Saturday, December 22, 2007

Merry Christmas!

I want to wish you all a very Merry Christmas! I don't know when I'll be able to get back to regular blogging until after the new year, with my 2008 goals/resolutions/whateveryawannacallem for my writing life.

Remember the reason for the season, and may God continue to bless us, every one.

Friday, December 21, 2007

FALL into Reading

Get Ready, Get Set, Let's READ!!!
Katrina at Callapidder Days has a Mr. Linky ready to go if you're interested in signing up for this reading challenge! Click on the adorable graphic to the left for "the rules," and click here to sign up.

AND...there are going to be prizes! I will consider it a fall cleaning of out the TBR pile that threatens to take over my living room. Plus, finishing books helps clear the mind clutter. Enjoy the crisp fall weather, because especially here in North Dakota, it won't be long before fall turns into a snowy, below-freezing winter.

The Friday Night Knitting Club - Kate Jacobs Finished 10-28-07
Knitting Under the Influence - Claire LeZabnik - Finished 9-27-07
Get Out of That Pit - Beth Moore (finish)
The Begotten and The Betrayed - Lisa Tawn Bergren (review)
The Tenth Circle - Jodi Picoult (also a Reading the Author challenge book)
Sacred Marriage - Gary Thomas (reading with a group of gals from W@H)


WELL. As you can see, I did not even finish half my list! I have decided that I cannot do too many challenges anymore. Plus, I went back to work outside the home, and like I told my husband, "This job really cuts into my reading time!" Internet and writing time as well.

Regardless, I do intend to finish these books at some point, but obviously not by the end of this challenge! So, I have to consider this challenge incomplete.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Winter Reading Challenge

1. Debbie Macomber: Christmas Letters
2. Kristin Billerbeck: Split Ends
3. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix: J.K. Rowling
4. Harry Potter and Half-Blood Prince: J.K. Rowling

List may change as needed.

Added: 5. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: J.K. Rowling

HEY! I finished this challenge!!!

1. Debbie Macomber's book was typical Debbie Macomber: sweet romance.

2. Kristin Billerbeck's latest was MUCH BETTER in my opinion than the book previous to this one, which I did not like too well. This one was closer to her Ashley Stockingdale series, which is really great and being rereleased with cute new covers.

3. 4. and 5. all the Harry Potters...I even finished books 6 and 7. They are a terrific series, very engrossing and difficult to put down. The characters really stay with the reader. It's easy to see what all the hoopla was about, honestly. I'm glad I waited to read the series after all of them were published, so I could just read them all in order without having to wait.

Friday, December 07, 2007


You know, going back to work has really thrown me for a loop...I completely sidetracked myself and neglected to get this done!

My writing hero, Tricia Goyer, has written a fascinating story about the Spanish Civil War, an often-overlooked period of our world's history.

Book 2 is entitled A SHADOW OF TREASON.

Book 2 in the Chronicles of the Spanish Civil War series
Sophie discovers that nothing is as she first imagined. When Walt, the reporter who helped her over the border, shows up again after Guernica is bombed, Sophie is given an impossible mission. She must leave behind the man she's fallen in love with and return to the person who betrayed her. Another layer of the war in Spain is revealed as Sophie is drawn into the international espionage schemes that could turn the tide of the war and help protect the soldiers from the International Brigade ... she must find a way to get a critical piece of information to Walt in time.

Here is an interview with Tricia:

Q: A Shadow of Treason follows A Valley of Betrayal. This is the first time you've written books as a series instead of stand alone. Which way do you like better?

A: I love writing in series. It was great to continue with the same characters. In my stand-alone books I fell in love with these people and then I had to say good-bye after one book. It was wonderful to be able to continue on.

Q: In A Shadow of Treason Sophie must return to the person who betrayed her in an effort to help the Spanish people. It makes the book hard to put down because the reader has to know how Sophie's heart will deal with it. Why did you decide to make this an element of the book?

A: There are very few of us who go through life without giving away a part of our hearts to someone who didn't deserve it. Even though Sophie had the best intentions, she gave away her heart and she was hurt-not only that she must revisit those emotions.

I wanted to include this element-to delve into the topic that emotions are sometimes as big of a trap as any physical cage. Emotions are real and they guide us -- even when we don't want to admit it. Poor Sophie, not only does she have to deal with a war around her -- she also has to deal with a war within herself. It's something I've battled, and mostly likely others have too.

Q: There is an interesting element that arises in this book and that is Spanish gold. I know you can't tell us what happens in this book, but can you give us a brief history of this gold?

A: Sure. When I was researching I came upon something interesting. The Spaniards, as we know, had taken much Aztec and Inca gold during the time of the conquistadors. Well, at the start of The Spanish Civil War much of this gold was still held in Madrid. In fact Spain had the fourth largest gold reserves in the world at that time. The Republican government was afraid Franco would take the city and the gold. They had to get it out of Madrid and this included transporting priceless artifacts. The element of gold does make its way into my story. It was great to include this little-known (and true!) element into my story.

Q: Another historical fact I learned about was the Nazi involvement during this time. Not only were the Germans active in Spain, but they had spy networks busy around the world. How did you find out about this?

A: I love reading tons of research books. Usually I find one little element that I dig out and turn into a plot line. This is what happened with my plot-line for the Nazi pilot, Ritter. I dug up this bit of research of Nazi involvement in Spain -- and the United States -- because a lot of people aren't aware of the Nazi involvement prior to WWII. The truth is they were busy at work getting the land, information, and resources they needed far before they threatened the nations around them. The Germans knew what they wanted and how to get it. And most of the time they succeeded!

