Friday, December 28, 2007

The Friday Five

Five movies guaranteed to make me cry:

1. Shenendoah, (1965) When Boy comes in the back door of the church and they all break into the Doxology, I cry...every time...and I've seen the movie at least fifteen times.

2. Apollo 13 (1995). The tension while the astronauts are out of radio communication is terrible. Then, the wide shot where mission control bursts out in cheers makes me burst out in tears.

3. A Time to Kill (1996) When Carl Lee Hailey comes out of the courthouse and wraps his daughter in a huge hug...and the background music is "Precious Lord, Take My Hand" the tears well up.

4. A Walk in the Clouds (1995) Just a beautiful movie. Paul (Keanu Reeves) is a wonderful character. When they find the last little bit of life in the burned grapevine, and the father realizes what he's done to the entire family...well, pass me the Kleenex!

5. The Green Berets (1968) Petersan! Petersan! Nuff said. Sniff, sniff....

How about you? Do you have a movie guaranteed to bring on the tears?

Tuesday, December 25, 2007



Please join me in congratulating my friend and crit partner, KAYE DACUS! She has sold her first book, Happy Endings, Inc. to Barbour. The book will release in January of 2009. Stop by Kaye's website and congratulate her.

I'm so excited. BOTH my crit partners have gotten book contracts this year. WOOHOO! and MERRY, MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!

The Twelve Days of Christmas ~ Day Twelve

On the twelfth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me....

The Gift of Love

God's Gift of Love
by Kathleen Y'Barbo

Love. It seems as though everyone these days is either in desperate avoidance of it, in the heart wrenching process of losing it, or in the giddy throes of finding it. Some have given up on it while others believe they will know it when they see it. All of us hope when it’s our turn, the love we get - and give - will be unconditional.

But can flawed humans really offer unconditional love?

Oh, we try. If you’re a parent you know the depth of love you felt the first moment you saw that precious baby of yours. Then there’s the feelings you carried up the aisle to join your beloved at the altar. Or perhaps love to you is counted by the nights spent at a parent’s bedside. The thread of love winds through each of these, and yet it is the rare parent, spouse, or child who would admit to having loved perfectly. We are human and sadly flawed, even when we act with the best of intentions.

There is only one unconditional love that never fails. Only one love that never turns a blind eye, says the wrong thing, or procrastinates rather than acts. The love of the Father, our Heavenly Father, is perfect in every way. Not only is His love unconditional, but He also loves us in spite of who we are and not for what we are. How wonderful to know that the God of the universe loves us.

Not just love in the way we see it, the stars-in-our-eyes crazy-about-my-baby love, but a depth of feeling exponentially more than anything our flawed but well intentioned hearts could imagine.

So today, when you’re reminded of that tiny baby, Jesus Christ the Creator-made-flesh, think of the love it took to accomplish this holy miracle of unconditional love. To put on the fingers and toes of an infant and come to us as Savior was the beginning of a love story that has no end.

Kathleen Y’Barbo
Kathleen Y'Barbo is the author of Beloved Castaway and countless other books. For more information visit

Monday, December 24, 2007

The Twelve Days of Christmas ~ Day Eleven

On the eleventh day of Christmas, my true love gave to me....

The Gift of An Uncluttered Christmas

God's Gift of An Uncluttered Christmas
by Cyndy Salzmann

It was enough to curl my toes. And a quick glance at the other mothers in the audience told me I wasn’t the only one who felt that way.

So what horrendous experience caused such a reaction from a room full of moms? A violent or sexually explicit movie? A challenge from Doctor Phil to “get real” and ‘fess up about our parenting faux pas? Or a pan of the audience spotlighting a really bad hair day?

Actually, the event that caused such a panic among this audience of mothers occurred during the Christmas program at my daughter’s school.

Things started innocently enough when the girls marched out onto the stage swinging colorful shopping bags. Of course, they were adorable and the apples of their mothers’ eyes. The trouble began when the girls opened their mouths and sang…

Hurry! Hurry! Hurry!

Scurry! Scurry! Scurry!

Worry! Worry! Worry!

Christmastime is here!

As I said, it was enough to curl my toes. Just the thought of all that hurrying, scurrying and worrying to prepare for Christmas gave me a full-blown a hot flash. No wonder depression peaks during the holidays. Faced with all that stress, I wouldn’t want to get out of bed either.

Once my hot flash ceded, I began to realize that this is just where Satan wants us – dreading the celebration of the most precious gifts to mankind – the birth of Jesus Christ. And frankly, it made my blood boil – almost bringing on another hot flash. I decided right then that he wasn’t going to get away with it.

We have a choice on how much hurrying, scurrying and worrying we do. And this year I hope you’ll make a commitment to join me in uncluttering your Christmas by jumping off the treadmill and keeping your eyes on the true reason for the season.

BTW- I have a tip sheet with practical ideas and advice to help you to simplify your holidays and focus on Jesus’ birth. Just contact me at and I’ll email you a copy.

Cyndy Salzmann is the author of Crime & Clutter, book two in the highly acclaimed Friday Afternoon Mystery series published by Howard Books. As America’s Clutter Coach, Cyndy is a popular national speaker and radio personality. Cyndy, her husband and three children, live in Omaha, Nebraska. For more information visit

Friday, December 21, 2007

The Friday Five

The Friday Five:
My Five Favorite Christmas decorations:
1. Bubble lights. I have a string of bubble lights in the garland decorating the top of my entertainment center.
2. Angel lights. These clear plastic angels have golden wings, and each has a white light in the base. I have three strings of these angels on my tree.
3. My Wizard of Oz Jingle Bells. Being from Kansas, I love all things Oz related. My mom gave me a set of glass jingle bell ornaments of Dorothy, The Scarecrow, The Tin Man, and the Cowardly Lion.
4. Red Poinsettia lights. We have to keep these high on the tree because my goofy cat has a taste for silk flowers and will munch on them if she gets the chance.
5. Nativity sets. I have 7 sets in my living room right now.
On the flip side, here are some Christmas decorations I do NOT like:
1. Tinsel. What a mess, and it looks cheezy to me.
2. Anything you blow up and put in your yard. Santas, snowmen, trees, giant snowglobes.
3. Flocking. Again, what a mess.
4. Pink, blue, silver aluminum Christmas trees. Blech.
5. Dancing Santas. Nuff said.
How about you? Got any favorites. Any Blech?

The Twelve Days of Christmas ~ Day Ten

On the tenth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me....

The Gift of Memories

God's Gift of Memories
by Marlo Schalesky

Memory is a powerful thing. We hear a song from our high school days and we’re transported to sweaty school dances and blasting the radio in our first car. The smell of brownies baking takes us back to pigtails and ponies. We drive by the house we lived in as a kid and remember the swingset in the backyard and how that rotten kid from next door blew spitwads through the hole in the fence.

Ever gotten sick on a type of food? You’ll never want to have that again. And don’t even think about naming your child after that whiny little brat that sat behind you in the fourth grade, even if your spouse loves that name.

Memory. It’s why we treasure photos, display mementos, keep in touch with people from our past. It’s why God set up festivals for the ancient Israelites and told them to erect memorials at significant places in their history.

Memory. It’s why the sight of a stuffed stocking takes me back to those early mornings in my childhood when my brother and I would wake up before dawn, run to the fireplace, get our stockings, and race back to my parents’s bed. Mom was always ready. Dad pretended to complain. And together, with lots of giggling and the thrill of anticipation, we’d pull out the gifts from our stockings one by one. Simple things, boring really. Candy. A toothbrush. Some silly plastic toy. Things that would be used up or forgotten in just a few short weeks. And yet, opening stockings is my favorite Christmas memory from childhood.

Why? I think it’s because good memories are not necessarily made from the “big stuff.” Rather, they’re fashioned out of warmth and happiness and times together. They’re woven with laughter, colored with simple, plain joy. They come from times when you experience love.

