Monday, July 31, 2006

Husker Red Pumps through these Veins

Abigail, Jonathan and Mom, April 2006

I'm from Nebraska which means many things. In honor of the great state, I've created a top ten list.

10. It's a beautiful, diverse state. It's really not flat when you get off I-80.
9. It is home to the friendliest people you will ever meet.
8. Nebraska is a conservative state that lives its conservative values. Click here to learn about a classmate of mine who will be the next Congressman from the western part of this great state. Mr. Smith is headed to Washington!
7. Cows: how many states can you come to a screeching halt on a highway to wait for cows to cross.
6. Denver is only four hours away.
5. The Black Hills are only four hours away. Okay, everything is four hours away from North Platte where my parents and siblings live.
4. Runzas. Those of you who've had one know I don't need to say more. For those who haven't, next time you drive through stop at a Runza Restaurant and eat one.
3. The North Platte Canteen, an all volunteer effort during WWII, served more than 1.5 million servicemen between December 17, 1941 and April 1946.
2. My roots and family are there.
1. Husker football. Enough said. But for those who need to see to believe, watch this awesome video.

Where else do more than 60,000 fans pay to see a spring game?

Sunday, July 30, 2006

ACFW Conference and A Cool 40th Birthday Party

The ACFW Conference
The American Christian Fiction Writers Conference is coming up September 21-24 in Dallas, TX. This will be my second time to attend, and I can't wait. Last year I learned so much and met so many incredible people. Some of you might get all excited about movie stars. Not me. I get a thrill out of meeting authors.

If you have even the barest hint of a dream about being a writer, make your way to ACFW's conference. The agenda is rich with opportunities to learn and hone craft. But the best part is the chance to spend time with a bunch of Christians and hear God.

I went last year not sure what to expect, but God clearly spoke to me several times through people, worship, and a prayer offered on my behalf. It was a rich time. So rich, I've counted down since February to the date I'd board a plane and head back. Now to get my next manuscript all spit and polished and ready to talk about.

Fourtieth Birthday Party
Nope, I'm not talking about mine -- fortunately, I have quite a few years left till I hit that mile marker. Chris Weil, author of Forgiving Solomen Long and Deliver Us From Evelyn, turns 40 on August 9th. Instead of sending presents to us, he's giving the presents away.

Every person who buys Deliver Us From Evelyn from Amazon *on Chris's birthday* will be thanked BY NAME in his third novel, KINGDOM COME (in stores April 2007).

BUT THERE'S MORE! You *also* get the super-limited compendium 40 AND COUNTING, the literary equivalent of a "bootleg box set" in convenient pdf form. This collection offers 40 rarities:

40 AND COUNTING: STORIES A brand-new collection of 10 short stories, including four that have NEVER been published.

40 AND COUNTING: LISTS 10 pages of crazy lists, like I've done over the years for 7ball and now every month in CCM Magazine. You know, stuff like "Signs Your Neighbor is a Leprechaun" and "Signs You Need to Get A Life." (It makes you laugh AND it makes you think.)

40 AND COUNTING: COMICS Includes "Que Es Amor?" -- a BRAND-NEW tale written by me and penciled by my wife, Erica. PLUS: An assortment of scripts, pitches to Archie Comics, Marvel Comics, DC Comics, and even some rejection letters.

40 AND COUNTING: WHATNOT "Lost" material from Forgiving Solomon Long and Deliver Us From Evelyn, fanfic from my younger days, a preview of my upcoming best-selling zany crime suspense thriller Kingdom Come, and more!

REMEMBER: Wednesday, August 9

BONUS HOURS: For your added convenience, the event goes live 6PM Tuesday, August 8 and ends NOON Thursday, August 10. Complete Details:

I enjoyed reading Forgiving Solomen Long. It was offbeat and well written. If you've had an eye on his books, this sounds like a good day to buy them.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Totes, Toes and Friends

My life is utter chaos.

Can anyone relate? We're in the process of moving my daughter into her own room, which means the upstairs of my house is topsy-turvy as I reorganize and consolidate. It'll be well worth it if I'm ever done, but right now I could really use about twenty more organizer totes.

