Thursday, May 31, 2007
Read it at her blog http://peek-a-booicu.blogspot.com
With a shudder, Gracie surveyed the small museum room filled with colorful Native American pottery. Other than the frigid air and imposing metal gates which enclosed the small group of seven, she would have loved this fascinating tour. Her students, James and Susannah especially, would have been enthralled by the docent-led exploration of pottery, tools and ancient art.
As it was now, she didn’t plan on ever returning. Too many unpleasant memories. She watched the now very obtrusive security cameras whirr to catch all movement, every person but Quinn a study in controlled fear. Had the video captured the theft?
While Marina, the outspoken and opinionated lieutenant, raked poor Jessica over with veiled accusations, Gracie crossed the room to stand by Maxine.
Quinn continued his discussion with Tiffany, no flirting smiles but pure male interest still smoldered in his eyes. His stiffened posture and quick glance at her movement signaled she was next and blared his displeasure with her choice of companions.
“Maxine, I’m… I’m really sorry for my earlier accusation. I’m a little skittish with the confinement and want this over with as soon as possible.”
“Don’t we all.” Maxine smoothed her fly-away red hair and narrowed her eyes. “You seem pretty bothered by the gates, something got you spooked?”
Deep breath. No need spilling the upside down story of her recent problems to a complete stranger. Time with her FBI AGENT beau and his partner had taught her the value of limited words. And cold showers. But she didn’t need those thoughts making everything worse. Getting ahead of God’s timing with Steven had ranked high on her “to be avoided” list.
Now she was minutes away from possibly being accused of theft and adding museums to her black list.
“I’m beyond cold and a tad claustrophobic, that’s all. Can I ask you something?”
Gracie pulled out a small, mostly white business card. “On my way in here, I picked this up near the empty display case in the other room. I’d planned to return it to Tiffany, assuming it was hers, but I wanted to ask you about it first. Didn’t you mention needing to get back in shape to keep up with your friend Desi?”
Maxine snatched the card. “American Gym? Not on your life. I have two little ones that keep me hopping.”
“But didn’t you say—”
“Mrs. Lang? Can I ask you a few questions?” Quinn’s lazy once-over had her wishing again for Steven’s company on this excursion. Then he could defend her to Quinn while she concentrated on decoding the mystery at hand.
Maybe if she could piece together the clues for Quinn, he wouldn’t bother her long or question her too much. With her recent assistance in solving her family’s cold case murder, this problem should be easily overcome.
After all, she’d survived much worse than this.
Tiffany by Trish Perry (From The Guy I’m Not Dating & Too Good To Be True)
Visit her website at www.trishperrybooks.com
Now, really. Why would I steal a book? I mean, I won’t claim I’ve never stolen anything—I’ll be honest with you about that. And I’m truly sorry for what I’ve stolen in the past. I’ve stolen clients from other trainers at the gym. I’ve stolen other girls’ boyfriends without hardly trying. I even tried . . . well, I’m not proud about any of these things, but the worst black blotch next to my name in the Big Book of Pluses and Minuses is probably that I tried to steal a husband once. A long time ago. People, see? I’ve stolen people.
But a book? Puh-leeeeze. Do I have time for book reading? When I’m too old to mingle with the singles, I’ll consider reading books. For now? Maybe People magazine once in awhile. So if someone steals your copy of People, you go on ahead and come looking for me. Ha! Again, I’m willing to admit I steal people. People, get it?
I’ve got to say, though, this museum is like Fort Knox in the SECURITY department. How did they manage to lose a book? I wandered away ever so slightly from that schoolteacher chick—Gracie—and that cute guide, Quinn, and you’d think I was Obie-Wan Kenobi—
No, wait, that’s wrong. Osama Bin Laden. You’d think I was Osama Bin Laden, the way the guards all hopped-to and shuttled me back to the group.
See, what happened was I thought I was going to be able to just wander around on my own when I came to the museum. But they make you go in groups here. So I get put with a bunch of women and this old guy, who turns out to be really kind of sweet. He was part Indian—not the Bollywood kind, but the other. Like Cher. He reminded me of my granddaddy when he smiled. I really miss my granddaddy—he died when I was just a kid, and absolutely no one will ever take his place. So, this Indian guy—oh, that’s right, it’s Native American, sorry. He seemed to know a lot about all of the things we were looking at, almost as much as Quinn, our guide. I decided to tag along and listen to what he said, but I don’t think he knew how closely I was listening to him. Not that he said anything mean about me; he just didn’t seem to notice me much.
I was also sticking pretty closely to Quinn, because, of course, he knew a bunch of stuff, working for the museum and all. To be honest, I stuck close to him because he was good looking, too. And flirty. No ring on the finger, plenty of confidence, securely employed—definitely worth a mild pursuit. But then I noticed he was flirting with that schoolteacher, too. Gracie. Guess he was into how we both looked. She has long hair pretty close to my color. She’s in pretty good shape, too. But I think she said she had a boyfriend, and she ignored him, as far as I could tell.
Still, I needed to play less than available after seeing that kind of behavior—Quinn’s flirting with both of us. So I wandered. Nothing sinister, just an effort at nonchalance. So he wouldn’t think he was some kind of gift. I just wanted to drop out of his line of vision briefly and see if he missed me. I thought it was working, and he did seem troubled that I wasn’t with the group for every minute he was in charge of us.
I can’t say whether or not I even noticed that book they’re talking about. I was looking at other things and was able to, you know, absorb culture on my own, the way I had hoped to. I didn’t go far, just out of Quinn’s sight for a while, and I can even tell you what I saw. Some of the paintings were modern, which I thought was just plain awful. No people in them. Or even dogs or cats. And I caught a glimpse of some sculptures. Also modern. What’s up with that, anyway? One thing I learned is that I like art to look like real life. I wonder if that’s okay, culture-wise.
The only reason I’m even here in the museum is because I figured I needed to get a little more sophisticated. I certainly wasn’t exposed to museums and such down home in South Carolina. Mama and Daddy just aren’t that kind of people. But I hear my co-worker, Kara, and her best friend, Ren (another schoolteacher, like that Gracie girl, sheesh), when they get talking sometimes. It’s a little intimidating when they talk about stuff I don’t get. Just once, I’d like to surprise someone by knowing something about art or whatever.