Q: A Shadow of Treason is Book Two. When will Book Three be out? Can you give us a hint of how the story continues?

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

Q: Wow, so we have a least one more fiction book to look forward to in the near future. Are you working on any non-fiction?

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

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

Important Links:

First Chapter of A SHADOW OF TREASON:
Buy the book here:

Note from Pattie: When I settle down more into my routine, I will be posting my review of this excellent book. Check back in a few days!

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Jewish Literature Challenge

Well, Shalom! I'm gonna get down with my bad Baptist self and join a Jewish Lit challenge!

My Name is Asher Lev by Chaim Potok. (also a Something About Me challenge book)
The Hidden Life of Otto Frank by Carol Ann Lee (Dad gave me his copy)
How Nancy Drew Saved My Life by Lauren Baratz-Logsyed Review here
Hold the Cream Cheese, Kill the Lox by Sharon Kahn (I have this book)
Suite française by Irène Némirovsky (I think I have this book somewhere)

Alternate selections (in case I can't finish the above books, or decide differently):

The Book Thief by Marcus Zuzak (will have to find this one)
The Hiding Place by Corrie tenBoom

Wednesday, November 28, 2007


‘Tis the Season for Family Friction

The holidays are almost here, bringing added stresses, misunderstandings, and teen attitudes. Shaunti Feldhahn and Lisa Rice can help families with these issues during this often difficult time, as well as the rest of the year.

For Parents Only

by Shaunti Feldhahn and Lisa A. Rice

Click here to purchase the book at

Shaunti Feldhahn is known for unlocking the mysteries of relationships for men and women. Now she turns to a parent’s relationship with a child, particularly a child of the opposite sex. Drawing on the results of a nationwide survey of kids and teenagers, she explores questions such as:

  • What do moms need to understand about the “tough and tender” boy who values respect over love?

  • What do dads need to understand about their daughter’s need for affirmation?

  • What are the six biggest pet peeves teens have about their parents?

Understanding the answers to these and other important questions can help parents make the holidays a time of celebration and unity, not strife and friction.

For Parents Only offers a unique look into a child’s mind and frees readers to communicate in healthier ways as they discover that understanding their kids may not be as complicated as they think.

About the Authors:

Shaunti Feldhahn is the author of For Women Only and numerous other books, with sales totaling nearly one million copies. A nationally syndicated newspaper columnist and public speaker, Feldhahn earned her master’s degree at Harvard University. She and her husband, Jeff, have two young children. Lisa A. Rice is the associate editor of Christian Living magazine, the mother of two teenage girls, and a screenwriter and producer.

(side note: I first read Shaunti Feldhahn's fiction works back when she wrote fiction for Multnomah, and she's an amazing writer. Her mad fiction skills add a certain flair to her nonfiction works!)


If you are a parent of children, BUY THIS BOOK. I am serious. Put it on your Christmas wish list. This book is simply amazing.

I read For Women Only a year and a half ago, and I felt like it helped how I related to my husband in practical ways. Now, I'm reading For Parents Only and just tonight was able to catch myself in "mommy fix-it mode" and really listen to my youngest daughter as she cried and told me about her rough day. It is the kind of practical book that I know I'll read over and over.

Yes, some of the book deals directly with parenting teens; however, even if your children are small, I feel confident in saying that the sooner these skills are put into practice, the easier your path will be on the road to parenting an adolescent. (I am thankful to have its advice and insight as my tween daughter seems to be running headlong toward adolescence lately.)

Feldhahn and Rice did their research and in true scholar fashion, outlined their methods in the beginning of this book. It adds credibility to their findings, of course, and quite fascinating in its own right. But a reader could quite easily skip it and rush into the meaty, practical chapters following, and find help right away.


Leave a comment (with working email address such as: freshbrewedwriter (at) here on my blog and be entered in a drawing to win one of two copies of the book! I will leave the comments open through the weekend, as I've got an insanely busy schedule the rest of the week and a birthday this weekend. Be sure to comment because you NEVER know who will win!!!

I have my winners; the random number chooser thing chose from the other entries on my other blog. Thank you so much for your interest!

Monday, November 26, 2007

Carnival of Christian Writers

Gina is hosting the 14th Carnival of Christian Writers at her blog.

icon_cotton.jpg Carla Stewart discusses “To Plot or Not to Plot” at Carla’s Writing Cafe.
icon_cotton.jpg Tiffany Colter presents “Is Fear Blocking you?” posted at Writing Career Coach.
icon_cotton.jpg Literary Agent Rachelle Gardner exhorts writers to be encouraged, even if the news from agents or publishers isn’t what you want to hear. In A Little Encouragement she discusses the nature of encouragement and concludes that the truth, good or bad, is more important to the writer than pretty platitudes.
icon_cotton.jpg Camy Tang gives a list and asks for your input on “Christmas gifts for writers.
icon_cotton.jpg Literary Agent Chip MacGregor talks about “Writing and Marketing.
icon_cotton.jpg Mary Connealy confesses that the Techno-Genius Strikes Again.
icon_cotton.jpg Literary Agent Terry Whalin tells how to “Find Your Own Way”. Terry also shares a Thanksgiving inspiration for us in “Are Your Thankful for the Thorns?”

icon_cotton.jpg What makes a great Christian fiction book? How do you write one? How do you write a compelling Christian romance? Gail Gaymer Martin, author of Writing the Christian Romance, tells us how at Writing Right.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Island of the Blue Dolphins

Originally posted on the Something About Me Reading Challenge blog

I chose this book from Juli's list, as well as for Nattie's Newbery Challenge (my list is here). I can't find Juli's post about this novel and why she chose it, but I imagine it's tied to the adventure and wonderful story.