And that's a good thing, too, since I went to a spa/pedicure party tonight with friends from church. I so needed the chance to relax, act crazy, and just be with girlfriends. People who just give my funny looks when I get a bit too hyped on lack of sleep and caffeine.

So what does this have to do with totes you ask? Excellent question, I say.

The emails about the spa night made it clear that I needed to bring a tub to soak my feet in. No problem me thinks until I realize I don't have one. And of course at this point I'm on my way to a board meeting which I will leave to get to the spa thingy. This, too, is no problem since there is a grocery store on the way. I'll run in, grab any last minute things my wonderful hostess needs and grab a tub. No can do. I walk the aisles of the grocery store three times. Surely there must be a tub somewhere in the twenty aisles. Nada. Zilch. Nothing.

Becoming a touch frazzled -- what a great word -- I check out with my four apples and head back to the car. Fortunately there's a drug store across the parking lot. Certainly that store will have organizers that will work for soaking my tootsies. After two laps I finally asked an employee. Yep, they had em if I wanted ten gallon tubs -- a bit much think I.

Oh, by the way, we have these five packs of shoe totes. Perfect! I check out, dodge raindrops and drive to the spa night.

Now picture the sight with me. I'm walking through stores, looking for totes, keeping an eye on my watch as I quickly run out of time, and talk to my sister about one of my manuscripts that she just read. Frazzled hardly began to describe me by the time I reached my friend's. But God is good. There was the perfect mix of people there, so I could relax and be goofy. Okay, so I went a touch over the edge a couple times. But I relaxed -- with each foot soaking in its own plastic tote box.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

It must be an Election Year

For those of you wondering, this year is an election year. Better know as an off-cycle election since we won't be electing a president this year. However, I've seen a few headlines today that let me know that those in Washington are well aware of what's at stake in November.

Two headlines in particular caught my eye.

First, the Washington Post reports that Senator Kay Bailey Hutchinson (TX) and Congressman Mike Pence (IN) have crafted what they hope will be compromise immigration legislation. The Senate has already passed a plan that would allow most illegal immigrants to stay, while the House is focused on the security of our borders. Security seems reasonable to me, yet we do have an issue about the number of illegal immigrants who are already in country. Thus, the huge tension between the Houses of our federal government and even within the Republican party. Hutchinson and Pence hope their proposed legislation would allow both Houses to vote on and -- hopefully in their minds -- pass the legislation pre-election. (If you're interested in learning more about their proposal, click here). I will never claim to be an expert on the complex issue of immigration, but bottomline, they don't want this to be a campaign issue.

The other article that caught my eye today focused on Senator Specter preparing a bill so that Congress could sue the President in court. Click here. To this point in time, that hasn't been allowed. Generally, it would be viewed as undermining the foundations of our three branch system of government. One branch suing another branch in the third branch. Does anyone else see the conflicts inherent in such a plan?

Why would Congress want to sue the President? Good question. In this case it's because he attaches signing statements to some of the laws he signs. A president can do three things when presented with legislations: Sign it, Veto it, or Ignore it (thereby letting it become law after a time period). Those in favor of the plan say that the President's use of signing statements curtail separation of powers (the balance of the three branches). They are also concerned that these signing statements mean the president won't enforce the law as written -- enforcement is one of his duties through the executive branch and departments (State, Defense, Agriculture, etc.).

Senator Specter hasn't filed the bill yet, so it's a long way from a vote.

I'll have to think about this more, but at gut level I really don't think this is a good idea.

Friday, July 21, 2006

ATLA changing its name

Now back to legal news.

At its annual meeting this week the American Trial Lawyers Association voted to change its name. Its new name will be the American Association for Justice. This is one of the association's efforts to improve its public perception. Click here to learn more. Me thinks it will take more than a name change to alter the image of the organization. Time will tell if I'm right or if the move was savvy.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Christian Political Fiction

From time to time I'll fill you in on cool blogs I find in addition to books. Today I met a new author through a mutual friend. Jerome Teel has his first book coming out in September. The Election is a Christian political thriller that I can't wait to get my hands on. The D.C., policy wonk part of me still lives strong. Until then, I'm contenting myself with reading Jerome's blog Christian Political Fiction . If you like an eclectic mix of politics and faith, I really think you'll like his blog. Check it out.