So, this year, I’m thinking about the memories I’m making now, for my kids, and for myself. I don’t want those memories to be ones of a Mom who’s running around with too much to do and too little time to do it. I don’t want them to be of hustle, bustle, shopping, wrapping, cooking, cards, and gifts thrown under the tree. I don’t even want them to be of the cool stable-and-horse set that my girls will unwrap on Christmas morning. Or the cheap kid’s guitar for my oldest (age 7), or the new “ooo-ahh” (stuffed gorilla) for one of my 2-year-old twins.

Because the toys will break, get old, get lost, or they’ll outgrow them. But they won’t outgrow the happy memories of family times together. The memories of decorating Christmas cookies with laughter and joking – those won’t get old. The times we make a gingerbread house together, or sit down and watch the Grinch – those won’t break. The simple things make the best memories. Times when we’re together as a family, having fun, enjoying the traditions we’re building together.

So, that’s my goal this Christmas, to weave memories of peace, love, togetherness, because that’s the best gift I can think of to celebrate Jesus’ birth -- Memories that bring a smile to the face of children . . . and to the face of the King.

For more about the power of memories in our lives, check out Marlo's next novel, Beyond the Night, releasing in May. A woman in a hospital bed, a man sitting beside her, and between them, a memory that can set her free. Find out more at:

Thursday, December 20, 2007

The Twelve Days of Christmas ~ Day Nine

On the ninth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me....
The Gift of Story

God's Gift of Dreams and Story
by Melody Carlson

A dream doesn’t always seem like a gift from God, but sometimes I’ll experience one so vivid and amazing that I can’t help but think God is at work. I remember a dream that woke me in the middle of the night about ten years ago. I was so moved that I felt compelled to write it down. In my dream I saw a sweet angel who was distraught that Jesus was about to leave heaven to be born as a baby on earth. So she volunteered to give up being an angel and God transformed her into a magnificent star to light the night sky for the Big Event. I won’t tell the entire dream, but simply let it be said that the ending surprised everyone—including me. The story became a children’s Christmas book called The Greatest Gift (which is currently out of print). But as a result of that dream, I began to pay even more attention to my dreams. Sometimes I think that God simply uses them to show me things about my own life and sometimes my dreams wind up in my books.

Melody Carlson is the author of Ready to Wed, (Guideposts Books 2007). This story also involves a dream! For more information visit

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

This Week From CFBA

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Distant Heart
(Avon Inspire January 2, 2008)
Tracey Bateman

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Tracey Bateman is the award-winning author of more than twenty-five books, including Defiant Heart, the First in the Westward Hearts series. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) and recently served on the board as President. She lives in Lebanon, Montana, with her husband and their four children.

ABOUT THE BOOK: In the second book in the Westward Hearts trilogy, will the promise of a new life out west heal the scars of Toni's past? This series tells the stories of three strong women as they struggle to survive on the rough wagon train and lose their hearts to unlikely heroes along the way: Think Little House on the Prairie meets Francine river's Redeeming Love and you begin to get a sense of the riveting historical series that Tracey Bateman has created. In this second installment, we follow Toni Rodden, a former prostitute who sought to escape her past and build a new life, and a new reputation, when she joined the wagon train. Despite much resentment and distrust from the other women, Toni has finally earned a place on the wagon train and found a surrogate family in Fannie Caldwell and her two siblings. For the first time in her life, Toni actually feels free. But while Toni once harbored dreams that her new life might include a husband and family, she soon realizes the stigma that comes with her past is difficult to see beyond and that she'll never be truly loved or seen as worthy. As the trip out west begins to teach her to survive on her own, she resolves to make her own living as a seamstress when the train finally reaches Oregon.But despite Toni's conviction that no man will be able to see beyond her marred past, Sam Two-feathers, the wagon scout and acting preacher for the train seems to know of a love that forgives sins and values much more than outward appearances. Will Sam have the confidence to declare his love? Will Toni be able to trust in a God that can forgive even the darkest past? Faith, love, and courage will be put to the test in Distant Heart.

The Twelve Days of Christmas ~ Day Eight

On the eighth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me....

The Gift of Unexpected Blessings

God's Gift of Unexpected Blessings
by Angela Hunt

The arrival of our daughter from South Korea wasn’t exactly unexpected—we’d spent years longing for her, and then months praying for that little baby’s safe arrival in our arms.

And as I look back over the experience, I can’t help thinking of Mary, who must have had such mixed feelings when she held the infant Jesus in her arms. Great joy, for the promised child had arrived. Great responsibility for the fragile life in her care. And great dread for the difficulties and sorrows that would arise.

As a young mother, I knew there would be tough times, and I haven’t been disappointed. But through bad times and good, through loving moments and less-than-loving moments, I can see the hand of God’s sovereignty molding me, my husband, and my children into the people he intends us to be.

Christmas shines brightest in the eyes of children. But it resonates most deeply in the hearts of those who love them.

Angela Hunt

Angela Hunt is the author of Doesn't She Look Natural? (Tyndale Publishers). For more information visit

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

The Twelve Days of Christmas ~ Day Seven

On the seventh day of Christmas, my true love gave to me....

The Gift of Uniqueness

God's Gift of Uniqueness
by Tosca Lee

I used to hate my name. “Tosca” was too unusual. “Moon,” my middle name, was just downright embarrassing. “Lee” was all right, though it still set me apart from the rest of the Caucasian kids in my school. In an era when Christy Brinkley graced the cover of every fashion magazine, I did not wish to accentuate my different-ness.

The name I really wanted was Marie--probably because others had it and that meant I could at least buy one of those door plates for my bedroom door or license plates for my bike, which was my litmus test. As it was, they sure didn’t have plates for kids named “Tosca.”
In junior high, my friends called me “Weird Tosca.” I didn’t like that so much.

These days I teach about talent in my work as a consultant. I talk about the strange, quirky things that not only set people apart, but have the potential to make them great. A friend said to me once, “Stars have points.” He’s right. And when we blunt our points, we lose the defining characteristics of our unique mark in and contribution to this world.

Opportunities work much the same. It’s the unique ones that seem to hold the greatest potential impact. When my main character, Clay, bumps up against the opportunity to hear the story of creation from the viewpoint of a Demon, he is terrified--intrigued, but terrified. And so he resists. While his reaction might be in keeping with any sane person’s, it’s also a human reaction to the unusual. But in this case, it’s the unusual that might just might save his soul.

How has God revealed to you your uniquness? And what, most importantly, is He telling you to do with it?

Weird Tosca

“You need to know something more about Elohim: he is the ultimate force of creativity. He is the author of diversity.”
--Lucian, Demon: A Memoir

Tosca Lee is the author of Demon: A Memoir and of the upcoming Havah: The Story of Eve. For more information visit

Monday, December 17, 2007

A precious Christmas gift.

Please join me in welcoming Baby Morrill. She arrived on Friday afternoon, and trust me, she's a beauty! Congrats to Steph and Ben. You are going to have so much fun with that little girl. May she grow up to love the Lord first, and after that, books, words, stories, and story telling.

And thank you, Lord, for another little Jayhawk. Go, Kansas!