This was one of my favorite books when I was growing up. I loved it, probably because I admired Karana's resourcefulness and strength. I still do. What an amazing book! I can't wait for my daughters to read and enjoy this.

I had the privilege of meeting Scott O'Dell himself in 1983 when I was in the 8th grade. Michele Andrews and I were chosen from both of Ms. Wood's 8th grade Unified Studies classes to be a part of a day where we could interview Mr. O'Dell. We had a great time, even though we were the oldest students there! (I think almost everyone else was in the 5th and 6th grades.) I remember Mr. O'Dell commenting on Michele's lovely Texas accent, and complimenting us on our insightful questions. That evening, I heard him read from one of his books, can't remember which one, but I remember his white hair, and his voice.

I am happy to show you the autograph I received inside my copy of the book!

Newbery Challenge Completed

You can see my post here that shows you which books I read for Nattie's Newbery Challenge. I am happy to declare this challenge absolutely and completely FINISHED! As Nattie would say, "Glory!"

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

No Plot, No Problem

My friend gave me Chris Baty's No Plot, No Problem for my birthday. I am excited to read it as I go through my fourth NaNoWriMo.

Monday, October 29, 2007

From the Stacks Challenge

Well, you know I can't pass up another challenge. This one is called "From the Stacks." I just don't know which TBR books that I own, that I need to put on a list! (Some of these are actually on other challenge lists, but some are not.)

RULES: 5 books, from Nov. 1st until Jan. 30.

1. No Plot, No Problem by Chris Baty.
2. Sushi for One? by Camy Tang
3. Under the Tuscan Sun by Frances Mayes
4. Finding Hope by Brenda Coulter
5. Going to the Chapel by Janet Tronstad

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Book Blog Tour: Miralee Ferrell's The Other Daughter

Hello and welcome to my blog tour for Miralee Ferrell's debut novel The Other Daughter. I am a fellow ACFW member and volunteered to help get the word out about her new book. I haven't had the opportunity to read it yet; my copy hasn't arrived in the mail. However, when I do, I will most certainly post a review for you here.

Here’s a brief summary of the novel:

The girl standing at the door took a deep breath, pulling her suitcase a little closer to her trembling legs. "My mama's dead. He's my daddy."

Susanne Carson knew that she could trust the love of her life—her husband, David—until she discovered a strange, unkempt young girl on their doorstep, claiming to be David's daughter.

Not that their marriage had ever been perfect—David's decision to embrace the Christian faith had strained their relationship. Susanne may not have agreed with his beliefs, but at least she trusted him. Had David been hiding this not-so-little secret from his past? He wanted Susanne to believe in his God, but believing hadn't done much to keep David out of another woman's arms.

As David confronts the truth of his past, Susanne must face her own moment of truth as her marriage is taken to the breaking point and the life of one young girl is left in her hands.

And now, here’s a brief interview with the author:

You have a book about forgiveness, secrets, healing and faith. What gave you the inspiration for this story?

Great question and one has a very personal answer. I was brainstorming with a friend who suggested I use an experience from my life as the basis or theme for my first novel. I ran through several scenarios in my head, as we've had many interesting things happen in our marriage...some great, some not. This personal incident did indeed capture the essence of secrets, forgiveness and healing...not as much in my life as in our marriage and the life of an 18 yr old girl. About 17 yrs ago my husband received a letter stating a young woman believed him to be her biological father she'd never met. We agreed to meet and hear her story, and after some investigation came to believe he probably was her dad. The episode was similar to that of David in the book...a one night stand prior to his becoming a Christian, but that's where the similarity stops. He was not dating me at the time, and I had a strong relationship with the Lord and didn't have a problem accepting Trish into our lives.

Which fiction book on your shelf has been read the most often, and what keeps pulling you back to that story?

I have several authors that keep pulling me back…I discovered Gene Stratton Porter and Harold Bell Wright in high school when I first read Freckles, Girl of the Limberlost, and Shepherd of the Hills. I love anything these early twentieth century authors wrote and own first editions of several of their works. The writing in the early 1900’s had so much more depth than much of what’s being written now. The descriptions were exquisite…that’s the only way I can describe how they wrote. The stories were unusual and you knew the characters personally, and cared about them deeply. H B Wright especially had thought provoking messages woven through his fiction that would stay with a reader for days, if not weeks to come.

What else are you working on?

I’m working on Past Shadows (might also be called “Sheltered”), the sequel to The Other Daughter, and hope to have it ready to turn in to my editor in early November. I’ve also started something new for me, an 1880’s novel set in Washington state…I’m hesitating to say it’s a romance, but it looks like it might be heading that direction. I’m playing around with another idea for a stand-alone women’s contemporary with an unusual twist. I’m hoping to start it as soon as Past Shadows is finished. There could also be a #3 in this series, and if so, we’ll return to Brianna, the 13 yr old girl who arrives at the Carson’s door…at the age of 23.

Do you have any parting words of advice?

Keep your priorities in order…God first, family next, ministry and others (including your writing) third. Write for the Lord, and yourself, rather than to be published. It will cut way down on the disappointment and frustration level, and bring a deep sense of joy and accomplishment.

Author Bio:

I'm over 50, married for 35 years this July, and have two wonderful children, Marnee and Steven. I'm active at our small church, serving on staff with my ministerial license and working with women in a counseling/ministering capacity. My husband and I are looking forward to full retirement soon and taking off for a few months at a time on our 51' sailboat, where my writing will take on an entirely new creativity. We have a horse, a dog and three cats that my daughter and her husband will inherit while we're gone. Thankfully, they live on the adjoining property and are animal lovers.

