Friday, September 30, 2011

Dangerous Mercy

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Dangerous Mercy
David C. Cook (October 1, 2011)
Kathy Herman

Suspense novelist Kathy Herman is very much at home in the Christian book industry, having worked five years on staff at the Christian Booksellers Association (CBA) in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and eleven years at Better Books Christian Center in Tyler, Texas, as product buyer/manager for the children’s department, and eventually as director of human resources.

She has conducted numerous educational seminars on children’s books at CBA Conventions in the U.S. and Canada, served a preliminary judge for the Gold Medallion Book Awards of the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association , and worked as an independent product/marketing consultant to the CBA market.

Since her first novel, Tested by Fire, debuted in 2001 as a CBA national bestseller, she's added sixteen more titles to her credit, including four bestsellers: All Things Hidden, The Real Enemy, The Last Word, and The Right Call.

Kathy's husband Paul is her manager and most ardent supporter, and the former manager of the LifeWay Christian Store in Tyler, Texas. They have three grown children, five almost-perfect grandchildren, a cat named Samantha. They enjoy cruising, deep sea fishing, and birdwatching—sometimes incorporating these hobbies into one big adventure.

Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. —Matthew 5:7

When eighty-five-year-old Adele Woodmore moves to Les Barbes to be near the Broussards—and her namesake, their daughter—she wants nothing more than a comfortable, quiet life. Employing men from Father Vince’s halfway house for the homeless to do odd jobs and landscaping, she delights in the casual conversation she has with them, the fledgling friendships, and the idea that she is helping them get back on their feet.

A series of murders in Les Barbes has cast a pall over the town and, in fact, one of Adele’s handymen becomes a person of interest to the police. But Adele cares for these young men, she knows them, and continues to show them kindness in spite of her friends’ concern. And then one day a murderer walks through Adele’s defenses, sits down at her kitchen table...and they begin to talk...

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

Kathy Herman has written another great suspense set in the heart of Louisiana. You can just smell the delicious aromas emanating from Pierce and Zoe Broussard's Cajun cafe! Beyond a great story, this book addresses a dilemma many believers face: how do you show mercy and compassion to those who need it most without placing yourself in a dangerous and vulnerable situation? I was completely captivated by this novel and could hardly put it down.


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Thursday, September 29, 2011

Standing Firm

My heart is heavy yet full of admiration for this man, his precious wife, and their sweet little boys. What an incredible testimony of faith and standing firm in Christ. How much we take for granted here in the USA! We can be so smug in our declarations of faith and what it means to be a follower of Christ but most of us haven't a clue. May God have mercy on our complacency.

From Fox News:

An Iranian pastor who has refused to renounce his Christian faith faces execution as early as Wednesday after his sentence was upheld by an Iranian court.

Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani, who maintains he has never been a Muslim as an adult, has Islamic ancestry and therefore must recant his faith in Jesus Christ, the 11th branch of Iran's Gilan Provincial Court ruled. Iran's Supreme Court had ordered the trial court to determine whether Nadarkhani had been a Muslim prior to converting to Christianity.

The judges, according to the American Center for Law & Justice, demanded that Nadarkhani, 34, recant his Christian faith before submission of evidence. Though the judgment runs against current Iranian and international laws and is not codified in Iranian penal code, the judge stated that the court must uphold the decision of the 27th Branch of the Supreme Court in Qom.

When asked to repent, Nadarkhani stated: "Repent means to return. What should I return to? To the blasphemy that I had before my faith in Christ?"

"To the religion of your ancestors, Islam," the judge replied, according to the American Center for Law & Justice.

"I cannot," Nadarkhani said.


"Blessed are those who are persecuted
because of righteousness,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are you when people insult you,
persecute you, and falsely say
all kinds of evil against you because of Me.
Rejoice and be glad, because
great is your reward in heaven,
for in the same way they persecuted
the prophets who were before you."

Matthew 5:10-12


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Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Fall for the Wednesday Hodgepodge

1. It is officially fall here in North America...I realize not everyone who participates in the Hodgepodge lives in North America but if you do, what's your favorite memory of Summer 2011? If you're not in North America, what's your favorite memory of the season just ending on your side of the world?

The record-setting, 87 days of 100-plus degree temperatures! (Besides, two of those have happened since fall started!)

Without question, it was my trip to Atlanta when I got to hang out with my friend Kim from Window to my World, attend the Christy Awards, and talk to so many incredible authors!

2. Your favorite nut? You know I mean the edible kind, right?

Pecan. And it's pronounced puh-KAHN here in Texas, thankyouverymuch!

3. What activity puts your sense of balance to the test?

Stepping on an escalator when my hands are full and I can't grab the rail or see my feet.

4. How would you describe your sense of humor?

A bit dry, heavy on word play, sometimes self-deprecating and a bit sarcastic.

5. September 28th is National Ask a Stupid Question Day...what's your stupid question?

Who comes up with these "National. . . .Days"?

6. Roller skates~hula hoop~jump rope...which activity would you most enjoy? Yes, you have to choose.

Jump rope. Especially if I got to hold one end of a long one for other people! Jump rope was always one of my favorite things to do as a child.

7. What's your most sentimental possession?

Ooh, that's tough. I guess it would probably be my engagement/wedding rings, our wedding pictures, and pictures of the kids when they were little.

8. Insert your own random thought here.

I'm looking forward to my MIL coming to help us celebrate my man's birthday tomorrow. It will be strange, though, for my boy not to be here. College is an adjustment for all of us!


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Tuesday, September 27, 2011


Dallas/Fort Worth, TX—What would you do if…? Thus begins the question being asked by author and film producer Ray Comfort in his new documentary, 180. Titled to reflect the complete turnaround in the mindsets of all to whom the question is posed, the award-winning film shows eight pro-choice people (mostly college students) changing their stance to pro-life just moments after the question is asked in its entirety. It is Comfort’s hope that the documentary, releasing online September 26th, will go viral.

While skeptics of 180 (Living Waters Publications) say they can’t believe anyone would change his or her mind so quickly, Comfort accepts and even understands their disbelief, stating that he could hardly believe it himself when he first viewed the footage in the editing room. Initially, 180 was not the film he meant to produce. At the time, Comfort was taping interviews for a DVD to go along with a book on Hitler and the holocaust. In the course of the interviews, one question led to another, and the discussion led to abortion. Comfort explains, “It began with two male university students completely changing their minds about abortion when we asked them this one question. We realized it wouldn’t be convincing to have only males speaking on the subject, so we took to the streets, asking that one particular question, and found that six women changed their minds from pro-abortion to pro-life in a matter of seconds. It was amazing!”