The Twelve Days of Christmas ~ Day Six

On the sixth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me....
The Gift of Unconditional Acceptance

God's Gift of Unconditional Acceptance
by Lisa Samson

Clearly God Incarnate wasn't choosy. He wasn't born in a palace, but to a simple peasant woman bearing the stigma of a pregnancy conceived out of the bonds of matrimony. He wasn't even born in his own town, but endured a long ride to Bethlehem in his mother's womb only to be born in a stable among the livestock. Even after his ministry began he owned one robe and proclaimed himself homeless when He said, "Foxes have dens, birds have nest, but the Son of God has no place to lay His head."If we used some TV preachers' standards today, Jesus clearly wasn't blessed by God. He didn't have the finest clothes, transportation or housing. Even most of His disciples weren't exactly candidates for a PhD. Clearly He must not have had enough faith if that's all He was getting from His Father!But Christ isn't choosy and that is good news for us. For there isn't a single human being who can impress Him into shining His light of grace upon them. The stockbroker on Wall Street stands level with the illegal immigrant who picks strawberries. The evangelist in fine suits or sparkly dresses looks eye-to-eye with the busdriver. And the homeschool mom stands shoulder to shoulder with the prostitute. His love demands He looks above the good and the bad, and His arms are always open, ready to receive us when we are ready to receive Him. Sometimes we run back into His arms many times in one day and He doesn't care if we've showered or put on the latest fashions, He's only looking for a contrite heart. That's it. A heart that says, "I'm sorry."This Christmastime, rest in the fact that you can't impress Christ. He doesn't care about our beautiful cookies or the fact that our trees look designer coordinated. He isn't impressed we ran around to ten different stores to find the perfect present for Aunt Sue. He just wants us to love Him, just as we are, for when we do, we incarnate Him in the here and now, and there's no telling what He'll do through us.
Lisa Samson is the author of Hollywood Nobody (NavPress, 2007), For more information visit

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Let's talk about Tricia Goyer

Today I have the honor of hosting Tricia Goyer on the blog. I had the privilege of meeting Tricia at the ACFW conference in Dallas this past September, and to sit in her continuing education class. I gleaned many helpful tips in writing historicals, and better yet, caught some of Tricia's passion for writing accurate, relevant-to-today's-reader, historical fiction.

Her latest book is A SHADOW OF TREASON.

Book 2 in the Chronicles of the Spanish Civil War series

Sophie discovers that nothing is as she first imagined. When Walt, the reporter who helped her over the border, shows up again after Guernica is bombed, Sophie is given an impossible mission. She must leave behind the man she's fallen in love with and return to the person who betrayed her. Another layer of the war in Spain is revealed as Sophie is drawn into the international espionage schemes that could turn the tide of the war and help protect the soldiers from the International Brigade ... she must find a way to get a critical piece of information to Walt in time.

An Interview with Tricia:

Thank you for stopping by On The Write Path.
Thanks for having me!

Tell us a little about yourself and your road to publication.

I first thought about writing in 1993. A friend from church, Cindy Martinusen told me about her aspirations to become a novelist. My first thought was . . . Real people do that? She invited me to attend Mount Hermon Christian Writer’s Conference with her. I was new as new can be. I was also 22-years-old and pregnant with my third child, but I learned enough at that conference to start off on the right track. And I’ve been actively working at my writing ever since.

I never planned on writing historical fiction. I wanted to write contemporary romances. Then in 2000, I was with Cindy and another writer friend, Anne de Graaf in Austria. They were researching books, and I was along for the ride. BUT I was the one who got a novel idea, after talking to an Austrian historian. The historian’s true stories about the liberation of Gusen and Mauthausen concentration camps sparked my novel idea. The idea led to attending two WWII reunions and interviewing veterans. The veterans’ stories led to more novels. The rest, as they say, is history!

Your latest release is A Shadow of Treason. Can you give us a brief overview of the book and the series?

In A Shadow of Treason Sophie must return to the person who betrayed her in an effort to help the Spanish people. It makes the book hard to put down because the reader has to know how Sophie’s heart will deal with it.

A Shadow of Treason is the second in a three book series called The Chronicles of The Spanish Civil War. I love writing in series. It was great to continue with the same characters. In my stand-alone books I fell in love with these people and then I had to say good-bye after one book. It was wonderful to be able to continue on.

Book Three is A Whisper of Freedom. It will be out February 2008. The characters that we love are all still in the midst of danger at the end of Book Two. Book Three continues their stories as we follow their journeys in … and (for a few) out … of Spain. It’s an exciting conclusion to the series!

As a home-school mom, how do you balance your writing with your other responsibilities?

For most of the year I find a nice balance. I homeschool my kids, so daily I help them figure out their schedule and help them on their work. I love having dinner with a family so I shop and cook. I attend a few different Bible studies. I exercise. I walk my dogs. Writing is just one of the things I schedule into my day.

Then, during “deadline” months (which come about twice a year) I’m just not as available. I still spend time with my family, but they can tell my mind is in Spain, or Austria, or Germany … or wherever!

Writing historical fiction calls for a great deal of research. What are some of your favorite research sources, and how do you compile and organize your research so it is of use to you as you write?

I have come up with a “system” if you will. Here are some of the steps:

- I read a general overview of the time in history to discover plot points. Then I put them in a PLOT document
- I color-coded the scenes by character.
- I work with through the Writing the Breakout Novel Workbook, and the assignments lead to information about character (which I put in the character file) and plot points (plot file).
- THEN I research the information I’ll need for of plot and characters.
- I check important dates/events.
- I research specifics that will be in my scenes.

The details for the scenes that I research are:
- Who does what?
- Who goes where?
- Motivation?
- Conflict?
- Setting?

As you can tell the “factual research” usually happens later in the process. It’s important for me to get a general overview of the time in history, but the more novels I write the more I’ve disciplined myself to focus on exactly what I need for each scene. It helps me to focus where the information is needed the most. It saves time. And it saves me from running away on rabbit trails.

I love:
Used books. (The closer to the time period I’m writing about the better!)
I do look for information on the Internet, but I’d rather have an old, musty book in my hand.

You also write non-fiction books dedicated to helping parents and teens navigate the adolescent years. How is writing non-fiction different from writing fiction? Which do you find the more challenging?

Funny thing, I have an easier time writing non-fiction. I think it’s because non-fiction can be written in smaller chunks. This chapter, that sidebar, etc. Yet, fiction is the weaving of one long sweep-me-away drama and it literally sweeps me away and consumes every brain cell!

Also, I “live” the non-fiction books I write. They stem from things in my life … so I feel as if I’m just sitting now and talking to a friend over coffee.

I have two non-fiction books that will be out the early part of 2008. Generation NeXt Marriage is a marriage book for today’s couples. It talks about our marriage role models, our struggles, and what we’re doing right as a generation. It also gives advice for holding it together.

I’ve also been privileged to work on the teen edition of Max Lucado’s book 3:16. It was a great project to work on. What an honor!

Do you have a favorite part of writing novels? A least favorite?

I love when I’m about ¾ into a novel, and I’m totally caught up in it.

My least favorite part is the first ten chapters (or ¼ of the book). It’s a huge challenge to write something interesting, intriguing, with dynamic characters who have clear motivations and goals, yet huge obstacles too.

What book do you most want to write?

The one I’m contracted to write next. Seriously! When I have a book I know I get to work on I get so excited. I just want to sit down and get to work on it! It’s having to do stuff like grocery shop or put laundry away when I have ideas for the next project in my head.

What advice might you have for those still seeking publication?

I tried to get books published unsuccessfully for a number of years. During that time I learned that the preparation for the writing ministry often doesn't simply focus on learning about writing. During those "unsuccessful" years I taught Bible Studies, I homeschooled, I helped to launch a Crisis Pregnancy Center, I mentored ... Yes, I also worked on the writing craft, but these other things transformed my heart ... and the growth I experienced has helped to mold me into the writer I am today.

Thank you for talking with us!
Thank you!

Tricia's Bio: Tricia Goyer has published over 300 articles for national publications such as Today's Christian Woman, Guideposts for Kids, and Focus on the Family, and is the co-author of Meal Time Moments (Focus on the Family). She has led numerous Bible Studies, and her study notes appear in the Women of Faith Study Bible (Zondervan). She has written seven novels for Moody Publishing:

From Dust and Ashes (2003)

Night Song (2004)

Dawn of a Thousand Nights (2005)

Arms of Deliverance (2006)

A Valley of Betrayal (2007)

A Shadow of Treason (Fall 2007)

A Whisper of Freedom (February 2008)

Night Song was awarded American Christian Fiction Writer's 2005 Book of the Year for Best Long Historical. Dawn of a Thousand Nights won the same award in 2006. Tricia has also written Life Interrupted: The Scoop on Being a Young Mom (Zondervan, 2004), 10 Minutes to Showtime (Thomas Nelson, 2004), and Generation NeXt Parenting (Multnomah, 2006). Life Interrupted was a 2005 Gold Medallion finalist in the Youth Category.

