Wednesday, December 31, 2008


Nichole Nordeman's song has been running through my head the past week or so, a haunting chorus in the back of my conscious mind as I deal with the day-to-day:

The gate is wide
The road is paved in moderation
The crowd is kind and quick to pull you in
Welcome to the middle ground
You're safe and sound and
Until now it's where I've been

'Cause it's been fear that ties me down to everything
But it's been love, Your love, that cuts the strings

So long status quo
I think I just let go
You make me want to be brave
The way it always was
Is no longer good enough
You make me want to be brave
Brave, brave

I am small
And I speak when I'm spoken to
But I am willing to risk it all
I say Your name
Just Your name and I'm ready to jump
Even ready to fall...

Why did I take this vow of compromise?
Why did I try to keep it all inside?

So long status quo
I think I just let go
You make me want to be brave
The way it always was
Is no longer good enough
You make me want to be brave
Brave, brave

I've never known a fire that didn't begin with a flame
Every storm will start with just a drop of rain
But if you believe in me
That changes everything
So long, I'm gone

So long status quo
I think I just let go
You make me want to be brave
I wanna be brave
The way it always was
Is no longer good enough
You make me want to be brave
Brave, brave

I have been struggling for a while now with how to describe how 2008 has been for me. I have been through some really painful and tough spots this year. Without going into detail or breaking any confidences by saying too much, or saying too little and leaving too much open for speculation and misunderstanding, let's just say emotionally it was rough, painful, and not a little scary.

My reaction was typical for me: withdraw, lick my wounds, and live in fear.

I let go of who I was, my self-esteem and confidence were gone, and where I needed to be strong for friends going through some pretty tough stuff (spouse's stroke; divorce; mental illness; grieving deaths; friends moving away), I was an empty shell of myself, withdrawn and fearful, second-guessing every word spoken and written. Sometimes my husband said he was nervous about coming home at night, because he didn't know what he'd find behind the kitchen door.

Interestingly enough, however, I blossomed at work. I was in a nurturing environment where I was appreciated for every little thing I did. I was also able to volunteer at my daughters' dance studio for some small little things, and those too were appreciated.

Climbing out of the emotional pit was a process that continued into the summer. However, the scars remained, some quite raw. I had a lot of things to work through.

We did have some fun this summer, taking a nice family vacation across the state, a quick trip to our home state to visit hubby's extended family, and I had a post-Fourth of July trip to Vegas with my sister.

I still found, however, as fall gave way to winter in the Great Plains, that I continued to second-guess myself based on the lies that had been spoken to my spirit, that had settled in my soul, that were festering and turning into bitterness.

This leads me to my theme for this next year. It has been slipping in and out of my consciousness all week, and until I sat down to write this post, I wasn't really sure of its name. I felt like I was on the cusp of something bigger than myself, that God had in store for me.


Not fearful and timid. Brave.

I'm also returning to a Bible passage I've claimed before, particularly when my husband joined the active duty military: Joshua 1: 1-9. Here it is in the Message paraphrase:

Joshua 1:1-9

After the death of Moses the servant of God, God spoke to Joshua, Moses' assistant:
"Moses my servant is dead. Get going. Cross this Jordan River, you and all the people. Cross to the country I'm giving to the People of Israel. I'm giving you every square inch of the land you set your foot on—just as I promised Moses. From the wilderness and this Lebanon east to the Great River, the Euphrates River—all the Hittite country—and then west to the Great Sea. It's all yours. All your life, no one will be able to hold out against you. In the same way I was with Moses, I'll be with you. I won't give up on you; I won't leave you. Strength! Courage! You are going to lead this people to inherit the land that I promised to give their ancestors. Give it everything you have, heart and soul. Make sure you carry out The Revelation that Moses commanded you, every bit of it. Don't get off track, either left or right, so as to make sure you get to where you're going. And don't for a minute let this Book of The Revelation be out of mind. Ponder and meditate on it day and night, making sure you practice everything written in it. Then you'll get where you're going; then you'll succeed. Haven't I commanded you? Strength! Courage! Don't be timid; don't get discouraged. God, your God, is with you every step you take."

The NIV says, "The Lord your God will be with you wherever you go."

I have no reason to be fearful, or timid, or second-guessing every little thing. I'm being called to be loving and kind as always. Giving of myself and serving Him as always. Those callings haven't changed, and they're now a part of me that I could never erase.

I just need to do them without fear. Because He is with me wherever I go.

Happy 2009, everyone. I'm going to be brave.

Only Nuns Change Habits Overnight

Karen Scalf Linamen's latest book has the best title: Only Nuns Change Habits Overnight. Isn't that wonderful?

Just the title alone invites me to read it.

For whatever reason, the approach of the new year, coupled with the close of the Christmas season, makes me want to get out a fresh new journal and make a list of goals or resolutions for the new year. Plans. Changing things I don't like into things I do.

The subtitle of this book is "52 Amazing Ways to Master the Art of Personal Change." In her introduction, Karen writes, "This book is about learning fifty-two techniques that will empower you to pursue and embrace any change you long to make."

One change a week. I think I can do that.


Every woman longs for change in some area of her life. Unfortunately, fear, fatigue, adversity, heartbreak, past failures, and even the choices of other people get in the way and make lasting change seem out of reach. Having been there herself, Karen Linamen knows exactly how to take readers from where they are to where they want to be.

In Only Nuns Change Habits Overnight, she examines 52 powerful actions readers can apply to any change they long to embrace. Her insights apply to career, finances, personal health and fitness, relationships, faith—in fact, every facet of a woman’s life.

Blending laugh-out-loud humor and sage advice, Linamen shows readers the link between dissatisfaction and transformation, how to remodel habits, the little-known truth about procrastination, how to generate the energy they need to pursue the life they desire, how to benefit from options and resources they never dreamed they had, and much, much more!

Author Bio:
Karen Linamen is a popular speaker and the celebrated author of ten books for women, including Due to Rising Energy Costs the Light at the End of the Tunnel Has Been Turned Off and Just Hand Over the Chocolate and No One Will Get Hurt. She has been featured on more than one hundred radio programs, including FamilyLife Today. Publishers Weekly describes her as “funny, forthright and unforgettable.” Linamen lives with her family in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Visit her website at

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Foundational Faith Challenge 2008 updated

January 1: I listed this challenge with all good intentions.

December 28: I humbly admit that I did not even finish one of these books this year. This was not a good year for me to read nonfiction, period. I guess these books will remain on the Mt. TBR for 2009!

Sorry, Leann :)

My good friend Leann, who totally rocks my socks, is hosting a great--and DOable--reading challenge this year.

Some of my choices are books I've begun but not finished, but THIS IS THE YEAR for finishing them!

1. You Matter More Than You Think by Dr. Leslie Parrott
2. Get Out of That Pit by Beth Moore
3. Sacred Marriage by Gary Thomas
4. Big Girls Don't Whine by Jan Silvious

Paperback Challenge Wrap-Up 2008

When I went to do this wrap-up, I realized this blog has been deleted! I don't know what happened with this one at all.