Though it was not Comfort’s original intention to create a documentary specifically about the abortion issue, when he saw the direction the film was taking, he quickly recognized its potential to open the doors of discussion. “I have held up pro-life signs. I have printed pro-life literature and spoken against abortion in pulpits and in my books, but I have felt that all my efforts were almost futile—that is, up until now. In 180 we have a nation changer.”

A spokesperson for Living Waters, the production company behind the documentary, further explains the abrupt change this way: “There really isn’t that much to debunk because there is no argument against it. Its message is very powerful, eye-opening and watertight. It leaves no room for a comeback.”

Comfort adds, “Most of us know that we should be doing something to stop this horror, but the thought of protesting is a little unnerving, especially with the demonization of those who do so. But here is something each of us can easily do—we can give this DVD out. We can pass them out on the streets, leave copies on park benches or on seats in malls or give it to the checkout lady at the supermarket. This isn’t hard to do, and it will save lives—perhaps millions of lives.”

As to the rest of the question Comfort asks in 180? You’ll have to wait to watch the video to find out what it is. “For me to tell you what the question is,” he explains, “would be cheating you. You’ve got to see the facial expressions change. You’ve got to see the people, when they are asked that one question, change from one of a hard look in their facial expressions to one of a light going off, as they change their minds and realize how evil abortion is. Their thinking makes an abrupt 180 degree turn, all because of that one game-changing question.”

Although the film is just now being released to the public, an early edit of 180 was submitted for consideration and won a 2011 Telly Award.

The documentary is now available for free viewing online at

This is thought-provoking. While it is not for children, I recommend it for older teens and up.


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Monday, September 26, 2011

Carol Award Winner - Interview and Giveaway

UPDATE Monday 10/3/11 at 8:30 am WINNER!

Random Integer Generator
Here are your random numbers:
Timestamp: 2011-10-03 13:29:29 UTC

Congratulations to traveler. Email me your address and the book will be on its way to you.

* * * * *

The very last ACFW Carol Award announced Saturday night was that for Debut Author. While I was not physically at the event in St. Louis, I was following the live blog on my iPhone. I was thrilled when Gina Holmes won for Crossing Oceans. I absolutely loved that book when I read and reviewed it last year. What a treat it was to have the opportunity to meet and interview Gina when I was in Atlanta in July! What better time to post our conversation than now, especially since I have an autographed copy of this award-winning book to give to one of you at the end!

Crossing Oceans is just incredible. I put a big box of tissues on my review! I didn’t see any way the book could end well, but you showed how God uses grace in our darkest moments and wrapped it up so beautifully. It is an incredible novel for anyone to write, but the fact that it’s a debut novel just blew me away. Tell me how you came up with all of that and your writing journey.

I probably have one of the most documented on the web with the blog Novel Journey (now Novel Rocket). I wrote four suspense novels that I tried to get contracted and they came close to getting contracted but God had other plans. I’m so glad it happened that way because that’s not the genre I should be writing in!

I was with Chip McGregor, who is my agent, and I was working on a nurse sleuth mystery because I’m a nurse and I wrote suspense; I was working on that, and it just felt like drudgery. I mean, I felt like I was at work and I just didn’t want to be there. So I started Crossing Oceans. At the time in my life, I was going through a very painful divorce, and I didn’t realize it at the time, but the dying mother was me. And if anybody’s ever been through a divorce, you just come out of it with all this guilt for your children and all this pain and all those feelings that come with it, and it’s like a death. So that’s what I was working out at that time. And I presented both stories to Chip and said, “Which one do you think?” And he said, “I could sell either one of these, but Crossing Oceans is your voice. So I finished that one and worked out a lot of grief through that story, and I guess in a sense, I was Jenny, and that death was the death of my life as I knew it. I was a stay-at-home mom and leading Bible clubs in my home and teaching Awanas and a Sunday School teacher and just like that, everything I knew had changed and the rug was dragged out from under me. The way God works in Crossing Oceans is the way God always works in my life: what you see as this beauty from ashes, stuff you just have to trust –because it makes no sense right now – this can’t possibly work out, I can’t possibly ever be happy again. And God has a plan. He’s just so amazing in ways you never saw coming. All of that was Crossing Oceans. So it very much is a part of my soul and I hope I get another story like that. It’s very cathartic writing, it’s very cleansing writing, and it’s very cheap therapy!

I think the third one that I’m working on right now is like that. It’s about an abused woman and I know a little bit about that

With Crossing Oceans, when Chip sent it out to the publishers to see what the reaction was, everyone said, “What is this? We’ve known Gina for years and she writes these weird exorcist books!” But Tyndale was absolutely in love with the story and contracted it before it was even finished and pursued me. I’d never had that happen! Up to that time I was stalking editors but at that point the tables turned and I was being courted. A couple of publishers were interested but Tyndale was passionate so we went with them.

I just signed a new two-book contract with them; Dry as Rain comes out in September.

I was hoping an advanced copy of that one would be available by now!

That’s my fault because it took so long to write. They say if you could, just skip writing your second book and move to your third one! I don’t know what it is – some kind of weird sophomore curse. It was absolutely horrible to write and so difficult. They say it’s like that for everyone. I don’t know why that is. I never want to have to go through that kind of toil again in writing a book. It didn’t come naturally or easy, and I went through some major rewrites from third person to first person, from two points of view to one point of view. Crossing Oceans flowed. And the third book is flowing. But with Dry as Rain, I felt that I was tweezing every word out.

Tell me what Dry as Rain is about.

Dry as Rain is from the point of view of a man, which I think is a little jolting to people; having been in first person Jenny’s point of view [in Crossing Oceans], now I’m in first person Eric’s point of view throughout the whole book. It’s about a couple who drifts apart, one misunderstanding and unkind word at a time, as many marriages do over years until there’s this huge chasm between them and they separate. Eric ends up having an affair with a coworker, wakes up in that woman’s bed, and gets the phone call that his wife was in an accident. She has partial amnesia and doesn’t remember that they’re separated. She doesn’t remember she’s not madly in love with him, and she treats him the way she treated him years ago. What he thought was a toe tag on the marriage, he finds that he never stopped loving her. So now he’s got a window of opportunity in his mind, whether that’s right or wrong, to win her back before she remembers. It’s about forgiveness and infidelity and can the unforgiveable ever be forgiven.

