Friday, March 28, 2008

The Friday Five

Since I've been spending so much time in my van lately, this week's Friday Five is:
Five things that are always in my van. (besides me)
1. My CD's. Third Day, Jeremy Camp, Michael W. Smith, etc.
2. Garbage can. I seem to generate a lot of garbage while in the car, but I can't stand a messy car.
3. Air Freshener. I use the Glade solids, usually raspberry scented.
4. Laptop adapter. You never know when you might have to kill a little time and can get some work done.
5. Rand McNally Atlas. Handy, and also a good time killer. I love maps.
So? What's in your car?

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

This Week From CFBA

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Tyndale House Publishers (February 6, 2008)
Jeanette Windle
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: As the child of missionary parents, award-winning author and journalist Jeanette Windle grew up in the rural villages, jungles, and mountains of Colombia, now guerrilla hot zones. Her detailed research and writing is so realistic that it has prompted government agencies to question her to determine if she has received classified information. Currently based in Lancaster, PA, Jeanette has lived in six countries and traveled in more than twenty. She has more than a dozen books in print, including political/suspense best-seller CrossFire and the Parker Twins series.
ABOUT THE BOOK: Fires smolder endlessly below the dangerous surface of Guatemala City’s municipal dump. Deadlier fires seethe beneath the tenuous calm of a nation recovering from brutal civil war. Anthropologist Vicki Andrews is researching Guatemala’s “garbage people” when she stumbles across a human body. Curiosity turns to horror as she uncovers no stranger, but an American environmentalist—Vicki’s only sister, Holly. With authorities dismissing the death as another street crime, Vicki begins tracing Holly’s last steps, a pilgrimage leading from slum squalor to the breathtaking and endangered cloud forests of the Sierra de las Minas Biosphere. But every unraveled thread raises more questions. What betrayal connects Holly’s murder, the recent massacre of a Mayan village, and the long-ago deaths of Vicki’s own parents? Nor is Vicki the only one demanding answers. Before her search reaches its startling end, the conflagration has spilled across international borders to threaten an American administration and the current war on terror. With no one turning out to be who they’d seemed, who can Vicki trust and who should she fear? A politically relevant tale of international intrigue and God’s redemptive beauty and hope.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Humble (Pear) Pie

This past Sunday I had some pie. Well, actually, I had pie twice. We had family over for Easter dinner. My SIL, Linda, brought chocolate pie. (YUM!) But I also had a slice of humble pie. (Not nearly as tasty.)
I don't often have folks over to my house. When I do, before they arrive there is a flurry of activity that usually involves me being short-tempered and snarky. This past Sunday was no exception.
We raced home from church so I could start the lunch prep. Turkey (already cooked, just needed reheating) went into the oven. Stuffing went into a pan to join the turkey. I grabbed two cans from the pantry and handed them to my son. "Open these and dump them into this bowl."
He opened the first one and scooped out the jellied cranberries. My family refuses to eat cranberry sauce or cranberry salad, but they adore the jellied cranberries. When next I looked at my son, he was standing at the counter with the can opener in his hand and doing nothing.
"James, open that can."
"But, Mom--"
"Do as I say. I don't have time to argue with you. They'll be here in a few minutes." In my mind I had my wrist up to my forehead...ever the martyr.
James shrugged and opened the can. "Do you want me to dump it in this bowl, or do you want a different one?"
"What are you talking about?" Me, stirring the gravy.
"These pears. Do you want them in with the cranberry?"
Pears. Duh. I'd grabbed the wrong can.
For one moment I stepped outside my "Martha-busyness" and saw the absurdity of the situation. I started to laugh. I had to hug my son, apologize for my snarkiness, and then go find the other can of cranberry jelly.
We had a bowl of pears on the Easter table on Sunday. They never even made it to my end of the table before they were gone.
Hopefully I've started two new holiday traditions at my house. Pears on the Easter table, and more importantly, a mom who is not snarky when guests are coming over.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Smokin' Dayplanners

Over the past couple months, my schedule has exploded. I’ve had a stretch the last few weeks where I had an appointment, a commitment, or a meeting every day of the week. Run to the orthodontist, squeeze in the grocery shopping, make a trip to the library, kids need to get to piano lessons, swimming lessons, sewing lessons…My van seems to be on the road 24/7, and I’m going in such tight circles if I look in my side mirror, I will be able to read my own license plate.

