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Showing posts from December, 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


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 ex…

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 …

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 pu…

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

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!

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.

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, …

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 (Octo…

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 receivin…

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 ha…

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 cr…

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 pi…

Christian Fiction Advent 2

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