Monday, August 30, 2010

Who's Call is Greater?

This is a question I've been thinking about...a lot. I tend to get in these little ruts...where I know something...but God has to take me through it again to remind me of what I know. Can anyone relate?

This time it was thinking about if one call is greater than another...

It started at the Chris Tomlin/TobyMac concert we went to at the Indy state fair. I think you've all heard me say how great it was, but as I was standing there worshiping with a few thousand of my closest friends, I started thinking. Always the start of trouble. It went along the lines of this:

What could be cooler than having a calling like Chris Tomlin? Think about it...going around the world to usher people into the presence of God. Wow! And I suppose if I'm honest, somewhere in there was the next thought. Wish I had a calling like that...

Perfect opportunity for God to get my attention. And over the next few days I started thinking about how flawed that idea was. Yes, Chris Tomlin has an awesome calling. But God has something awesome for each of us. But it's unique to each of us. So if I take my calling lightly or shortcount it because it's not cool enough (in my mind), then I am missing God's call for my life. And that's His best for ME.

After all, isn't that where I want to be? In the center of His will for MY life.


Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Allie Pleiter Stops by

Allie Pleiter is a friend of mine who has graciously stopped by today to share some thoughts on writing with us. She is a fellow Steeple Hill/Love Inspired author and an amazing woman. Here she shares some thoughts on writing.

Seven things I know about writing now that I wish I’d known then...

The work ethic you had before your first contract is the one you have when you’re published.
You won’t suddenly become a “respected professional” unless you’re already acting like one. The insecurities don’t vanish with the signed papers, and the external affirmation you think you’ll get isn’t the kind that will fuel you for the long run. Focus on being the kind of writer now that you want to be when you’re paid, because simply adding a check to the picture doesn’t actually change as much as you think it will.

That first contract isn’t a golden ticket to quitting your day job. 
 Yes, writing full time is a spectacular blessing, but your first contract will almost never fund your full-time career. Plan for it, dream for it, and by all means shoot for it, but with the gentle caveat that “overnight success,” is a mostly a myth. You’ll need a handful of in-print titles under your belt to kiss that other paycheck goodbye. See it as a big first step, but not the final solution.

It doesn’t get easier...but it gets better.
I was so sure I’d be less neurotic about my writing by now. That I’d sweat my plots less, that synopses would come easier, and that the “wall” I seem to hit at page 200 would disappear. None of that’s happened, but I do have a veteran’s sense of the rhythm of my writing. And I have a husband wise enough to say things like, “relax, hon, you always get this way right about now.”

A good reader letter can make you smile for a week. (Cara here: AMEN!!!!!)
I’ve gotten letters that make me cry. That strike so deep at the core of why I write that I feel as if God Himself is patting my back (and perhaps He is). I keep all my letters, and I keep a file called “Gems” that I can turn to when things get bleak. Yes, it matters that much. Write an author you love--you have no idea the encouragement you’re offering.

A bad review can still make me cry.
Honestly, it’s like someone telling you your children are ugly. There’s just no nice way to do it, it hurts badly, and it’s nearly impossible to shake off. I keep the good ones, send on the promotable quotes, but unless there’s something I hear consistently, I ignore the bad ones because they only paralyze me. So think before you trash--especially online.

Success is not reward and reward is not success
I’ve had books do well and I’ve had books bomb. To me, all my books are successes because all of them were written in obedience to what I believe God’s will was for me. Still, the world is quick to chalk them up as “successes” or “failures.” So I’ve come to replace the world’s version of “success” with the word “reward.” Not all my work has been rewarded in the way I’d like. But all my books have been successful if they were the fruit of working hard to be the writer God called me to be. Other writers have been more rewarded than I have been, but that never means that I have failed.

“Hush up and write the book.”
I say it all the time: there’s no substitute for words on page. Not reading craft books or attending seminars or tweeting other writers nor that clever blog posting. A writer learns best by writing. Trends and sales figures and all that other savvy stuff we writers seek to master pales against the power of a good story well told.

ONE SENTENCE BOOK DESCRIPTION: The gallant sequel to Pleiter's San Francisco historical, "Masked by Moonlight," MISSION OF HOPE follows an unlikely hero and his surprising young love as the pair help the city heal from it's massive 1906 earthquake.

She looked right into his eyes, and Quinn felt his stomach drop out through what was left of the soles of his shoes. “You’ll probably think it’s silly, but you’ve been such an encouragement to me. Here I was thinking God had left me alone, and you do all those things—those little but very big things—that let me know He’s still minding my path. You’re an answer to my prayers, Quinn Freeman. How does that make you feel?”

He knew the exact moment his heart left his body. The exact instant it disobeyed all the good and solid reasons he had for not pining over Nora Longstreet and left to follow her of its own accord. He stared at her, knowing his affections had just overstepped all kinds of bounds and not caring. He no longer had any choice in the matter. “I’m thinking it might not be wise to answer that, Miss Longstreet.”