The truth is, I have a very low busyness tolerance. This last few weeks has been killing me, sapping me of creative energy for writing, making me want to hibernate, escape, or otherwise check out. I am rushing around too fast to pay attention to details, I’m forgetting things I used to remember with ease, and I’m spinning my wheels more than Jeff Gordon doing a celebratory burnout after winning at Daytona. A lot of smoke, a lot of noise, but not much forward progress.

Our society today prides itself on its busyness. Ask a friend how they are doing, and more often than not, you’ll get the reply, “Busy.” Then you’ll share a nod and a commiserating smile, because you, of all people, know the true meaning of busy. You feel a little thrust of satisfaction, validation, whatever. You are among the ranks of ‘The Busy.’

But at what cost? Things that once had priority become things you either have to shoehorn into your schedule, or you drop them by the wayside altogether. Our schedule became so overloaded this past week that my husband and I completely forgot about the Good Friday service at church. We were mortified. The cost of a busy schedule was high that day.

Another reminder of how crammed my schedule has become came yesterday. For the first time in months, we opened the doors of our home to others. We had some family over for Easter dinner. We had a wonderful time. Instead of fretting over the payroll I still needed to run, I took the entire afternoon off of doing “STUFF” and played card games. (FYI, the card ‘Brad Pitt’ will work for a TON of adjectives in the game Apples to Apples…good and bad.) I ran the payroll last night after everyone had gone home, and I was relaxed, things went well, and the work got done.

There are some things I can’t cut out of my schedule at the moment: home-schooling, bookwork, family obligations, but there are ways I can streamline, cut back, and curtail my busyness. I’ll be looking for those this week. I’ll be trying to schedule things a bit better so I don’t always feel like I’m behind the curve, barely accomplishing things in time. And I will take some more time to relax, to be with people, to enjoy the journey.

(This will naturally involve watching more basketball. Did you notice the Jayhawks got an invitation to the Sweet Sixteen? SWEET is the right word! Woohoo!)
A very special thank-you to CJ, picture-maker expert and terrific friend, for the picture of the burning dayplanner. You Rock!

Bonus Coverage from CFBA

For Pete's Sake
Book Two of the Piper Cove Chronicles
(Avon Inspire - April 1, 2008)
Linda Windsor
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Maryland author Linda Windsor has written some twenty-nine historical and contemporary novels for both the secular and inspirational markets, but she is most noted for delivering “The Lift of Laughter and Spirit” in her modern inspirational romances. A Christy finalist and winner of numerous industry awards, Linda has written for Multnomah Publishing (historical fiction and contemporary romances), Barbour Publishing (romcom novella), and Westbow Press (the Moonstruck romantic comedy trilogy). Wedding Bell Blues the first book in her new The Piper Cove Chronicles series, is featured on Avon Inspire's launch list. In addition to writing and doing fiction-writing workshops at conferences across the country, Linda continues a music and lay speaking ministry started by her and her late husband, and she is a part-time financial analyst. She also works on “as desperately needed” home improvement projects on the 18th-century-plus house that she and her husband began restoring in 1986. Wallpaper and paint are definitely in her near future.
Saturday, April 5th, 2008
Jack's Religious Gift Shop
701 Snow Hill Road
Salisbury, MD 21804
Saturday, April 12, 2008
The Gospel Shop
800 South Salisbury Blvd
Salisbury, MD 21801
11:00 AM
ABOUT THE BOOK For Pete's Sake is a remarkable story about the unlikely love between a grown-up tomboy and the millionaire next door. Ellen Brittingham isn’t sure true love exists until she contracts to do the landscaping of the estate of the sophisticated widower next door, Adrian Sinclair. Adrian has it all—at least on the surface. He’s engaged to a beautiful woman who helped him build a successful business, and he’ll soon have a mom for his troubled son Pete. Yet, from the moment Ellen rescues a stranded Adrian on her Harley, his well-ordered world turns upside down, cracking his thin fa├žade of happiness and revealing the void of faith and love behind it. Even more, his son seems to have his own sites set on Ellen – as his new mom. As Ellen’s friendship grows with Pete, she realizes that his father is about to marry the wrong woman for the right reasons. And despite her resolve to remain “neighbors only” with the dad, the precocious boy works his way into her heart, drawing Ellen and Adrian closer. Close enough for heartbreak, for Pete’s sake! But how can her heart think that Adrian Sinclair is the one when he’s engaged to a sophisticated beauty who is everything Ellen isn’t? When Ellen’s three best friends see she’s been bitten by the love bug, they jump into action and submit her to a makeover that reveals the woman underneath her rough exterior and puts her in contention for Adrian’s love. But Ellen must ask herself whether she’s ready to risk the heart that she’s always held close. Will Ellen be able to trust that God brought this family into her life for a reason? Or will her fear of getting hurt cause her to turn away from God’s plan and her one true chance at love?
Erica here: I'm not yet finished with this book, but the part that I've read went by really fast! Linda has a light touch, a quick pace, and a humorous, optimistic outlook that shines through her writing. If the end is as good as the beginning (and I'm sure it is!) I will highly recommend For Pete's Sake as a must read.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