Thing is, I seem to attract men as easily as that Maxine lady seems to attract static electricity with her hair. But I’m a little weak in the relationship-longevity department. And I’m not particularly gifted with making friends with women, either. I’m wondering if I need to broaden my horizons. You know, smarts-wise.
I thought I came off well in Quinn’s eyes, despite my having to gracefully shrug off a few catty remarks that Marina woman threw my way. I swear, the woman could make a sarcastic remark without even opening her mouth. Just by looking at you and using her eyebrows. She was one tough broad, I think.
I just hope they get us out of here soon. Sometimes I’m kind of claustrophobic, and I’m nervous about everyone sucking up all the air, especially that big girl, Jessica. Man, I wish she’d come to the gym and let me whip her into shape. She wouldn’t look half bad. I offered her my card, but I think she’s in denial. At least I tried.
So, come on, museum people, and get us out of here. My shoes are killing me. And I have a manicure in a couple of hours; my nails are looking wicked ugly.
Wednesday, May 30, 2007
Read it on her blogs at http://blog.cyndysalzmann.com and http://canblog.typepad.com/canbookmarketing/
Amateurs! Maria shook her head and stalked over to the tour director of the ART museum. He was spending more time ogling the chick in the black dress than trying to figure out who swiped the book. If she let him handle the interrogation, they’d be locked in this tepee room all night.
Marina slapped Quinn on the shoulder. “Why don’t ya let me handle this, Bubba?”
“Bubba? Did you just call me Bubba?”
Marina grinned and pulled a notebook from her leather shoulder bag. “Just a figure of speech.”
Jessica giggled and Quinn shot her a dirty look.
Marina put her arm around Quinn’s shoulder and lowered her voice. “Listen, we all want to get outta here. And to be perfectly honest, you makin’ time with the suspects isn’t getting us any closer to that goal.”
Before Quinn could respond, Tiffany stepped forward. “Suspect! How dare you refer to me as—”
“Back off, Barbie doll,” Marina growled. “Or would you rather head down to the station to talk about how that strand of auburn hair ended up near the empty display case?”
Max by Jill Elizabeth Nelson (From Reluctant Burglar & Reluctant Runaway)
Read it on her website at www.jillelizabethnelson.com/artisticblogger.shtml
Whoa! Maxine Webb jumped and whirled at the crash of a metal gate slamming shut behind the museum tour group. Her gaze darted from the mesh grill, to the furiously flashing red light on the security camera, to the lady’s man tour guide, Quinn, who’d quit making cow eyes at every shapely young thing in the group and was now jabbering into his walkie-talkie.
At least she could see the security system she and her boss had designed was doing its job. The alarm would be raising a ruckus in the control room, but not here. Nothing but excited conversations going on around her. Too bad she couldn’t overhear what the guide was saying to his contact outside this Indian artifact display room where they were now captive. Max stepped closer to Quinn and caught a few words about a missing book.
A book? She turned and squinted toward the barred gate into the room they’d just passed through. Is that what had been in the empty case? She’d thought it was funny the lid was open on an empty case. But not so much that she’d said anything when Casanova Quinn hustled them onward. Museums changed displays all the time.
Marina, a black-haired woman with fire-red fingernails, told the tour guide where to get off, announced she was a cop, and then made a bee-line for the most vulnerable person in the room, an overweight redhead who’d mumbled an introduction as Jessica at the beginning of the tour. Good thing Chief Grandfather flanked the frightened girl, or one dyed-in-the-wool Texan might be tempted to ride to the rescue. But that tough old Nez Perce Indian could handle Lady Cop. Yikes! She was beginning to think like her boss and best friend, Desiree Jacobs, and nickname everyone by appearance or occupation.
The tall, pretty school teacher drifted toward her. Gracie, wasn’t it? The gal had gorgeous auburn hair. Max’d trade her a head full of poofy red curls any day, but the poor thing had goose-bumps on top of goose-bumps chasing themselves up her bare arms. Max ran a hand up her own cardigan-clad arm. She always brought a sweater to a museum, even in the summer time. Experience as a museum security electronics EXPERT had taught her the need.
She smiled at Gracie. “This is so not my cuppa Joe! Bein’ a suspect in a museum theft? Now if Desi were here, she’d be eatin’ this up and figure out whodunit in no time. Not me. I’m happy to add window dressin’ in the background, thank you very much.”
Gracie’s answering smile fluttered a little at the corners. “Maxine, I’m . . . I’m really sorry for my earlier accusations. I’m a little skittish with the confinement and want this over as soon as possible.”
“Don’t we all.” Max ran a hand across her hair. Pesky stuff just wouldn’t settle down. “You seem pretty bothered by the gates. Something got you spooked?”
The teacher sucked in an audible breath, and her gaze darted away. “I’m beyond cold and a tad claustrophobic, that’s all. Can I ask you something?”
Gracie flashed an off-white business card. “On my way here, I picked this up near the empty display case in the other room. I’d planned to return it to Tiffany, assuming it was hers, but I wanted to ask you about it first. Didn’t you mention needing to get back in shape to keep up with your friend Desi?”
Max plucked the card out of Gracie’s fingers and studied it. “American Gym? Not on your life. I have two little ones that keep me hoppin’.”
“But didn’t you say—”
“Mrs. Lang? Can I ask you a few questions?” Quinn’s sharp tone brought both their heads around.
Uh-oh! Max pressed her lips together. Third degree comin’ for the lovely schoolmarm, while he eats her up with his eyes. Somebody fit this guy with a pair of blinders like an old plow horse.
Max stepped forward. “Whoever snatched the book was wearin’ high heels. I heard that tell-tale clickety-clack right before I noticed the case was empty.”
Tiffany, the statuesque physical trainer and second biggest flirt in the group, stared down at her stiletto-heeled shoes and went as red as Marina’s fingernails.
Quinn glared at Max.
A bit too fluffy and old enough to be your big sister, am I? She grinned at him.
His gaze fell away—straight toward the spike heels of Gracie Lang’s trendy sandals.