Regardless, I never finished this challenge either. Some of these books made it to my 2009 list, however.

I finished 6 of the 12, and read half of two more.

12 Books in 12 Months:

1. The Yada Yada Prayer Group Gets Decked Out
by Neta Jackson
2. Blind Submission by Debra Ginsberg
3. Getting Into Character by Brandilyn Collins
4. Generation NeXt Marriage by Tricia Goyer (begun)
5. Mother of Prevention by Lori Copeland
6. The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver (begun)
7. Burnt Toast by Teri Hatcher
8. And Only To Deceive by Tasha Alexander
9. Just Jane by Nancy Moser
10. How Nancy Drew Saved My Life by Lauren Baratz-Logsted
11. Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
12. Pilgrim at Tinker Creek by Annie Dillard

TBR Challenge Wrap-Up 2008

I did not finish this challenge this year. I was all over the place in my reading, and joining a new reviewing site really threw me in terms of finishing reading challenges. Hopefully 2009 will be a better year for finishing the TBRs!
Overall result: 8/12 + 1 alternate = 9/12

Bel Canto by Ann Patchett

Just Jane by Nancy Moser
The Book of Dead Birds by Gayle Brandeis
The Secret of Us by Roxanne Henke
Moving is Murder: A Mom Zone Mystery by Sara Rosett
Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister by Gregory Maguire
Mirror, Mirror by Gregory Maguire
The Solace of Leaving Early by Haven Kimmel
Gone with the Groom by Janice Thompson
The Garden Angel by Mindy Friddle
Speak to my Heart by Stacy Hawkins Adams
Burnt Toast by Teri Hatcher

The Tenth Circle by Jodi Picoult
Bee Season by Myla Goldberg
Eating the Cheshire Cat by Helen Ellis
Blue Like Jazz by Donald Miller
The Truth of the Matter by Robb Forman Dew
Stealing Home by Sherryl Woods
Color of the Soul & Freedom of the Soul by Tracey Bateman
The Queen of the Big Time by Adriana Trigiani

Saturday, December 27, 2008

What's in store for 2009?

I am sitting in the house fighting off a huge headache and listening to Chaplain Hubby vacuum upstairs. It's eerily quiet, as my family members left this morning: Mom for home, Sis & BIL for South Dakota and more Christmas cheer.

I feel the huge need for alone time and goal setting, as 2009 looms ever nearer. I am a resolution girl, and no, I don't really keep all of them 100% of the time. But setting goals is always a good thing.

I enjoy reading challenges, but I don't think I'll join as many this year. I will do the TBR 2009 challenge, as well as the Jewish lit challenge. Beyond that, I'm not sure. I have boxes of unread books in my home, and this will be the year to whittle that collection down. PBS and Bookmooch members will likely benefit from that process, as will the local swap shelves and the library. I am thinking of going on another book-buying fast. I have gift cards for Borders and Barnes & Noble that I received for Christmas, and my plan is to purchase two books I still need for my book club.

I have plans to write more this year as well. I honestly don't have a plan, but I want to seek publication in 2009. I have been so encouraged by reading writers' blogs this year!

More later...DD #1 wants online.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Jewish Literature Challenge

4 books about Judaism or written by Jewish authors.

Challenge runs from Dec. 21, 2008 - April 27, 2009

Here is my list:

My Name is Asher Lev by Chaim Potok
Suite française by Irène Némirovsky
Baby Needs a New Pair of Shoes by Lauren Baratz-Logsted
Fax Me a Bagel by Sharon Kahn (I read one other book in this series last year!)

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

The Book Thief by Marcus Zuzak
The Hidden Life of Otto Frank by Carol Ann Lee (Dad gave me his copy)
The Family Fortune by Laurie Horowitz

Monday, December 22, 2008

Scrapbook of Christmas Firsts

Are you on the prowl for a nice gift here at the last minute? With just days before Christmas, you might be.

Might I suggest a delightful little book entitled A SCRAPBOOK OF CHRISTMAS FIRSTS. This book is coauthored by six women, and you can learn more about it at this website.

This book is really structured like a scrapbook. It's a carefully organized and designed hodgepodge of heartwarming anecodotes, recipes, and fun traditions.

Christian Women Online Magazine also interviewed Terra Hangen, and you can read that interview here.

This is a nice little book, cute-sized but not too small, with lovely illustrations and layout and quotations and Scripture and fun.

Thanks to Kathy Carlton Willis for letting me know about this book.

Merry Christmas from the Fresh-Brewed Writer!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Quills and Promises

I posted last week about Amber Miller's second novel Quills and Promises, published by Heartsong.

I hadn't finished the novel yet by the time that post was due, but I did finish this week and it was delightful!

I enjoyed it very much. The setting is the French and Indian war, pre-American Revolution. The historical details are good, the characters' struggles are universal and not dated, and the characters themselves are well-rounded for this being a shorter novel (and only 170 pages).

I haven't read too many Heartsong books, so I cannot say if this is a typical example of the line or not. But I can recommend Amber Miller, a fellow ACFW member, as an author to read. She has several books in the lineup at Heartsong for 2009 as well.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

TBR Challenge 2009

My list of books I really need to or want to read and/or finish:

1. The House at Sugar Beach by Helene Cooper (OSC Book Club)
2. Waiting by Ha Jin (OSC Book Club)
3. Channeling Mark Twain by Carol Muske Dukes (OSC Book Club)

4. Knit Two by Kate Jacobs
5. Espresso Shot by Cleo Coyle
6. My Name is Asher Lev by Chaim Potok (also a Jewish Lit Challenge choice)
7. Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister by Gregory Maguire (holdover from 2008)
---8. Mirror, Mirror by Gregory Maguire (holdover from 2008)---Nope. Couldn't get into it, so I give up.
9. Eclipse by Stephenie Meyer
10. Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyer
11. Beach Dreams by Trish Perry
12. Odd Mom Out by Jane Porter


Suite française by Irène Némirovsky
The Hidden Life of Otto Frank by Carol Ann Lee
Blind Submission by Debra Ginsberg
Getting into Character by Brandilyn Collins
Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Comfort Food by Kate Jacobs
Big Girls Don't Whine by Jan Silvious

Where Do I Go?

My review is at the bottom of this post. :-)

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Where Do I Go?

Thomas Nelson (December 9, 2008)


Neta Jackson

As a husband/wife writing team, Dave and Neta Jackson are enthusiastic about books, kids, walking with God, gospel music, and each other! Together they are the authors or coauthors of over 100 books. In addition to writing several books about Christian community, the Jacksons have coauthored numerous books with expert resource people on a variety of topics from racial reconciliation to medical ethics to ministry to kids in gangs.

Dave and Neta live in Evanston, Illinois, where for twenty-seven years they were part of Reba Place Church, a Christian church community. They are now members of a multi-racial congregation in the Chicago area.

They're trying something new! Not just new for them, but something completely new in Christian fiction: “Parallel novels,” two stories taking place in the same time frame, same neighborhood, involving some of the same characters living through their own dramas and crises but interacting with and affecting one another … just the way it happens in real life.