Also, coming out in the next year are: My Life, Unscripted (Thomas Nelson, 2007), Generation NeXt Marriage (Multnomah, Spring 2008), and 3:16-the teen version of the a book by Max Lucado (Thomas Nelson, Spring 2008).

Tricia and her husband John live with their three children in Kalispell , Montana . Tricia's grandmother also lives with them, and Tricia volunteers mentoring teen moms and leading children's church. Although Tricia doesn't live on a farm, she can hit one with a rock by standing on her back porch and giving it a good throw.

Important Links! First ChapterAmazon Link Book 1, A Valley of Betrayal's WebsiteTricia's blogs:

Friday, December 14, 2007

The Friday Five

This week's Friday Five is:
Five things I have learned since moving to Minnesota.
1. Some Minnesota parking meters are equipped with an electrical plug which the car owner can use to plug in the block heater in his/her car so the car will not freeze solid and will start when the owner finishes their shopping.
2. The teensy road signs seen in ditches are for snowmobiles.
3. It's a good idea to carry kitty litter in your car, even if you don't own a cat.
4. When it is 10 degrees Farenheit or lower, they close down the car washes so you don't get frozen into your car when you drive home.
5. I learned to do the "Minnesota Boot Bang." This is when you walk across the gunky, snowy parking lot to your car, you open the door, then as you climb in, you bang the side of your boot against the lower part of the car to knock the slushy, filthy snow off your boot before you get into the car.
How about you? Have you moved to a new place and learned some things you didn't know before?

The Twelve Days of Christmas ~ Day Five

On the fifth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me....

The Gift of Imagination

God's Gift of Imagination
by Jack Cavanaugh

Christmas is a holiday for the imagination.

Angels and shepherds and wise men (oh my!),
Tyrants and taxes and stars in the sky!
No room for a bed
As tidings were spread
And the Father looked down from on high.

It’s no wonder the story of the nativity thrills our hearts year after year. It’s a wonderfully creative event orchestrated by a Deity who loves using His imagination. Take the temple priest’s robes for example. When the temple was first built God assembled all the skilled craftsmen and gave them instructions (Exodus 35:10). The craftsmen designing the priestly robes were told to adorn them with images of blue pomegranates (Exodus 39:24).


There’s no such thing as a blue pomegranate! What was God thinking? If this kind of creativity were to catch on we could end up with Christmas cards with images of green angels, pink Christmas trees, and a plaid star over the manger!

If blue pomegranates bothers you…get over it! We have a wonderfully imaginative God who frequently colors outside the lines. Go, and do thou likewise.

Wishing you an imaginative Christmas season.

Jack Cavanaugh is the author of Hideous Beauty: Kingdom Wars #1 and countless other books. For more information visit

Thursday, December 13, 2007

The Twelve Days of Christmas ~ Day Four

On the fourth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me....

The Gift of God's Patience

The Gift of God's Patience
by Griffin Smith
(written by Todd & Jedd Hafer)

Thanks for reading, everybody. My name is Griffin Smith. I’m in my second year at Lewis College (Go Eagles!) on the track team. Specifically, I run distance. Okay, I realize “distance” isn’t really specific at all. In high school I ran the 1600 and 3200 meters – that’s the mile and 2-mile for those of still holding strong in the anti-metric resistance.

As a runner and big-time sinner, the gift I am most thankful for this Christmas (and every day) is patience. Not my own, as my dad likes to say “looooong-suffering”. No, I could use a ton more. I routinely lose my patience in class, in races, in relationships – even with my little brother Colby who overcame the burden of being named after cheese to become the sweetest kid on the planet.

The amazing gift is God’s patience. His patience with me – the most unsweetened kid on the planet (and I know that is not the most grammatically sound phrase, but it’s tough for me to write about positive subjects, so, if we’re going to play ball, you’re going to have to indulge me).

Anyway, I constantly criticize myself, even punish myself (since we’re trying to be positive, I won’t get into that now), but God, He just keeps loving me. I try to squirm away, I even bend God’s fingers back, He just patiently holds on. I swear the guy must be double-jointed.

I’m definitely thankful for that grip though. I’d hate to think He’d ever let go.

The point is I know He never will. It’s just not in His nature. Good news for people like me!

You can read more of Griffin Smith’s ramblings about his surface life and his private pain in the novels Bad Idea: A novel with Coyotes and From Bad to Worse: A novel with Girls by Todd and Jedd Hafer

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

On the third day of Christmas, my true love gave to me....

The Gift of Restoration

God's Gift of Restoration
by Rachel Thoene

When I was but a wee child, I had many opportunities to travel with my dad’s folks, Nonnie and Papa, on trips to the coast with their house trailer.

My Nonnie was religious about packing sandwiches, fresh home made cookies and fruit for the trip. She wrapped the cookies and sandwiches in wax paper… this was before the days of juice boxes and Lunchables… and the whole picnic was packed neatly into one or two sturdy shoe boxes for the trip. A thermos of coffee for she and Papa and one of milk for me. The trip to the coast was only about two and a half hours long, but about half way there, Papa would slow the rig to a wide spot in the road and we would have a “picnic” together before continuing on our way to the ocean.

I was asked to contribute some thoughts on the gift of God’s restoration vs. life’s destination.
As I mulled a few thoughts over, it occurred to me that Nonnie’s “shoe box lunches” were a lot like God’s gift of restoration… Sure we had a destination in mind. It was exciting to get out of the valley and go spend time at the ocean with the sand and the waves and time all to myself with my Nonnie and Papa collecting shells… but the picnic lunch on the side of the road DURING the trip restored us and provided a brief respite in our journey.

Lately, my heart has been troubled and anxious as I have been caring for a friend with a very serious cancer. And I have found myself, head down, walking my campus during the day at work, talking to God about her condition and the outcome of all of this agony…And as I have conversed with Him on these strolls, I have picked up an amazing number of Pennies… every day… pennies… sometimes it’s only one or two, sometimes I’ve found 12 or more… but every day…pennies. And the curious thing is that every single one of those pennies says, “In God we Trust.” And I pick them up, put them in my pocket and say, “Thank you Lord. We are blessed today and we are whole, healthy, healed and restored…”

I believe that my friend is going to be well at the end of all of this, because God reminds me daily through those pennies to TRUST HIM”. And every penny draws me closer to Him so that I am focusing now on the moment and my conversation with Him, daily being restored in my faith and claiming her healing and I’m not any longer worrying about the destination or when we’re going to get there, because we have been given THIS MOMENT and in THIS Moment, I’m going to just pull my rig to the side of the road and have a picnic with Him in my heart.

Rachel Thoene is the author of The Vase Of Many Colors (Capstone Books, 2007), For more information visit

This Week From CFBA

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
What Lies Within
Multnomah Fiction (November 20, 2007)
Karen Ball


Karen Ball , bestselling novelist, is also the editor behind several of today's bestselling Christian novels. Her love for words was passed down through her father and grandfather - both pastors who shared God's truth through sermons and storytelling. Blending humor, poignancy, and honesty, Karen's writing style is a powerful force for revealing God's truth. She lives in Oregon with her husband, Don, and their "kids," Bodhan, a mischief-making Siberian husky, and Dakota, an Aussie-terrier mix who should have been named "Destructo."

ABOUT THE BOOK: Nothing’s going to stop Kyla…

until the ground crumbles beneath her feet.