Tuesday, May 29, 2007
Just send an email with the info to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line WHO? Check back the rest of this week for the rest of the game.
WHO? Volume 1
Quinn by Roseanna White
See it at www.ChristianReviewofBooks.com
Of all the displays in this New Mexico museum, it was the room containing Native American artifacts that always made the hairs on the back of Quinn’s neck stand up. He hated leading his tour groups in here. His fingers inevitably got itchy and hovered over the two-way radio on his belt.
He stepped into the room after the last of his six guests. They were chatting among themselves, most of them focused on the one other man in the group, an old guy who had introduced himself as Grandfather. Quinn kept several feet away from them, staying near the exit. So when the sound of metal screeching over metal sung out from right behind him, he jumped and spun.
The metal security gate came crashing down, its criss-crossing slats sliding between him and the rest of the museum. Quinn’s eyes moved from the obstacle to the unobtrusive camera and security console secured near the ceiling in the corner. Its red light was flashing angrily, signaling the sounding of a silent alarm. Apparently, a silent alarm from this room.
"Hey!" It was the woman with the wild black hair who was all but punching him in the shoulder to get his attention. When she motioned toward the lowered gate, her crimson talons almost nicked him. "What's the big idea?"
"Just stay calm, ma'am." Even as he spoke, Quinn was palming his radio off of his belt and pressing the call button. His eyes, however, were moving over the other occupants of the room, trying to identify what had triggered the alarm. Everything looked to be in place. The Native American pottery was all under its glass casings, the tools in their proper displays. And the faces of his tour group were all identical masks of confusion. "Mack, it's Quinn. What's up? We just got locked into the Indian display."
The static from his radio screeched out briefly before his friend's voice interrupted it, the high-pitch squeal making talon-woman wince. "There's been a breach in security."
Obviously, the whole group heard that. The overweight, auburn haired girl who was standing off by herself shifted from one foot to another and darted a glance at the one man in the group. He had introduced himself as Grandfather and had just been sharing with them all that he was one-quarter Nez Perce so had been eager to get to this room. Now the old guy was looking with wide eyes at Quinn as if he was responsible for this unforseen turn.
He pushed the button again. "In here?"
"Negative. The room you just came from. A book's gone. Cameras were blocked, but it's gotta be someone from your group, they're the only ones who've been through."
The woman still standing at his side put her hands on her hips and rolled back her shoulders. "All right. Which one of you idiots ruined my day?"
"I'm a cop, buddy, I can handle this."
Quinn sighed and rolled his eyes as the woman marched over to the overweight girl and all but poked a finger in her chest.
"You. What's your name?"
The girl cast another look at the old man, who stood with his hands in his pockets, looking on mournfully. "Jessica. But I didn't do anything, I swear. Why would I want something from some stupid museum, anyway? I was talking to Grandfather the whole time."
That, of course, just made Madam Cop turn her pointed finger on the old man. "Well you've seemed mighty interested in everything here."
Grandfather just smiled and raised his empty palms up in a peaceful gesture. "Calm down, Marina. I was right beside you, wasn't I? Wouldn't you have noticed if I had pocketed a . . ." His brows knit, making the wrinkles of his eyes fan out. He looked over at Quinn again. "What was taken, son? Did he say a book?"
Quinn just nodded and glanced at the other three women in the room. Gracie, a schoolteacher scoping the place out for a possible field trip–or so she said–was standing with mouth agape and long auburn hair still pulled over one shoulder. She had mentioned how chilly the air conditioner was, and her white sundress didn't do much to keep her warm. Beside her was Tiffany, whose posture had shifted over the past minute from sultry to uncertain. He'd been flirting with them both off and on for the whole tour. Only Tiffany had flirted back.
But it was the third woman he settled his gaze on. With her flyaway red hair, Maxine Webb looked like a total airhead. But he knew better. She was the one he pointed at. "Is this all part of one of your acts?"
Tiffany raised a perfectly shaped brow and pivoted a little on one stiletto. Quinn had noticed from the outset that her shoes were about as practical for a walking tour as her black dress with the plunging V neck that dipped low enough to make him smile. She looked at Max as if noticing her for the first time. "Huh?"
"Ms. Webb's with our security company." Quinn clipped his silent radio back onto his belt. "They like to stage robberies–to test their systems."
Max shook her head. There was worry in her eyes. "If this were one of ours," she said in her Texas drawl, "I'd be behind a computer tracking Desi, not locked in here with you."
Gracie rubbed a hand over one goose-bumped arm. "Or maybe that's what you want us to think. I saw an empty display case in that other room—that must have been where the book had belonged. I was the last one that went by it–which means it could have been any of you. Or all of you, working together." She paused and shifted from one strappy heel to another, tilting her head and obviously evaluating her own words. Then she wrinkled up her nose. "Okay, probably not. Still."
Marina let out a near-growl. "Well, let's do a search. Obviously neither of our beauty queens have it hidden in their little dresses, and I can vouch for Grandfather." She narrowed her gaze on Jessica again. "What have you got under that baggy sweater?"
Tiffany snorted and tossed an auburn lock out of her face. "Nothing a few weeks in the gym with me couldn't fix. Seriously, Jessica, let me give you my card. I could do wonders for you."
Jessica just sent Tiffany a dirty look. Quinn stepped into the middle of their loose circle before Officer Marina could ask any more questions or Gracie could come up with a more intricate conspiracy theory, raising a hand to get everyone's attention. "Okay, look. One of you took it–and there's nowhere to go. Maybe you stashed it somewhere in the hall or had an accomplice, I don't know. But you're not getting away with it. There are enough of us here that someone had to have seen something. So let's just figure this thing out, okay?"
He paused and looked from one suspect to another until they were all staring back at him. "One of you is a thief. The only question is, who?"
(There is no keyword in the above scene)
Unfortunately, not many in my generation and Generation Y are so blessed. Today USA Today has an article dealing with the growing crisis in the student loan arena. Fortune also has a fascinating cover article on Generation Y in the workforce. Although I found many things in the article right on (though it includes years 1977-1995 as Generation Y), one of the big concerns for that generation coming out of college is the high cost of student loans.