It’s something that only a husband and wife writing team could pull off. While Neta has Where Do I Go?, her husband Dave has written Harry Bentley's Second Chance.


A story of seeking-and finding-God's will in unlikely places.

Gabrielle Fairbanks has nearly lost touch with the carefree, spirited young woman she was when she married her husband fifteen years ago. But when the couple moves to Chicago to accommodate Philip's business ambitions, Gabby finds the chance to make herself useful. It's there she meets the women of Manna House Women's Shelter; they need a Program Director-and she has a degree in social work. She's in her element, feeling God's call on her life at last, even though Philip doesn't like the changes he sees in her. But things get rough when Philip gives Gabby an ultimatum: quit her job at the shelter or risk divorce and losing custody of their sons. Gabby must take refuge, as in the song they sing at Sunday night worship: "Where do I go when there's no one else to turn to? . . . I go to the Rock I know that's able, I go to the Rock."

Romantic Times Book Reviews says, “Exquisite characters coupled with God's mercy and love emanate from each page.”

Publisher's Weekly adds, “Jackson's Yada Yada series has sold half a million copies, and this new offshoot series ... promises the same.... The book's dramatic ending ... leav[es] readers eager for the next installment in the series.”

To read the Prologue and first Chapter of Where Do I Go?, go HERE

Pattie's Review:

OK, for all you "Friends" fans, you'll remember what a "freezer book" is. It is in the third season and you can read it here.

I started reading this book, and about halfway through I thought I could see where it was going. I didn't actually put it in the freezer (we didn't have room), but I did set it aside for two days. I couldn't bear to see what was going to happen.

While my dire prediction to myself didn't exactly come true (this is the brilliant Neta Jackson's book, after all, thank goodness!), Gabby is certainly left in a few predicaments. Yes, the book ends with a lot of loose ends left dangling. I forgot that she did that with the Yada Yada series too; I read that series after the first six were all available, so I went from one to the other with no thought of waiting till the next one was published.

So, I have a wonderful book with a terrific character, Gabby. She's left with a song on her lips and a newfound faith, and her life in shambles.

And I have to wait for nine more months until the next book.

If you want to read this book, I highly recommend it.

Just leave room in the freezer.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Engaging Father Christmas

Robin Jones Gunn is my long-time, all-time, very most favorite Christian author! I still count the Glenbrooke series as my favorite series ever.

Yes, I'm gushing. Yes, I admit it! No, this is not a paid endorsement . . . nevertheless, I must gush! I so thoroughly enjoyed Engaging Father Christmas! What a delightful story!

I'm still bummed my local Christian bookstore doesn't have the first one, Finding Father Christmas. Never fear, you can read this one without that one and still love it!

I am absolutely thrilled to offer a giveaway of this book. Miriam Parker from Hachette Books graciously offered to send one lucky FreshBrewedWriter blog winner a copy of Engaging Father Christmas. To enter, please leave a comment and a way I can reach you, BY SATURDAY. I'll choose the winner over the weekend.
(US Addresses only, please.)

You can also buy a copy here.

And now, CFBA presents...

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Engaging Father Christmas

FaithWords (October 30, 2008)


Robin Jones Gunn

Robin grew up in Orange County, California and has lived in all kinds of interesting places, including Reno and Hawai’i.

She and her husband currently live near Portland, Oregon and have been married for 30 years. They spent their first 22 years of marriage working together in youth ministry, and enjoying life with their son and daughter who are now both grown.

As a frequent speaker at local and international events, one of Robin’s favorite topics is how God is the Relentless Lover and we are His first love. She delights in telling stories of how God uses fiction to change lives.

Robin is the recipient of the Christy Award, the Mt. Hermon Pacesetter Award, the Sherwood E. Wirt Award and is a Gold Medallion Finalist. She also serves on the Board of Directors for Media Associates International and the Board of Directors for Jerry Jenkins’ Christian Writers’ Guild.


Miranda Carson can't wait to return to England for Christmas and to be with her boyfriend, Ian. She has spent a lifetime yearning for a place to call home, and she's sure Carlton Heath will be it, especially when a hinted-at engagement ring slips into the conversation.

But Miranda's high hopes for a jolly Christmas with the small circle of people she has come to love are toppled when Ian's father is hospitalized and the matriarch of the Whitcombe family withholds her blessing from Miranda. Questions run rampant in Miranda's mind about whether she really belongs in this cheery corner of the world. Then, when her true identity threatens all her relationships in unanticipated ways, Miranda is certain all is lost.

And yet...maybe Father Christmas has special gifts in store for her after all.

If you would like to read the first chapter of Engaging Father Christmas, go HERE

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

When the Soul Mends

When I first began to read When the Soul Mends, I was intrigued. How did Hannah, an Old Order Amish woman, work as a nurse? Why was she living "fancy"? What was her "disgrace"?What were these events that kept being alluded to? Why? Who? What?

Then I got frustrated. Perhaps a book not as well-written would not bother me so much. I decided I needed to read the others in the series to really understand what was going on, to know what the events leading up to this book were. Thankfully, my local library had them, so I went to get them and dive in.

I was not disappointed. I thoroughly enjoyed this Sisters of the Quilt trilogy. Thought-provoking, educational without being didactic, characters who are wonderful . . . they are terrific!

While it is possible to read book 3 on its own, I highly recommend reading books 1 and 2 first.

I think fans of Beverly Lewis's Amish books will like Cindy Woodsmall's Sisters of the Quilt series.

Publisher's Summary: After receiving a desperate and confusing call from her sister, Hannah Lapp reluctantly returns to the Old Order Amish community of her Pennsylvania childhood.
Having fled in disgrace two years earlier, she finally has found a satisfying role in the Englischer world, as well as love with Martin Palmer, a man with whom she can safely entrust her heart. But almost immediately after her arrival in Owl’s Perch, the disapproval of those who ostracized her reopens old wounds.

As Hannah is thrown together with former fiancé Paul Waddell to work for her sister Sarah’s mental health, unexpected truths surface about the events during Hannah’s absence, and she faces an agonizing decision. Will she choose the Englischer world and the man who restored her hope, or will she heed the call to return to the Plain Life—and perhaps to her first love?

This intriguing final novel in the Sisters of the Quilt series is richly textured with authentic details drawn from the author’s real-life connections with Amish Mennonite and Old Order Amish families.

Edited to add: I am donating my copy of this book to my library, so that many other readers can read all three of the Sisters of the Quilt series.

Quills and Promises by Amber Miller

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Quills And Promises

Barbour Publishing, Inc (May 28, 2008)


Amber Miller


Hi, I'm Amber, but my friends call me Tiff, short for Tiffany, my first name. I am in my 30's, married the love of my life in July 2007, and live in beautiful Colorado just east of the Front Range of the Rockies, but I love to travel and visit new places. Ultimately, my dream is to own horses and live in a one-level rancher or log cabin nestled in the foothills of the mountains. For now, I will remain where I am and do what I love—design web sites and write.