Ever Have Moments Like This?

Goldfish Moments

The American Christian Fiction Writers conference is coming up incredibly fast. In two short months, I'll be in Dallas learning more about writing, reconnecting with old friends, meeting new friends, and having an incredible time. Last year Karen Ball was the keynote speaker. Karen displayed a fun sense of humor (haven't laughed that hard in a very long time) while allowing herself to be incredibly vulnerable and open. A line that repeated throughout the four days was goldfish moments. It started in one of Karen's talks and burbled over to the rest of the conference from there.

Did you know that someone has actually studied the attention span of a goldfish. First, who has the time to do something like that? Second, how on earth they actually created a study that let them determine what's going on in a goldfish's brain? Third, I just want to laugh as I consider the parallels between a goldfish and me. Supposedly, a goldfish has the attention span of about five seconds. You can hypothesize that's why they're content swimming around in a little bowl. "Look -- a castle." Glub, glub, swish, swish. "Hey, look. Another castle!"

Click on the cartoon to go to the site where it actually animates. I haven't quite figured out how to do that yet :-)

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Jake's first post

Jake's first post is up on Scenes and Beans! You have to check it out. I'll admit it's kind of fun reading it, even if I never thought I'd play a retired logger :-). And while you check it out, be sure to leave a comment. Poor Jake's trying to figure out what to do with himself now that retirement and its boredom is sinking in and dragging him down.

Today's blog is posted over at Tricia Goyer's Generation NeXt Parenting blog. I have the honor of serving as the guest blogger today. I'm talking about discipline and my lack of it. And just wait -- later this week you'll get to read part two.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Age is Merely a Number

My friend Tricia Goyer forwarded the following commentary from Age is Merely a Number. In it the author evaluates whether generational differences really make a difference or if it's all a matter of work ethic.

There's been a lot of buzz lately about what Generation X wants in their careers. As a proud member of that generation, I agree with some of the general conclusions. As a generalization, Gen Xers value family highly, and we'll make career sacrifices in an attempt to minimize the fall out on our children. I work part time very intentionally. I could be a full time attorney, but because my children are young, my husband and I have determined I will only work three days a week. We both guard that jealously. I am fortunate to have found a firm that is glad to have me three days a week and places a high value on family.

But I am also an ambitious, driven person. I love challenge and get bored when things fall into a routine. Fundamentally, that's one reason I tackled the challenge of law school, a judicial clerkship, and actually practicing. I want to make a difference in people's lives when they are in the middle of a crisis. Rarely do people call an attorney just because they thought it would be fun. Some event usually necistates that call.

Regardless of their generation, most lawyers are motivated by similar things. As Kerry Jean Moore, author of the commentary on puts it:

"The fact is all talented lawyers want the same things. They want to be valued as individuals, they want challenging work for which they will be recognized and rewarded, and they want the freedom and independence to manage their own work and their own schedules. These are universal, not age-dependent, desires, and they are ones that every law firm can -- and should want to -- accommodate."

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Arms of Deliverance

I love history, and I inhale great historical fiction. Arms of Deliverance, the newest book from my friend Tricia Goyer, is such a book. You can read Chapter One of the book at Tricia's blog Real Life.

I've had the privilege of watching Tricia write several other books. It's delightful to watch an idea develop into a complete book. To give you an idea of how she did that with this book, here's insight from Tricia on how she wrote the book:

ARMS OF DELIVERANCE: The Story Behind the Novel

The Idea:

The idea for Arms of Deliverance came one day as I was researching for my novel Night Song. I was watching a video that talked about Lebensborn homes in Nazi Europe. These were homes where young women birthed children for the Reich. After all, to have a "Thousand Year Reich" the Germans needed future Aryans. That was the first layer of the story.

The second layer came when I was researching my novel, Dawn of a Thousand Nights. First, I was studying these amazing women who risked their lives during WWII. (Dawn of a Thousand Nights involved female pilots who ferried US planes around the country.) Other brave women who risked their lives were female war reporters, and I knew I wanted to write a story about them. This sparked my interest too.