So you’ve got a third book in the contract?

The first contract I signed was for Crossing Oceans and Dry as Rain. I just signed another contract for Shadows of Love and Driftwood Tides, which are not written yet; I’m working on them.

They’re all stand-alone books?

Yes. I wouldn’t mind trying a sequel or series sometime, but right now I’ve got a lot of individual stories to tell and maybe, a lot of individual therapy sessions to work out with myself!
I think not everyone realizes it’s therapy. If you know what someone is going through and you know them that well – it took someone else telling me on Crossing Oceans, “You were going through a divorce; do you not see that connection? She is dying, you were ‘dying’.” Now it all makes sense and not until the end do you have time to look back and see what you were working out. I think if that’s not true of an author, then maybe they’re not cutting the veins open. But I think it is true and I think they don’t realize it. I think it takes someone with some pretty good insight into human nature and who knows them pretty well to say “Oh you were working out this.”

Sometimes you do tell other people’s stories. With Dry as Rain, I have not suffered infidelity (that I know of!), so that book did not feel like my story as much as Crossing Oceans did or the third one coming up will, because I have been through abuse and I have died, in a way.

Do you work as a nurse still?

When I signed the second contract, I stopped, so that was very recently. It’s tough work. It’s not for the faint of heart. People say writing is one of the toughest jobs – oh, give me a break! Come work on a med-surg floor! (We laugh and share some camaraderie and memories.)

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

Of course, I like to read. I love being outside; I like getting my hands dirty—gardening and hiking and walking. I love hanging out with my husband. I’ve been married two years now and he’s just my best friend and the greatest gift from God. Talk about beauty from ashes! And I like hanging out with my children. Get me around some dirt and mountains and water and I’m happy.

What’s on your nightstand?

I love Charles Martin and Francine Rivers. I’m in a non-fiction mode right now. I’m reading a lot of John Townsend stuff, the one who wrote Boundaries.

What sort of spiritual messages do you like to put in your books?

I think for me, I don’t try to put any message in there, but what comes out for me and what I’ve seen God do in my life, He always uses the least of the least, and I’m definitely the least of the least. I was a very sad, very troubled child, and all these things I thought were huge crushing, painful things in childhood, I thought, “God, why would You do this to somebody if You love me?” And to fast-forward so many years later and see how He used all those things for my good and I just didn’t see at the time; I just didn’t know His plan. We don’t have the “beginning and the end” view that He does. I like to work that in – just trust God! He really has got it. Take it easy, sit back, relax, put your seat in the chair and just trust. Even if you can’t see it right now. He’s proven that to me over and over, and it can’t help but seep out into what I write.

What has been the most unexpected thing about being a published author?

Because I ran Novel Journey, now Novel Rocket, for so long and sat in your chair, I had a good picture and knew what to expect. I knew there was not celebrity involved. No one really cares about the author; they care about the book. I knew book signings were torturous, and they’re more torturous than I thought they were!

That’s a shame! I love getting to know the authors! I’d be holding up the line because I would want to sit down and chat!

Before I knew anything, that’s what I thought it would be. But I feel like I’m standing there with a cup and people are trying not to make eye contact because they don’t want to put a quarter in my cup. They seem so uncomfortable. I’ve even had people take my book, look at it, and walk away with it without having me sign it. The author doesn’t matter as much as the book does, and that’s probably a good thing! I like meeting people and talking to people but I don’t like begging people to take my book.

What’s the most tedious part of writing?

It depends on the book. Crossing Oceans wasn’t heavily edited. They liked it as is, although they did edit it some. Dry as Rain was more tedious. When you go from third person to first person and take out 50% of the character, that ends up with multiple rewrites and can be frustrating. I think if you stay true to what you should be writing and don’t allow yourself to be contracted beyond what you can do, that helps. The marketing part, trying to figure out what readers are looking for and trying to please them, can be tedious. I don’t think we do well when we try to do what other people expect of us. I think we have to be true to the story and ourselves and the story God has for us.

What do you say to an aspiring writer who either doesn’t know how to start or gets rejected.?

I have tons of advice! Visit Novel Rocket, not because we need the readership but because it really is a good place to learn. My biggest piece of advice is to go to writer’s conferences. There are gatekeepers in this industry and that’s where they are. You need to go and meet people and you need to meet them several times. Relationships don’t build instantaneously, although that’s what we want. We go and attack people and pitch them our story and we think they’re going to take them and it doesn’t happen that way. I met my agent one year, pitched him and he rejected me, met with him another year and then another year, and by the fifth year we were friends and he was pursuing me. That’s how relationships build. Take it easy, just like with God and life. Put your seat back. It’s going to be a long ride. You’re not as far along as you think you are. At the right time, it will happen. And it usually happens when you don’t need it to happen or when you don’t desire it above everything else. Go to conferences, perfect your craft, get every book on writing, write, write, get into a critique group – not one that tells you what you want to hear, but one that tears up your work in a positive way that you know is right.

Any last words of wisdom or things that you want to say?

I appreciate everyone’s support. Crossing Oceans did really well and it’s because of word of mouth, and I appreciate everybody that did that. I appreciate you for doing that for me; your review was beautiful and it made my day!

Thank you for taking the time to talk with me, Gina!

Here is the summary of Crossing Oceans and a reprint of my thoughts from my May, 2010 review:

Jenny Lucas swore she’d never go home again. But being told you’re dying has a way of changing things. Years after she left, she and her five-year-old daughter, Isabella, must return to her sleepy North Carolina town to face the ghosts she left behind. They welcome her in the form of her oxygen tank–toting grandmother, her stoic and distant father, and David, Isabella’s dad . . . who doesn’t yet know he has a daughter. As Jenny navigates the rough and unknown waters of her new reality, the unforgettable story that unfolds is a testament to the power of love and its ability to change everything—to heal old hurts, bring new beginnings . . . even overcome the impossible. A stunning debut about love and loss from a talented new voice.