Amber's very first book, Promises, Promises, released in February 2008. It's a historical fiction set in Delaware during the Colonial period and the Great Awakening. The other 2 books in the series are this current one, Quills And Promises (July 2008) and Deceptive Promises (December 2008). In 2009, they will be repackaged for a state set entitled Delaware Brides. She has also sold another series set in historical Michigan during the Industrial Revolution. The 3 books in that series will begin releasing in May 2009 and will be repackaged in 2010 as Michigan Brides.


-- Separated from Madison when he leaves to fight the French and Indians, Elanna Hanssen must choose between her heart and her head, especially when Madison's integrity is questioned. --

"Trust in the Lord with all thine heart, and lean not until thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths." ~Proverbs 3:5-6

Innocence paired with wisdom beyond her years. With these traits, Elanna Hanssen unwittingly captures the attentions of Major Madison Scott. Her honest desire to understand the war fascinates him, and he resolves to get to know this perspicacious young lady better. When his military duty separates them, they begin a correspondence, cautiously baring their hearts to each other. Elanna has never known emotions like this before, but she is drawn to the integrity she sees in her major. Wh a local news reporter questions the major's credentials and activities, however, will she allow her heart or her head to rule? Can true love grow over such distance and around such obstacles?

If you'd like to read the first chapter of Quills And Promises, go HERE.

Friday, December 05, 2008

A Christmas Blog Tour for Hands of Hope

Give the gift of life this Christmas!

Hands of Hope, a charity of Women Helping Women A World Away, is announcing that their Holiday Gift Cards are available for purchase. These cards provide food,income and water for impoverished women and children in Zambia, Uganda, andSouthern Sudan. They can be purchased on the Hands of Hope website

for $15.00, $30.00 and $50.00. Purchasing these cards will provide goats, chickens or wells to help change lives.

What could be a more meaningful gift for holiday giving for family, friends, and customer appreciation?

Hands of Hope helps mobilize communities to respond to the needs of women and childrenaround the world. With an ever-expanding support base in the Chicago area, Hands of Hope works to raise community awareness regarding poverty and HIV/AIDS in Africa and its relevance globally.

We are confident in the integrity of the channels we have established so that contributions provide the highest possible impact for the most critical needs.

A Chicken Card will purchase a gift of twelve chicks and be given to an impoverished family in Africa. As the flock multiplies, a struggling family will be given the hope to survive. Your gift will help those in need for generations to come.

A Goat Card represents an actual goat being purchased for a needy family. Beyond providing much needed milk, a few goats can quickly become a herd, providing sustenance and additional income that can make the difference between whether a child goes to school or not.

A Well Card will go toward funding a well in the Western Province of Zambia. Statistics show that nearly half of all people in developing countries suffer from health related problems caused by unsafe water. In addition, African women and children spend several hours every day collecting water.


The cards:

Purchase cards:

How HOH got their start:

Current Projects:

Contact at Hands of Hope: VickyWauterlek, Hands of Hope, 847-381-7367

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

What I learned in November 2008

My fifth time attempting National Novel Writing Month ended with a win for me. This was a hard-earned victory.

Here are some of the things I learned in the month of November:

  • When inspired, I can write a lot in a short amount of time. A LOT! As in thousands of words in one day.
  • When not inspired, it's torture to crank out even 500 words.
  • When word warring with friends, if I'm winning, I am happy and encouraging to myself and others.
  • When word warring and not winning, I'm crabby, depressed, and convinced I will fail.
  • Apparently that sort of competition does not motivate me well.
  • I am also apparently a sore loser, which is not a pleasant thing to learn about oneself, and less pleasant to admit.
  • I am harder on myself than I should be.
  • Balance is hard! I let a lot of things go to get this goal accomplished. Namely, my Bible study. That is also an unpleasant fact, and difficult to be honest about, but hey, I'll be honest. I skipped Bible reading to write. I let papers and stuff pile up and take over my desk, in order to write. I sacrificed a lot of reading time, to write instead.
  • If I am going to keep writing, I am going to have to find some kind of balance. I don't know how and I don't know what I will have to give up to make that happen.
  • Chocolate and coffee make me happy. They can also string me out.
  • Getting "go Pattie" shoutouts really motivated me.

So, there they are, the pleasant and not-so-pleasant truths about Pattie.

Christian Fiction Advent 2

Christian Bookworm Reviews Advent Calendar
Here's the code to the main page. :-)
and here is the link to Lena Nelson Dooley, Heartsong author extraordinaire!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

hope springs eternal

Yesterday, I was convinced I would never finish my NaNoWriMo novel. I was ready to throw in the towel again, just as before.

I talked to my friend Valerie and she told me she was also stuck and was not sure she would finish.

Then tonight I got an idea and added more, including a hair color disaster for my main character.

Poor gal, but because of that idea I broke 37,000 tonight.

Hope springs eternal.

Monday, November 24, 2008

have you ever?

Have you ever... (from Stephanie!)

1. Started your own blog
2. Slept under the stars
3. Played in a band
4. Visited Hawaii
5. Watched a meteor shower
6. Given more than you can afford to charity
7. Been to Disneyland/world
8. Climbed a mountain
9. Held a praying mantis
10. Sang a solo
11. Bungee jumped
12. Visited Paris
13. Watched a lightning storm at sea (from the beach)
14. Taught yourself an art from scratch
15. Adopted a child
16. Had food poisoning
17. Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty
18. Grown your own vegetables
19. Seen the Mona Lisa in France
20. Slept on an overnight train
21. Had a pillow fight
22. Hitch hiked
23. Taken a sick day when you’re not ill
24. Built a snow fort
25. Held a lamb
26. Gone skinny dipping
27. Run a Marathon
28. Ridden in a gondola in Venice
29. Seen a total eclipse
30. Watched a sunrise or sunset

31. Hit a home run
32. Been on a cruise
33. Seen Niagara Falls in person
34. Visited the birthplace of your ancestors
35. Seen an Amish community
36. Taught yourself a new language (don't think French class counts, oui oui!)
37. Had enough money to be truly satisfied
38. Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person
39. Gone rock climbing
40. Seen Michelangelo’s David
41. Sung karaoke
42. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt
43. Bought a stranger a meal at a restaurant
44. Visited Africa
45. Walked on a beach by moonlight
46. Been transported in an ambulance
47. Had your portrait painted
48. Gone deep sea fishing
49. Seen the Sistine Chapel in person
50. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris
51. Gone scuba diving or snorkeling
52. Kissed in the rain
53. Played in the mud
54. Gone to a drive-in theater

55. Been in a movie
56. Visited the Great Wall of China
57. Started a business
58. Taken a martial arts class
59. Visited Russia
60. Served at a soup kitchen
61. Sold Girl Scout Cookies
62. Gone whale watching
63. Got flowers for no reason
64. Donated blood, platelets or plasma
65. Gone sky diving
66. Visited a Nazi Concentration Camp
67. Bounced a check
68. Flown in a helicopter
69. Saved a favorite childhood toy
70. Visited the Lincoln Memorial
71. Eaten Caviar
72. Pieced a quilt
73. Stood in Times Square
74. Toured the Everglades
75. Been fired from a job
76. Seen the Changing of the Guards in London
77. Broken a bone
78. Been on a speeding motorcycle
79. Seen the Grand Canyon in person
80. Published a book
81. Visited the Vatican
82. Bought a brand new car
83. Walked in Jerusalem
84. Had your picture in the newspaper
85. Read the entire Bible
86. Visited the White House
87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating
88. Had chickenpox
89. Saved someone’s life
90. Sat on a jury
91. Met someone famous
92. Joined a book club
93. Lost a loved one
94. Had a baby

95. Seen the Alamo in person
96. Swam in the Great Salt Lake
97. Been involved in a law suit
98. Owned a cell phone
99. Been stung by a bee

Thursday, November 20, 2008

My Mother's Wish

Welcome to the blog tour of the new book My Mother's Wish: An American Christmas Carol by Jerry Camery-Hoggatt.