Kyla Justice has arrived. Her company, Justice Construction, is one of the most critically acclaimed, commercially successful companies in the Pacific Northwest. And yet, something is missing. Not until she’s called on to build a center for inner-city kids does she realize what it is: her sense of purpose. Now nothing can stop her, not the low budget, not supply problems, not gang opposition, not her boyfriend’s suggestion that she sell her business and marry him–and most especially not that disagreeable Rafael Murphy.

Rafe Murphy understands battle. Wounded in action, this Force Recon Marine carries the scars–and the nightmares–to prove it. Though he can’t fight overseas any longer, he’s found his place as a warrior in the civilian world. So he soldiers on, trusting that one of these days, God will reveal to him why Rafe survived the ambush in Iraq. That day has arrived.
Kyla and Rafe both discover that determination alone won’t carry them through danger and challenges. When gang violence threatens their very foundations, there’s only one way to survive: rely on each other, be real–and surrender to God. In other words, risk everything…

Tuesday, December 11, 2007


Time to Re-check those goals and add to them:

1. Research 1870's southwest Minnesota. Research is complete. At least for the time being.
2. Write a first draft of "Hope of the North Star" (tentative title) by February 14th, 2008. {I don't know why I chose this date, but there it is.} Have shelved this project as it is just not coming together. Will start on another project soon. :)
3. Edit and rewrite "Hope of the North Star" by May 15th, 2008. Hope to have the new project edited by about this time.
4. Write proposal packet, synopsis, and pitch for HOTNS before September 2008. This one needs some more marinating before I can write it.
5. Work on Deep Editing Course by Margie Lawton, incorporating what I'm learning. I've been working through this course. It's a lot to bite off.
6. Read 5 books on craft this year. I've read Writing Romance from Writer's Digest, and I read a book by Noah Lukeman.

New goal I've added:
7. Prepare a Genesis contest entry.

How about you? Have you set out goals? Are you doing well?

The Twelve Days of Christmas ~ Day Two

On the second day of Christmas, my true love gave to me....
The Gift of Simplicity

God's Gift of Simplicity
by Wanda E. Brunstetter

The Amish people I write about celebrate Christmas in a much simpler way than most of us do. There are no Christmas trees or colored lights in their homes. The gifts they give one another are simple and functional, not elaborate or expensive. Their emphasis at Christmas is on the birth of Jesus and the love they feel for God, family, and friends. Anyone can give the gift of simplicity, and it can be given any time of the year. A smile, a hug, a listening ear...these are the gifts of simplicity.

Thank you to Glass Road Public Relations for these devotionals.

Monday, December 10, 2007

The Twelve Days of Christmas ~ Day One

Celebrating the true meaning of the Christmas season, GRPR is proud to introduce to you the twelve days of Christmas. Twelve inspired devotional thoughts written by some of the best and brightest authors in the Christian industry.

On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me....

The Gift of Honesty

God's Gift of Honesty
by Mark Littleton

As a new Christian, I wasn’t really prepared for the stark truth about my previous life. Rummaging in my closet, I came across several shirts I had shop-lifted a couple of years before. I immediately remembered several items from the same heist.

Standing there trembling, I was unsure about what to do. I prayed, “God, what should I do about this?” It seemed the inner voice spoke immediately: “You need to return them to the store.”

I didn’t need to reflect much on it. I knew that was the right thing to do.

I packed up the items, drove to the nearby Bamberger’s store at the Cherry Hill Mall and found security. I explained what I’d done and offered to pay for the items. The guard smiled. “Every now and then we get one of these,” he said. “I’ll find out the prices and you can pay.”

A few days later, I got the call. Over sixty-five dollars in charges. In 1972 dollars, that was a lot of money. I sucked it up, though, wrote out a check and dropped it by. The guard thanked me for my integrity, saying, “I wish there were more like you out there. But shop-lifting costs us big-time. Just the same, I respect what you did.”

I went away feeling like I’d pleased God. There were other things I would return in the coming days, and it was always difficult. And costly. But the peace of mind and heart I received were all worth it. To say nothing of the witness to unbelievers, one of whom invited me to come visit him his family in Switzerland after I sent him back the stamps I’d stolen while babysitting his children years before.

Mark Littleton is the author of The Ten-Second Prayer Principle: Powerful Prayer As You Go (Howard Books, 2007) and many other books. For more information visit or

Friday, December 07, 2007

Christmassy Friday Five or 23, whatever....


2. REAL OR FAKE TREE? I have an artificial tree.

3. WHEN DO YOU PUT UP THE TREE? The weekend after Thanksgiving usually...though this year it was a week later.

4. WHEN DO YOU TAKE THE TREE DOWN? The day after Christmas ususally.



7. DO YOU HAVE A NATIVITY SCENE? Yes! I have six in my living room right now.

8. HARDEST PERSON TO BUY FOR? My husband. Though my teenage daughter is getting harder to buy for, mostly because she always says she doesn't need anything! GRRR!


10. WORST CHRISTMAS GIFT YOU EVER RECEIVED? When I was about fifteen, I got a baby doll from a relative.


12. FAVORITE CHRISTMAS MOVIE? A Christmas Carol with Alastair Sim.

13. WHEN DO YOU START SHOPPING FOR CHRISTMAS? This year I bought gifts before Thanksgiving.

14. HAVE YOU EVER RECYCLED A CHRISTMAS PRESENT? I once took a gift my husband received to a white elephant party.

15. FAVORITE THING TO EAT AT CHRISTMAS? Waffles on Christmas morning.


17. FAVORITE CHRISTMAS SONG? Joy to the World.

18. TRAVEL AT CHRISTMAS OR STAY HOME? We stay home. Since I'm now the company bookkeeper, there is too much to do the last week of the year for me to be going anywhere. And we like to have people over on New Year's Day.


20. ANGEL OR STAR ON THE TREE TOP? Right now, nothing. Our star broke awhile back and we haven't found one we like as well yet.


22. MOST ANNOYING THING THIS TIME OF YEAR? Political commercials from Presidential candidates.

23. WHAT DO YOU LOVE MOST ABOUT CHRISTMAS? Thinking about the real reason for Christmas.

MERRY CHRISTMAS! Hope you have a wonderful Christmas Season!

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

This Week From CFBA

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Bluegrass Peril
(Steeple Hill December 4, 2007)
Virginia Smith

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Virginia Smith left her job as a corporate director to become a full time writer and speaker in the summer of 2005. Since then she has contracted eight novels and numerous articles and short stories. She writes contemporary humorous novels for the Christian market, including her debut, Just As I Am (Kregel Publications, March 2006) and her new release, Murder by Mushroom (Steeple Hill, August 2007). Her short fiction has been anthologized, and her articles have been published in a variety of Christian magazines. An energetic speaker, Virginia loves to exemplify God’s truth by comparing real-life situations to well-known works of fiction, such as her popular talk, “Biblical Truths in Star Trek.”


WHO KILLED HER BOSS? Local police had tagged single mom Becky Dennison as their prime suspect. But she'd only been in the wrong place at the wrong time...admittedly, with her boss's lifeless body. Sure it looked bad, but Becky had no motive for killing...even if she had opportunity.

When the director of the retirement farm for thoroughbred champions is murdered, Becky Dennison teams up with the handsome manager of a neighboring horse farm, Scott Lewis, to find her boss's killer. Soon the amateur detectives are hot on the trail of the murderer...even as their feelings for each other deepen. The amateur sleuths uncover a trail of clues that lead them into the intricate society of Kentucky's elite thoroughbred breeding industry. They soon find themselves surrounded by the mint julep set - jealous southern belles and intensely competitive horse breeders - in a high-stakes game of danger, money, and that famous southern pride. And for Becky and Scott, this race on the Kentucky tracks has the greatest stakes of all: life or death!

