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: www.miraleeferrell.com

Author’s blog: http://www.miraleesdesk.blogspot.com/

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!)

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...