A project (or procrastination)

Over the past few weeks, a girlfriend and I have been swapping some teaching duties, playing to our strengths. She has been teaching Heather to sew, and I've been instructing four kids in the art of writing papers.
Heather's completed a pillow, a nightgown, and curtains for her room. Then she bit off a BIG PROJECT. What started out as an idea for a quilted table runner ended up as an entire queen-sized quilt. Over the past two weeks, we've taken large pieces of cloth, cut them into small pieces, then sewed them back into one large piece. Hmmm. Seems silly while you do it, but when you're done, it's such a beautiful result. There is cohesion, order, and the conclusion tells a story.
We had so much fun with the animal print fabrics. Mixing, matching, and we even have one Amish square in there where one of the orange fabrics doesn't match the other three in the square.
Kind of like writing a novel, huh? All the colors, the possibilities, the aspects and choices, but laid down in the right pattern makes a beautiful patchwork that tells a story.

Friday, March 21, 2008

The Friday Five

This week's Friday Five is:
Five Things I Got For My Birthday:
1. Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium on DVD
2. A dozen roses from my beloved
3. A cake made by my daughter
4. A card made by my son (and he did the laundry!)
5. Dinner out with my beloved.
6. (BONUS) I got three new crowns installed.
7. (DOUBLE BONUS) The Jayhawks advanced to the second round of the tournament, and the Kansas State Wildcats did too. :)
What was/is your favorite birthday gift?

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

The Only Uni Blog Tour ~ Camy Tang ~ Guest Blog!

MY REVIEW: Today I am thrilled to tell you about a truly wonderful book, ONLY UNI, by Camy Tang. I read the first book in this series, SUSHI FOR ONE, in one night. Stayed up all night to do it, absolutely couldn't put it down. I was looking forward to ONLY UNI, but apprehensive too, not wanting to be disappointed when I loved the first book so much. Well, I wasn't disappointed. On the contrary, the heroine in ONLY UNI, Trish, captured my heart even more than Lex of SUSHI FOR ONE. Trish is quirky, constantly finding herself in situations where her faith is tested, and feeling her way along in her faith, wanting to do it 'right' but not having a clue where to start. ONLY UNI is honest about the trials young women face, the consequences of decisions they make, and about how powerful the love of family and even more, the love of God is. I heartily recommend this book.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Camy Tang is the loud Asian chick who writes loud Asian chick lit. She used to be a biologist, but now she is a staff worker for her church youth group and leads a worship team for Sunday service. She also runs the Story Sensei fiction critique service. On her blog, she gives away Christian novels every Monday and Thursday, and she ponders frivolous things like dumb dogs (namely, hers), coffee-geek husbands (no resemblance to her own...), the writing journey, Asiana, and anything else that comes to mind. Visit her website at for a huge website contest going on right now, giving away five boxes of books and 25 copies of her latest release, ONLY UNI.

ABOUT THE BOOK: Flirty biologist Trish Sakai has alienated her best friends and her family because of her wild behavior with her artist ex-boyfriend, Kazuo. Then she finds her father kissing another woman, and her mom suffers a heart attack. Convinced God is punishing her for her sexual promiscuity, Trish comes up with three rules from First and Second Corinthians: 1) Stop looking at guys, 2) Only date Christians, and 3) Persevere in hardship by relying on God. If she follows them, God will restore her life to the way it was before her mistakes. If she can somehow regain her chastity, she won’t feel as dirty and unworthy as she does now. They’re only three rules. How hard can it be?

Handsome Spenser finds himself attracted to his coworker Trish, but his dinner invitation gets slammed down with a lame excuse about Corinthians and rules. That cools his ardor pretty quick. But then Spenser discover that his old enemy Kazuo needs Trish as the “muse” for his unfinished masterpiece painting due in a few months for a gallery show. Kazuo pursues Trish with everything he’s got, but Spenser decides to throw a wrench in Kazuo’s plans by pretending to pursue Trish himself. Trish is going nuts trying to stand firm against two hunky guys. Her three simple rules aren’t so simple anymore . . .

A Guest Blog From Camy Tang!