AUTHOR BIO: An avid knitter, coffee junkie, and devoted chocoholic, Allie Pleiter writes both fiction and non-fiction. The enthusiastic but slightly untidy mother of two, Allie spends her days writing books, buying yarn, and finding new ways to avoid housework. Allie hails from Connecticut, moved to the midwest to attend Northwestern University, and currently lives outside Chicago, Illinois. The “dare from a friend” to begin writing has produced two parenting books, twelve novels, and various national speaking engagements on faith, women’s issues, and writing. Visit her website at or her knitting blog at

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

CFBA Tour: Masquerade by Nancy Moser

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Bethany House (August 1, 2010)

Nancy Moser

They risk it all for adventure and romance, but find that love only flourishes in truth...

1886, New York City: Charlotte Gleason, a rich heiress from England, escapes a family crisis by traveling to America in order to marry the even wealthier Conrad Tremaine.

She soon decides that an arranged marriage is not for her and persuades her maid, Dora, to take her place.  She wants a chance at "real life," even if it means giving up financial security. For Charlotte, it's a risk she's willing to take. What begins as the whim of a spoiled rich girl wanting adventure becomes a test of survival amid poverty beyond Charlotte's blackest nightmares.

As for Dora, it's the chance of a lifetime. She lives a fairy tale complete with gowns, jewels, and lavish mansions--yet is tormented by guilt from the possibility of discovery and the presence of another love that will not die. Is this what her heart truly longs for?

Will their masquerade be discovered? Will one of them have second thoughts? There is no guarantee the switch will work. It's a risk. It's the chance of a lifetime.

If you would like to read the first chapter of Masquerade, go HERE.

Cara Here: If you like historicals, Nancy Moser has a style of writing that will transport you back to the time and place. I've only had a chance to read the first couple chapters, but I've got to tell you, she quickly sets up characters and a scenario that pulled me in. Makes me think of the Prince and the Pauper in a way.

Nancy Moser is the award-winning author of over twenty inspirational novels. Her genres include contemporary stories including John 3:16 and Time Lottery, and historical novels of real women-of-history including Just Jane(Jane Austen) and Washington's Lady (Martha Washington). Her newest historical novel is Masquerade. Nancy and her husband Mark live in the Midwest. She’s earned a degree in architecture, traveled extensively in Europe, and has performed in numerous theaters, symphonies, and choirs. She gives Sister Circle Seminars around the country, helping women identify their gifts as they celebrate their sisterhood. She is a fan of anything antique—humans included. Find out more at and

View the book trailer:

Vanishing Act Review

Vanishing Act was a very enjoyable romantic suspense read -- one I enjoyed even more than the author's debut novel. Nora disappears after watching her father get shot -- she's desperate to put distance between the syndicate behind the shooting and herself. Eighteen months later, they're after her again...only she doesn't know it....until FBI agent Nate Anderson shows up trying to find Nora. He stumbles onto her, and then struggles to stay one step ahead of the hitman sent after her.

I figured out the identity of the hitman midway through the book, but it didn't keep me from reading to the end. The author has drawn characters that kept me wanting to see exactly how it would all play out. How would they stop the hitman? And could they do it in time? This book fits well in the Love Inspired Suspense line and was one that I really enjoyed reading. I look forward to more books by this author!

You can learn more about Liz and her books at her website. I did receive this book from the author for review purposes.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Brandilyn Collins: Seatbelt Suspense

Many of you know I love Brandilyn Collins' seatbelt suspense. She writes amazing books -- ones that usually keep me guessing. And she's been a mentor from a distance with her Forensics and Faith blog. Well, I just found this video of her. Watch it and I dare you not to go buy one of her books!

Licensed for Trouble Review

I read a lot while we were in North Carolina. Four books. All really good. So I'll probably post several reviews this week along with all the other posts you've come to expect. You know me...when I run into a book I love, I have to share the word.

One of those books is Susan May Warren's latest, Licensed for Trouble in her PJ Sugar series. I have enjoyed the first two books in the series, but there was something about this one that really pulled me in. (And if you're not a fan of series, don't can read this one on it's own and not be lost).

This book opens with PJ homeless and unsure if she'll ever find her place in Kellogg. She's trying to become a private investigator, but her boss keeps getting in her way. And don't even get her started on her love life. She's finally broken up with...again...her high school flame who happens to adorn the tattoo on her shoulder, but her boss is keeping her guessing. Did he mean the kiss or not? Then she inherits the Kellogg mansion, a house she's always dreamed about, but now that she owns it, it could be more money pit than Sleeping Beauty's castle.

This book pulls together the spiritual thread of the others in a much more vibrant way. It's not overwhelming, but one that I think many of us can relate to. Is it possible to change who we've been in the past? Or should we accept that we can never change? Can we change the labels others have put on us? Or are we doomed to live a life where we continually hear those names, good and bad, over and over again?

