Saturday, August 30, 2008

Writer Mama Giveaway Rules

It's time! Get ready to visit The Writer Mama's Back to School Giveaway, which runs the entire month of September.

Christina has posted the rules for the giveaway on her site.

I participated about half the month last year, but I never won (That dang random number generator thingie never chose me!). However, I will not let it stop me from trying again this year. There are some GREAT prizes!

the sound of silence

I didn't think I was one of "those people."


The ones that can't sit still.


I mean, I can sit for a stretch of online/computer time. I can sit for a movie, generally, all the way through.


But unstructured time? Time without a BOOK? Alone?


NO.


Here's the story: Yesterday hubby worked from home, so I came home from work and the bank so we could both walk to go pick up the girls. Now that M1 is in middle school, there's 1/2 hour difference in beginning and ending times. M2 insisted that DADDY be the one to walk her home. That left me with no cell phone, no book, nothing to DO for twenty-five minutes.


Twenty-five LONG BORING MINUTES.


Is that the saddest thing you've ever heard?


I'm one of those people who must have alone time to rejuvenate, but I also like to be around people (on the Myers-Briggs, I'm just a few points on the extrovert side from the middle cut-off point). But my alone time generally involves reading. Or writing. Or online time. Not alone with nothing to do!


So....I walk to the far side of the middle school (door 23 is the one closest to M1's locker), and find a few old plastic school chairs there. I sit down. It's a beautiful day, blue blue sky, some puffy clouds, breezy. I lean my head against the brick wall, close my eyes, and just sit.


And think.


And pray some.


And let my mind wander all over.


And feel a bit guilty for not accomplishing something during these minutes.


Boring? a little. Restful? sort of. Necessary? probably.


The rest of the day was rough (let's not recount the story of the dropped on the floor pizza, the careless remark that sent M1 into a vale of tears, and going to bed very early). This morning I woke early (thanks, cell phone alarm that I forgot to turn off!) and made coffee. When Sheba, my laptop, locked up, I set her into scan mode and went to the ever-large book stack to find something to read. Eat, Pray, Love remained unfinished, so I picked it up. Guess which section I began? Yep, Pray.


Elizabeth Gilbert outlines her struggles in the Indian Ashram with meditation. While the Eastern religion portion of this discussion grates a bit (as a Christian, I identify with the desire to get closer to God, but the whole idea of divinity already within me apart from God, well...in a word, no), I strongly identified with her struggle with silence! Her friend says, "Ah, ten seconds have passed, Liz. Bored already, are we?" (p. 134).


I think I have a lot to learn about silence, meditation, and just being.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

oops

Buy Nothing Challenge - August 2008
Forgive me, Challenge, for I have sinned. I spent one dollar for two nearly-new paperback books today at my library.

On the plus side, I have gotten about six or so books out of the house this month. That's not bad.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

The Church that Multiplies

The Church That Multiplies: Growing a Healthy Cell Church in North America is Joel Comiskey's answer to the question: Does the cell church strategy work in North America? His answer is yes, and here is why and where!

Comiskey takes the reader step-by-step into the whys and hows of the cell church model. He offers current examples of thriving cell churches (as the book I have is the second printing from 2007, it's been updated since its first edition in 2005).

This 180-page book is small enough not to be daunting, but annotated enough to provide a great starting place for men and women who want to learn more about this vibrant church movement.

Joel Comiskey has a Ph.D. from Fuller Theological Seminary and is a former C&MA missionary, as well as working as a church consultant and speaker. He is also an adjunct faculty member for several seminaries. He is the founding pastor of a cell-based church in Southern California.
It's time! Get ready to visit The Writer Mama's Back to School Giveaway, which runs the entire month of September.

Whoo hoo Christina!

Monday, August 25, 2008

Wild Goose Chase

Welcome to the tour for Mark Batterson's latest book, Wild Goose Chase. Click on the cover art above to purchase the book on Amazon.com


About the Book:

Most of us have no idea where we’re going most of the time. Perfect.
“Celtic Christians had a name for the Holy Spirit–An Geadh-Glas, or ‘the Wild Goose.’ The name hints at mystery. Much like a wild goose, the Spirit of God cannot be tracked or tamed. An element of danger, an air of unpredictability surround Him. And while the name may sound a little sacrilegious, I cannot think of a better description of what it’s like to follow the Spirit through life. I think the Celtic Christians were on to something….
Most of us will have no idea where we are going most of the time. And I know that is unsettling. But circumstantial uncertainty also goes by another name: Adventure.” --from the introduction

About the Author:

Mark Batterson, author of Wild Goose Chase, is the pastor of National Community Church in Washington, D.C., and an avid blogger. His best selling book In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day launched his speaking series about chasing lions—also known as huge, God-given opportunities.