A generation that is saddled with an average student loan debt for graduating seniors of almost $20,000 (according to www.finaid.com) will be saddled with a heavy burden.
As a parent, I'm more than a bit concerned about how to prevent a heavy loan burden from falling on our kids. We're only ten years away from college, and my husband and I routinely debate whether we are better off saving for college or retirement. So we do both, just not at the ratios either of us wants.
We've also had many conversations with friends about what the right balance is. How much should parents pay? How much should the kids pay? My parents split costs for undergrad with me...fortunately for all of us, I had full scholarships by my junior year. And I knew from the beginning any grad school was on me.
So what do you think? Ready or not, if you have kids, college debt is coming.
Friday, May 25, 2007
My to be read pile has shrunk considerably!
* Lightning and Lace by DiAnn Mills (Barbour) Finished!
* Grave Risk by Hannah Alexander (Steeple Hill) Finished!
* Get Out of That Pit by Beth Moore (Integrity/Thomas Nelson) (I highly recommend this based on what I've gotten out of the first four or five chapters! It's excellent!)
* The Freedom of the Soul by Tracey Bateman (Barbour) Finished!
* The Bible -- okay, so I really stalled out here in the book of Jeremiah, and Ezekial hasn't been much better, but I'll finish that today...so back in the saddle again...
To Be Read:
* Bygones by Kim Sawyer (Barbour)
* Where Willows Grow by Kim Sawyer (Bethany) Finished!
* Hot Tropics and Cold Feet by Diann Hunt (Westbow/Thomas Nelson)
* Reluctant Runaway by Jill Elizabeth Nelson (Multnomah) Finished!
* Petticoat Ranch by Mary Connealy (Barbour ) Another Nebraskan Finished!
* These Boots Weren't Made for Walking by Melody Carlson (WaterBrook) Finished!
* False Witness by Randy Singer (WaterBrook)
* In Search of Eden by Linda Nichols (Bethany)
* Summer of Light by Dale Cramer (Bethany) (Eric enjoyed this one)
* Original Sin by Brandt Dodson (Harvest House)
* Watching the Tree Limbs by Mary DeMuth (NavPress)
There are also many other books that I've read since that post including:
* Adomination by Colleen Coble (Thomas Nelson)
* Diva NashVegas by Rachel Hauck (Thomas Nelson)
* Season of Secrets by Marta Perry (LI Suspense)
* Defiant Heart by Tracey Bateman (Avon Inspire)
* Too Good to be True by Trish Perry (Harvest)
* Death of a Garage Sale Newbie by Sharon Dunn (Multnomah)
and others I'm sure I'm forgetting. And the pile of books to read continues to grow. I actually hit a point the other day when I groaned to see new books in the mail. I wanted to check my temperature and see what planet I had moved to. Me cringing at the sight of a new book?!?!?!? Eeck!
So what are y'all reading? Leave me a comment and I'll enter you in another drawing for a book. I just love to give those away!
Thursday, May 24, 2007
Here's a bit about the book:
Old School meets New School meets Homeschool
Just shy of retirement and a well-earned pension, Las Vegas Police Department Sergeant Ron Yeager's definition of "active duty" involves shifting his bad leg into a more comfortable position. But when he's requested from his mind-numbing desk job to head an undercover auto theft task force, the former narcotics officer determines to prove he's still got the right stuff.
That is...until he meets his unlikely team of officers.
As Yeager soon finds out, not all the crazies are on the street. An undercover rookie, the audaciously honest Mackenzie "Mack" Hazard sends Yeager's blood pressure skyrocketing by wearing her faith like an ever-present badge. Then there's Jesse Lunden, a maverick undercover officer who refuses to learn anything from an old guy with a cane. Can this tangle of egos and eccentrics be trained into a lean, mean, crime-fighting machine...even while they are being drawn into something much bigger and more dangerous than anyone imagined?
In her trademark style, Rene Gutteridge blends zany, original characters, sincere faith, and surprising plot twists into one hilariously addictive read.
I even helped train and place journalists in jobs around the country. Served as a guest panelist periodically on a Satellite news channel. Any of you ever heard of Youngbloods? Now that was interesting!
Then we moved to Indiana.
It was a move back to the Midwest -- not as far as back home in Nebraska -- but still I expected these to be my people. And they are -- just not when it comes to news.
I quickly learned that very few people care one whit about what happens in politics,, particularly in DC. Not one teeny, tiny iota. So it didn't take long before I quit trying to have conversations like that. Then I slowly stopped watching the national news. Instead, I'll check headlines periodically online. We don't even get the local paper all the time. Why bother when we can check out the TV station and paper on line?
The result, I feel like I'm in a news hole! Last night, we did something revolutionary in our family. We watched the Nightly News. Did you hear the intake of breath.
And it was amazingly refreshing. Maybe with this presidential election coming up, I'll give myself permission to care -- regardless of anyone else -- I'm kind of excited. My Mom even told me that all ten Republican candidates will be in Indy in August. Eric and I just might have to go to that.
And for those keeping track, it looks like Fred Thompson just might be jumping in.
Wednesday, May 23, 2007
The Supreme Court ruled Monday that the parents of a suburban Cleveland child with autism do not need an attorney to pursue their claim against the local school district regarding the special education needs of their child. The decision, significant to parents and educators, contradicts federal court procedures barring parents of children with disabilities from appearing without a lawyer in cases filed under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. The justices ruled that, under the act, parents are extended rights similar to those of the child.
For the full NYTimes article, click here.
You can get a quick summary by going to Novel Journey and reading Roseanna's post.
Basic premise, a group of authors will have their characters "play" the game. The first one will surround Jill Nelson's Reluctant Burglar. That game starts May 29th. Then on June 5th, I'll be playing. This game will be a historical that centers around Sharlene MacLauren's Loving Liza Jane. Audrey Stone, the heroine from Canteen Dreams, will make an appearance along with characters of writers I love like Tricia Goyer, Molly Bull, and ML Tyndal.
Can I just admit right now that it is incredibly humbling to realize I get to participate with authors of that caliber!