From the publisher:
A grandfather’s song turns a diner into hallowed ground, like a church. A contrary girl with a gypsy heart feels the tug of home. A mother, far away, confronts impossible expectations. And a truck driver named Jedidah keeps his foot on the gas to sweep you into an unforgettable story of belonging and grace.

Readers looking for a meaningful, powerful read on a winter’s evening or with the family will love the rich 1960s nostalgia captured in the Midwest of Jedidiah’s and Ellee’s story; the peace found when family strife boils over, and the gentle reminders of the influence and effect every life has on another.

My Mother’s Wish is an unforgettable, powerful tale that ends on a memorable Christmastime note, but will be cherished and reread year-round for its bold message of grand hopes, impossible expectations, and the gift of grace that comes in between.

My Mother’s Wish will remind you of the power of grand hopes and effect of impossible expectations. You’ll witness the influence every life has on another, and you’ll find new reasons to believe in the comfort and joy in an everyday, American version of the story of Christmas: being known and loved, just as you are.

Pattie's Review:
What a sweet book! It would make a terrific Christmas gift. It's an easy read, but full of meaning and promise. You will not soon forget it, nor will the happy recipient to whom you gift this lovely little volume.

I am going to be keeping my copy of this book, but you can purchase it here:


Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Saturday, November 15, 2008

NaNoWriMo update

I hit the 22,000 word mark today, thanks to a retreat I went on with the local National Writing Project affiliate. It was held in the house owned by my friend, where her husband has his office. It's sort of a "guest house" for them too, as well as office space. It's really a neat old house.

I sat in the dining room and wrote. And wrote. And wrote! I wrote 7000 words today, and that does not count the book review that I wrote and the others I started!

It was a fun day, where I got to touch base with the writer and former teacher buried deep inside me. She was actually still there, sort of in a frozen stasis mode.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Book Review: A Cup of Comfort for Military Families

Cross-posted on Wives of Faith

A Cup of Comfort for Military Families: Stories that Celebrate Heroism on the Home Front
is a collection of essays edited by Colleen Sell.

As other "Cup of Comfort" books, this anthology is a collection of inspiring and thought-provoking and heartwarming stories, in this volume focusing on the military.

As a military spouse, some of them were harder to read than others, but all of them warmed my heart and brought me joy and comfort, and yes, even a few tears.

I was impressed by the range of services represented, as well as the range of experiences shared (veterans, current servicemembers, family, and friends of military personnel).

I was also excited to learn that a gal I took an online writing course with (taught by The Writer Mama) was published in this anthology! Her essay "Sisterhood of the Traveling Pans" brought tears to my eyes.

I think this book would make a great Christmas gift for a fellow military spouse or parent of a servicemember.

From the publisher's description:

It has been said that military life is “not for the faint of heart.” But neither is it without its benefits and blessings. One thing is certain: It is an experience like no other—for both the soldiers and their families. In this collection, readers will experience the pride that wives, husbands, mothers, fathers, siblings, and friends feel when a loved one chooses to put his or her needs aside for the benefit of the country. Featuring stories from the current Iraq war as well as stories of servicemen and -women who have long retired from the armed forces, this timely collection will span generations. This book is sure to inspire every reader, whether a husband whose wife is defending freedom today, or a grandchild who wants to know why her grandfather is called “hero.”

To purchase this book, please click here for and here for Barnes &

Monday, November 10, 2008

Fall into Reading Wrap-Up

It is always nice when I can declare a reading challenge completed, especially for me. I tend to make grandiose reading plans and then not finish.

Here is my original post , and here are all my books with the reviews linked:

1. Suspicious Minds by Christy Barritt
2. Faking Grace by Tamera Leigh
3. A Constant Heart by Siri Mitchell
4. Dangerous Heart by Tracey Bateman

5. Moon Over Tokyo by Siri Mitchell
6. Sunset by Karen Kingsbury

7. The Shape of Mercy by Susan Meissner
8. Postville: A Clash of Cultures in Heartland America by Stephen G. Bloom

Thanks to Katrina of Callapidder Days for a great challenge idea and a lot of fun reading!

Suspicious Minds

Suspicious Minds is the second in the Squeaky Clean series by Christy Barritt. You might remember I participated in a blog tour for the book here, but I did not receive my copy until much later (what can I say, media mail is slow!). I finally got around to reading the book this weekend, and what a good one it is!

Gabby St. Claire is a great and spunky heroine. I really like her. She has grown up since Hazardous Duty, and yet she still has her tendency to get into trouble.

It was a good "squeaky clean" mystery. I recommend it.

And with this post, I finish my Fall Reading Challenge.

Title Trakk Blog Tour

Welcome to the 1st ever Blog Tour!

This week we're chatting about:

The Fantastic Fall Giveaway Contest!

Just in time for the holidays, you could win over
$335 worth of books, cds and dvds!

Sponsored by our friends at:

The Grand Prize Winner will receive:


Whispers of the Bayou by Mindy Starns Clark
Rachel's Secret by BJ Hoff
Beach Dreams by Trish Perry
Playing God by Michelle McKinney Hammond
White Soul by Brandt Dodson
The Legend of the Firefish by George Bryan Polivka
Finding Marie by Susan Paige Davis
The Power of Praying Through the Bible by Stormie Omartian
A Man After God's Own Heart by Jim George
Evidence for Faith 101 by Bruce Bickel & Stan Jantz


Wake Up! Wake Up! by Everyday Sunday
Rock What You Got by Superchick
Sunday by Tree63
Houston We Are Go by Newsboys (Live CD/DVD)
Nothing Left To Lose by Mat Kearney
I Am Free Worship Collection
Salvation Station by Newworldson
Not Without Love by Jimmy Needham
Pages by Shane & Shane
Colors and Sounds by Article One


Love's Unfolding Dream
The Ten Commandments Animated
Between the Walls

But that's not all!
We're giving away even more!

During this blog tour (November 10th - 16th) we'll be drawing 2 winners daily from the contest entries to win an additional free book or cd!

Visit the Contest page today to enter the contest and place yourself in the running to receive the Grand Prize, plus all the daily prizes! Deadline to enter is November 17th.