Delivering a message without bashing people over the head with it

I have several good friends who are completely on fire for God, and they’re not afraid to tell everybody and their cat about Christ.

I am not like that.

Maybe it’s because as a Japanese American (or at least in my family), I was taught to not be pushy, not speak my mind no matter how aggravated I am, and not bring up any kind of controversial topic of conversation.

As you can imagine, when I became a Christian, evangelism was reeeeeeaallly hard for me.

It still is, although I’ve learned to better hear the Holy Spirit when He nudges me to say something or do something. But my natural inclination is to speak lightly and try to be agreeable.

That has carried over in my writing. While God has very clearly called me to write for Christians, I still haven’t gotten used to a lot of God-speak or frank conversations about Christ. And since I’m not used to it, my characters don’t do it.

Like many of my friends, my relationship with God permeates everything I do, every hour of my day. I may not speak a lot of Christian-ese, but I think it. I try to talk to God continually, if only in my head. I don’t talk about God a lot to other people—even my Christian friends—but He’s in my thoughts.

Because that is how my relationship with God is like, my characters tend to have the same type of relationship with God. Some characters don’t talk about Him a lot, although they think about Him. Some characters think about Him more than others. (Other characters ARE as vocal about their relationship with God as some of my friends, even though I’m not that vocal myself.)

I don’t think a character has to talk about God a lot in order to convey their relationship with Him, and I think that reticence is what resonates with a lot of readers. My characters usually start off with a false idea of who God is, and slowly grow to a better understanding of Him, of His love for us, of His desire to be our everything.

But because my character’s relationship with God tends to be a bit more subtle, the spiritual message doesn’t slam readers over the head. My characters grow through signals here and there about how God is impacting their lives, and the reader follows that growth through those small signals, not through a lot of God-speak and long discussions about Christ.

While in real life, people are often drawn to Christ through those long discussions about Him, in fiction, pacing and story flow take precedence. So in my stories, God guides characters to Himself through other means.

My readers seem to enjoy the flow. And while I don’t expect them to have some massive spiritual epiphany after reading one of my novels, I do hope my books leave people with a stronger understanding of how much God loves them.
ERICA here: Thank you, Camy, for guest blogging and being so transparent. I truly enjoyed the book, and I encourage everyone to check it out.

This Week From CFBA

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness
WaterBrook Press (March 18, 2008)
Andrew Peterson

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Author/Singer/Songwriter Andrew Peterson, a 2005 Audie Award finalist for his readings of Ray Blackston’s Flabbergasted trilogy, wrote and produced the popular Christmas play and musical Behold the Lamb of God: The True Tale of the Coming of the Christ, and the album by the same name, which received the 2004 Best Album of the Year, World Christian Music’s Editors Choice Award. Andrew’s received critical acclaim for his seven albums and is at work on an eighth. He lives with his wife Jamie and their three young children near Nashville, Tennessee, where he reads storybooks aloud to his family each evening.
Artist Justin Gerard has illustrated several children’s books, including The Lightlings storybooks for young readers by R.C. Sproul. He lives in Greenville, South Carolina, and works as the chief creative officer for Portland Studios.
ABOUT THE BOOK: Once, in a cottage above the cliffs on the Dark Sea of Darkness, there lived three children and their trusty dog, Nugget. Janner Igiby, his brother Tink, their crippled sister Leeli are gifted children as all children are, loved well by a noble mother and ex-pirate grandfather. But they will need all their gifts and all that love to survive the evil pursuit of the venomous Fangs of Dang who have crossed the dark sea to rule the land with malice and pursue the Igibys who hold the secret to the lost legend and jewels of good King Wingfeather of the Shining Isle of Anniera.
Andrew Peterson spins a quirky and riveting tale of the Igibys’ extraordinary journey from Glipwood’s Dragon Day Festival and a secret hidden in the Books and Crannies Bookstore, past the terrifying Black Carriage, clutches of the horned hounds and loathsome toothy cows surrounding AnkleJelly Manor, through the Glipwood Forest and mysterious treehouse of Peet the Sock Man (known for a little softshoe and wearing tattered socks on his hands and arms), to the very edge of the Ice Prairies. Full of characters rich in heart, smarts, and courage, On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness presents a world of wonder and a tale children of all ages will cherish, families can read aloud, and readers’ groups are sure to discuss for its layers of meaning about life’s true treasure and tangle of the beautiful and horrible, temporal and eternal, and good and bad.