Romantic Times awarded Bluegrass Peril* * * * FOUR STARS! * * * *

Monday, December 03, 2007

A Hideous Beauty by Jack Cavanaugh

This isn't the world you think it is...

Every day they slip across our borders to infiltrate our government, our schools, our neighborhoods.

Homeland security can't stop them.

The armed forces are no threat to them.

Powerful and unseen, they cannot be stopped.

They have been doing this for millennia.

On what should have been the best day of his life, Pulitzer Prize-winning author Grant Austin learns of a plan to assassinate the President of the United States. Every attempt to sound the alarm is thwarted, and Grant soon finds himself at the center of an even greater battle that predates time as he stands alone against ancient powers and unspeakable evil -- evil that can only be described as a hideous beauty.
As a fan of Jack Cavanaugh's American Family Portraits series, I was excited to read the first in his Kingdom Wars books. Though A Hideous Beauty is contemporary speculative fiction and a departure from the historical fiction he is famous for, it maintains Jack's high storytelling skill. A fast-paced story that thrusts the protagonist into a previously unseen but altogether too real world where good and evil do battle every day. Grant Austin finds himself in a unique position, questioning his identity and his Creator.
While I didn't agree with everything from a theological standpoint in this book, I'm willing to suspend my disbelief for the duration of the story because Jack Cavanaugh created such an entertaining tale with a compelling protagonist that I want to root for.
Check out A Hideous Beauty for yourself by clicking here.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Happy December!

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas! We're in the throes of a major winter storm.
Thursday evening, we put up our Christmas tree and set out the Nativity sets. I love Nativity sets. I have china ones, wooden ones, cloth ones, a set where all the characters are teddy bears, and two minute sets made of resin.
December also means inventory at the business. It was about 5 above zero while we counted. I'm thankful for the new climate controlled warehouse and can't wait until ALL the lumber is housed there. Counting in the bitter cold makes my toes hurt!
I'm hoping to get back to the writing soon. It's been over a week and it just feels wrong not to be working on something.

Friday, November 30, 2007

The Friday Five

The Friday Five this week is:
Five things I should be doing instead of blogging:
1. Cleaning my bathroom. YUCK!
2. Looking for extra layers to put on while I do inventory at the shop this afternoon.
3. Shoveling snow. YUCK!
4. Giving a geometry test.
5. Doing triage on my novel.
How about you? What do you blog/surf/IM to avoid doing?

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

This Week From CFBA

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
(WaterBrook Press September 4, 2007)
by Jeffrey Overstreet

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jeffrey Overstreet lives in two worlds. By day, he writes about movies at and in notable publications like Christianity Today, Paste, and Image. His adventures in cinema are chronicled in his book Through a Screen Darkly. By night, he composes new stories found in fictional worlds of his own. Living in Shoreline, Washington, with his wife, Anne, a poet, he is a senior staff writer for Response Magazine at Seattle Pacific University. Auralia’s Colors is his first novel. He is now hard at work on many new stories, including three more strands of The Auralia Thread.

ABOUT THE BOOK: As a baby, she was found in a footprint. As a girl, she was raised by thieves in a wilderness where savages lurk. As a young woman, she will risk her life to save the world with the only secret she knows.

When thieves find an abandoned child lying in a monster’s footprint, they have no idea that their wilderness discovery will change the course of history. Cloaked in mystery, Auralia grows up among criminals outside the walls of House Abascar, where vicious beastmen lurk in shadow. There, she discovers an unsettling–and forbidden–talent for crafting colors that enchant all who behold them, including Abascar’s hard-hearted king, an exiled wizard, and a prince who keeps dangerous secrets. Auralia’s gift opens doors from the palace to the dungeons, setting the stage for violent and miraculous change in the great houses of the Expanse.

Auralia’s Colors weaves literary fantasy together with poetic prose, a suspenseful plot, adrenaline-rush action, and unpredictable characters sure to enthrall ambitious imaginations. Visit the Website especially created for the book, Auralia's Colors. On the site, you can read the first chapter and listen to Jeffrey's introduction of the book, plus a lot more!


"Film critic and author Overstreet (Through a Screen Darkly) offers a powerful myth for his first foray into fiction. Overstreet’s writing is precise and beautiful, and the story is masterfully told. Readers will be hungry for the next installment."--Publishers Weekly

“Through word, image, and color Jeffrey Overstreet has crafted a work of art. From first to final page this original fantasy is sure to draw readers in. Auralia's Colors sparkles.”-–Janet Lee Carey, award-winning author of The Beast of Noor and Dragon's Keep

“Jeffrey Overstreet’s first fantasy, Auralia’s Colors, and its heroine’s cloak of wonders take their power from a vision of art that is auroral, looking to the return of beauty, and that intends to restore spirit and and mystery to the world. The book achieves its ends by the creation of a rich, complex universe and a series of dramatic, explosive events.”-–Marly Youmans, author of Ingledove and The Curse of the Raven Mocker

Monday, November 26, 2007


Nano....a beautiful dream.
I had planned to finish it. But God had other plans. This weekend I was knocked for a loop with illness. I've been in a medicated fog all weekend. :( That coupled with a day at the clinic with my MIL and inventory coming this weekend, means NaNo is not going to happen this year.
But I did get 32K words cranked out. I'm pretty happy about that.

Friday, November 23, 2007

The Friday Five

The Friday Five:
Today is Black Friday (Which always has bad overtones, but is good for business, I guess.) Thanksgiving is past, Christmas looms. It's time to make that list and check it twice. So in honor of the shopping spectacular, this week's Five is:
Five things I want for Christmas (In no particular order).
1. A National Championship for the Kansas Jayhawks Football Team and the Round Mound of Mangino. I love that man. He's built like a Spalding Basketball.
2. A National Championship for the Kansas Jayhawks Basketball Team. (Though I am willing to wait until my birthday for this one.)
3. My Mother-in-law to have a good Christmas and to be able to hold off chemotherapy for as long as possible.
4. One of my books to find a home at some spectacular publishing house. Trust me, if one of my books finds a home, I'll consider that publishing house to be spectacular.
5. A happy, healthy family, with stronger bonds of love and faith than ever.
How about you? Do you have a wish-list for Christmas?

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

This Week From CFBA

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Thomas Nelson (October 2, 2007)
Neta Jackson
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Neta Jackson's award-winning Yada books have sold more than 350,000 copies and are spawning prayer groups across the country. She and her husband, Dave, are also an award-winning husband/wife writing team, best known for the Trailblazer Books--a 40-volume series of historical fiction about great Christian heroes with 1.8 million in sales--and Hero Tales: A Family Treasury of True Stories from the Lives of Christian Heroes (vols 1-4). Dave and Neta live in Evanston, Illinois, where for twenty-seven years they were part of Reba Place Church, a Christian church community. They are now members of the Chicago Tabernacle, a multi-racial congregation that is a daughter church of the well-known Brooklyn Tabernacle.
ABOUT THE BOOK: Turkey dinners, tree trimming, and decking the halls--it's that time of year again! And I Jodi Baxter, can't wait to celebrate. My kids are coming home for Thanksgiving and Christmas, and then all of us Yadas are getting decked out for a big New Year's party. But God's idea of "decked out" might just change the nature of our party plans. A perplexing encounter with a former student, a crime that literally knocks me off my feet, a hurry-up wedding, and a child who will forever change our's times like these that I really need my prayer sisters. This holiday season, we Yada Yadas are learning that no one can out-celebrate God. So let's get this party started!
THE YADA YADA PRAYER GROUP GETS DECKED OUT is a festive novella featuring America's favorite prayer group, the Yada Yadas!Sometimes dubbed "chick-lit" for their bright covers and catchy titles, this series provides far more depth than witty banter and wacky situations. Inspired by a prayer group of real women, each book will have you laughing, crying, and perhaps praying anew. In this highly anticipated installment, the Yada Yada sisters-a group of multi-cultural friends-and their families prepare for the event of the season. But yes, eager readers, this novella—which picks up a year and a half after the end of book #6 The Yada Yada Prayer Group Gets Rolling concludes the series with some twists and turns that will amaze and encourage you. Plus, it sets the stage for Neta’s new series with new characters and new situations but also occasional roles for the beloved Yada Yada sisters in familiar Chicago neighborhoods with all their cultural richness.
Erica here: My kids have all the Trailblazer books by Dave and Neta Jackson. I highly recommend them! And try out the Yada Yada books. I'm sure you'll enjoy!