Pattie's Review:

I haven't finished the book yet, but so far it's highly readable and incredibly interesting.
To be eligible to win a copy of this book, you must live in the United States (apologies for high postage costs to my Canadian readers), AND leave a comment with a way to get hold of you if you are the winner. That's it!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

The Sugar Queen

Another great recommendation from Dana. The Sugar Queen is the second novel by Sarah Addison Allen. It's a completely different story from her first one, which for a sophomore novel is quite a feat, I believe.

What I loved was the delicious phrasing. The beauty of the language, the sadness and sweetness of the story, the characters who are so delightful and whom I'd love to meet. The laughable joy of Chloe and her books, of Josey and her hidden sugar stash, and the men, oh the fallible yet loveable men.

I think the saddest thing is that I can't read the book for the first time, again.

here's the summary from Amazon:

In this irresistible follow-up to her New York Times bestselling debut, Garden Spells, author Sarah Addison Allen tells the tale of a young woman whose family secrets—and secret passions—are about to change her life forever.

Twenty-seven-year-old Josey Cirrini is sure of three things: winter in her North Carolina hometown is her favorite season, she’s a sorry excuse for a Southern belle, and sweets are best eaten in the privacy of her hidden closet. For while Josey has settled into an uneventful life in her mother’s house, her one consolation is the stockpile of sugary treats and paperback romances she escapes to each night…. Until she finds it harboring none other than local waitress Della Lee Baker, a tough-talking, tenderhearted woman who is one part nemesis—and two parts fairy godmother…

Fleeing a life of bad luck and big mistakes, Della Lee has decided Josey’s clandestine closet is the safest place to crash. In return she’s going to change Josey’s life—because, clearly, it is not the closet of a happy woman. With Della Lee’s tough love, Josey is soon forgoing pecan rolls and caramels, tapping into her startlingly keen feminine instincts, and finding her narrow existence quickly expanding.

Before long, Josey bonds with Chloe Finley, a young woman who makes the best sandwiches in town, is hounded by books that inexplicably appear whenever she needs them, and—most amazing of all—has a close connection to Josey’s longtime crush.

As little by little Josey dares to step outside herself, she discovers a world where the color red has astonishing power, passion can make eggs fry in their cartons, and romance can blossom at any time—even for her. It seems that Della Lee’s work is done, and it’s time for her to move on. But the truth about where she’s going, why she showed up in the first place—and what Chloe has to do with it all—is about to add one more unexpected chapter to Josey’s fast-changing life.

Brimming with warmth, wit, and a sprinkling of magic, here is a spellbinding tale of friendship, love—and the enchanting possibilities of every new day.

Summer Challenge Wrap-Up

WRAP-UP POST
Photobucket
June 1-August 31, 2008
My original list is posted here. I listed six books and three alternates. I finished five books and two alternates, thereby reading one "extra" book. The other two books are selections by Jodi Picoult. I do plan to read them at some point, but not now. (I have to be in a certain mood and frame of mind to read Picoult, and while I did read two of her books this year so far, I'm in a different reading place right now.)

I know it's not yet the 31st, but with the books I have coming for review (I joined CFBA since entering this reading challenge), I don't see myself tackling the remainig two Picoult novels.

I accomplished my goal of intentional reading. I wasn't aimlessly wandering, so to speak. And that feels good.

I declare this challenge completed. Thanks to Kathleen of Rock Creek Rumblings for hosting the challenge!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Children's Books

Welcome to a children's book blog tour! Three books for you to enjoy.

Clicking on the book cover photo will take you to Amazon.com, where the book can be purchased. I've included the publisher's summary and author/illustrator bios, as well as my own thoughts.

by Lisa Tawn Bergren:
Summary:
Little Cub awakens one morning with some important questions on her mind: What is heaven like? How do we get there? Will we eat in heaven? Will we be angels?

During a delightful day spent wandering their arctic world, Papa gently answers each question, assuring Little Cub that heaven is a wonderful place, “a million times better” than she can imagine. He explains how God has made a way for those who love him to enter their heavenly home forever after their lives on earth are over.