Author website:

Author’s blog:

Thanks for hosting me on your blog. It's been such fun chatting with you and I do hope your readers will take a minute to pop over to my web site and read the opening scene of The Other Daughter, then consider purchasing a copy and passing the word to their friends!


Miralee Ferrell

Thanks, Miralee!

Be sure to leave a comment on my blog and you'll be entered for Miralee's drawing for a free book! She'll be drawing from all comments on all stops on her blog tour. (And just as an aside, you never know if you'll win, so take a chance and enter by leaving me a comment! Thanks!)

Other book blog tour stops:

24th Cecelia Dowdy---New Christian Fiction Reviews

Tiffany Amber Stockton--A Fiction-Filled Life

25th Bonnie Way---The Koala Bear Writer

Stormi Johnson---Write Thoughts

26th Robin Grant---Queen Of Perseverance

27th Delia Latham---The Melody Within

Monday, October 22, 2007

My Sister's Keeper

My Sister's Keeper by Jodi Picoult
(This was actually my backup book, but this way if I don't get the other two in my stack read, if I read at least one more, I'll be good to finish this challenge!)

This was a reread for me, and even though I knew the outcome and dreaded it, it was a good exercise in looking for foreshadowing and clues and hints this time around. I chose to reread it because it is an OSC Book Club read for tomorrow night. (This is my first in-real-life book club and I can't wait to go!)

I highly recommend this novel. It has a lot to say about family, about sisters, and about genetics and modern medicine.

Synopsis from the author's website:

Anna is not sick, but she might as well be. By age thirteen, she has undergone countless surgeries, transfusions, and shots so that her older sister, Kate, can somehow fight the leukemia that has plagued her since childhood. The product of preimplantation genetic diagnosis, Anna was conceived as a bone marrow match for Kate - a life and a role that she has never questioned… until now. Like most teenagers, Anna is beginning to question who she truly is. But unlike most teenagers, she has always been defined in terms of her sister - and so Anna makes a decision that for most would be unthinkable… a decision that will tear her family apart and have perhaps fatal consequences for the sister she loves. My Sister's Keeper examines what it means to be a good parent, a good sister, a good person. Is it morally correct to do whatever it takes to save a child's life… even if that means infringing upon the rights of another? Is it worth trying to discover who you really are, if that quest makes you like yourself less?

OHHHHH and a movie is going to be made of this novel!!!!!!

Cameron Diaz courts a 'Keeper' role:Actress to star in Cassavetes-directed drama

Cameron Diaz

Cameron Diaz will star in "My Sister's Keeper," a Nick Cassavetes-directed adaptation of the Jodi Picoult novel for New Line Cinema. Shooting will begin early next year.

The drama was scripted by Jeremy Leven and will be produced by Mark Johnson, both of whom made "The Notebook" with Cassavetes for New Line.

Diaz had been circling the film for weeks, but negotiations have heated up and a deal should be completed shortly.

Thesp will play a former defense attorney who returns to the courtroom to defend herself and her husband when they are sued by their 13-year-old daughter for emancipation. The girl was conceived as a genetic match with the hope she could prolong her cancer-ridden sister's life.

Johnson most recently produced "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe," and he is prepping the Michael Apted-directed "Chronicles of Narnia" sequel "The Voyage of the Dawn Treader."

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

food for thought

on Tricia Goyer's Writing Mentor blog today:

And by the way, everything in life is writable about if you have the outgoing guts to do it, and the imagination to improvise. The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.

~~Sylvia Plath

(PS: This means I'm my own worst enemy!)

Picture Perfect

Picture Perfect by Jodi Picoult

Synopsis from her website:

As Picture Perfect begins, it is daybreak in downtown L.A. A woman suffering from amnesia is taken in by an officer new to the L.A. police force, after he finds her wandering aimlessly near a graveyard. Days later, when her husband comes to claim her at the police station, no one is more stunned than Cassie Barrett to learn that not only is she a renowned anthropologist, but she is married to Hollywood's leading man, Alex Rivers.

As Alex helps Cassie become reaccustomed to her fairy-tale existence, fragments of memory return: the whirlwind romance on location in Africa, her major anthropological discovery, the trajectory of Alex's career. Yet as Cassie settles into her glamour-filled life, uneasiness nags at her. She senses there is something troubling and wild that would alter the picture of her perfect marriage.

Pattie's comments:

This is my third Picoult read, and it will not be the last. This book kept me up till this morning at 1:00, so I could finish it. It is very, very good. It is not what I expected it to be, exactly. I mean, I suspected things were not all as they seemed, but the way the story unfolded, I had sympathy for each character, and each is flawed. Even the worst villain in the story garners more than a bit of my sympathy, in spite of his evil actions.

I don't know how Jodi Picoult does it, but she has a way of making sure each of her characters is good AND bad, very real, and sympathetic.

Blog Tour: My Life, Unscripted

May I just begin by saying that Tricia Goyer is my writing hero? She moves effortlessly between fiction and nonfiction, and has published many books, all of them excellent.

Today's selection is of the nonfiction variety, a book written with teenage girls in mind. The title is My Life, Unscripted and it is published by Thomas Nelson books.

Unique in concept and design, this book will appeal to teens everywhere, as well as their moms and dads. The book follows a script, both in how one might write a script, as well as "scripts" Tricia wrote picturing scenes from her own tumultuous teen years. The book is interactive and real, with comments from teens sprinkled throughout each chapter. It is easy to read, without being too simple or childish.

Tricia is real, and this book is like sitting down with her in a coffee shop as she talks to you about what really matters: a relationship with God, and how His word can help you navigate the stormy waters of growing up.