“So good–smart, funny, as full of ideas as action.”–Jonathan Rogers, author of The Wilderking Trilogy

“A wildly imaginative, wonderfully irreverent epic that shines with wit and wisdom–and features excellent instructions on how to cope with Thwaps, Fangs, and the occasional Toothy Cow.”–Allan Heinberg, writer/co-executive producer of ABC’s Grey's Anatomy, and co-creator of Marvel Comics Young Avengers

“Totally fun! Andrew Peterson, a natural storyteller in the oral tradition, has nailed the voice needed to translate a rip-roaring fantasy tale to the written page.”–Donita K. Paul, author of DragonSpell, DragonKnight, DragonQuest, and DragonFire

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Squeezing in the Prayers

If you are like me, you mean to pray, you plan to pray, and you find yourself falling into bed at the crack of midnight having failed to pray.

I've been thinking of ways to incorporate more prayers into my life.

The other night, as I was getting ready for bed, I noticed the TBR stack on my bedside table. I am a big believer in bookmarks, having been a librarian. I hate to see a book smacked facedown, pages sprawled open, spine all but crying at the strain. I use bookmarks.

And it hit me. I should use prayer cards from missionaries either my church or Peter and I support as my bookmarks. Then, when I open the books, I will see their cards, and remember to pray for them.

Then I thought I could expand this idea. I receive printed bookmarks from author friends with their books listed on the front. I can also remember to pray for these author friends and their ministries when I find them in a book. Also, I can write the names of family members, government officials, church friends, on the backs of these bookmarks. When I open a book, there is the reminder for me to pray.

Anything I can do to nudge my mind to more prayer is a good thing.

How do you remember to pray?

Friday, March 14, 2008

The Friday Five

Five things I love about March Madness:
1. The Jayhawks.
2. The Cinderella Stories.
3. The Jayhawks.
4. Brackets!
5. The Jayhawks.
Rock, Chalk, Jayhawk! KU!

Thursday, March 13, 2008

What in the world?

I'm so out of the loop on pop culture. I just learned that a plant I have growing in my flower garden is actually an hallucenogenic similar to marajuana. Did you know salvia has been outlawed in several states and more states are expected to follow?
I can successfully grow exactly THREE plants, and now one of them might be illegal. Yikes. I don't know if all Salvia has these properties or not. It seems sad to uproot a perfectly good plant that flowers beautifully. Maybe I could just put up no smoking signs around it. :)

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

This Week From CFBA

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Sweet Caroline
(Thomas Nelson February 12, 2008
Rachel Hauck
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: I graduated from Ohio State University (Go Buckeyes!) with a degree in Journalism. As a member of Phi Mu sorority, I partied my way though the last few years of college. But, the truth is, and always will be, I belong to Jesus. At the age of six, I knelt at the altar of a Tulsa Methodist church and gave my life to the One who loves me. After graduation, I hired on at Harris Publishing as a software trainer, determined to see the world. And I did it without a laptop, a cell phone, an IPod or portable DVD player. Those were hard times. But, I traveled to Ireland, Spain, Venezuela, Mexico, Australia, Canada and the U.S. from California to Maine. But, life on the road is difficult. Working twelve to fourteen hour days, one doesn't get to see many of the sites. In Ireland, our company's distributor drove me around at night so I could see something of Dublin. I met Tony, my husband, in '87, at church, of all places. We got married in '92. Tony has been a pastor for twenty years. I've worked with him in eighteen of those twenty. Our heart is to see teens and adults passionate, radical and whole-hearted for Jesus. Tony and I don't have any children of our own, lots of kids-in-the-Lord and we love them all. However, we do have a very spoiled dog, and an even more spoiled cat.I've always wanted to be a writer. My dad used to tell me, "You're a writer." I have letters he wrote me post college, exhorting me to write. In this, I believe he had the heart of God. In '93, I started an epic WW2 novel with two plots. It was well rejected. After that ordeal, I took a break and put efforts into my job as a software project manager. But, I missed writing and in late ' 99, I took up the craft again.With a little help from my friends, my first book was published in ' 04, Lambert's Pride, a romance novel. I love writing chick lit and romance. I love writing. What an honor.
Rachel has several other books that have been received with great praise, including Diva Nash Vegas and Lost In Nash Vegas You can purchase copies of Rachel's books, signed personally for you,at this site: Signed by the
ABOUT THE BOOK: When a Southern waitress inherits the Lowcountry cafe where she works, she suddenly has to balance more than just her next food order. Caroline Sweeney has always done the right thing--the responsible, dependable thing--unlike her mother who abandoned her family. But when her best friend challenges her to accept an exciting job adventure in Barcelona, Spain, Caroline says "yes" to destiny. Then, without warning, ownership of the run-down cafe where she's been waitressing falls right into Caroline's lap. While she's trying to determine the cafe's future, handsome Deputy Sherriff J.D. Rand captures Caroline's heart. But when her first love, Mitch O'Neal, comes back to town, fresh from the heat of his newly-found fame as a country music singer in Nashville, Caroline must make some hard choices about love and the pursuit of the sweet life.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