Founded in 2006 by Tracy & C.J. Darlington, is an interactive website spotlighting Christian books, music & movies. Updated weekly, we feature author and musician interviews, album and book reviews, music videos, movie reviews and interviews, book excerpts, surveys, polls, and fun contests. Learn more:

Friday, November 07, 2008


Postville: A Clash of Cultures in Heartland America is a nonfiction book by Stephen Bloom. Bloom is a professor of journalism at the University of Iowa, and he writes the story of Postville, Iowa, where a Lubavitcher (Hasidic) community settled and operated the Agriprocessors kosher meatpacking plant.

I first heard about this book when a woman from our local university told me about it. She was trying to recruit book clubs to read the book, as Dr. Bloom was coming to speak at the university in October. I contacted the head of our book club, and it was our October read.

It was quite thrilling to hear the author speak about his work, and sad to hear how painful it has been since the publication of the book.

I'd recommend this book to anyone who is interested in a dichotomy of cultures.

Out of Her Hands

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Out Of Her Hands

Tyndale House Publishers (September 22, 2008)


Megan DiMaria


I was born and raised in New York State and have since lived in Maine, Florida, Pennsylvania, Texas, New Jersey, and now I live in Colorado. My husband and I have three delightful, adult children and an old Jack Russell Terrier named
Belle who seems to find her way into my novels. My resume will tell you I graduated from SUNY Plattsburgh with a degree in Communications, and after graduation I worked as a radio and television reporter, freelance writer, editor and marketing professional.

I'm a member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) and am assistant director of Words For The Journey, Rocky Mountain Region.

But what's most important to know about me is that I am a follower of Jesus, wife, mother, friend, reader and writer.

Life’s a journey, enjoy the adventures!


In this second novel by Megan DiMaria, Linda Revere is back and continuing to struggle with the turmoil of contemporary life. Linda has been praying for her children's future spouses since they were very small. Confident that her prayers will be answered, Linda is not prepared for the young woman her son brings home. But Linda soon learns that while everything she once controlled is out of her hands, God is still in control. Megan uses her trademark humor while dealing with issues to which her readers will relate.

If you would like to read the first chapter of Out Of Her Hands, go HERE

"No sophomore slump for DiMaria! This novel (Out of Her Hands) is as engaging and meaningful as her first, Searching for Spice. Her realistic portrayal of the characters' lives should endear them to readers and help Christians to feel less alone in their daily trials."
~Romantic Times Magazine, 4 ½ stars TOP PICK!

“Life in Linda's world is messy...but filled with love, laughter, struggle and faith. Megan has created a most real heroine for us to love...and I adore her!”
~Deena Peterson, reviewer: A Peek at my Bookshelf

“Megan DiMaria crafts a novel so compelling, so real, you forget you're reading fiction.”
~Darcie Gudger, reviewer: TitleTrakk

"This is a great read for a quiet afternoon or in those times when you feel your own life spinning out of control and need the reality check of knowing you're not in it alone."
~Amazon reviewer

Pattie's Review:

I have read Searching for Spice and I really liked it. I expected a lot out of Out of Her Hands and while I liked it also, I guess I just didn't get into as much. Maybe it is because it is the second book. Maybe it's just because this one goes where no parent ever wants to go.

Megan DiMaria is an author to pay attention to, that's for sure. And her success in Christian fiction is well-deserved.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

You are loved.

For years, Helzberg Jewelers have given out little red buttons with white letters that say "You are Loved."

Today, I give you a little You Tube from Josh Groban. You are loved.

For my friends who need some encouragement. I love this song!

writing quotation for the day

"I would never write a pessimistic book. I think writing is, by definition, an optimistic act."
~Michael Cunningham~

Redeem the time

This morning: 7913

(The NaNoWriMo site doesn't always keep up with these little feeds to the fun little widgets...)

I need to get to 10,003 today, according to No Plot, No Problem's little chart on page 50.

That means 2100 words today.

Good thing I have a 2.5-hour block this afternoon. Of course, my to-do list is pretty long also, so who knows if I'll get it all done. I can also write by hand at the dance studio later, which might not be a bad idea after all...then just transcribe it later when I get stuck. (I don't want to take Sheba my Laptop out in the rain, esp. since I don't have a good laptop case!)

It's been an interesting exercise, writing every day. I had hoped to get ahead so I could take a weekend off in 2 weeks for a family get-together, or even take Thanksgiving off. But the daily discipline of writing has been good for me. Even if my story is all over the board. Which is probably okay, too. It's all about the word count, baby!

UPDATE: I finished this afternoon with 10,360. I might even still try to write tonight, just to get ahead. We shall see.

It's amazing that uninterrupted time can be so stinkin' productive! Now to pick up the house a bit...

Monday, November 03, 2008

Me Myself and I AM

This uniquely designed book is unlike any book Multnomah's ever published! Open this book to any page and take a new look at you, where you’ve been on your spiritual journey, and where you’re going. Out loud, in private, in order, or backwards all the way, this book of questions will have you laughing, praying, thinking, and maybe asking a question or two yourself. It’s a creative and revealing way to get to know God—and you—better than ever. So go ahead. Grab a pen. And get ready to get real.


A new experience of God comes one question at a time in this fun and provocative journal. Made up entirely of insightful, profound, and occasionally ridiculous questions, Me, Myself, and I AM invites you to open to any page, open yourself to God, and be the author of your own story.

Questions range from spiritually intriguing—
You overhear God talking about you. What do hear him saying?

to thought-provoking—
You are on a long car trip with a close friend who is not a Christian and the conversation turns to faith. What is your biggest fear about what your friend will ask or say?

to challenging—
Do you believe that all of Jesus’s followers have a responsibility to tell others about him?

to just plain fun—
If your life before you became a Christian were a movie, its title would be:
Animal House
As Good as It Gets
The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
It’s a Wonderful Life

Me, Myself, and I AM will entertain, inspire, and get you thinking about your spiritual life from brand new angles. Whether you use it as a reflective tool, a way to start conversations with friends and family, or as a spiritual time capsule to look back on years later, their own words will create a powerful journey of self-discovery.


While I have not yet written in the book, I have read it. I think it's a great little book. It's good for self-examination, self-discovery, spiritual growth, and it has the potential to be a great witnessing tool as well. As you can see from the samples above, some of the questions are fun. Some are serious. But all of them make you think about God, the great I AM. And that's the best part of the book.

Click here to purchase the book from

If you live in the USA and would like to win a copy of this book, it'd be a great Christmas gift! Just leave a comment to be eligible to win.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Free Starbucks Just for Voting

Starbucks has announced that you can get a free cup of brewed coffee on Tuesday JUST FOR VOTING.

Wear your "I VOTED" sticker. Or if you're like me and already voted via absentee ballot (or if you are like some of my other friends and voted early), just go in and tell them so. They will believe you. I have it on good authority it's on the honor system.

But even if you hate coffee, vote anyway. It's one of the "perks" (pun intended) of being an American.

NaNoWriMo 2008

and . . . here we go.