So check it out! It should be fun, and will enter you in a contest for a free book. BTW Christian Review of Books is always giving away books, so make sure you check out that website.
Tuesday, May 22, 2007
In Defiant Heart Fannie Caldwell is desperate to find a way to free herself and her siblings from a man who delights in abusing them. To do so, she has to talk her onto the next wagon train. The only problem is that Blake Tanner, the wagon train master refuses to let unescorted women join the train.
The book traces their journey. Fannie has to learn to trust others to help her, despite all the challenges in her past. Blake has to allow himself to consider a future with a woman who seems the anti-thesis of everything he's looked for. Yet her spark and fire are what attract him to her.
The book is filled with twists and turns that kept me turning the pages. Tracey fills the pages with conflict and placed the story in a setting that presents plenty of challenges for Fannie and her family. Defiant Heart was an easy read, and I enjoyed the cast of characters. Fannie's twin siblings were a study in contrasts, but also a tight knit family that's used to standing alone against the world. The subplot focuses on Toni, a former prostitute, and Sam, the lead scout. Their story will be the focus of book two, and I look forward to reading it.
The one problem I had with this story was the point of view breaks. Many of them could have been resolved with an extra line to show that we were switching from Fannie to Blake's POV. However, there were other times the author almost went around the campfire showing us what each person was thinking. Frankly, I don't know how much this would bother the average reader, but it's the one craft problem I found in the book.
If you are looking for a pioneer story, this is a great one to pick up. I really enjoyed it.
Monday, May 21, 2007
And you just thought the 2000 Presidential election was behind us!
On a lighter note... yesterday Abigail and Jonathan ran in the Indianapolis 500 Festival's Rookie Run. What a fun event! Jonathan's age group -- the might three year olds -- ran two blocks...with parents :-) Abigail's six year old group ran 1/4 of a mile. It was organized chaos, they now have really fun t-shirts and ribbons -- frankly, I think their's our cuter than the ones we got after running the mini-marathon. And most important, the kids are eager to run another fun run like that. Which is good, since we have them signed up for one in two weeks!
It's all about developing a healthy lifestyle early.
Thursday, May 17, 2007
Anna Mae is unsure she wants to be watched over by her neighbor Jack even though they grew up together. Jack had wanted to marry her but she was already in love with Harley. Now Harley’s been gone, and she’s only heard from him once. How can she keep the farm without income from him?
This book has Kim Sawyer’s signature depth of characterization. As the reader, I quickly fell in love with Anna and her struggles. The characters were rich and diverse. Harley is a man who has pulled himself up and works hard to support his family. Jack has a successful dairy farm, but is focused on the love that’s been denied him. Dirk is a man who will teach Harley what sacrifice is about. And Anna is a woman trying to make the best of an impossible situation.
I also love the way Kim makes the setting come alive. She pulls together unknown pieces of Kansas history that add richness and depth to the plot. I also enjoyed the fact that this book was set during the Depression. This has been a time period that has been overlooked by many historical authors, yet Kim makes it come to life in a manner that kept me engaged from page one.
The book is also filled with spiritual themes without becoming too preachy. Harley is unsaved in the beginning, despite Anna’s efforts. Because of people like Dirk and his boss Mr. Peterson, his heart softens over time. And Anna struggles with trusting God to provide for her and the girls. Anyone who's ever struggled to relinquish control, can relate to her struggles. I know I can!
There were a couple times I thought I could anticipate where Kim was taking the plot. What I expected to be predictable often had a twist I couldn’t see. And not all the plotlines ended perfectly. In that way, the book mirrors life where everything doesn’t wrap up in perfect packages.
Wednesday, May 16, 2007
I loved Trish Perry’s debut novel, The Guy I’m Not Dating, and was thrilled when Too Good to be True released. It didn’t disappoint, even though the tone was a bit different.
In Too Good to be True, Rennie Young, Kara’s best friend from the first book, is trying to move beyond her divorce. Only problem is she kept waiting for her ex to come back, and now it’s clear he won’t. The book opens with her passed out in a Wal-Mart and coming to with the aid of an extremely handsome labor and delivery nurse. Truman Sayers is a devout Christian who loves his family and job. The only trouble is both of them need to cut a few apron strings.
Trish’s humor is back in full force in this book. The cast of characters isn’t quite as diverse and wacky as The Guy I’m Not Dating, but the book keeps the light, I’m-in-so-far-over-my-head-I-can-only-laugh feel.
There’s a double-date, where Rennie has two dates. The little boy she longs to adopt. A job she loves, with a co-worker who’s suddenly interested. And a potential mother-in-law who will probably never think she is good enough for Tru. Add in a mother who is on the prowl for a worthy mate for Rennie, and Rennie’s life is a rush of chaos.
Rennie is another heroine who is real. She struggles with her emotions, her weight after a food binge, her mother, and knowing what she really wants. She’s so caught in the spiral of pleasing people, that she’s fighting to go after happiness. And after her first husband destroyed her trust, she’s not sure she can risk for love again.
I found Rennie easy to identify with and cheer for. I really wanted her to find happiness and a way to navigate the multiple roles and demands life forces on most of us. Rennie learns a lesson we would all do well to take to heart: a happy life is possible after heartbreak if we’re willing to reach for it.
To learn more about how Trish wrote this book, click here for my interview with her.
Tuesday, May 15, 2007
I loved Rachel Hauck's Lost in NashVegas, and was thrilled to receive a copy of Diva NashVegas. Before I share my review, I wanted to give you a behind the scenes look at how the book was created.
Here's the blurb on the book:
For the past decade, Aubrey James has ruled the charts as the queen of country soul. She rocketed to fame in the shadow of her parent’s death – Gospel music pioneers Ray and Myra James. While her public life, high profile romances and fights with Music Row execs writes juicy tabloid headlines, the real and private Aubrey’s is a media mystery.
When a close friend and former band member betrays Aubrey by selling an exclusive story about the Diva to a tabloid, Aubrey knows she must go public with her own story.
Inside NashVegas sports anchor, Scott Vaughn, is not prepared for the assignment of interviewing a country super star. Especially not one he dated, then abandoned. Yet, his boss leaves him no choice. His career and the future of Inside NashVegas depends on the success of this interview.