Reuniting the best-selling author-illustrator team from God Gave Us You, this gentle story provides satisfying answers for a young child’s most difficult questions about heaven. Parents, grandparents, childcare professionals, librarians, Sunday school teachers, and others will appreciate the gentle approach to a topic that’s on the minds of so many “little cubs.”
Through captivating, full-color illustrations and tender, biblically sound storytelling, young readers and those who love them will find reasons to rejoice in knowing that God Gave Us Heaven.

Author Bio: Lisa Tawn Bergren is the award-winning author of nearly thirty titles, totaling more than one million books in print. She writes in a broad range of genres, from adult fiction to devotional. God Gave Us Heaven is Lisa’s fourth children’s book, following in the tradition of the best-selling God Gave Us You. She makes her home in Colorado, with her husband, Tim, and their children, Olivia, Emma, and Jack.

Illustrator Bio: Laura J. Bryant studied painting, printmaking, and sculpture at the Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore. She has illustrated numerous award-winning children’s books, including God Gave Us You, Smudge Bunny, and If You Were My Baby. Laura lives in Asheville, North Carolina.

Review:
I think this book would have been wonderful to have around when my daughter's first grade teacher passed away. It's simple and easy to understand, without being too watered down. It's Biblically sound teaching. The illustrations in this book are gorgeous. It's delightful!


by Dandi Daley Mackall
Summary:
In two new books from best-selling children’s author Dandi Daley Mackall, clever rhymes and delightful illustrations help young children, ages three and up, understand God’s huge love for them and his joy in creating them. These enchanting picture books from the writer-illustrator team of Dandi Mackall and David Hohn will instill awe in young children as they revel in each page. Parents alike will appreciate the engaging stories that communicate God’s perfect plan and his divine purpose for little hearts.

In God Loves Me More Than That, children learn that God loves them deeper than a wishing well, wider than a semi-truck, louder than thunder, and softer than a kitten’s sneeze. Each question, presented with charming child-like faith will help young ones grasp the great love of God through comparisons and descriptions they can easily understand. In short, they’ll discover that His love is bigger, wider, higher, and deeper than anything they could imagine!

In When God Made My Toes, kids are drawn into the wonder of their creation by God. Their masterful artist who fashioned them just right for amazing and delightful adventures, such as roller skating, finger-painting, doing flips, and drinking cocoa. Children will come to an understanding that God shaped each part of their amazing bodies with joy, delight, and humor.

Author Bio: Dandi Daley Mackall has published more than 400 books for children and adults, with more than 3 million combined copies sold. She is the author of WaterBrook’s two other delightful Dandilion Rhymes books, A Gaggle of Geese & A Clutter of Cats and The Blanket Show. A popular keynote speaker at conferences and Young Author events, Mackall lives in rural Ohio with her husband, three children, and a menagerie of horses, dogs, and cats.

Illustrator Bio: David Hohn is an award-winning illustrator who graduated with honors from the Maryland Institute College of Art. He has worked as both a staff artist and an art director for a children’s software company in Portland, Oregon, a position which led to his art directing an award-winning project for Fisher-Price. Hohn’s recent projects include Lisa Tawn Bergren’s God Gave Us Christmas.


Review:
I enjoyed the rhythm of these books; it makes them easy to read aloud and sound so lovely. The message is wonderful: God loves us. Children need to hear this over and over again.

The illustrations are a bit less whimsical than those in the Bergren book, but still quite attractive.


Now that you've made it to the end, please leave a comment to be eligible to win all three of these books! US readers only, please.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Garden Spells

An addendum to the "I Heard It Through the Grapevine" list.

My friend Dana recommended this book to me, and when the library had it on the shelf, I went ahead and checked it out while the recommendation was fresh. What a delightful read! I was captivated by the characters, both Claire the steadfast older sibling, and Sydney the prodigal sister who returns home.

It's just a great story. Do yourself a favor and pick it up.