Chapters include such creative titles as:

  • Characters Sketches (all about you)
  • Blockbuster Buddies (everyone deserves a supporting cast)
  • The Hottie (need someone to play the boyfriend role?)
  • The Critic (the harshest judge)

and many more.

This book is an amazing resource, and with Christmas coming up soon, it would be the perfect gift for any teenager in your life.

You can read the first chapter by clicking here.

And now, without further ado, may I present an interview with Tricia!

Q: Tell me about My Life, Unscripted

Sure! With real-life scripts, screenwriting terms, and timely topics, My Life, Unscripted helps teen girls explore their own inner struggles and outward relationships. It's my hope they'll learn the importance of "scripting" their own responses BEFORE challenging life-situations arise.

By contrasting real-life with TV/movies, it's my hope that teen girls will understand they don't have to get caught up in the drama. They don't have to face situations as they arise, but rather they can think about, pray about, and consider how to face these situations before they hit the big screen of their lives.

Q: Is it true that much of YOUR story shows up in these pages?

Gulp. Yes, I'm afraid so. In fact, I shared parts of my story that I SWORE I'd never tell a soul.

My teenage script (portrayed in the book as Trish Valley) wasn't one I'd suggest my daughter, nor my readers to copy.

Q: Tell me about these scripts.

The introductory script of Trish Valley shows a scene where Trish urges her mom to follow Trish's boyfriend into the McDonald's parking lot so she can "spill her news." The other girl in the car and her boyfriend's response to Trish's pregnancy are unfortunately not fiction. I wrote out the scenes as they would appear in an actual script. I even use all the correct terms and layout.

Q: In addition to teen pregnancy, what are some of the other "scripts"?

Do I have to tell? Well, I guess it's in print now! Let me see: fists fights with a rival, sneaking out of my parents' house, getting caught by my boyfriend kissing his best friend--does that give you an idea? Do I have to go on?

Q: No, you can stop there. But WHY? Why did you decide to share these stories?

First, because I want girls to understand the heartache of unwise decisions. I want to them to be able to relate to me, rather than feeling preached at. Also, I wanted to share my stories because many young women have faced the same type of situations, or they know friends who have. And finally because they are great object lessons for the importance of following biblical truth. That is something I did learn!

Q: What does your teenage daughter think about this book?

Leslie thinks it's great I'm able to connect with other teens. She's heard these stories for a while! She was 11-years-old when we first started volunteering together at a support group for teenage mothers together. As I taught the young moms things like nutrition and potty training, Leslie assisted adults in babysitting the toddlers. And while we loved giving and serving, it was the ride home that soon became the most meaningful part. As Leslie sat in the passenger's seat, I could see her mind considering my life as a teen mom, and she started asking questions.

Although it was hard to talk about my past mistakes, I knew this was an ideal opportunity to share real-life truths with my daughter. Each person walking this earth has regrets. Our talks showed me that instead of hiding my past troubles (and hoping my kids didn't find out) sharing my mistakes could actually give my daughter a better understanding to why values and wise decision-making skills are important.

Q: So now you're "having a heart-to-heart" with other teens through this book?

I sure hope that's how they see it! Those first talks with my daughter brought us closer, but I knew not every girl has had someone to offer advice such as: "build a supporting cast of people you can trust" or "consider the character qualities you'd like for a leading man."

Q: Okay, so your book is for teens, but what about the moms out there who feel they have past mistakes they don't want to share?

Well, they could each write a book about their teen years! Ha- just kidding!

But for those moms out there, maybe your teen years were not as drama-filled as mine. Or, if they were, maybe you are fearful of sharing them with your teen. The truth is, teens learn best not with information and knowledge, but rather by hearing life examples and understanding how decisions can affect all parts of our lives. So, time to get brave, Mom. Open your heart and share what worked and what didn't. It just might help your daughter write a better script for herself.

Oh, yes, and consider buying your daughter My Life, Unscripted! Hopefully every teen girl can get some take-away to scripting a bright future!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Are you a Knitster?

I miss my Knitty Gritty. We have basic cable now, and so I don't get the new eps of KG that air on DIY. I can see reruns of the first two seasons on HGTV, when I drag my lazy butt out of bed by 6 a.m., though.

Anyway, Vickie Howell, the Ultimate Knitster, is starting a podcast! So click above to find out more. And click HERE to read her blog!

Monday, October 15, 2007

I know, I know

Flog me later. I need motivation.

Reading the Author Challenge

September 5, 2007

The author I am choosing is Jodi Picoult. I realized today as I was on a frantic search through all my unread books for a missing review book (found it, thank goodness!) that I currently own three of her titles and haven't read any of them yet. In fact, I've only read two of Picoult's books thus far: My Sister's Keeper (which was a good but devastating read for me: it yanked my heart out of my chest, stomped on it for awhile, and stuffed it back into my chest) and Plain Truth (not quite the same reaction, but still a good read).

The three I choose for the challenge are:
  • The Tenth Circle
  • Picture Perfect see review here
  • Harvesting the Heart
  • alternate: My Sister's Keeper, because I have to read it for my OSC book club next week. see review here

Sunday, October 14, 2007

The Trophy Wives Club

Kristin Billerbeck is one of the premiere Christian fiction writers, and with good reason. However, I don't think "Trophy Wives" is her best book. I thoroughly enjoyed her Ashley Stockingdale series, and the Spa Girls series was good as well. This book was edgier, which I liked and admired, but there were a few things that prohibit me from truly loving this novel (and which I can't say without spoiling the story, which you KNOW I cannot, in good conscience, do).