The fifth time's the charm, especially since I have a laptop this year! Plus, I put it out there for the entire world to see, on video, so I can't flake out...

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Dangerous Heart by Tracey Bateman

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Dangerous Heart

Avon Inspire (October 14, 2008)


Tracey Bateman

Tracey Bateman published her first novel in 2000 and has been busy ever since. There are two other books in the Westward Hearts Series, Defiant Heart (#1) and Distant Heart (#2)

She learned to write by writing, and improved by listening to critique partners and editors. She has sold over 30 books in six years.
She became a member of American Christian Fiction Writers in the early months of its inception in 2000 and served as president for a year.

Tracey loves Sci-fi, Lifetime movies, and Days of Our Lives (this is out of a 21 year habit of watching, rather than enjoyment of current storylines.

She has been married to her husband Rusty for 18 years, has four kids, and lives in Lebanon, Missouri.


For the past seven years, Ginger Freeman has had one goal: find Grant Kelley and make him pay for allowing her brother to die. Growing up motherless with a father who leads an outlaw gang, Ginger isn’t exactly peaches and cream. So when she finally tracks down Grant on a wagon train headed west, she figured providence had stepped in and given her the chance she’s been waiting for.

On the wagon train, finally surrounded by a sense of family and under the nurturing eye of Toni Rodde, Ginger begins to lose her rough edges. She’s made friends for the first time and has become part of something bigger than revenge. Not only has her heart softened toward people in general, but God has become a reality she never understood before. And watching Grant doctor the pioneers, she’s realized she can’t just kill him and leave the train without medical care. Putting her anger aside, before long, Ginger’s a functioning part of the group.

But when the outlaw gang, headed by her pa, shows up and infiltrates the wagon train, she is forced to question her decision. Only self-sacrifice and her new relationship with God can make things right. But it might also means she loses everything she’s begun to hold dear.

If you would like to read from the first chapter of Dangerous Heart, go HERE

Pattie's Review:

I'm still reading this one (life got busy this weekend with Air Force commitments so less time for reading), and it's really good so far. I think what makes this book good is that the characters are worth me investing my time and attention, and the story keeps moving along.

**Edited to add**
I did finish this a couple days after posting. I enjoyed it. It wrapped up the trilogy's loose ends and filled in enough that I was able to figure out what had happened in book 2, which I had not read.

Tracey Bateman writes good historical fiction. If you like westward expansion stories, check out this series!

Sunday, October 26, 2008


Many thanks to for its impartiality.



LOVE STARTS WITH ELLE: Michelle! (Michelle was one of "my girls" when I was an RA in Leslie Hall!)

I'll be emailing you to get your mailing addresses.

Thanks for all of you who entered! I (and I'm sure the authors too) appreciate you!

Saturday, October 25, 2008


I am still taking comments on the posts for Love Starts with Elle, Bon Appetit, and The Shape of Mercy. I had planned to choose winners this week, then got sick. So I'll do it tomorrow.

So comment on one of the posts (linked above) and you just might win!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

home sick

I don't often take sick days. As most moms can attest, it just doesn't happen.

That said, today I am home sick. My dear and loving Chaplain Hubby, who is a generous guy, unwittingly shared his sinus infection with me. It took me a few days to break out with it full-force (he said that's because I am slow; I glared at him before I sneezed), but here I sit, in my flannel jammies, enjoying my wireless internet connection from the comfort of my book- and notebook-strewn unmade bed, with a travel mug of coffee handy and kleenexes and lip balm at the ready.

My lovely boss at Curves told me last night I needed to stay home and get better. I was only supposed to work a 2-hour shift anyway, because school is out today and tomorrow for the statewide teachers' convention.

Maybe now I'll have time to catch up on all the book reviews I have yet to write.

Maybe after my nap.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Bon Appetit!

Welcome to the book blog tour for Sandra Byrd's latest novel, Bon Appetit!

Publisher's Summary: In this second book in the French Twist series, readers join Lexi Stuart in a crème de la crème adventure!

Deciding to leave her familiar home in Seattle and her could-be boyfriend Dan, Lexi moves to a quaint village in France to pursue her dream of becoming a pastry chef. Life among the French initially proves to be less than easy as Lexi is challenged by her coworkers, missing her friends, and failing to master the perfect baguette.

Determined to find her place, Lexi settles into the culture and life becomes la perfection. She finds a church, meets a new friend, and makes the acquaintance of a child named Celine—as well as Celine’s attractive, widowed father, Philippe. Even Patricia, the gruff pastry cook, shows a softer side as she mentors Lexi in the art of baking.

Fast, fun, and packed with French culture, foodie appeal, and unique recipes readers will love accompanying Lexi on her journey in Bon Appetit as she tries to choose between two countries, two men and the faith to lean on God while savoring the surprises life brings!
Author Bio:
Best-selling author Sandra Byrd enjoys a successful career writing adult, teen, and children’s books, including the Friends for a Season, Secret Sisters series and the French Twist series, including the first Lexi Stuart novel, Let them Eat Cake. She is also a regular contributor to newspapers and magazines. Sandra lives in Washington state with her husband and two children.

Pattie's Review:

This book was tres delicieux! The story was amusant, the characters were sympatiques, and worst of all, it made me crave bread and coffee! (I just might have to get a baguette and some Nutella at the store later!) It also reminded me of why I loved taking French in school and how fun it can be.
I did read the first in this series, and while it gave some background with Lexi and Dan, and Lexi and Patricia, enough of those stories were placed in this novel to make it an easy one to pick up and start reading. Don't let the fact that it's the second book deter you from reading it!

To purchase this book, please click on the book art at the top of this post, which will take you to

If you want to be eligible to win a copy of this book and live in the United States, leave a comment below! I'll choose a winner via at the end of the week.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Love Starts With Elle

Rachel Hauck has done it again: written a book that could be just another Christian chick lit novel, but is so much more.

Elle is Caroline (of Sweet Caroline)'s friend, and the book opens with her engagement. She seems so happy, but there are warning bells pealing loudly all over the place, that Elle cannot (or chooses not to) hear.

In the meantime, Elle's house is being rented by Heath, who is a lonely single dad. When Elle finds herself unexpectedly homeless, she decides to stay in her loft while Heath lives in the house. This arrangement serves as a great chance for our gal Elle to do some soul-searching and praying.

(From Amazon:
Elle's living the dream-but is it her dream or his?

Elle loves life in Beaufort, South Carolina-lazy summer days on the sand bar, coastal bonfires, and dinners with friends sharing a lifetime of memories. And she's found her niche as the owner of a successful art gallery too. Life is good.

Then the dynamic pastor of her small town church sweeps her off her feet. She's never known a man like Jeremiah-one who breathes in confidence and exhales all doubt. When he proposes in the setting sunlight, Elle hands him her heart on a silver platter.

But Jeremiah's just accepted a large pastorate in a different state. If she's serious about their relationship, Elle will take "the call," too, leaving behind the people and place she loves so dearly. Elle's friendship with her new tenant, widower Heath McCord, and his young daughter make things even more complicated.