From Publishers Weekly (amazon.com):
Two gifted sisters draw on their talents to belatedly forge a bond and find their ways in life in Allen's easygoing debut novel. Thirty-four-year-old Claire Waverley manifests her talent in cooking; using edible flowers, Claire creates dishes that affect the eater in curious ways. But not all Waverley women embrace their gifts; some, including Claire's mother, escape the family's eccentric reputation by running away. She abandoned Claire and her sister when they were young. Consequently, Claire has remained close to home, unwilling to open up to new people or experiences. Claire's younger sister, Sydney, however, followed in their mother's footsteps 10 years ago and left for New York, and after a string of abusive, roustabout boyfriends, returns to Bascom, N.C., with her five-year-old daughter, Bay. As Sydney reacquaints herself with old friends and rivals, she discovers her own Waverley magic. Claire, in turn, begins to open up to her sister and in the process learns how to welcome other possibilities. Though Allen's prose can lean toward the pedestrian and the romance subplots feel perfunctory, the blending of horticultural folklore, the supernatural and a big dollop of Southern flavor should find favor with a wide swath of readers. (Aug.) Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Blog Tour: Finding Stefanie

Welcome to the LitFuse blog tour for the third in the Noble Legacy Series by Susan May Warren: FINDING STEFANIE.

About the book:

When she put her dreams on hold to help run the family ranch, she never imagined they would slip out of sight. Luckily for Stefanie, those dreams are about to come knocking at her door.

Lincoln Cash has gained fame and fortune on the big screen, but a crippling secret leaves him one last chance to make his mark on the movie industry. With dreams of hosting a new film festival, Lincoln intends to remodel a sprawling ranch in eastern Montana to make it the new Hollywood hot spot.

Unfortunately, a house fire threatens his plans. So does opposition from his new neighbor Stefanie Noble, who's not thrilled about his Tinseltown changes. What Lincoln and Stefanie don't know is that the fire won't be the last disaster to threaten Lincoln or his future. Someone is out for revenge... but who? And who is the real target?

read chapter one ~ buy the book


About the Author:


Susan May Warren is an award-winning author and speaker, wife and mom and former missionary to Russia. You can find out more about her by reading her biography page. She currently lives in Minnesota, which makes her my sort-of neighbor (well, if you can call North Dakota and Minnesota "neighbors," right?).

About the Contests
:


You can find out more about the "Finding Stefanie" contest by clicking here!

There's also a contest for the blog tour. Find those details here!

Pattie's Review:

Because this is the third book in the series, I thought I'd try to get my hands on the first two from my library. Well, the first one, Reclaiming Nick, was there, and I read it first. I really enjoyed it. But Taming Rafe was not there! (This leads me to the conclusion that it's in my best interest as a lover of Christian fiction to donate my copy of Finding Stefanie to my local library. Thus, no giveaway from Fresh-Brewed Writer this time!).

Each of the Noble siblings must deal with the issues with their family, their past, and their present. Nick is a prodigal son. Stefanie is more like the prodigal son's brother in the parable Jesus told. She's the one upon whom the father depended. When he died, she is the one who kept everything going to the extent that she had to put her own dreams and plans on hold. When Movie Star Lincoln Cash comes along with his secrets and very public career, Stefanie is forced to face her own abandoned dreams head-on.

One more thing: I was blessed to visit eastern Montana on a recent trip to western North Dakota. Susan Warren has spot-on descriptions of the landscape! It's very beautiful there. Also, her descriptions of small-town life are completely in line with my experiences living in small towns over the course of my marriage. This author knows her STUFF!

All in all, these are enjoyable books with a strong spiritual thread throughout. I loved them!

CFBA: That's Not Exactly Amore


This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

That's (Not Exactly) Amore

FaithWords (August 14, 2008)

by

Tracey Bateman



ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Tracey Bateman published her first novel in 2000 and has been busy ever since. There are two other books in the Drama Queen Series, Catch A Rising Star (#1) and You Had Me At Goodbye (#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.


ABOUT THE BOOK


When Laini Sullivan lands a job designing Nick Pantalone's coffee shop, there are two problems: one, Nick's nephew Joe hates all of her ideas and two, Laini has to admit he's right--she's a disaster at design. Still, she can't risk losing the job. To compromise, Joe brings in help on the project, while Laini continues to bake the goodies that keep his customers lining up.
Their relationship is moving along, so when new guy Officer Mark Hall implies that Joe's family is tied to the mob, Laini doesn't want to believe it. But things spin out of control when she meets the family, including "the uncles," who seem to confirm Mark's suspicions. To make things worse, Nana Pantalone makes it clear Laini isn't the kind of girl she has in mind for her grandson. Laini's not sure if she should give Joe the benefit of the doubt or just set her sites on Mark and fuhgetaboutit.