Divorce sucks. Sorry for being blunt, but it's true. It totally sucks. No wonder God says, "I hate divorce." It's awful for everyone, and through the narrator Haley, Kristin Billerbeck shows this in a plethora of little ways. I think the process Haley goes through in dealing with the divorce she didn't want or initiate is about as realistic as possible for a fiction piece. In fact, it hurt to read, because it echoed sentiments I've heard my own mom say at times.

Another thing that bugs me a bit is that it reminded me too much of "The Starter Wife" (the book, not the miniseries). Maybe because I read that this summer, this book seems too similar (Kristin Billerbeck has not written her novel in the style of Gigi Levangie Grazer, but both point out the foibles and fakery that permeate the Hollywood scene, so maybe that is why).

I have read quite a few complimentary reviews of this novel, so I feel a bit like the proverbial sore thumb, sticking out in a sea of sweet reviews. Oh well. I would hope that if Kristin ever read this herself, she'd appreciate my honesty.

**First book finished in the Nattie Baby Steps Challenge**

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

The Nattie Challenge: Baby Steps

Welcome to the Nattie Challenge, part 1: Baby Steps.

Heather has taken the initiative with this one. Thanks, Heather!

Here are my choices:

I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith. I remember Nattie trying to find this book at one point; I don't know if she ever read it, though. It's also from my Book to Movie Challenge list.

The Trophy Wives Club by Kristin Billerbeck. Kristin is a superb Christian chick lit writer, because her "chicks" are not the usual run-of-the-mill chick lit chicks. I've wanted to read this for a while and I just got it yesterday from a PBS swapper.

My Life Unscripted by Tricia Goyer. I have to read this anyway for a book blog tour, so why not put it on the challenge list? I think Tricia Goyer is a writer Nattie would have loved to meet. I also know Tricia would have loved Nattie.

Now, get back to your book and KEEP READING!!!

**Red means it's DONE, baby! Yeah!**

Monday, October 01, 2007

Extreme Makeover Home Edition

A fellow ACFW member is getting a new house this week!

Click here to find out more!

(and thanks to Cara for the link!)

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Writer Mama September 30

Christina at the Writer Mama has (pardon the pun) the Mama of all Prizes to conclude her month of giveaways.

So far the number generator has hated me; perhaps today will be my lucky day!

The question:

Who do you want to thank for the writing career/journey success that you’ve experienced thus far? This can be family, friends, pets, mentors–anyone who’s made a difference. Go ahead and thank them here. An attitude of gratitude magnetizes success, in my experience. (My list is about a mile long at this point, so mind the word-count.)

The answer:

I would like to thank my best friends Roma and Valerie, who think I am the best writer ever! They love me and support whatever I do. I’d also like to thank my family, without whom I would not have good writing material. Other people I’d like to thank: my few but faithful blog fans, my Shepherd girls at the Women at Home Ministry, Taffy Cannon at Long Ridge for encouraging me in my nonfiction pursuits, and author Meredith Efken, for introducing me to American Christian Fiction Writers.

Thanks, Christina, for the chance to enter your contest so often. I've appreciated your prompts and all the prizes are wonderful. I forgive your number generator for choosing some people more than once. I know it's not your fault ;-)

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Baby Steps

I applied to be in a critique group through ACFW.

Baby steps, my friends. Baby steps.

Edited to add: I was accepted and placed in a group! The rubber will meet the road soon, to borrow yet another cliche...

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Do not throw away your confidence

I thought I should redirect you to Beth Moore's Living Proof blog for today.

It had my answers.

I need a plan

I need a plan. A writing plan. To get a novel written to submit to the ACFW Genesis contest. Or to at least have a paid critique before next September 2008's ACFW writing conference.

To that end, I might still join National Novel Writing Month, but I'm not sure. It is a good goal, 50,000 words, but I've failed 3 times in the past. I'm horrible with failure.

Maybe I'm only meant to be a reader, not a writer.

Writer Mama September 26

The Writer Mama Question of the Day:

Have you ever had a short story published? How about a novel? Please describe how it feels for you when you write fiction. If you wanted to write more (or any) how would you create enough time and mental space in your already busy life to finish a polished manuscript?

My answer:

No, I have never had any of my fiction published. In fact, I've been going through a crisis of belief, if you will, that I'm even meant to write fiction. I was a part of a writer's group of mostly older folks a couple of years ago, and the one compliment I consistently had in my fiction was that I had a good grasp of dialogue.

I'd love to write more, and I'm hoping that I can learn how to carve writing time out of my busy days, and have mental space to create the stories that are running around in my head.

Monday, September 24, 2007

CCW 12

That means it's time for installment #12 in the Carnival of Christian Writers!

Click HERE to see what's going on in the world of Christian writing!

ACFW 2008

American Christian Fiction Writers conference in September 2008 will be in Bloomington, Minnesota, the home of the Mall of America.

I am very excited because this increases my chances exponentially of being able to go, because the Twin Cities are within driving distance of me, and I have family there!!!

Lisa Tawn Bergren Blog Tour

Welcome to the Lisa Tawn Bergren Blog Tour for THE BEGOTTEN and THE BETRAYED.

Lisa Tawn Bergren is the author of 28 books, with over 1.3 million sold. She is a publishing consultant, writer, Bible study leader, mother and wife. Her hobbies include travel (mostly from an armchair), reading, watching movies, cooking and exploring with her family. Lisa's most recent books include The Begotten, The Betrayed, God Gave Us Heaven, What Women Want and The Busy Mom's Devotional. She resides in Colorado Springs, Colorado. To sign up for her monthly email (which includes a new, unpublished devotional) go to and join her newsletter list.