New Blog Shout Out

Hey, OTWP readers, please do me a favor and stop by Rachel's blog. Rachel is new to blogging, a fan of Christian Fiction, and one of the students in my writing class.
I know it would be a big encouragement to Rachel if some of you would stop by and give her a comment. She's already blogging about her favorite Christian Fiction.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Bonus Coverage from CFBA

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
The Perfect Life
Thomas Nelson (February 5, 2008)
Robin Lee Hatcher
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Robin Lee Hatcher discovered her vocation as a novelist after many years of reading everything she could put her hands on, including the backs of cereal boxes and ketchup bottles. The winner of the Christy Award for Excellence in Christian Fiction (Whispers from Yesterday), the RITA Award for Best Inspirational Romance (Patterns of Love and The Shepherd's Voice), two RT Career Achievement Awards (Americana Romance and Inspirational Fiction), and the RWA Lifetime Achievement Award, Robin is the author of over 50 novels, including Catching Katie, named one of the Best Books of 2004 by the Library Journal. Robin enjoys being with her family, spending time in the beautiful Idaho outdoors, reading books that make her cry, and watching romantic movies. She is passionate about the theater, and several nights every summer, she can be found at the outdoor amphitheater of the Idaho Shakespeare Festival, enjoying Shakespeare under the stars. She makes her home outside of Boise, sharing it with Poppet the high-maintenance Papillon. She also likes to blog. Go leave her a comment at Write Thinking!
ABOUT THE BOOK: Katherine Clarkson has the perfect life. Married to Brad, a loving and handsome husband, respected in their church and the community. Two grown daughters on the verge of starting families of their own. A thriving ministry. Good friends. A comfortable life. She has it all--until the day a reporter appears with shocking allegations. Splashed across the local news are accusations of Brad's financial impropriety at his foundation and worse, an affair with a former employee. Without warning, Katherine's marriage is shattered and her family torn apart. The reassuring words she's spoken to many brokenhearted women over the years offer little comfort now. Her world spinning, Katherine wonders if she can find the truth in the chaos that consumes her. How can she survive the loss of what she thought was the perfect life?

The Umbrella

This is a story I once heard told by a missionary at my church. The story has been swirling in my head lately, which means God has something for me to glean from it.
Once upon a time in Africa, a missionary gave an umbrella to a little boy. The boy was thrilled. He'd never had such a wonderful thing before. Every day he paraded through the village with his umbrella under his arm. He found a special place in his hut to hang it so it wouldn't get dirty or damaged. He thought about his umbrella often, sometimes stroking the tough fabric, running his fingers over the curved handle, and even poking the ferrule into the ground to make patterns. He checked that the snap on the strap that kept it closed stayed nice and shiny. And every day, he would tuck his umbrella under his arm and walk through the village.
The missionary who had made the boy this fine gift returned to the village one day to see the boy proudly displaying his umbrella. A fine mist fell from the leaden sky, threatening more rain to come.
The missionary asked the boy, "Why don't you open the umbrella?"
"Open it?" The boy looked at the missionary, puzzled.
The missionary showed the boy how to unstrap it, unfurl it and separate the ribs. He held it over their heads, sheltering them from the storm. The boy learned it wasn't enough to carry the gift. It was meant for use.
The umbrella in the story is like the Bible in our lives. We carry it around, to church, in our purses, put it on our bedside table. We talk about it, look at it, know it is there. But do we use it for its intended purpose? Do we open it, do we take shelter in its truth from the storms of life?
2 Timothy 3:15-17 (King James Version)

15. And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.

16. All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:

17. That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.

Friday, March 07, 2008

The Friday Five

This week's Friday Five is a repeat of one I did awhile back, but with some new ideas. Five things you will never hear me say.

1. Please, let me sew that for you. I love to sew.

2. Yes, I'd be happy to have ringside tickets to Sumo-wrestler-palooza.

3. No, I don't need the calculator, I'm a whiz at math in my head.

4. Go, Oakland Raiders!

5. More mac'n'cheese, please.
How about you? Anything you wouldn't say?
The picture is in honor of my son, who is writing a report on capuchin monkeys.