When Scott shows up at her home for the first session, Aubrey threatens to back out of the deal. But, it’s too late. Instead, she bravely opens her heart as Scott probes into her life and discovers a future of faith, hope and love by letting God heal her past.
The Author: Rachel Hauck lives in sunny central Florida with her husband, Tony, a pastor. They have two ornery pets. She is a graduate of Ohio State University and a huge Buckeyes football fan. Rachel serves the writing community as Past President of American Christian Fiction Writers and a member of the Advisory Board. Visit her blog and web site at http://www.rachelhauck.com/.
Leave a comment on her blog and be eligible to win a $25 gift certificate to Starbucks or Barns & Noble. Two names will be drawn.
And here's an interview with Rachel:
What inspired Diva NashVegas?
The idea to write about a singer came from a conversation with my editor, Ami McConnell. At first, I created the Diva to be a wanna-be star, but after thinking the story through, I decided she had to be an established artist, a superstar.
How do you research a diva?
Not easy. I read a lot of bios, and spent time with Christian artist, Kim Hill. She was a blast and a great help. I loved hanging out with her. I also got some inside scoop from record producer and fellow Thomas Nelson author, Matt Bronleewe.
I talked to an entertainment lawyer and searched music business forums for answer to some of my questions. The hardest detail to find was about artist and record label disputes. We all know it happens, but why? The only reason I could find was “creative differences.” This answer did not cover enough detail for me. I couldn’t create a legitimate scene with Aubrey and her record label President arguing over “creative differences.”
Thankfully, I found a forum on the internet and a kind gentleman gave me eight detailed reason why an artist would enter into a dispute with her label. Saved the day!
I also researched foster care and television production for elements of the story. Kelly Sutton and Molly Day, a TV personality and producer respectively in Nashville were enthusiastic resources.
After that, I only had my imagination.
What do you want readers to take away from the book?
First, a great read. I hope they can be transported into Aubrey James’s world. Next, a message that life isn’t always fair, but we have the power of choice in our response. God is always there for us, even when we don’t feel He is.
Diva NashVegas was difficult to write. I had a few crisis, but when I finally submitted it to my editor, I wrote in my email, “I love Aubrey James.” She really came to life for me in the end.
My editor loved her, too. I’m confident she’ll capture readers.
I know I came to love Aubrey. She was so vibrant and real. So if writing takes so much research and heart, what is your writing day like?
It varies, but I try to settle down from my morning routine by noon and focus on writing. Some days it’s earlier, and some later. If I’m approaching a deadline date, I completely clear my schedule and work twelve hours a day or more.
Email is my weakness. I’ve modified the Lord’s prayer some for writers: “give us this day, our daily word count, and delivers us from email.”
Seriously, I’m like an email junky. Half the time no one emails me, I just have to check and see. Secretly, I’m hoping a Broadway or Hollywood producer will email me wanting to make a movie or play out of one of my books.
That would be great! How long have you been writing?
For a long time, but not seriously until the mid-90’s. Then I quit for awhile because my corp job became more demanding, then one day in 2001 the Lord began to open doors and by the end of 2002, I had my first book contract.
What’s next for you?
Look for “Sweet Caroline” from Thomas Nelson March 2008. This is a story of inheritance and finding courage to do what you really want to do in life.How do you get your ideas.
Burn up my last brain cell thinking of something. Then I call all my friends and cry, begging for help. I pray a lot.
Seriously, I believe God has a lot of ideas and He’s most kind to share them with us. I look for what is on His heart.Any parting words?
Sure, thanks to the authors on the Diva NashVegas blog tour. Thanks to all the readers. I appreciate you. Stop by my web site and leave a blog comment or email me and I’ll add your name to a drawing for a $25 gift certificate to Starbucks or Barnes & Noble. If you tell me you bought the book, I’d love it.
Thanks for stopping by, Rachel. And check back tomorrow for my review of Diva NashVegas.
Sunday, May 13, 2007
1) The Guy I'm Not Dating: Trish Perry (slightly used, but absolutely hilarious chick lit!)
2) Petticoat Ranch: Mary Connealy (zany historical fiction)
3) Bygones: Kim Sawyer (historical fiction)
4) Remember to Forget: Deb Raney (women's fiction/romance)
5) Coral Moon: Brandilyn Collins (Suspense)
Saturday, May 12, 2007
Friday, May 11, 2007
However, from the first page I was sucked in to the mysteries that seemed to stack on top of each other. And best of all the chemistry between Desiree Jacobs and Tony Lucano is still there and charging the atmosphere of the book.
The book opens with Desiree in a Catwoman situation…she’s testing a security system before she dashes to a party with Tony. When Desi’s best friend Max crashes the party with the news that her niece is missing, the two women head for New Mexico. Once they’re there, they learn that a museum Desi’s security company is working for has had artifacts stolen, a woman is missing, and it all seems to tie in with a mysterious ministry.
Then Tony’s organized crime investigation begins to overlap with the trouble Desi can’t avoid.
The conflict between Tony and Desi is real and one I could relate to. Each has to learn to trust God and the other as life throws them into circumstances that are desperate and outside their control. Tony is desperate to protect Desi, but can’t because of the risks she takes with her job. Desi is determined that Tony must open up and be vulnerable with her or there can be no relationship. I could relate all too well to both struggles.
I found the foray into Indian artifacts and art delightful. And Jill does a fantastic job of painting the setting. There is no question that the bulk of the book occurs in New Mexico – it simply couldn’t be any other place. The pacing is also intense, pulling you through the book. It was one of those books, that I couldn’t slow down and savor no matter how much I wanted to…it was simply too fast. And I love that in a suspense.
So race out and pick up this tightly written romantic suspense. You won’t be disappointed.
Thursday, May 10, 2007
In honor of book review week, I wanted to let you know about a fresh review of Tricia Goyer's latest book A Valley of Betrayal. It is over at the Highway Scribery, and from a non-believer who knows the Spanish Civil War. It is wonderful, just like the book.
Don't forget to post comments to be entered in the contest for books.