This is an amazing novel for any author to have written, but the fact that it's Gina Holmes' debut novel makes it that much more incredible. Just be sure to have one thing by your side at all times as you read it:

I am not kidding you. I have never had a book break my heart like this one did, nor cause me to mull over it so long after finishing it. (What is a reader to do when she longs to pray for and hug the neck of fictional characters?!) Not that it is morose in its telling. On the contrary, it is an achingly tender story. Jenny and her precious daughter, Isabella, walked right off of the pages and into my heart. As I progressed further into the book and the layers of sorrow and love intertwined, I couldn't fathom how the story could end in any satisfying manner. And if this were a secular title, that would be true. But God infuses hope and grace at each of life's most fragile turns for the believer, and Gina Holmes has gently and expertly woven Truth into this book. While the book literally made my heart hurt and brought me to tears, the last sentence left me with a smile. And that is all I will tell you! You absolutely MUST get this book.


I attended Gina's book signing at the Tyndale booth in Atlanta and received an autographed copy of the award-wining Crossing Oceans to give to one of you! To enter, leave a comment on this post by 8:00 pm CDT Sunday, 10/2/11 and I will draw a winner. Leave a second comment telling me you mentioned/linked to this post on your blog and/or Facebook and receive a second entry. Limit two entries per person. US Residents only. You must include your name and email address if you don't have a blog so I can contact you if you win.

Be watching for my review of Dry as Rain; I am anxiously awaiting its arrival!

Learn more about Gina at her website or on Facebook


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Sunday, September 25, 2011

ACFW Carol Awards

Last night at the American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) conference, the annual Carol Awards (formerly Book of the Year) were presented in St. Louis. The nominees were announced when I was in Atlanta this past summer. What a wonderful group of authors and books these are!

Below is the list of finalists with the winner for each category highlighted in bold:

The Preacher’s Bride by Jody Hedlund (Bethany House)
Crossing Oceans by Gina Holmes (Tyndale Publishers) - interview and giveaway coming soon!!
Rooms by James L. Rubart (B&H Publishing)

The Choice by Suzanne Woods Fisher (Revell)
Red Ink by Kathi Macias (New Hope Publishers)
Never Say Never by Lisa Wingate (Bethany House)

Plain Jayne by Hillary Manton Lodge (Harvest House)
Anna’s Return by Marta Perry (Berkley)
Plain Paradise by Beth Wiseman (Thomas Nelson)

Here Burns My Candle by Liz Curtis Higgs (Waterbrook Press)
Petra: City in Stone by T.L. Higley (B&H Publishing)
Sons of Thunder by Susan May Warren (Summerside Press)

The Husband Tree by Mary Connealy (Barbour)
Love Finds You In Homestead, Iowa by Melanie Dobson (Summerside)
Courting Morrow Little by Laura Frantz (Revell)

Mirrored Image by Alice K. Arenz (Sheaf House)
Muslin Mystery by Vera Dodge (Guideposts)
The Camera Never Lies by Elizabeth Goddard (Barbour)

The Prodigal Groom by Vickie McDonough (Barbour)
Ride With Me Into Christmas by Rachael Phillips (Barbour)
A Trusting Heart by Carrie Turansky (Barbour)

The Silent Order by Melanie Dobson (Summerside Press)
Don’t Look Back by Lynette Eason (Revell)
Pursuit of Justice by DiAnn Mills (Tyndale Publishers)

The Wedding Garden by Linda Goodnight (Love Inspired)
A Father for Zach by Irene Hannon (Love Inspired)
Winter’s End by Ruth Logan Herne (Love Inspired)

Night Prey by Sharon Dunn (Love Inspired Suspense)
Legacy of Lies by Jill Elizabeth Nelson (Love Inspired Suspense)
Firestorm by Kelly Ann Riley (Love Inspired Suspense)

Her Healing Ways by Lyn Cote (Love Inspired)
Promise of Tomorrow by S. Dionne Moore (Barbour)
The Columns of Cottonwood by Sandra Robbins (Barbour)

The Wolf of Tebron by C. S. Lakin (AMG Publishers)
Rooms by James L. Rubart (B&H Publishing)
K├Ânig’s Fire by Marc Schooley (Marcher Lord Press)

Predator by Terri Blackstock (Zondervan)
Fear No Evil by Robin Caroll (B&H Publishing)
Medical Error by Richard L. Mabry (Abingdon Press)

Beaded Hope by Cathy Liggett (Tyndale Publishers)
They Almost Always Come Home by Cynthia Ruchti (Abingdon)
Beyond Summer by Lisa Wingate (NAL)

Anything But Normal by Melody Carlson (Revell)
The Healer’s Apprentice by Melanie Dickerson (Zonderkidz)
Katy’s New World by Kim Vogel Sawyer (Zonderkidz)


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Friday, September 23, 2011

The Wonder of Your Love

The Wonder of Your Love
Beth Wiseman
(Thomas Nelson)
ISBN: 978-1595548863
September, 2011/304 pages/$15.99

Katie Ann lost the love of her life. Then God offers her a new beginning in Colorado.

Katie Ann Stolzfus lives in the small Amish community of Canaan, Colorado. At forty she is widowed and raising her first child. But baby Jonas will never know his father, and Katie Ann wonders if her Heavenly Father hasn't forgotten about her as well. Is it really God's plan for her to be a single parent?

Eli Detweiler has come to Canaan for a wedding and a long vacation. Having raised six children following the death of his young wife, Eli is finally an empty-nester. He's enjoying the slower pace of having no one to care for but himself.

When Katie Ann and Eli meet, there is an instant connection. Yet as strong as the attraction is, they both acknowledge that a romance would never work. He is done parenting, while she has just begun.

But as their friendship slowly blossoms into feelings that are as frightening as they are intoxicating, Katie Ann and Eli question if the plans they made for themselves are in line with God's plans.

Can Katie Ann entrust her heart to another man, and rediscover the wonder of God's love?

Beth Wiseman is hailed as a top voice in Amish fiction. She is the author of numerous bestsellers including the Daughters of the Promise series and the Land of Canaan series. She and her family live in Texas.

Beth Wiseman is a relatively new voice in Christian and Amish fiction, releasing her first book just a few years ago, but she has quickly become a best-selling, award-winning author, and with books such as The Wonder of Your Love, it's easy to see why. This is a sweet story which depicts Katie and Eli both struggling to reconcile their circumstances and desires with God's plans. Colorado is a new setting for an Amish story, but there is a small Amish community there. In addition to the story of Kate and Eli, I enjoyed the much-loved character of Martha, Katie Ann's Englisch friend and surrogate mother. She is a feisty thing and adds quite a bit of spice to the story! If you enjoy Amish fiction, you'll enjoy curling up with this book.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from BookSneeze/Thomas Nelson as part of their Blogger Review program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”


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Thursday, September 22, 2011

Heiress - Contest and Giveaway!