Taming Rafe by Susan May Warren - Guest Blog

Today I'm blogging about Susan May Warren's latest release, Taming Rafe. I have to say, the Noble Legacy series has some of the most beautiful covers in the CBA today. And no one writes heroes like Susan. Her men are real men!

From the back cover: In less than eight seconds, two-time world champion bull rider Rafe Noble lost his title, his career, his best friend—all on the dirt floor of a noisy rodeo arena.

Katherine Breckenridge just wants to make a difference by running her mother’s charity foundation. But the mysterious disappearance of half a million dollars has forced it to the brink of bankruptcy, and when an out-of-control Rafe Noble destroys her last-chance charity event, Katherine heads to the Noble family ranch to enlist Rafe’s help in raising the money he cost her.

But Rafe is broke—in cash and in spirit—and helping her is the last thing he wants to do… especially when it could cost him – and Katherine – their lives.

Here are some cool links for you to check out.

And Susie was gracious enough to guest blog on the pros and cons of writing in a series.

So, Here's Susie!

To series or not to series; that is the question…

I had this conversation recently with my editor. With today’s trends, it’s hard to know what to do – the one book bang, or the series net?

What on earth am I talking about?

With a series, the idea or theme of the series is the big hook – an Amish series (pick any of the best-selling authors today), or a suspense romance series set in Hawaii (Colleen Coble), maybe it’s a suspense romance with a group of heroes (think: O’Malley, or Team Hope) a series about a group of friends bemoaning their lives over facials (Kristin Billerbeck’s hilarious Spa Girls). It could be a generational series – either forward or backwards (Heirs of Anton). Or even a family of cowboys set in modern day Montana (the Noble Legacy). Series ideas are sold on the strength of the series concept, and the hope that each book will capture readers in the net. Although the author’s presence in the marketplace is important, a series is a great way for a new author to break into the market, especially if they have a strong series hook. Of course, established authors have also made their mark by developing strong series.

And, once a reader is a hooked into a series, often, well, they come back. However, on the flip side, when book two or three comes out, the bookstore needs to stock the previous book(s), or it’s a deterrent for the reader to buy the subsequent ones.

Stand alones are perfect for authors who have either a super one-story idea, some sort of platform for their name. Often authors who are more established with a series move to the stand-alone route (Francine Rivers and Ted Dekker come to mind!), although the strength of a story idea can often launch an author into the publishing limelight (ie, Lisa Samson’s books are great examples of wonderful stand–alones). Also some genres are more conducive to stand-alones—thrillers, for example do well with the one-book punch. As do Women’s Fiction novels. However, fantasy books, as well as Amish or prairie romances do well in series. As do romantic suspense novels, and often, chick lit.

So – the question remains, what kind of story do you want to write? Ask yourself: does your story have a large cast that could branch off into other stories? Does your story have the spark it needs to stand alone, or is your strength in you series’ hook? Does your genre lean more toward series, or stand-alones? And, could you see your character continuing on from the present book, to have a life in later stories?

Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to write stand-alones, or sufferThe slings and arrows of outrageous series… That’s up to you…and story God has given you to write!

Thank you, Susie, for guest blogging.

Check out Susan’s series, and or/stand alones at

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Made in Taiwan

Awhile back I wrote a post about going to the dentist. You can read it here. It will help you understand a bit about what I went through this morning.
The dentist finally got his way. Just before Christmas I busted a tooth. Diagnosis: A new crown must be fashioned and applied to the tooth. In the spirit of good cheer and holiday kindness, I (If I drank egg nog I'd be blaming it right now) agreed that my 30+ year old stainless steel crowns could be replaced at the same time. What was I thinking?
Today I had a three hour long appointment with my dentist, who did a great job of grinding out the chipped tooth, sawing away at the old crowns, and basically numbing my mouth until it felt the size of a hippo's. When he had done all the prep, he took new impressions (vile purple paste that sticks everywhere). Then the dental assistant, Jody, (What a sweetheart...eversomuch more kind and way less pinchier looking than the girl I had in the above post) made temporary crowns for me. I had assumed they would put stainless steel temporary crowns on while I waited for my new porcelain crowns to be fashioned and sent to me. Um...this is not exactly the procedure anymore. Jody manufactured and glued into my head three plastic crowns. They feel so weird, lightweight, kind of rough, and nothing like the steel ones I had previously. They make me feel like I was made in Taiwan.
To top it all off, I stopped by my MIL's right after, cheeks puffed out like a chipmunk, lips not responding to any of the commands I was sending them to stop slouching off my face. I pulled into the drive and took the snowshovel off the porch to remove a couple inches of partly cloudy off the cement. (MIL has cancer and uses a walker. Must NOT walk on snow.) I promptly wiped out face first on the concrete. Such a klutz! Ribs hurting, knee stinging, and wrist throbbing, I put the shovel away. I went inside and didn't tell the MIL, because she doesn't need to know. She'd just feel bad.
The husband was appropriately sympathetic (for reasons not the least of which was his own wipeout on the snow today and that in spite of the dentistry torture I'd gone through I had still brought him lunch at the shop). We ordered pizza for supper. He's so good to me.
Right now I'm taking Advil, rejoicing in crit partners and friends who prayed for me, and trying not to think about having to return to the dentist in two weeks to get my new permanent crowns.