When I received Freedom of the Soul, I really didn’t know what to expect. The author is Tracey Bateman, so I expected a good read, but this book is part of a series that travels between different times. Those are hard to do well, yet I really enjoyed the way Tracey handled it.
The main story occurs in 1949 Oregon and centers on Shea Penbrook. She has lost her last family member and flounders to determine what to do with the rest of her life. As she’s ready to walk away from her heritage she finds a trunk in the attic filled with diaries. She opens them and discovers a family history that had been headed. And with it she learns, she may have a home and family in Georgia.
The journals tell the love story of the rich son of a plantation owner and a slave girl. I found this part of the story especially gripping as it showed the lengths people will go to find and hold on to love.
Once Shea arrives in Georgia, she begins to interact with another branch of the Penbrook family tree. This portion of the family was the focus of book one. The South in 1949 was a place filled with prejudice. Tracey paints a picture of it that made me evaluate my own heart for traces of prejudice.
This book is also filled with the legacy of secrets that have passed down through the generations and are being maintained even in 1949. And those secrets could kill the love that is growing between Jonas Riley, the owner of Penbrook House, and Shea.
I think we’ve all had secrets that we kept to protect ourselves. This book illustrates just how harmful those can be and that the risk of exposing them frees us to pursue the future God has for us.
This wasn’t a book that I inhaled in one or two sittings. Instead, it was I kept returning to over the course of a couple weeks. The story moves forward (and backward) at a steady pace, with characters that are interesting and plenty of conflict.
If you enjoy historical romance, I think you’ll enjoy this book.
Wednesday, May 09, 2007
From the backcover:
"Chained to yesterday. When tragedy strikes and Gracie Lang lost everything, her faith crumbled, and nothing but the drive for justice propelled her forward. But after two years of dead-end searching, the truth Gracie seeks is the very thing her stalker will stop at nothing to hide.
"Forgiveness Unlocks the Future. An FBI agent in the Crimes Against Children, Unit, Steven Kessler spends his days rescuing other people's children and nights caring for his son. He's through with God, embittered by his ex-wife who abandoned them both, and definitely doesn't expect what's coming next...."
Ransomed Dreams is the debut release by new author Amy Wallace. In it, Amy mixes romance and suspense liberally with the trick of letting you know who the bad guys are almost from the beginning. Hence, it's not a thriller, but rather the race to see who is going to win.
Gracie and Steven first intersect over Steven's son James, who reminds Gracie a lot of the son she lost. As a teacher at a private school in a DC suburb that caters to the wealthy and influential, she's used to secret service agents being around. However, she's not prepared for the calls that take Steven away or cancel their first few dates.
While they try to find their footing, each has to deal with the past and the losses that have been dealt to them in life. In the end, the suspense ends a couple chapters before the book, allowing for a satisfying rather than rushed conclusion to the romance.
This book has the pacing and feel of Dee Henderson’s O’Malley series, and I enjoyed it. It was a nice pace after some of the intense thrillers I’ve read lately. The spiritual threads are also strongly woven into the book. And somehow Amy finds the right balance the prevents that thread from becoming too preachy or those passages becoming the ones I skip.
The book’s timeline is leisurely, allowing for more development in the characters, and the author’s writing style was straightforward. If you’re looking for lush descriptions, this book doesn’t have them. However, I always had a sense of where the characters were and what they looked like.
I enjoyed this book and will look forward to reading additional books by this author.
Sidenote: our dog Mason chased her last rabbit tonight. Prayers would be appreciated. We've had to deal with a lot of death as a family this spring. I guess we get to see God as our comforter in a new way.
Tuesday, May 08, 2007
I can’t say I’ve been a fan of westerns in the past, but if Mary Connealy writes them, my opinion has changed. Mary is from Nebraska, so I’ve felt a connection to her even before we met at ACFW a couple years ago.
A few weeks ago I received a copy of Petticoat Ranch as a birthday present from my editor. I’d heard buzz about this book, but hadn’t picked it up yet. Let me tell you it is fantastic! RUN out and buy this book if you’re looking for a fun yet intense read.
Sophie Edwards is doing fine carving out an existence in West Texas for herself and her four girls. It’s a HARD life, but they’re making it. Then a cowboy goes flying past their hidden house and hurtling over a cliff into a creek. Sophie and her daughters rush to save him, and their lives are turned upside-down.
Before Sophie has a chance to sit down and think, she’s married to her dead husband’s twin brother and moving back to the ranch she had to abandon after her first husband’s death. Then the fun really begins. Clay McClellan has never been around women. Now his life is overflowing with women and girls. And a band of vigilantes are determined to take the ranch.
The sense of humor that overflows in this book is fantastic. I laughed so much that the ladies around me at Chick-Fil-A kept asking what book I had. The humor was finally tuned, never falling into slapstick. And the interactions between Sophie and Clay rang a bit too true to life occasionally. Mary nailed the differences between the male and female points of view while shining a bright light on marriage and what makes it work.
I loved many of the themes in this book, but particularly liked the way she showed God does hear even our desperate, bursts of prayer. And He is active in the details of our lives, even when we don’t necessarily see Him.
This is a keeper -- and I'm giving away an autographed copy! So be sure to leave your comments on this one.
Monday, May 07, 2007
I had to as I wrote Canteen Dreams. The pivot point in the story is Pearl Harbor. It launches everything else that happens in the story, so I wanted to figure out what the folks around North Platte would have heard on December 7, 1941.
Where to start?
Google, of course. I entered Pearl Harbor radio broadcasts and found fantastic resources. One was a University of Missouri - Kansas City page. It contains a good history of what people in different parts of the country heard and when. It also told what broadcasts were cut into. Because of that information, I was able to have my hero's father trying to find the Dodgers FOOTBALL game and settling for another program which is then interrupted.
My editor and I also went back and forth a bit, because originally I summarized and quoted different broadcasts. I also included information that was broadcast, but later in the day. While all of that information was released on December 6, folks in North Platte would not have necessarily heard it. So we decided to stick to a direct quote of the NBC broadcast. I also loved the information on this site. This one has hot links to the actual broadcasts. Therefore, when we were going back and forth, I could send her the actual broadcasts. And then I know I wasn't relying on someone's recounting of the broadcasts. There's nothing like going directly to the source.