UPDATE Thursday 9/29/11 at 2:45 pm WINNER!

Please forgive my slowness in drawing and announcing the winner. I was at the hospital with church members most of yesterday and this completely slipped my mind.

Random Integer Generator
Here are your random numbers:
Timestamp: 2011-09-29 20:43:00 UTC

Congrats to windycindy! Email me your address and the book is yours!

* * * * *

Susan May Warren is thrilled to announce the release of her latest historical book, Heiress!

Susan May Warren
(Summerside Press)
ISBN: 978-1609362188
July, 2011/380 pages/$14.99

They can buy anything they want—fame, power, beauty, even loyalty.

But they can’t buy love.

The beautiful and wealthy heiress daughters of August Price can buy everything their hearts desire. But what if their desire is to be loved, without an enormous price tag attached? When one sister betrays another for the sake of love, will she find happiness? And what happens when the other sets out across the still untamed frontier to find it—will she discover she’s left it behind in the glamorous world of the New York gilded society? What price will each woman pay for being an heiress?

Set in the opulent world of the Gilded Age, two women discover that being an heiress just might cost them everything they love.

Read an excerpt here.

Susan May Warren is an award-winning, best-selling author of over twenty-five novels, many of which have won the Inspirational Readers Choice Award, the ACFW Book of the Year award, the Rita Award, and have been Christy finalists. After serving as a missionary for eight years in Russia, Susan returned home to a small town on Minnesota’s beautiful Lake Superior shore where she, her four children, and her husband are active in their local church.

Susan's larger than life characters and layered plots have won her acclaim with readers and reviewers alike. A seasoned women’s events and retreats speaker, she’s a popular writing teacher at conferences around the nation and the author of the beginning writer’s workbook: From the Inside-Out: discover, create and publish the novel in you!. She is also the founder, a story-crafting service that helps authors discover their voice.

Susan makes her home in northern Minnesota, where she is busy cheering on her two sons in football, and her daughter in local theater productions (and desperately missing her college-age son!)

A full listing of her titles, reviews and awards can be found at

Find out what the reviewers are saying here!

Heiress, a richly complex historical romance, is the first in Susan's three book Daughters of Fortune series. In honor of Heiress’ debut, Susan is hosting a FABULOUS Gilded Age Giveaway and giving away an opulent prize pack fit for an heiress!

One grand prize winner will receive:
  • A $100 gift certificate to
  • A sleek silver iPod™ Shuffle
  • A beautiful strand of Pearls
  • Titanic DVD
  • Speakeasy Compilation Music CD from Starbucks™
  • Heiress by Susan May Warren

Click one of the icons below to enter. But do so soon - this giveaway ends 10/5/11. The winner will be announced Thursday, October 6 on Susan’s blog.

Enter via E-mail Enter via FacebookEnter via Twitter

Oh, the beauty, wealth, and romance of the Gilded Age! It is such fun to read and imagine being gowned and coifed and swept away for an evening of dancing and socializing. Surely happiness lies in such! Or maybe not. . . ! I loved this story of two very different sisters who had two different views of their pampered lifestyle. They certainly did not expect the long-reaching consequences of the choices they made. This is a delightful read and a wonderful reminder of what really matters in life

I have an extra copy of this book to give to one of YOU! To enter, leave a comment on this post by 8:00 pm CDT Wednesday, 9/28/11, and I will randomly draw a winner. US residents only, please. You must include your name and an email address if you don't have a blog so I may contact you.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Litfuse Publicity and Summerside Press as part of their Blogger Review program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”


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Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Wednesday Hodgepodge

1. Do you like chili? Red or white? Beans or no beans? Spice or no spice? Toppings?

Red. With some beans, not too many. Flavorful but not hot. With Fritos (actually, I put them in the bowl first) and sprinkled with grated cheddar cheese.

2. Red~Orange~Gold...your favorite fall color?

Combination of red (the burgundy shade) combined with orange.

3. Who did you idolize when you were growing up?

There are some things that it's just wiser not to post on the world wide web. :-)

4. When was the last time you did something 'arts and craftsy'? Share please.

I made some bookmarks for my group at our Ladies Retreat a few years ago. I cheated because I did them on the computer, printed and laminated them, and then added a ribbon with some pretty beads. Arts and Crafts are so not my thing, as I indicated in my post about homecoming mums. Shudder.

5. What's a place that makes you really nervous?

I am not fond of parking facilities after dark.

6. Horse back riding...yay or nay (neigh?)

I'll pass.

7. What is your favorite cliche?

It drives my girl crazy if she complains about something and I say "It's a hard knock life." Sometimes I'll just hum the song (from the movie Annie.) I think it's a little gentler than saying, "Too bad, life's not fair," but I guess to a teen, it doesn't matter what words you use if that's the intended meaning!

8. Insert your own random thought here.

I loved Randy Alcorn's comments about speaking up, and if you haven't heard the inspiring story of Robertson McQuilkin’s care for his wife Muriel, you won't want to miss Randy's post here.


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Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Attracted to Fire Will Draw You In!

Attracted to Fire
DiAnn Mills
ISBN: 978-1414348643
September, 2011/416 pages/$12.99

Special Agent Meghan Connors’ dream of one day protecting the president of the United States is about to come true. Only one assignment stands in her way. After the vice president’s rebellious daughter is threatened, Meghan is assigned to her protective detail on a secluded ranch in West Texas. Unfortunately, working with Special Agent in Charge Ash Zinders may be as tough as controlling her charge. Ash has a reputation for being critical and exacting, and he’s also after the same promotion as Meghan. But when the threats escalate and security on the ranch is breached, it becomes clear this isn’t the work of a single suspect—it’s part of a sophisticated plan that reaches deeper and higher than anyone imagined. And only Ash and Meghan can put the pieces together before it’s too late.

Award-winning author DiAnn Mills is a fiction writer who combines an adventuresome spirit with unforgettable characters to create action-packed novels. DiAnn's first book was published in 1998. She currently has more than fifty books in print, which have sold more than a million and a half copies.