Throw in my intrigue of B-17 bomber crews over Europe, and you have the first three elements of Arms of Deliverance. The fourth is a Nazi officer in search for . . . well, you’ll have to read the novel to find out!

The Research:

The first thing I did when I started researching was to check to see if I could find any veterans who were there. I got a hold of an amazing group of men with the 91st Bomb Group. I couldn’t have asked for a better group of guys. You can check them out at their website ( Be sure to take time to look at the photos and read the TRUE stories from the 91st!

The men gave me all types of information. They gave me the details of exact flights, actual photographs from that time, and they shared their personal experiences and stories.

Of course, God always surprises me with “abundantly more than I ask for or imagine” when it comes to research for these stories. Here’s one of those God-gifts:

One thing you may remember from photos of old bombers is the nose art, which highlighted the bomber’s name. During my writing, I kept praying for the perfect name for my bomber—something to tie into the book.

During my research I met a veteran from the 91st Bomb Group named Jack Gaffney. Out of the blue, Jack suggested I use the name “Destiny’s Child.” (This came years before the music group!) You see, Jack was a ground crew member and a nose-art artist. He painted the nose art “Destiny’s Child” and other B-17 Bombers.

At the time, Jack had no idea of premise of my novel included the Lebensborn homes and a special child. Is that cool or what?!

To see Jack’s nose art, go here.

Okay, here’s just one more cool story . . .

I’d previously read books about the underground resistance in Belgium, and I knew I wanted to include that in this novel too. In order for that to work, I need to set my novel in a Lebensborn home in Belgium. There was only one of these birthing homes in all of Belgium, yet I could find very little information about it from books or the Internet.

One day I was praying about how to get information, and God reminded me I knew someone from Belgium. I’d met a historian Roger Marquet at a World War II reunion. I emailed Roger and asked if he knew how I could find information on this home. “Oh, yes, I grew up in that town, and I knew the woman who manages the castle where the home used to be.”

Imagine that. I knew only one person in Belgium—someone I had met two years earlier—who had the exact information I needed. Is that another God thing, or what?!

Great Agent Interview

If you've ever wondered about whether you need an agent and what they look for in prospective clients, check out Novel Journey. Novel Journey is a fabulous blog loaded with tons of interviews with Christian authors. Yesterday and today Gina Holmes deviated from that approach for an interview with agent Noah Lukeman. It's highly informative.

Check back later today for the excerpt from Tricia Goyer's new book.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Summer Daze

Have you noticed how the summer is flying by? Our friend Carrie Jolly took this photo when we were in DC over Memorial Day weekend. If you're ever in DC, you have to go to the National Zoo -- especially if you have kids. Fortunately, the pandas cooperated while we were there, so we got to see all three.
Here's a picture of the baby.

But the race of summer leaves me wishing for moments to catch my breath. To just bask in the warmth and rest in God's provision. Do you struggle to balance the pace of life with rest?

In their book Pressure Proof Your Marriage, Dennis and Barbara Rainey write about the importance of finding our purpose as families and guarding that with courage. Next week both of my kids will start gymnastics. Abigail is already talking about taking both gymnastics and ballet in the fall. To date, I have carefully guarded our schedules trying to keep her activities to one at a time. Now Eric and I will need to discuss whether we want to add a second activity to our schedule. Is this the right time for our family? Would it be good for Abigail?

How do you make those choices for your family? It will be different for each of us because God calls each of us to different things. But I challenge you to slow down and consider whether there is too much pressure in your life and steps you can take to begin to minimize that pressure.

As for me, I'm looking for a little summer peace!

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Fallen Heros

Yesterday, my community mourned and celebrated the life of a fallen hero,Steven Smith. He died earlier this week rushing into a fire, leaving behind a wife and three girls. More than one thousand people from around the state attended his funeral. Hundreds lined the streets to pay their respects as his casket slowly drove from the local high school, past his fire station, to the cemetary. Intermittently along the route American flags lined the sides of the street. Traffic stopped for a couple hours as the town paused to honor this man and the courage and service to others that he represented.

Too often we rush through life and ignore the opportunities we have to thank those who serve us until it is too late. This holiday weekend, join me and take a minute to thank those who serve and are willing to give their all for us.


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