My sister-in-law LOVES Lisa's early books, and I remember enjoying them as well. She has been writing excellent Christian fiction for many years; in fact, she is one of the first authors I remember reading from Multnomah's fiction line (along with Robin Jones Gunn, one of my very faves!).

These two books which are currently on the Bookmarked shelf at your local Target (and mine! I've seen them!) are titled The Begotten and The Betrayed. I am fascinated with The Begotten, which I have started but haven't finished in time for the tour my own reviews will be forthcoming.

I'd also like to point out that each of the books has a reader's guide which makes it an excellent choice for book clubs.

Here is what Lisa has to say about her new series, The Gifted (book 3, The Blessed, is due out next year).

I came up with the series concept after reading The Da Vinci Code, and thinking long and hard about the things I both loved (pacing, mystery, suspense) and hated (heresy that made me want to throw it against a wall). I also was heavily influenced by the Lord of the Rings trilogy on film—the grandeur of an epic story, with a cast of characters, deeper symbolism, adventure. So I started talking to my friends who know Scripture, and I asked them about a good biblical mystery…two mentioned the “previous letters” mentioned by Paul in 1 Corinthians and I was off and running.

Considering that Paul talks a lot about spiritual gifts in his letters to the Corinthians, I gave my characters all the unique and powerful spiritual gifts he mentioned in the Scriptures—healing, prophecy, wisdom, faith, miraculous powers—and placed them in perilous times, the 14th century, pre-Reformation, pre-Renaissance. My Gifted are hunted both by the Church, who seeks to control them, and forces of evil, who wish to kill them. All in all, I think it makes for a classic Good vs. Evil read—with inspiration and application for us in the 21st century.

Thanks, Lisa! I'm excited to be able to help you promote your books. I think I'll close now and get back to my reading!

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Wouldn't it just make all that housework more fun?!

5 Minutes for Mom is giving away a pink Dyson vacuum AND Dyson is donating to breast cancer research. What a deal! So, hop on over there and register for the giveaway! Who knows? It could be YOUR husband vacuuming with the pretty pink vacuum before the relatives come to your house for Thanksgiving.....

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Writer Mama September 18

The Writer Mama, Christina Katz, is giving away another book today. She so rocks! If you 'd like to know more about it, please visit her site today.

Today's question:

What’s your favorite part of the writing process? Is it the early stages–the idea stages? Is it the very early draft stages? Is it the rewriting, whether expanding or tightening? Or is it the finishing touches of formatting and proofreading and trying to make sure your writing is spot on? Or do you format early and let someone else catch your mistakes? As always, there are no “right” answers. Just your unique points of view.

My answer:

I enjoy the idea and drafting stages with my own writing, but the tightening and proofreading of someone else’s writing. Sometimes I wonder if I’m not a writer, but an editor, at heart. This may stem from years of teaching writing and helping my students perfect their own work, while my own sat in unfinished bits on my computer hard drive or in notebooks on my shelf. At any rate, I believe this book would help me with all the unanswered questions about what the finished product should look like before it leaves my house, and maybe that will spur me on to finish all the unfinished articles and books that are sitting dormant within the bounds of my computer!

Monday, September 17, 2007

The Meeting of Anni Adams, the Butterfly of Luxembourg

The Butterfly of Luxembourg
Story Recounts Metamorphosis of Survival
to finding American Dream

(Holly Hill, FL) Imagine living a life of security and comfort while traveling throughout central Europe with a famous professional gymnast--who just happens to be your father--with just one twist. You were born in 1926, and at the age of fourteen your entire world changes because of the Nazi invasion. Anni Adams survives the poverty, humiliation and uncertainty of the refugee camps and eventually returns to her home, where life is not the same. She quietly resists the submissive lifestyle of the Nazi rule for four years. Here she becomes a Catholic war bride to her American GI husband, following the liberation of her country.

The Meeting of Anni Adams: The Butterfly of Luxembourg
shows how family and faith fuel Anni's survival through her evacuation into France and the years of German occupation of Luxembourg when she and her family are placed in labor camps and government prisons. Anni goes on to live a remarkable life in the United States, where she displays an uncanny ability to meet people of renown in the most unlikely circumstances. Anni's story is only one of countless others from this time period; she personifies the guts, grit, fortitude, faith and hope of that era. These virtues in the face of adversity create a beautiful butterfly. Each breathtaking "stain glass" pane of the butterfly's wings is yet another story of how Anni overcomes tremendous odds--the truest form of the American Dream come true.

Amazon's #1 Reviewer, Harriet Klausner, gives The Meeting of Anni Adams a FIVE STAR review. From Harriet's review:

This fascinating biography enables the reader to see how a teen survived WWII Nazi occupation. Anni does so by mentally going in and out of her cocoon made up of loving family depending on circumstances. She as "the butterfly of Luxembourg" gives the audience a deep insight into life under the German occupation. The American segment of her journey is also well written and rounds out the bio, but like the early years pales next to the four years under the Nazis. THE MEETING OF ANNI ADAMS : THE BUTTERFLY OF LUXEMBOURG is a deep look at how people survive the most harrowing nightmarish experiences caused by inhuman humans.

Author Lonnie D. Story's recounting of this part of Luxembourg's WWII history has been recognized by the Ambassador of Luxembourg to the United Nations, H. E. Jean Marc Hoscheit, the Ambassador of Luxembourg to the U.S., and H.E. Joseph Weyland. In fact, Story's work was lauded by the Luxembourg General Consul, Georges Faber, as a "magnificent, historically correct accounting of the hardships suffered" during the time period of his country's occupation and suppression.