"Tracey draws us into the world of family and friendship with a few surprising twists along the way Bravo!"
~RACHEL HAUCK, author of Diva NashVegas and Sweet Caroline


If you would like to read the first chapter of That's (Not Exactly) Amore, go HERE

Pattie's Review:
Tracey Bateman's got such a way with characters...they have such great voices! I first read volume one of her Claire mom-lit series after I won it on the radio after her K-LOVE interview aired while I was waiting in the school pick-up line when we lived in central Missouri.

Then, I read Catch a Rising Star, book one of the Drama Queens series. I loved it! I couldn't wait to read the next two in the series. (I'm still waiting for the postman to bring me book 2!)

I really enjoyed book 3, That's Not Exactly Amore. Laini is certainly a woman I can identify with, particularly with her struggle in changing her profession. I went through a similiar crisis of career a few years ago, when I left my chosen career of high school teacher. Laini is struggling with her second career field, though, and that has her baffled. I can totally understand that feeling!

If you love carbs, you will also love this book. Lots of those in here too!

All in all, wonderful Christian chick lit. Thanks for a great book, Tracey! Keep using that God-given talent. :)

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

calling all military wives

Come out of hiding!

Wives of Faith is hosting a blog carnival. Click here for more info!!!

Monday, August 11, 2008

challenge update

Buy Nothing Challenge - August 2008
We are one-third of the way through August. So far, so good. I have not purchased any new books for myself. I have, however, been deluged with a few Paperback Swap books that have been on my wish list for over a year. Then I also brought home three library books (the kind you check out, not the ones you can buy for fifty cents!).

I have a lot of reading to do!

I read two books on vacation and began a third. Then a fourth. Those reviews are forthcoming with some blog tours coming up. I am about "booked up" (pardon the obvious pun) on blog tours with all the invites that have invaded my inbox! It's tough to turn down a book, especially for me.

diary

Apparently Dylan Thomas's wife kept a diary. Oh, I'd love to read it.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Words, words, words, to quote Hamlet

Where has my time gone? Ah yes, I took a reading break, then a scrapbooking break to scrap our vacation, and now we're headed into a hugely busy week! So I'll be reading again (as the scrapbook is almost done).

What am I reading? Well, let me tell you:


  • Reclaiming Nick and Finding Stefanie, volumes 1 and 3 in the Noble Legacy Series, by Susan May Warren. (Book 2 is Taming Rafe, and my library doesn't have it...so I guess I'll have to catch it another time, as I'm not purchasing books during the month of August!). My review for Stefanie's story is due next week. I have to say, after briefly visiting eastern Montana on our recent vacation; Susan Warren did a fabulous job of describing the landscape. Gorgeous.
  • Curves by Gary Heavin. I'm a Curves circuit coach part-time, and I'm taking on the added responsibility of teaching the 6-week Weight Loss Challenge this fall. To that end, I'm reading the NYT bestselling book, sometimes.
  • Love Starts With Elle by Rachel Hauck. Mmmmmmm, so glad to have this book in my hot little tote bag! I love me some Rachel Hauck chick lit.
  • Catch a Rising Star by Tracey Bateman. Drama Queens series. How could you not love a series with that name? I am hoping to have book 2 before reading book 3, which I'm reviewing for CFBA next week.

I received quite a few PBS wishes in the past week or so; seems as if that website is feast or famine. I noted on a previous blog post that I have book 2 in an Air Force mystery series, and I want to read it as well! But book review books take precedence, and that's that.

I did finish the Monk mystery. I love Monk. If you don't watch it, I highly recommend it. Such OCD fun. And while I miss Dr. Kroger (Stanley Kamel suddenly passed away this summer, to everyone's dismay), I adore Hector Elizondo as the new therapist. He's divine.

Friday, August 01, 2008

Writing Quotation for the Weekend

“Talent is helpful in writing, but guts are absolutely essential.” ~ Jessamyn West

Romancing Hollywood Nobody

Disclaimer: I'm not a member of FIRST (honestly, with my current blog tour/book review schedule and work commitments kicking into high gear this month, I can't join another. But I thought I'd "borrow" the code for this post, which I first saw on Camy Tang's blog.

I read this book last week, and I really, really, REALLY liked it. Almost as much as the first one. (I reviewed book two here, and you know I wasn't as happy with it. Book Three is good, though (did I mention I REALLY liked it?).