This Week From CFBA

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Truffles by the Sea
Bethany House (February 1, 2008)
Julie Carobini

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Julie Carobini is an award-winning writer whose stories often spotlight her family, the sea, and God's timely work in the lives of those around her. She lives with her husband, Dan, and their three children in Ventura Beach, California. She also likes to blog! Go leave her a comment at Waves of Grace.

A special message from Julie: To celebrate my upcoming CFBA tour March 5-7, I'll be giving away a copy of Truffles by the Sea AND and a 1/2 lb. box of yummy truffles to three CFBA readers. All they need to do is drop by my blog during the tour and leave a comment and a way to contact them if they win!

ABOUT THE BOOK: If you read, Julie's first book, Chocolate Beach, then you might remember Gaby as Bri’s dramatic, lovesick best friend. Unfortunately, things get worse—much worse—for her before they get…well, best not to give it away. Sometimes all a girl has left is chocolate...Gaby Flores has a penchant for drama and an unfortunate knack for dating Mr. So Wrong. After breaking off yet another relationship, watching her apartment building burn to the ground, and discovering that her dippy delivery guy has run off with most of her business, Gaby decides it’s time to turn things around. So she moves to a tiny waterfront loft and takes on a new motto: “Be gullible no more!” With help from her friends, she works to rebuild her flower shop—and her life. But when legal troubles and quirky neighbors and two surprising romances enter her beachy world, Gaby’s motto and fledgling faith are put to the test. Can a young woman prone to disaster in both work and love finally find happily ever after?

"Truffles by the Sea is delightful! Julie Carobini has a new fan in this reader, and she's earned a spot on my keeper shelf." --Kay James,

"This book is a delight to read, and the author has us rooting for Gaby from page one. This girl's never-say-die attitude is incredible, and her life is filled with all kinds of foibles. This is chick lit with heart – about so much more than finding a man.... While keeping the light chick lit tone, this book satisfied while avoiding the tired old formulas. Just when I’m ready to give up on the genre, I stumble across an author who can write without relying on stereotypes." --Cara Putman,

"I liked Julie Carobini's first novel, Chocolate Beach, but her sophomore release, Truffles By The Sea, greatly surpasses it. I thoroughly enjoyed Carobini's second book and felt her writing was much stronger throughout. The characters are deeper and yet funnier – a great combination.... It's a great read for a cold winter day – you can curl up with the book, a nice fire and pretend you're the one by the sea." --Jill Hart,

Monday, March 03, 2008

Guest Blogging

Hey, gang,

I'm guest blogging on contests over at Write Place, Write Time. Toddle over and check it out. :)

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Re-evaluating goals

It's time to re-evaluate those goals.
Now that I've gotten my contest entries off to the judges, I am focusing on getting a novel done. Things have gone all haywire with my previous goals, so I'm starting a new list here.
1. Write. As a person who likes great blocks of time to get work done, my current pace of life is throwing me off. I need to learn to write in snatches whenever I can. I'm 20% done with the first draft of a new novel. I want to grow that by at least 10% a week until the book is done.
2. Read. I've been neglecting my fiction reading lately. As someone who used to devour three to five books a week easily, my goal is one fiction book a week.
3. Study. I had set a goal earlier this year to read five books on craft. I've surpassed that. Now comes the part about applying what I've learned. I'm particularly focused on applying Goal, Motivation, and Conflict to every scene.
4. Give Back. I plan to be busy in the upcoming months with critiques for my lovely crit partners and as a contest judge. Excellent chances to give back to the writing community.
5. Invest. Attend the ACFW conference in September. I've made my hotel reservations already, and I'm just waiting for registration to open.
I'll add specific conference goals later. For now, the primary goal is to finish this novel.