Seven of her books have appeared on the CBA best-seller list. Six of her books have either won or placed in American Christian Fiction Writers Book of the Year contest, and she is the recipient of the Inspirational Reader's Choice award for 2005 and 2007. DiAnn won a Christy Award in 2010 for Breach of Trust, the first book in her Call of Duty series, as well as a Christy Award in 2011 for Sworn to Protect, book two in the same series..

DiAnn is a founding board member for American Christian Fiction Writers and a member of Inspirational Writers Alive; Romance Writers of America's Faith, Hope and Love chapter; and the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association. She speaks to various groups and teaches writing workshops around the country. DiAnn is also the Craftsman mentor for the Jerry B. Jenkins Christian Writers Guild. Visit her website at

I chuckled at the timing when this book arrived in the mail because it was the week of Labor Day, when Texas was experiencing so many wildfires. I was not feeling very Attracted to Fire! But I knew I would love the book and wow! DiAnn Mills once again demonstrates her brilliance as an author by crafting a plot and details that absolutely keep me glued to the pages. This is a fascinating look at the Secret Service and the dedication of the men and women who protect our nation's leaders. As DiAnn mentioned in the interview I posted yesterday, the members of the Secret Service perform their duties without regard to their personal feelings about the protectee's behavior and personality. Exhibit A is their current assignment: the bratty troubled Vice President's daughter. DiAnn does a masterful job of developing a complex cast of characters and then slowly ratcheting up the suspense until you aren't sure who are the "good guys" and who has turned. A bit of romantic tension adds to the adrenaline in this captivating novel. Definitely a must-read!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Tyndale House Publishers as part of their Blogger Review program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”


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Monday, September 19, 2011

Here's to Friends

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Here’s to Friends
David C. Cook (September 1, 2011)
Melody Carlson

Over the years, Melody Carlson has worn many hats, from pre-school teacher to youth counselor to political activist to senior editor. But most of all, she loves to write! Currently she freelances from her home. In the past eight years, she has published over ninety books for children, teens, and adults--with sales totaling more than two million and many titles appearing on the ECPA Bestsellers List. Several of her books have been finalists for, and winners of, various writing awards. And her "Diary of a Teenage Girl" series has received great reviews and a large box of fan mail.

She has two grown sons and lives in Central Oregon with her husband and chocolate lab retriever. They enjoy skiing, hiking, gardening, camping and biking in the beautiful Cascade Mountains.

Once upon a time in a little town on the Oregon coast lived four Lindas—all in the same first-grade classroom. So they decided to go by their middle names. And form a club. And be friends forever.

Decades later, they're all back home in Clifden and reinventing their lives, but the holidays bring a whole new set of challenges. Abby’s new B&B is getting bad reviews and husband Paul is acting strange. Still grieving for her mom, Caroline is remodeling the family home, but boyfriend Mitch keeps pressuring her to go away with him. Artist Marley, distracted by a friend's family drama (and a touch of jealousy), can't find her creative groove. And Janie’s drug-addicted daughter has just appeared up on her doorstep! When a long-planned New Year's cruise turns into a bumpy ride, they learn once again that, in your fifties, friends aren’t just for fun—they're a necessity!

If you would like to read the first chapter of Here’s to Friends, go HERE.


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A Christy Winner Interview & Giveaway!

UPDATE Sunday 9/25/11 at 10:00 pm WINNER!

Random Integer Generator
Here are your random numbers:
Timestamp: 2011-09-26 02:53:57 UTC

Congrats to petite (Ellie)! Email me your address and I'll send the book to you!

* * * * *

DiAnn Mills is an author that I had the privilege of meeting in Dallas back in 2009. I had enjoyed several of her books and we immediately hit it off since she lives in Houston and we have some commonalities, plus she writes books set in Texas! When I found out I had the opportunity to go to Atlanta in July, I immediately set up an interview to reconnect with her. At first, I thought, "What should I ask her? I've asked the standard author questions about her writing journey, etc." Silly me! There is never enough time to talk to someone who is as vibrant and fascinating as she is! Grab a cup of your favorite brew and enjoy this chat with DiAnn Mills!

I still laugh when I remember meeting and interviewing in 2009 in Dallas when you told me that most people drive through their neighborhood and see a roll of carpet at the curb and think someone’s remodeling but you immediately think “there’s a dead body somewhere!” (She laughs!) Tell me about your recent novel, Under a Desert Sky, which is set in New Mexico -- a change from your series about the Border Patrol.

There’s a story about Under a Desert Sky. Two years ago I was supposed to teach an advanced fiction class at a writer’s conference. I flew into Albuquerque and it’s 2 ½ hours by bus to even get to Ghost Ranch. It’s desolate. (Remember the movie City Slickers? It’s filmed there.) It got its name honestly. There are some fabulous tales there. Georgia O’Keefe, the famous artist, lived several years there. We pulled into this ranch, kind of an adobe kind of setting. I got off the bus and I said to the driver, “Just give me my luggage and I’ll pull it to [my room] as soon as I sign in.” And he said, “Oh no. We have to get someone to drive you there.” I said, “Oh, I can walk!” And he said, “No, where you’re staying is not even here.” So I looked around, and the sun was starting to set, and it was the most desolate place I’d ever seen in my life! In truth, it was 2 ½ miles down a back road and over a cattle guard to get to this home that was built in 1935, and by then it was dark! There were no locks on the house, my cell phone didn’t work, and all I could think was, “In the morning, I’m going home!” That was my horrible attitude! The next morning I opened the blinds and it was absolutely the most beautiful view I had ever seen. The sun was glistening off the rocks, and I thought, “Wow! This is stunning!” And I fell in love with the whole area.

This was the first time this writer’s conference had been held at Ghost Ranch, and they didn’t have any takers for the class I was teaching. So I walked around and all I could think was “This would be a great place for a suspense novel.” By the time I went home a few days later, I had the whole story in my mind. I took tons of pictures, and set it around that ranch – the buildings, the house, the landmarks, everything.

It’s unusual in that the heroine is in first person and the hero is in third. The reason for that is because I knew her. She spoke to me. I understood her lifestyle a little better. But the hero is a Navajo Indian who is also a medical doctor. I couldn’t get that intimacy in first person, so I wrote in third, as close to first as I could, but in third, so it’s a little different. I loved the way it turned out.

It’s very good. Being from Texas, when I think of New Mexico, I think of what you saw that first day, and I don’t see the beauty. I think of flat and desert, although I know there are some pretty areas, such as Albuquerque and the mountains.