Monday, November 19, 2007

NaNo 19

NaNo Day 19 update:
In spite of a lot of distractions, (some external, some self-inflicted) I managed to get two thousand words written today. I'm still behind where I should be for the month but not as far as I was. I still think I can make it, but it's going to take a lot of work.
The wordcount stands at just over 27K. I'm getting there. Tomorrow the goal is to hit 30K.
The gist of the story is: When disaster strikes, a frontier artist must choose between hardship with a husband who cares more for his farm than for her, and prosperity with a handsome painter ready to whisk her away to Europe to study the masters.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

NaNo Day 18

Today is NaNo day 18. By my calculations, in order to reach the goal of 50K words in one months, my novel should be at 30,006 words.
Mine. Is. Not. Today I cracked the 25K mark. Halfway to the goal. I am about three days behind.
Fortunately for me, we have no school this week. So the plan is to reach at LEAST 35K by next Saturday. Doable. Very doable.
I'm liking the story, though it is rough enough to use in a belt sander. And I'm wondering if I need to add a couple more POV's, because I may be short on words for a final draft. Time will tell. And crit partners. :)
Love you girls!

Friday, November 16, 2007

The Friday Five

As the holiday season approaches, our thoughts turn to purchasing gifts. What to give the novelist? Here are five novelist novelties you might consider.

Novelist Novelties:
1. Candy hearts stamped "Wanna NaNo?"
2. A T-shirt printed "Be nice to me or I will kill you in my next novel."
3. A coffee mug that says "Will plot for coffee."
4. A ballcap emblazoned "No, I'm not talking to myself."
5. A suntea jar filled with chocolates labeled "Writer's Survival Kit."
What other gifts might you think of for a novelist?

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

This Week From CFBA

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
(Center Street October 24, 2007)
James Scott Bell

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: James Scott Bell is a former trial lawyer who now writes full time. He is also the fiction columnist for Writers Digest magazine and adjunct professor of writing at Pepperdine University. His book on writing, Plot and Structure is one of the most popular writing books available today. The national bestselling author of several novels of suspense, he grew up and still lives in Los Angeles, where he is at work on his next Buchanan thriller.

ABOUT THE BOOK: On a wet Tuesday morning in December, Ernesto Bonilla, twenty-eight, shot his twenty-three-year-old wife, Alejandra, in the backyard of their West 45th Street home in South Los Angeles. As Alejandra lay bleeding to death, Ernesto drove their Ford Explorer to the westbound Century Freeway connector where it crossed over the Harbor Freeway and pulled to a stop on the shoulder. Bonilla stepped around the back of the SUV, ignoring the rain and the afternoon drivers on their way to LAX and the west side, placed the barrel of his .38 caliber pistol into his mouth, and fired. His body fell over the shoulder and plunged one hundred feet, hitting the roof of a Toyota Camry heading northbound on the harbor Freeway. The impact crushed the roof of the Camry. The driver, Jacqueline Dwyer, twenty-seven, an elementary schoolteacher from Reseda, died at the scene. This would have been simply another dark and strange coincidence, the sort of thing that shows up for a two-minute report on the local news--with live remote from the scene--and maybe gets a follow-up the next day. Eventually the story would go away, fading from the city's collective memory. But this story did not go away. Not for me. Because Jacqueline Dwyer was the woman I was going to marry.
In Try Dying, this fast-paced thriller, lawyer Ty Buchanan must enter a world of evil to uncover the cause of his fiancee's death--even if hie has to kill for the truth.

"Bell is one of the best writers out there...he creates characters readers care about...a story worth telling."~Library Review~
MY REVIEW: The book was riveting from first to last. It had the pace and action of a John Grisham novel, but crafted so cleanly, so brilliantly, the story never bogged down or rambled. The characterizations were so strong, I was drawn in before I realized it.
One fun little sidebar: The book is loaded with movie references. I loved making the connections between the story and the movies.
Try Dying is an exciting, thrill-ride you won't want to put down. I can't wait to read the sequel.
Bravo, Mr. Bell.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

An Update

As per Georgiana's request, I'm updating you on my NaNo progress.
Two days of family issues, errands, recovering from the bookkeeping fiasco, and a trip to the doctor's office for me have precluded any NaNo work. So I am behind!
The good news is: My bloodwork looked great today! My overall cholesterol is down by SIXTY points! Woohoo! My blood sugar levels were good, and my good cholesterol was up while the bad was down. I'd even lost a little weight. I don't have to go back to be checked for four months. :)
By then, NaNo will be over...and hopefully the entire first draft of this novel.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

NaNo Day Eleven

I took a trip to the library yesterday and worked for about four hours. I got just over 4K words written, three hundred shy of where I should've been for yesterday. I decided to quit though, because I knew what the next scene was, and I found something new to put my characters through that I wanted to think about for a couple days. The novel stands at just over 20K words, almost 1/4th of the way to 90K.
Heather has written a little bit on her story, plotted more than I have on mine, and is making slow progress. Surprise, surprise, my methodical, careful, planning child is a PLOTTER! I keep telling her to jump, the parachute will slow the decent, but she prefers to build the bridge of her plot brick by brick before venturing too far over the precipice.
Hard to believe NaNo is one-third over already.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Interview with Kathleen Y'Barbo

Hey, folks, here's your chance to learn a little bit more about Kathleen Y'Barbo, author of Beloved Castaway, reviewed earlier this week here at OTWP.

-Kathleen, thank you for joining us here at On The Write Path.
I’m so glad to be here!

-Can you tell us a little about yourself and your path to publication?
My start in Christian fiction actually began when I turned down a book sale. It was 1999, and I had been writing for a little over three years. Just about the time my agent found a home for a general market three-book historical series, the Lord decided I needed to write only for Him. I left the agent and the general market behind, along with the book deal and struck out a new path in the CBA. Less than a year later, God provided for my first CBA sale, which turned out to be a bestseller. Thirty books later, I am still writing for him and still humbled every time another sale comes my way.

-I just finished reading Beloved Castaway. What research went into this book?
Much of the research for Castaway came from the three-book series I just mentioned. Making the decision not to sell those books was tough, but using the research I’d done for them turned out to make the process of writing Castaway much easier. Almost all of the facts about New Orleans came from that research. To get a feel for the Florida Keys, I made two trips, the first on my 20th wedding anniversary in 1999 and the second in September 2001. An interesting aside to this is the fact that my return ticket was for September 12, 2001, which meant my writing buddy and I were stuck in Key West for days past our original departure date. The trip back from this eventful research junket is a story in itself!

-I appreciate how you handled the storyline with Isabelle. And I loved the twist at the end. Did you plot that ending or was it a surprise to you too?
That ending was plotted almost from the beginning, although during the process of writing the book I did concern myself some with whether the twist would work. I’m so glad to hear that you liked it.

-You are multi-published with Heartsong. Did you find it difficult to write longer fiction?
Actually, it’s been harder to keep to the shorter format because I end up with more plot that word count.

-Are you part of a critique group? And if so, how did you get together? Do you submit weekly?
Critique groups are essential! I’ve been with my current group, all published authors, since 1999. The format has always been the same: four authors, one chapter per week critiqued by email followed by a weekly in-person meeting to plot and pray. Two of us are original to the group while the third joined in 1999. Our fourth just got her first contract for a three-book series!