Anyway, you can read the first chapter below.


It is August FIRST, time for the FIRST Blog Tour! (Join our alliance! Click the button!) The FIRST day of every month we will feature an author and his/her latest book's FIRST chapter!





Today's feature author is:






and her book:




Romancing Hollywood Nobody




NavPress Publishing Group (July 15, 2008)




ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Lisa Samson is the author of twenty books, including the Christy Award-winning Songbird. Apples of Gold was her first novel for teens

These days, she's working on Quaker Summer, volunteering at Kentucky Refugee Ministries, raising children and trying to be supportive of a husband in seminary. (Trying . . . some days she's downright awful. It's a good thing he's such a fabulous cook!) She can tell you one thing, it's never dull around there.

Other Novels by Lisa:

Hollywood Nobody, Finding Hollywood Nobody, Straight Up, Club Sandwich, Songbird, Tiger Lillie, The Church Ladies, Women's Intuition: A Novel, Songbird, The Living End

Visit her at her website.

Product Details

List Price: $12.99
Paperback: 195 pages
Publisher: NavPress Publishing Group (July 15, 2008)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1600062210
ISBN-13: 978-1600062216

AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:


Monday, April 30, 6:00 a.m.

My eyes open. Yes, yes, yes. The greatest man in the entire world

is brewing coffee right here in the TrailMama.

“Dad.”

“Morning, Scotty. The big day.”

“Yep.”

“And this time, you won't have to drive.”

I throw back the covers on my loft bed and slip down to the dinette of our RV. My dad sleeps on the dinette bed. He's usually got it turned back into our kitchen table by 5:00 a.m. What can I say? The guy may be just as much in love with cheese as I am, but honestly? Our body clocks are about as different as Liam Neeson and Seth Green.

You know what I mean?

And we have lots of differences.

For one, he's totally a nonfiction person and I'm fiction all the way. For two, he has no fashion sense whatsoever. And for three, he has way more hope for people at the outset than I do. Man, do I have a lot to learn on that front.

He hands me a mug and I sip the dark liquid. I was roasting coffee beans for a while there, but Dad took the mantle upon himself and he does a better job.

Starbucks Schmarbucks.

He hands me another mug and I head to the back of the TrailMama to wake up Charley. My grandmother looks so sweet in the morning, her frosted, silver-blonde hair fanned out on the pillow. You know, she could pass for an aging mermaid. A really short one, true.



I wave the mug as close as I can to her nose without fear of her rearing up, knocking the mug and burning her face. “Charley . . .” I singsong. “Time to get a move on. Time to get back on the road.”

And boy is this a switch!

All I can say is, your life can be going one way for years and years and then, snap-snap-snap-in-a-Z, it looks like it had major plastic surgery.

Only in reverse. Imagine life just getting more and more real. I like it.

Charley opens her eyes. “Hey, baby. You brought me coffee. You get groovier every day.”

She's a hippie. What can I say?

And she started drinking coffee again when I ran away last fall in Texas. I mean, I didn't really run away. I went somewhere with a perfectly good reason for not telling anyone, and I was planning to return as soon as my mission was done.

She scootches up to a sitting position, hair still in a cloud, takes the mug and, with that dazzling smile still on her face (think Kate Hudson) sips the coffee. She sighs.

“I know,” I say. “How did we make it so long without him?”

“Now that he's with us, I don't know. But somehow we did, didn't we, baby? It may not have always been graceful and smooth, but we made it together.”

I rub her shoulder. “Yeah. I guess you could say we pretty much did.”

The engine hums its movin'-on song. “Dad's ready to pull out. Let's hit it.”

“Scotland, here we come.”

Scotland? Well, sort of.



An hour later

This has been a great school year. In addition to the online courses I'm taking through Indiana University High School, Dad's been teaching me and man, is he smart. I'm sure most sixteen-(almost seventeen)-year-olds think their fathers are the smartest guys in the world, but in my case it happens to be true.

Okay, even I have to admit he probably won't win the Nobel Prize for physics or anything, but he's street smart and there's no replacing that sort of thing. Big plus: he knows high school math. We're both living under the radar. And he's taken our faux last name. Dawn. He's now Ezra Fitzgerald Dawn. After Ezra Pound, one of F. Scott Fitzgerald's Lost Generation friends.

I'm just lovin' that.