Mountains, copper colors and blonde blending in together, and when the sun glistened off them it just sparkled, the deer – it was November so I didn’t see any snakes or I’d have been running! – everywhere you turned, it was just gorgeous. It is a trip worth taking. I’m going back the first part of November this year to teach a beginner class and I’m so excited because I’ll have my book with me. They have a library and I donated a copy to that. It was just fun. It was out of my normal realm. It was 1935, which was a nice transition from historical to contemporary suspense.

What do you have in the works right now?

I have a romantic suspense coming out with Tyndale in September called Attracted to Fire. The hero and heroine are Secret Service Agents. Their protectee is the rebellious daughter of the Vice President. They whisk her off to a remote ranch in West Texas thinking they can keep her safe because she’s been threatened, but someone on that ranch has betrayed them. It’s fun. I enjoyed that; I loved the suspense and the Secret Service – how they do things and how they think and how they would step in front of a bullet for someone they don’t even care for.

So how did you research that?

It was difficult. I know a couple of Secret Service agents and basically what they would say is “No, DiAnn, you have it all wrong; go back to the drawing board” or “Hmm, that’s pretty close” – that sort of thing. So I did have a little bit of help, but it was in such a way not to go against Secret Service protocol but so I could write with a little accuracy.

I’m currently writing a series called Crime Scene Houston. And I love it! I love the characters; it has the same characters all the way through. My heroine is a writer, and my hero is an FBI agent. In the course of writing Pursuit of Justice, I became friends with the media coordinator in Houston’s FBI office. She was instrumental in securing me a pass that I could write from their solved cold cases. So the novels in that particular series are based on solved cold cases. And then I massage it and fictionalize it. They’re set in Houston. My FBI agent, the media coordinator, reads every word to make sure I have the right terminology. There are some things that are a little stretched and we work on that, because it is fiction and it’s like a movie – not everything is going to be exactly the same – and I’m really enjoying that. My husband says I live in a fiction world and that’s pretty true!

The first book is about gang warfare and I have a fabulous story about that. I finished the first one and it’s based on a case that was originally called Beloved Doe. It was a child who was found in a dumpster and the child had been starved and it looked like the child, because of physical problems, had had a feeding tube at one time. It was really sad and it took five years for it to be solved. The first quarter of the book I sobbed all the way through because I knew it was true. I had the news media reports on DVD to watch. The other part of the story is that my FBI agent is trying to bring in some gangs. It’s gang warfare mixed with this other situation; they overlap and you'll have to read it to find out how that happens! I finished the first draft and sent it in and my editor said, “You know, we really would like to have the point of view of the villain.” The villain is the leader of the largest Hispanic gang in Houston. Now, I’ve gone to Sudan to research, researched FBI, ridden the line with the Border Patrol – I’ll do just about anything to research! But I’m not going to go to a gang and say “Hey! Tell me how you do things!” But a fabulous thing happened. In our church on Easter we had one of those presentations where people walked across the stage with signs that said what they used to be. Well, there was one fellow whose sign said, “Used to be in a cartel, and saved by the blood of Christ.” Everybody clapped. I called the church’s Spanish ministry and got in contact with the guy right away. He’s the sweetest, nicest guy you’d ever want to meet! He told me everything I needed to know about the villain’s view, Spanish phrases, all kinds of cool things. And I was able to help connect him with a published writer to do a biography for him. Obviously he can’t use his real name, but he’s had two cartels, done everything from street crime to white collar crime. Anyway, we just became friends! So I got my point of view and didn’t have to go down on the south side and wait for something to happen!

I’m very happy with how my career is going. There’s always the social media. You could spend all day long doing nothing but social media, and I don’t want to do that. I write in the mornings, and I have my craftsman students, the Christian Writer’s Guild that I mentor, in the afternoon. I highly respect, admire, and understand all the work that has to happen through social media. So I’m doing it but I hope that I’m doing it sensibly – more of a power punch than a scatter gun.

I love your Monday question on Facebook. I’m just overwhelmed with how kind you authors are. I’ve met “famous” Christians who don’t have time for the little people. It means so much when I make a comment and you "Like" it.

I have to go in with the mindset of “There’s a friend, there’s a new friend, there’s a friend I haven’t seen in a while,” instead of “Oh, how nice this person is, maybe she’ll buy my book.” That’s what I enjoy about social media, Facebook, etc. Our grandparents purchased their supplies from the fellow with seven kids who sat on the pew in front of them in church. They purchased from those with whom they had a relationship, not that the relationship was supposed to get them a better deal, but because they liked them. That’s the way I look at Facebook. I want to have relationships. If you’re in the market for a book and if you want to read mine, that’s great, but that’s not why I’m on FB. I think that maybe some people don’t have that mindset and then they wonder why things aren’t going the way they want them to. And that’s my view. We’re just bringing back traditions our grandparents had and putting them in a different form. That’s my sermon on Facebook!

To me as a reader, it’s just that much more fun to read a book and meet the author and make connections and discover you went to the same church as my brother-in-law and that you live in Houston!

Any last words for your readers? What will I remember from this interview, like the carpet at the curb?

Maybe my friend who used to be in two cartels who loves Jesus? Oh my! He works in Spanish ministry, and he's a great dad! He understands the power of forgiveness -- just amazing! You and I live in our comfortable worlds. I just have so much respect and admiration for this man and who he is and what he’s doing in the midst of some dangers. We either think some lives can never be redeemed or we think “oh that’s a movie; that doesn’t really happen.” It does. It really does.

Look for me on Facebook and let me hear from you!

Thank you so much DiAnn! It's always a treat to spend some time visiting with you!

As I mentioned, I also had the opportunity to meet and interview DiAnn in 2009 just after Sworn to Protect was released. (You can see that interview and review here.) So it was an extra-special delight to be in Atlanta in July and see DiAnn receive the Christy Award for this same novel! So of course, I went by the Tyndale booth the next day where they were giving away autographed copies and got one for a giveaway! For a chance to win, just leave a comment on this post by 8:00 pm CDT Sunday, 9/25/11. You must include your name, as well as an email address if you don't have a blog, to enter. Leave a second comment telling me you linked to this post via email or FB for a second entry. Limit two entries per person. US Residents only, please.

Tomjorrow, I'll share my review of her just-released novel, Attracted to Fire!


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Friday, September 16, 2011

Mum's the Word

Next week is Homecoming.