-What are your favorite parts of being a writer? Least favorite?
My favorite part of being a writer are those moments, generally after the fact, when I realize that God wove a message through my manuscript that I didn’t expect, that He typed using my fingers. Sometimes I see this coming, but mostly He surprises me. My least favorite part is stepping away from the computer to stand in the spotlight. I don’t mind speaking or signing books, but I don’t like even unintentionally shifting the credit away from where it belongs: with God.

-What sort of marketing are you doing for Beloved Castaway?
Danielle, my publicist at Glass Road PR, is doing an amazing job of getting the word about about Castaway. In addition, I am doing speaking engagements and book signings. I’m very excited about the signing I’m doing next week with Mitch Albom, author of Five People You Meet in Heaven.

-Do you have any advice for unpublished authors?
Never stop learning. If you think you know everything about writing and publishing, I guarantee your career is about to end.

-What’s next for you?
I am starting on the sequel to Castaway, Emilie Gayarre’s story. The title, Beloved Captive, should give the hint that Isabelle’s sister is about to have an interesting twist of events in her own life. Did I mention there are pirates and a handsome Naval lieutenant involved?

-Thank you for stopping by On The Write Path. I look forward to reading more of your work.
Thank you! It’s been a pleasure!

Friday, November 09, 2007

The Friday Five

This week's Friday Five is:

Five Ways I Know I Am Getting Old.

1. A friend of mine recently remarked that her son disliked his keyboarding class, and my first thought was, "I didn't know they'd bought a piano keyboard." Duh! Keyboarding is the new version of typing class.

2. I opened a new account on line for a site that requested your date of birth. For birth year, they had a drop down menu. I had to scroll to find mine. A Loooooooooong Way.

3. My daughter's comment at dinner the other night. She said casually, "When I get married and have kids, you will be Gramma Vetsch." I was gobsmacked. Gramma Vetsch is what my husband called HIS gramma! I was ready for my tennis-ball footed, bike-basket adorned aluminum walker right there.

4. At the auction I went to last Saturday, the auctioneer was selling as 'Vintage Items' things I remembered when they came out new. Rubik's Cube...Vintage? Hello!?

5. Last night, my son and I started reading aloud Zilpha Keatley Snyder's THE VELVET ROOM. When I told my son that my fourth grade teacher had read this book to my class in 1979, he was impressed. When I told him my copy of the book had been printed in 1965, he looked at the book like it was an original copy of a Gutenberg Bible. "Wow, that's old!"

Sigh. Not that old. Not anymore.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Two Tag

Found this on CJ's Blog The Compost Heap. Figured I'd give it a whirl.

Two names you go by: Erica and Ducky. (Only my parents call me ducky...mostly my dad.)

Two things you are wearing right now: A blue button-down shirt and jeans.

Two of your favorite things to do: Read and talk to CJ on the IM.

Two things you want very badly at the moment: For my in-laws to become believers. To have a book published.

Two favorite pets you have/had: #1 is my lovely cat Pookie (aka Mittens, but Pookie just fits better) and #2 was Duff, a black lab/Irish setter cross with the best disposition of any dog I have ever come across.

Two people who will fill this out: GeorgianaD and perhaps I should tag Donna so she will blog... Hee hee.

Two people you last talked to: Thing One and Thing Two, my offspring.

Two longest trips you've been on: To Florida and to Texas by air. A couple of long, looping vacations from West Virginia in the East to Colorado/Wyoming in the West.

Two favorite holidays: Christmas and Easter.

Two favorite beverages: Caffeine Free Diet Coke and Ice Water.

Please play along, just let me know here so I can go read your answers. :)

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Nano Day Seven

Today saw an upsurge in the wordcount. The ms stands at just under 16K.
The kidlets and I went to the library so I could get away from the phone, email, distractions, and laundry.
The kids took schoolwork, I took the laptop, and it worked out great!
I have great kids...really, the best! I know I'm probably a little bit biased, but still...they're the best!

This Week From CFBA

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
(Thomas Nelson November 6, 2007)
Robert Liparulo

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Robert is an award-winning author of over a thousand published articles and short stories. He is currently a contributing editor for New Man magazine. His work has appeared in Reader's Digest, Travel & Leisure, Modern Bride, Consumers Digest, Chief Executive, and The Arizona Daily Star, among other publications. In addition, he previously worked as a celebrity journalist, interviewing Stephen King, Tom Clancy, Charlton Heston, and others for magazines such as Rocky Road, Preview, and L.A. Weekly. Robert is an avid scuba diver, swimmer, reader, traveler, and a law enforcement and military enthusiast. He lives in Colorado with his wife and four children.Robert's first novel painted a scenario so frighteningly real that six Hollywood producers were bidding on movie rights before the novel was completed. His acclaimed debut novel, Comes A Horseman, is being made into a major motion picture by producer Mace Neufeld and his short story "Kill Zone" was featured in the anthology Thriller, edited by James Patterson. Bob has sold the film rights to his second book, GERM. And he is writing the screenplay for a yet-to-be-written political thriller, which sold to Phoenix Pictures, for Andrew Davis (The Fugitive, The Guardian) to direct! He is currently working on his fourth novel.

ABOUT THE BOOK: Deep in the isolated Northwest Territories, four friends are on the trip of a lifetime. Dropped by helicopter into the Canadian wilderness, Hutch, Terry, Phil, and David are looking to escape the events of a tumultuous year for two weeks of hunting, fishing, and camping. Armed with only a bow and arrow and the basics for survival, they've chosen a place far from civilization, a retreat from their turbulent lives. But they quickly discover that another group has targeted the remote region and the secluded hamlet of Fiddler Falls for a more menacing purpose: to field test the ultimate weapon. With more than a week before the helicopter rendezvous and no satellite phone, Hutch, a skilled bow-hunter and outdoor-survivalist must help his friends elude their seemingly inescapable foes, as well as decide whether to run for their lives...or risk everything to help the townspeople who are being held hostage and terrorized. An intense novel of character forged in the midst of struggle, survival, and sacrifice. Deadfall is highly-aclaimed author Robert Liparulo's latest rivetingly smart thriller. Get Downloads and EXCERPTS at

"DEADFALL is drop-dead great!"-In The Library Reviews

"What if Mad Max, Rambo, and the Wild Bunch showed up-all packing Star Wars type weapons? You'd have Robert Liparulo's thrilling new adventure Deadfall."-Katherine Neville, best selling author of The Eight

"A brilliantly crafted thriller with flawless execution. I loved it!"-Michael Palmer, best selling author of The Fifth Vial

"In Deadfall, Robert Liparulo gives us a fresh, fast paced novel that instills a well-founded fear of the villians and an admiration for the people who refuse to be victims. It truly deserves the name thriller.-Thomas Perry, best selling author of The Butcher's Boy and Silence

"Another brilliantly conceived premise from Robert Liparulo. Deadfall will leave you looking over your shoulder and begging for more."-Dave Dun, best selling author of The Black Silent

A NOTE from Bob: I’d like to give away five signed copies of Deadfall to readers of CFBA blogs during my tour. All they have to do is sign up for my e-mailing list (they won’t be inundated!) by going to my website ( and going to the “Mailing List” page. Or email me with “CFBA giveaway” in the subject line.

And a second NOTE from Bob: I wanted to let you know that I’m holding a contest on my site:

*one winner a week till the end of the year for a signed Deadfall

**one winner a week till the end of the year for an unabridged audio MP3-CD of Deadfall

***and on Dec. 31, I’m giving away an iPod Nano, pre-loaded with an unabridged audio recording of Deadfall

Winners are selected from my e-mailing list—sign up at my site. If a winner has already purchased what he/she wins, I will reimburse them for the purchase price (or give them another—whichever they choose), so they don’t need to wait to see if they win before buying Deadfall.