank you to Lori at Some of My Favorite Things for presenting me with this award. I am honored and humbled to receive it.

Do you reach for a cup of cocoa or tea when you're relaxing, seeking comfort, or sharing a plate of cookies with family and friends? You know the feeling you get when you drink a yummy cup of cocoa, tea, or a hot toddy? That is what the Heartfelt Award is all about...feeling warm inside.

The Rules for the Heartfelt Award are:

1) Put the logo on your blog/post.
2) Nominate up to 9 blogs which make you feel comfy or warm inside.
3) Be sure to link to your nominees within your post.
4) Let them know that they have been nominated by commenting on their blog.
5) Remember to link to the person from whom you received your award.

I am nominating~

1. Elizabeth Byler Younts
2. Susan Hollaway
3. Linore Rose Burkard
4. Michelle Sutton

I am new to blogging, so I don't know very many "people" yet. Everyone has been warm and welcoming and I thank God for each person who has crossed my path. May God bless you all.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Title: The Transformation: Blue Church
Author: Terri Kraus
ISBN: 978-0-7814-4867-3

From the back cover: "Oliver Barnett is a good contractor, a good Christian, and an obedient son, never in trouble, never one to rock the boat… until real-estate developer Samantha Cohen enters his life and offers him a controversial renovation project: Transform an historic church into a restaurant/night club. Samantha, full of life, vitality, and wit, is unlike any woman he has ever known—in more ways than one. However, with Samantha's less-than-innocent past and the fact that she's Jewish, Oliver's not sure if he should get involved with her or the Blue Church project.
At the same time, Oliver's old girlfriend Paula rekindles a long-ago relationship with him—with the enthusiastic encouragement of his domineering mother. Paula would be the safe choice, and the choice that would appease Mom, yet Oliver is drawn to Samantha because of her beauty and her exotic nature. Oliver finds himself in a most unsettling dilemma. Does he do what's right by the nice girl his mother has chosen for him or does he follow his heart?"
The entire theme of this novel is redemption from beginning to end. Nearly all the characters have some need for it. I think that is very reflective of our world today. I liked the way the author treated the issues of past sins and how the church and people in general react to them. Some are too afraid to go there at all, some are very critical, and some let those sins determine the path for the rest of their lives. I think God's mercy is a lot more extensive than many people are willing to extend—even to themselves. I also appreciated the way the author treated the Jewish culture and traditions with respect while still holding fast to the truth. Samantha, Paula, Oliver, Taller and even Robert the dog, became very real to me as I stepped into these pages and watched not just a building transform—but their lives as well. It's a beautiful reminder of what God can and does do each and every day.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

The Blue Enchantress

Title: The Blue Enchantress
Author: M.L. Tyndall
Publisher: Barbour
ISBN: 978-1-60260-157-4

From the back cover:

"Still grieving the loss of her mother-and private tragedies of her own -Hope Westcott plays the part of a dutiful admiral's daughter. But longing for the love and acceptance she never felt at home, Hope plunges into Charles Towne society... and an illicit affair with Lord Faulkland.

For Captain Nathaniel Mason, wealth means security, so he is determined to build his shipping business-ignoring God's call on his life to become an impoverished pastor. He also ignores his attraction to the frivolous, vain Hope Westcott.

Hope's adventure seeking lands her in the hands of an unscrupulous ship captain who wants to sell her to the highest bidder. When Nathaniel sees Hope on the auction block, will he listen to God and sacrifice his ship, cargo, and security to save her?

From the Carolina Coast to the Caribbean, through stormy seas and shipwreck, can Hope and Nathaniel put aside their painful pasts, listen to God's voice, and find true love and acceptance?"
In The Blue Enchantress we meet Hope Westcott, a woman so shaped by tragedy in her past that she has let it define her attitudes towards herself, the men she meets, and God. Just as one major event changed the course of her life and another may have the chance to set it on an entirely new path… if she lets it. Captain Nathaniel Mason has always equated wealth with security. He is a decent, hard-working man who has literally built his shipping business with his own two hands. He is a leader with much to admire, but he is not following the voice of God because of his own fears and insecurities. The two meet when Hope has been put on the auction block by a dishonest Captain due to her own bad choices. Recognizing her as someone he knew from home, he can't stand by and see her sold off as a slave, but purchasing her costs him his ship and seems to be only the beginning of his bad luck. He's both drawn to her and yet repelled by her apparent lack of morals. She's grateful to him, and wants to be with him, and yet hates the condescending way he and the other people on the ship treat her. She always has relied on her charm and appearance to win over men and this seems only to drive him away and cause her more troubles on their journey. Unlike cookie cutter heroes and leading ladies, these two struggled with everything from outright jealousy, misunderstandings, not listening to God's leading, having their lives put in jeopardy, being betrayed by a friend… It was an exciting book and I never knew where the next chapter would lead. I wanted them to find happiness together, but I also had to pull for them to survive, to make peace with God, to outmaneuver the bad guys… The other characters were just as complex and wonderful as the two main characters.It was an adventurous, romantic tale that shouldn't be missed. I can't wait for the next installment.

This is one of the very first books I agreed to review. I had just read "The Red Siren" and was so thoroughly swept away by the adventure and romance that I approached the author myself when I heard her new book was coming out and she might be interested in people reviewing it. I was shocked when she agreed. I have to admit I lacked some patience while waiting for that package to arrive, but it didn't take me long to devour the book once it did.

If you'd like a chance to own it for yourself, there is a drawing on my website (listed in my profile) that will be held on the 15th of September.

I think sometimes inspirational fiction has stayed in the slow lane ~ making sure to avoid anything that might be... "unseemly." I don't want to write anything to cause anyone to stumble either, but I have to admit I love books like this - filled with action, passion, romance, integrity and truth. I don't think we need to settle for boring and bland in order to honor God. I think He's pleased by the creativity and spunk these authors (I could name quite a few lately) show too. When I grow up I hope to be like them.