This is the first year that's had any significant meaning in our house. We've been fortunate to escape until now. But my girl is a junior and thrives on all the fun activities that go along with this stage in live. And Homecoming means one thing in Texas.

Now before there was electricity thirty-plus years ago when I was in high school, this was a simple matter. If you had a date to Homecoming, your date ordered you a mum from the local florist. It was big and pretty but wearable. And you ordered him a boutonniere. It might be a bit larger than one, say, for the prom, but it certainly wouldn't have ribbons hanging down. I don't know - maybe some of the football players had garters but I never saw guys wear the "mini-mums" on their arms like you see today. And with exception of maybe the cheerleaders and drill team (that was the name back then of the dance team), no one had multiple corsages that I remember.

I'm not sure hot glue guns had been invented yet. Craft stores like Michael's and Hobby Lobby were certainly not around. It never even occurred to anyone to make a mum.

But now.

My girl and some friends - both girls AND guys - are having a mum-making party tonight. When I took her to Michael's with two of the girls to get the supplies, I thought I was going to hyperventilate or break out in hives or something! I have long stated on this blog that glue guns, glitter, and crafts are evil. Give me something to alphabetize or a spreadsheet to organize data any day! It was overwhelming, to say the least. Ribbons for all the different schools and color-matching trinkets and gizmos and doodads - I don't even know what to call it all! My girl was sensible and is making relatively simple mums for the friends she has on her list, some of which are "little sisters" and such from orchestra, choir, etc., so the total wasn't bad.

But oh my. Just Googling for the picture that I put with this post and looking at what's out there that you can order?! I can't imagine making these things, and folks are paying around $200 for the giant ready-made mums! And the girls have to wear them with a cord like a necklace, and they still make their neck and shoulders ache!

Miscellaneous girls with ginormous mums,
 found on Google Images

I kept seeing reference to this being such a Texas tradition - do y'all have this in other parts of the country? Something tells me this is another thing that's bigger in Texas!


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Thursday, September 15, 2011

The Doctor's Lady

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

The Doctor's Lady
Bethany House (September 1, 2011)


Jody Hedlund

Jody has written novels for the last 18 years (with a hiatus when her children were young). After many years of writing and honing her skills, she finally garnered national attention with her double final in the Genesis Contest, a fiction-writing contest for unpublished writers through ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers).

Her first published book, The Preacher’s Bride (2010 Bethany House Publishers), hit the CBA Best Seller list on two different occasions and has won multiple awards.

Her second book, The Doctor’s Lady, released this September. She has completed a third book which will be released in 2012. She’s currently busy researching and writing another book!

Priscilla White knows she'll never be a wife or mother and feels God's call to the mission field in India. Dr. Eli Ernest is back from Oregon Country only long enough to raise awareness of missions to the natives before heading out West once more. But then Priscilla and Eli both receive news from the mission board: No longer will they send unmarried men and women into the field.

Left scrambling for options, the two realize the other might be the answer to their needs. Priscilla and Eli agree to a partnership, a marriage in name only that will allow them to follow God's leading into the mission field. But as they journey west, this decision will be tested by the hardships of the trip and by the unexpected turnings of their hearts.

If you would like to read the first chapter of The Doctor's Lady, go HERE.

Watch the book trailer:

Oh how I love to read historical fiction, but I am so glad I did not live back then! The stringent expectations of proper behavior for women, the harsh living conditions, and the downright dangerous experiences are the sort of thing that birthed the phrase "That which doesn't kill you makes you stronger!" As I read this captivating book, I wasn't real sure which of those two categories would ultimately describe Priscilla! As for Eli, he's pretty sure he knows from Day One that the trip West will be too much for Priscilla and he's highly annoyed that the mission board and Priscilla's mother has given him no choice but to marry Priscilla so that he can return to the mission field himself. Priscilla and Eli both learn a lot about themselves, faith, and serving God in this thoroughly enjoyable book full of adventure, hardship, conflict, and romance.


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Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Wednesday Hodgepodge

1. What do you do at the first sign of a cold? Will you get a flu shot this year?

Start drinking orange juice, hot decaf tea, and other fluids. I usually get a flu shot when my kids get one.

2. What advice can you give about how to conquer fear?

Avoid the situation! If that's not possible, pray like crazy and just do it!

3. Share two good things about your life right now.

I have a home. With air conditioning! And I am loved by God, family, and friends.

4. A hot fall fashion trend in 2011 is a return to sixties style...tunics with pants, shift dresses, pencil skirts, cinched waists, bold prints, high necklines and short lengths to name a few. How does this fashion trend fit with your wardrobe and personal sense of style?

I didn't like the styles in the sixties the first time around and I'm not happy to see them come back! The only style listed that I would go for is the tunics and pants. And please tell me the psychedelic designs and weird color combos are not coming back!

5. Were you involved in scouting as a kid? How about as an adult?

I was a Bluebird for one year. (That's the Brownie equivalent of Camp Fire Girls.) Other than that, no scouts for us. We were too involved in church activities. I helped with my girl's Girl Scout troop. I was involved a bit in Cub Scouts because it's very family-oriented, but I left Boy Scouts to the guys. Sadly, too many moms get itoo nvolved in Boy Scouts and can't let those apron strings loose.

6. Apple, pear, plum, pumpkin...your favorite fall flavor?

Apple. With plenty of cinnamon, preferably in a pie or cobbler with a delightful crust. Warm, with Blue Bell Homemade Vanilla on top. Calorie-free, of course!

7. What characteristics do you think are essential in a good teacher?

Love for the students and for teaching and learning. Patience. A sense of humor.

8. Insert your own random thought here.

This is not a picture of the dead of winter when snow is on the ground. This is what used to be beautiful Bastrop State Park, filled with pine trees. Now they are burned and ash covers the ground. All but 100 acres of the park's 6000 acres are burned or charred.

Bastrop State Park wildfire damage

In Bastrop County itself, more than 1500 homes were destroyed and 33,000 acres burned. The fire is now 70 percent contained. It is heartbreaking to see the devastation.

Only the driveways and rubble indicate that houses lined this street two weeks ago.

Please pray for Central Texas as folks begin the slow process of cleaning up and rebuilding.

Oh, and the temperature has been back over 100 ever day since Saturday.

Meanwhile, I see on the news that the Northeast is about to float away as a result of all of the flooding from the hurricane and tropical storm! Anybody want to mail me some rain?!


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