So there are websites out there which can connect you directly to the source. Hunt until you find them because it's worth it.
Sunday, May 06, 2007
Here are the rules: Each player starts with 7 random facts/habits about themselves. People who are tagged need to write on their own blog about their seven things, as well as these rules. You need to choose 7 people to get tagged and list their names. Don’t forget to leave them a comment telling them that they have been tagged and to read your blog!
Let's see. Seven random facts about me:
1) I was the first homeschooler my community college and the political science department at the University of Nebraska Lincoln had seen.
2) I've completed a mini-marathon! Yeahhhhh!!!!! And my husband ran it with me. Common ground and all.
3) I started college at 16.
4) I love to read to my kids, and we've rediscovered the Chronicles of Narnia together.
5) My favorite food group is Italian. Bring on the pasta.
6) Runza has the world's best fruit smoothies right now. I just wish there was one in Indiana.
7) I've stalled out on the 90 Day reading plan, but am committed to getting going again this week. Jeremiah killed me!
Okay, I tag: Sabrina, Crystal, Candice, Tina, and Gina.
Friday, May 04, 2007
The Presidential campaign is heating up. What? The election's not for 18 months? No matter. With ten candidates in the Republican field so far, the campaigning and posturing is well under way.
The first debate was held yesterday at the Reagan Presidential Library. Frankly, I think that's a thing of beautiful symbolism. Who's going to step up to fill the large cowboy boots left vacant by Ronald Reagan? The pundits are talking about Giuliani and the way he's not toeing the line on abortion. Romney looked presidential. McCain's supporters had to deal with his age and familiarity. And that doesn't include what the other seven talked about.
It's going to be a fun one, folks.
And then there's the dems with Hilary and Obama.
Eric and I will run the Indianapolis mini-marathon tomorrow. My cousin Jill is running one in Lincoln tomorrow, too. We'd appreciate prayers -- especially that the rain would hold off.
Next week I'm giving away at least two books so stay tuned!
Thursday, May 03, 2007
Lightning and Lace is the third installment in DiAnn Mills’ Texas Legacy series. This is the only one in the series I have read so far, and she did a great job of making it stand on its own.
Bonnie Kahler is a widow still grieving the death of her husband two years earlier. Her twelve-year-old son has become impossible to handle, and she’s ready to send him to a military school before he hurts someone.
Travis Whitworth is the new preacher in town. He’s hiding behind a mountain of hair and baggy clothes. The question is what is he hiding and why? Then he accepts the challenge of saving Zach Kahler from himself. From that moment the lives of the Kahlers and Travis are intertwined.
While this book is set in 1898 Texas, it read as more than a frontier book. As Bonnie struggles to pull herself out of her grief she sees the children and ranch she has neglected in a new light. By God’s strength and the help of her family and the new preacher, she prepares to tackle life again. The only problem is that someone is hurting women at Heaven’s Gates.
This book is about letting go of the past, with all of its mistakes and wonders, and living in today. DiAnn places that lesson in a story that is filled with rich characters. There’s Bonnie learning what it means to live, her little boy Michael Paul who sings his heart out, and her brothers who are learning how to stop being overly-protective of their baby sister. The women who reside in Heaven’s Gates who are trying so hard to leave their former lives behind. And the preacher who can’t forget the unforgivable mistakes he believes he’s made in the past. There are even villains, one who was obvious from the beginning and one who came from an unexpected place.
The story was well crafted and kept me engaged from page one to the end. And it reflected the course life so often takes: three step forward and two steps back. The spiritual threads were also woven into the main story with a deftness that kept me from skipping past those passages.
If you enjoy historical fiction, I recommend this book to you. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.
Wednesday, May 02, 2007
I learned Tuesday that I don't use the G key as much as I thought, but still often enough that it's slowing me down to type without it. So I spent time last night figuring out there is no easy fix. Got an email back from Dell to call the tech support to see if it was still under warranty. I am THRILLED to report that it is. And it was the simplest computer related call I have ever made. A new internal keyboard is on the way -- hopefully by next Monday I'll have a keyboard with all the keys again. WOOOHOOO. Dell is my company of the day!
Tuesday I was in our local Parables, Carpenter Son, catching up with my friend Vicky, the delightful book manager. While we were comparing notes on books, I noticed that Susan May Warren's Happily Ever After has been rereleased. The great news is that Tyndale has released this one chockfull of first chapters and coupons in the back -- always good. But the best part is the price. It's only$5.97. Get thee to the nearest Christian Bookstore and buy it! I have NEVER been disappointed with one of her books. And this is a low risk way to try her and see. And hey, the book won the American Christian Romance Writers (now ACFW) Book of the Year award in 2003.
My post this week at Generation Next Parenting is on our worth as a mom. There's actually a salary calculator involved.
And the CFBA book fo the week is Chris Well's Tribulation House. Isn't the cover cool? I haven't read it, but continue to hear great things about this guy's writing. One of these days...Here's a quick snippet:
IT’S NOT THE END OF THE WORLD—WHICH COULD BE A PROBLEM...Mark Hogan has it all. The job. The family. A position on the board at church. All he’s missing is a boat. Not just any boat—a 2008 Bayliner 192.
When Reverend Daniel Glory announces that the Rapture is taking place on October 17 at 5:51am, Hogan realizes his boat–buying days are numbered. So he does what any man in his situation would do—he borrows a load of money from the mob.
Not that there’s any risk involved: After all, when the Rapture comes, Hogan will be long gone. The mob will never find him.But when Jesus fails to come back on schedule, Mark Hogan finds the mob is in no mood to discuss the finer points of end–times theology...
Chris Well’s laugh–out–loud Christian thrillers appeal to the millions of readers who gobble up the rollicking crime fiction of Janet Evanovich and Elmore Leonard.
And finally. Frankly, I don't remember where I was headed. Sigh. Don't you hate it when that happens. Brain's clicking along and all of a sudden it stops working. Kind of like the G key. I suppose I should quit stalling, open up the Double Image file, and rewrite away.
Have an awesome Wednesday, all!