“Your mom would have loved the name change, Scotty.”

He told me about his life as an FBI agent, some of the cases he worked on, and well, I'd like to tell you he had a life like Sydney Bristow's in Alias, but he probably spent most of his time on com-puter work and sitting around on his butt waiting for someone to make a move. The FBI, apparently, prefers to trick people more than corner them in showdowns and shootouts. The Robertsman case was his first time undercover in the field and we know how terribly that worked out for him. And me. And Charley. And Babette, my mother.

I pull out my math book and sit in the passenger seat of the TrailMama. “Ready for some 'rithmetic, Dad?”

“You bet.” He turns to me and smiles. His smile still makes my heart warm up like a griddle ready to make smiley-face pan-cakes. I flip on my book light.


It's still dark and we're headed to Asheville, North Carolina for Charley's latest shoot. A film about Bonnie Prince Charlie called Charlie's Lament. How ironic is that? The director, Bartholomew (don't dare call him Bart) Evans, is a real jerk. I'm not going to be hanging around the set much even though Liam Neeson is Lord George Murray, the voice of reason Prince Charlie refused to listen to. But hey, that's my history lesson. We're still on math.

I finish up the last lesson in geometry . . . finally! Honestly, I still don't understand it without a mammoth amount of help, but the workbook's filled and that's a good thing.

There.

I set down my pen. “Finished!”

Dad gives a nod as he continues to look out the windshield. You might guess, despite the tattoos, piercings, and his gleaming bald head, he's a very careful driver. And he won't let me drive like Charley did.

“So . . . driver's license then, right?”

He's been holding that over my head so I'd finish the math course.

“You know it. After the film, we'll request your new birth certificate and go from there.”

“What state are we supposedly from?” The FBI has given us a new identity, official papers and all that.

“Wyoming.”

“Are you kidding me? Wyoming? Why?”

“Think about it, honey. Who's from Wyoming?”

“Lots of people?”

“Know any of them?”

“Uh. No.”

“See?”


“Okay, Wyoming it is, then.”

“You realize you'll only have my beat-up old black truck to drive around.” The same truck we're towing behind the TrailMama.

“I'll take it.”

So here's the thing. The rest of the entire world thinks my father was shot in the chest and killed when he was outed by a branch of the mob he was after. This mob was financing James Robertsman's campaign for governor of Maryland.

The guy's running for president of the United States now.

I kid you not.

Wish I was kidding.

We thought he was after us for several years because Charley knew too much. But then last fall, we found out the guy chasing me was my father, and Robertsman is most likely cocky enough to think he took care of everything he needed. I say that's quite all right. Although, I have to admit, the fact that a dirtbag like that guy may end up in the Oval Office sickens me to no end.

Thanks to that guy, we had been running in fear from my own father.

The thing is, I could be really mad about all those wasted years, and a portion of me feels that way. But we've been given another chance, and I'll be darned if I throw away these days being angry. There's too much to be thankful for.

Don't get me wrong. I still have my surly days. I don't want Dad and Charley to think they have it as easy as all that!

Okay, time to blog.

Hollywood Nobody: April 30

Let's cut to the chase, Nobodies!

Today's Seth News: It's official. Seth Haas and Karissa Bonano are officially each other's exclusive main squeeze. The two were seen coming out of a popular LA tattoo parlor with each other's names on the inside of their forearms. How cliché. And pass the barf bag.

Today's Violette Dillinger Report: Violette has broken up with Joe Mason of Sweet Margaret. She wanted you all to know that long-distance romances are hard for any couple, but espe-cially for people as young as she is. “Joe needed to live his life. I'm on the road a lot. It wasn't fair to either of us.” Sounds like she's definitely not on the road to Britney. I'm just sayin'.

Today's Rave: Mandy Moore. The girl can really sing! And her latest album is filled with good songs. The bubble gum days of insipid teen heartbreak are over. She's finally come into her own. (Wish some others would follow her example, but I won't hold my breath. And man, are we on the theme of bratty stars today or what? Well, there are just so many of them from which to choose!)

Today's Rant: Crazy expensive celebrity weddings. What? If they spend more, will they be more likely to stay together? I have no idea. Mariah Carey's $25,000 dress pales in comparison to Catherine Zeta-Jones's $100,000 gown. What are those things made of?

Today's Quote: “Dream as if you'll live forever, live as if you'll die today.” James Dean