Is love transferrable across the miles? And can you take it with you when you go?

What I love about Rachel Hauck's books is that they're fun with substance. They have fun characters, with funny scenes, yet real-life struggles and faith lessons to learn.

This is another "I loved it" book from Pattie's reviews. Romantic Times may have given it four stars, but I give it five.

Here's a cute book trailer for the novel:

To order Rachel's book on Amazon, just click here or click on the cover above.

I have an autographed copy of this novel to give away to one lucky reader! To be eligible you must leave a comment (and live in the United States).

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Can I say that?

In this case, it's a very good thing.

My new Hoover steam vacuum really sucks!

It truly does. It has not gotten everything out of my downstairs carpet, but it did a darn good job getting most everything up! My husband was not entirely unhappy that I spent the money on the steamer, when he saw what a great job it did.

I am no longer embarrassed at how hideous our carpet is downstairs.

I'll get the clutter under control now too, soon. I really will.

Too bad the Hoover won't take care of that, too.

Monday, October 13, 2008

The Shape of Mercy blog tour and interview

Welcome to the blog tour for Susan Meissner's latest and greatest novel: The Shape of Mercy.
I am so thrilled to be here! Susan is a particular favorite author of mine.

I first heard about Susan and her novels from her husband, an Air Force Reserve chaplain. He was serving his annual tour duty at the base where we moved two years ago (playing in the praise band on our first Sunday here), and he mentioned his wife wrote books that were "different from all the others" in Christian fiction. This intrigued me, of course, and over the course of the past two years I've read all but one! I'm thrilled to be a part of this blog tour to help promote an amazing book.

Publisher's Book Summary:

Women of all ages will appreciate this highly-readable, layered, and fast-paced story about self-discovery at all stages of life. With rich undertones of intrigue and romance, this contemporary novel with a historical twist explores personal blinders and how upbringing and conditioning can shape people to judge others in ways that can lead to unhappy consequences.

Lauren Durough is a college student who finds herself on the road to self-discovery as she is hired by octogenarian Abigail Boyles to transcribe the journals of Mercy Hayworth, a seventeenth-century victim of the Massachusetts witch trials. Almost immediately, Lauren finds herself drawn to this girl who lived and died four centuries ago. The strength of her affinity with Mercy forces Lauren to take a startling new look at her own life, including her relationships with Abigail, her college roommate, and a young man named Raul. But on the way to the truth, will Lauren find herself playing the helpless defendant or the misguided judge? Can she break free from her own perceptions and see who she really is?

Pattie's Review:

It's no surprise that I truly enjoyed this book. Susan Meissner writes such great fiction that offers more to its readers than a few hours of pleasure. It is fiction that has the potential to change the reader's thoughts or views.

Without giving too much away, I will tell you some of my favorite things. There was enough suspense to keep me turning the pages. The characters are sympathetic enough to draw me into their world and gain their trust. Lauren's transcription of Mercy's diary is intriguing and thought-provoking. And Abigail, well, I just want to break through her reserve and give her a big hug. The relationships among the women in the story are what make the story sing.

The Interview:

I was thrilled to actually speak with Susan on the phone during the ACFW-sponsored book extravaganza at the Mall of America a few weeks ago. I sent my mom and sister to the Mall, and my sister called me to tell me all about it. Then suddenly I heard, "Well, here, talk to Susan!" and I found myself on the phone with her! I have to say, it took everything within me not to scream like a rock fan! We chatted for a bit, and it was lovely. She is so nice!

Last week, I had the opportunity to interview Susan via email, and she kindly answered many of my questions; I offer this interview for your enjoyment, edification, and amusement, not necessarily in that order!

The Salem Witch Trials are all about judgment. Have you ever been judged by others, or had presuppositions placed upon you?

Not to the degree that those in Salem were. Not by a long shot. The only way I was able to imagine what it must be like to endure that kind of prejudice was remembering what it was like to play the role of a young woman accused of witchcraft. I was in a play called "To Burn a Witch" when I was 13, and my character started out in a jail cell with other accused girls, innocent all of them. It was scary pretending I was accused of something I would never do and no one believed in my innocence. My character decides to save herself by accusing one of the other girls in the cell of bewitching and tormenting her. My character is then led away to safety and the girl she accused is led away to her execution. My character lived, but at a terrible cost. The girl she accused was executed, but she never gave up on truth. I hated being the girl who walked out on truth.

Which of the women in the story did you feel drawn to the most: Lauren, Mercy, or Abigail?

Of the three, Lauren is the one whose thoughts stayed with me long after I would quit writing for the day. I’ve always wanted to be as benevolent as Mercy (and I know I’m not) and I don’t see myself making the same mistakes as Abigail, but I saw myself often in Lauren as the story revealed how she truly doesn’t want to judge people, but she does. She just does. We all do. We see a homeless man begging on the streets and we make all kinds of assumptions about how he got there and what he would do if we reached out to help him. We see a pregnant teenager or an obese child or a woman wearing diamonds and Jimmy Choos and we assume the teenager has no morals, the child has no restraint and the woman is wealthy and therefore has no worries. We believe these things because the crowd tells us it’s so. It seems to permeate culture, regardless of the generation. Whatever the crowd says, we too easily believe.

Did you visit Salem during your research, or have you visited it in the past? How did that affect you?

I actually didn’t visit Salem. I’ve read enough to know that the Salem that shows up in my book doesn’t exist any more. A friend of mine who drives past Salem on her way to work everyday tells me there is an apartment complex and playground on what was once Gallows Hill, the place where the accused were hanged. She tells me that in the month of October, Salem becomes a haven for all things witches and Wiccan. That just makes no sense to me. The people in Salem who lost their lives in 1692 weren’t witches. They were innocent. That’s the whole point. They died holding onto their faith and refusing to confess an allegiance to the Devil, even though to do so would’ve saved their necks. True, they would’ve been driven out of Salem and lived as outcasts the rest of their lives, but they would’ve been spared. These brave people, mostly women, wouldn’t do it. They wouldn’t turn their back on God. That is amazing to me. And from what I hear, that isn’t celebrated as much as it should be in present-day Salem.

Here's a question from one pastor's wife to another: Do you play the piano?

Well, here’s the thing. I do play the piano. But I routinely have a messy closet and messy drawers and my shoes are never where they should be. Just thought you needed to know that.

(Cool. I play the piano, albeit badly. And in the interest of full disclosure, I'm a total packrat, particularly with books.)

Is the piano question the most annoying question you've ever been asked as a pastor's wife? If not, what was the worst question?

I don’t get annoyed by dumb questions. I am annoyed far more by shoppers who saunter like they’re sleepwalking and leave their carts in the middle of the aisle. They’ve no respect for the rest of the people on the planet. They drive me crazy.

Thanks, Susan! Long-distance hugs sent out to you!

To purchase a copy of Susan's book, you can either click on the book title above to go to's website, or click here to go to the book on

To be eligible to win a copy of The Shape of Mercy you must live in the United States and leave a comment below! Winner will be chosen by's integer generator (just because it's fair).

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