Story is a freelance writer residing in Holly Hill, Florida. He is currently working on his second book, Without A Shot Fired: The Dustin Brim Story, a true story about a U.S. soldier deployed to Iraq in full health who returns to discover he has aggressive, terminal cancer.


Interview Questions:

Where did you birth the idea for this book? When? How did it come about?
The idea originally came from a business venture (idea.) I wanted to fill an niche market that no one appeared to be addressing and a need that left a large, untapped void. I thought I would write biographies for a living by limiting just to family members and that kind of thing. A biography of a person just for private use and not publishing. It appeared to be a chance encounter, but, I am fully persuaded that there is no such thing as coincidence. I met Anni in a flower shop in New Smyrna Beach, Florida where she worked part-time. She had wonderful stories to tell about her life and I found it so intriguing that I volunteered to write her biography for free as sort of a "guinea pig." The more we met and conversed the more convinced I was that she had all the potential, material and stories that would make a great book and then some! Thus we began the long, arduous, unseen adventure to "bookland."

How do you as a writer put together a book like this? Did you outline first or did you write down anecdotes and stories and then organize them into book format, or ???
I started with an outline but as time progressed and more stories came forth, the outline changed and metamorphed into the final working outline and finished product. Actually, I would write about one chapter a week, sometimes I would go weeks without writing anything. Once I had the "feeling" to write it was irresistible and I would write the entire chapter in one sitting, usually taking long hours into the wee hours of the morning such as 4 or 5 a.m. having started around 6 p.m, the evening before. I took a shotgun approach and only wrote what, where and when the feeling for a particular chapter manifested itself.

What sort of research was involved in writing this book?
There are no adjective or, at least, not enough here for proper English to express the intense, horrid, voluminous, meticulous, time-consuming research required for this work. I had to cover very minute details and print tons of pictures, maps and such and then screen it through Anni to get the story exactly right, factually, historically and evidentially.

How long did you take to write this?
I worked 12-16 hours a day (mostly 14-16 hours), 7 days a week for 7 1/2 months. I put aside all holidays, family gatherings, social invitations/engagements, etc. I stayed locked away in my one little bedroom at my sister's house only coming out to go to the store for supplies (food, water, etc.) and back to my "cave."

If your book is turned into a movie, which actress should play Anni?
Anni at 14-18: AnnaSophia Robb Anni middle years: Laura Linney Elder Anni: Glenn Close

What takeaway points do you hope the reader pulls from this book?
Never give up. Never quite, persevere, push, press and pray. I mean pray HARD!! Don't let go of God and don't stop nagging Him, pleading with Him, praising Him, thanking Him and wrestle with Him to the desire for death rather than giving up. Beside that, learn lessons the first as often as able, stay positive, hopeful, faithful and enjoy the shortness of life, each moment. Savor friends, family and life experiences no matter how good or bad. Faith, hope and love.

How did you become a writer?
Somehow it was there all along. I started reading and writing at age 4. By the time I started school, I was well ahead of my classmates. However, being ahead of the classmates caused me to be less "covered" by the teachers. The teachers rationed their time, typically, to the other students that needed more help. Because of this, I was less attentive in class and my mind wandered a lot into fantasies, visions and mental adventures. If I had the chance, I would write some of these things down or draw pictures of them.

Can you share something with our readers about what God has been teaching you lately?
If you can call 4 1/2 years "lately", then I would say PATIENCE! Other than that, I have had a supernatural development in my faith levels. I have always dreamed big, reached big and even failed big. But the God I serve is a big God. Bigger than my hopes, dreams and wishes, so the big answer more than anything else?? TRUST!!! Not in people, only God. Put confidence in people but never trust them, love them but don't rely on them. These are treasures for God only.

Please share a little about your family, your church and community involvement.
During the writing of the book I spent most of my time alone. I did take time out to call family or go to Anni's (which was usually 3 times a week), but mostly stayed sequestered. After the manuscript was finished I spent some time catching up but it was a very difficult thing. At the time both my brother and sister were terminally ill. I was the youngest of the three, the "baby", but also the one everyone turned to for help, advice and high expectations. My only community involvement was after the book and these were all events to bring awareness to Anni and the book. I donated hundreds of books to veterans for Memorial Day and Veterans Day, radio stations and churches, church organizations, etc. Because of what I had been through the year before starting the book, I took a long sabbatical from church. In place of this, I devoted many, many hours in prayer, deep, very deep study of the Bible and listened to Charles Stanley for hours on end each day over the Internet. At that time, his website had four years of cataloged sermons and I listened to all four years worth!! And many times each new message for the day, I would listen to 4-7 times in an afternoon or evening! Thank God for Charles Stanley!

Lonnie, tell us about your radio program--what does it consist of, and what format does it follow?What book are you reading now?
My radio program came about mostly out of frustration, hope and prayer. I missed being on the air (before my life's disaster, I had a Christian program for approx. 5 years), I felt it was a good venue to move forward and push harder the message on both my books. The program is called (of all things LOL) "Lessons Learned." I wanted it to be a talk news show. Very interactive with the listening audience. Taking our life experiences, historical events and history in general, teachings from much older generations and look at what we think the near future holds and try to turn it into applicable, valuable news for today. As for books, only one: My Bible. (I do have a stack I wish I could get to, I am dying to have some time to read but that is a dream and a wish. I won't let myself "taste" that reward until my mission with this book and the next is satisfied and successfully launched into readerland. When the income makes me debt free and time rich.)


My review is forthcoming. Thanks and God bless!

Review: The Dinner List

The Dinner List by Rebecca Serle My rating: 4 of 5 stars I heard about this novel last month. It sounded great, because who hasn't m...