Just this church...uhm...I was rereading an entry in my journal from a year earlier that had me wondering some of these things. And as Susie is wont to do, she takes PJ through those questions in a way that gives the reader hope without banging them over the head with theology and scripture.

And you have to love PJ. She's not perfect...and oh does she know it. But she's trying to live a life that gets better each day. She's so aware of her mistakes and she just wants to break free. Even though this is the part of the plot I've focused on, know that the mystery is wonderful. I loved the way that all these different threads wove together into a story I couldn't put down.

I received this book for the tour, but the opinion is mine. Don't forget to check out the contest Susie is running.

Licensed for Trouble, Susan's brand new PJ Sugar novel, is in stores now! To celebrate the release, she's giving away a Kindle!! You can enter using Twitter, Facebook, or e-mail using the icons below.
One Grand Prize winner will receive a A SWEET Kindle prize package that includes:

  • A brand new Kindle (Free 3G, 6”, Latest Generation)
  • The entire PJ Sugar series by Susan May Warren
To enter, simply click on the icons below to fill out the entry form. Don't forget to tell your friends about the contest. Oh, and enter soon! We’ll announce our super sleuth winner on September 2nd.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Classic Hollywood Reviews: Mrs. Minver

Mrs. Miniver was one of the first dramas to focus on the horrors of World War Two that was sweeping across Europe. It is set in England, and Greer Garson plays Mrs. Miniver, a woman who is trying to survive and keep her family together during the bombings.

The film highlights the efforts of a middle-class English family to survive the bombings and early days of the war. A German soldier stops by their house, then her husband takes off to help evacuate the British troops from Dunkirk -- a pivotal part of salvaging the British army.

This film won six Oscars including Best Actress, Best Director, and Best Picture. It has also landed on the National Film Registry.

Now people will tell you this film is full of propaganda -- but what movie coming out of Hollywood during the war didn't have an element or two of propaganda? If you want to get a sliver of what the early days of the war were like, then this is a good one to try. It is a drama...there are few laughs...but it is still a film well worth viewing.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Couple Great Suspense Books & Giveaway

The Crimson Cipher is set in a fresh time period, unlike many books I've read. It's based in the early days of World War One, prior to any official involvement by the US. A neutral nation, this novel is set amidst some of the early code-breaking efforts of the navy. I found that a fascinating historical hook and was also intrigued by all the sabotage going on against the US and Canada.

Emma Shuster finds herself swept into the Navy's efforts after her father is murdered. And the intrigue follows her from Maine to D.C. When her heart becomes entangled with a suitor, she has to decide whether to allow the navy lieutenant in. The romance is well-blended with the suspense, and the characters and setting had me transported back to that time period. This was a very enjoyable read that I enjoyed immensely. You can read the first chapter for the book over at the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance.

TSI: The Influenza Bomb is a book that reads like it's ripped from this year's headlines as a virulent flu races through Siberia spreading to other parts of the world. TSI is called in to help try to determine how to stop the spread and figure out the history of the disease. While it looks new, they find it is really rooted in the 1918 flu outbreak as well as World War II. The story trips back and forth between current times and 1918 and WWII, intersecting at the end. I loved the back and forth in time, but some may find it disconcerting. What I found most disconcerting was the idea that the premise of the book could happen. Really enjoyed this book, too.

Leave a comment today for a chance to get your own copy of The Crimson Cipher!

I received TSI for review purposes, but purchased Crimson Cipher.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Malacca Conspiracy

A quick note. I am out of town right now, so unable to load up the official Malacca Conspiracy post. You can view it and read the first chapter here. You can also learn more about this book at Don Brown's website. I've started the book and enjoy it so far. It's got a good mix of intrigue and suspense. And if you've read the author's other books in his Navy JAG series, you'll enjoy the return of key characters like Zack Brewer and Diane Colcernian. And stay tuned all the way to the end for a ending you'll enjoy! But for those who haven't read the other books, you won't be lost. The author does a good job of integrating the key pieces you need to know into the current plot without overwhelming you with unnecessary details. So check this book out if you like international thrillers with a legal edge.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Roots: the keys to our pasts and futures

Isn't this a cute group of kids? My dad's buried under the pile. I'm probably eight, since I'm guessing Joel is about one.

Eric pulled this photo out last week. You can learn a lot about me by this photo.

And I got to thinking about what that means for the characters I create. This week, I plan/hope to work on proposals for new books and series. Often the hardest part of the process for me is taking the time to drill down into the main characters' psyches. What makes them act, think and talk the way they do?

For example, most who know me correctly identify me as Type A within about three minutes. Look at this photo. Doesn't it make sense? I'm your stereotypical first born...just read Kevin Leman's Birth Order book if you're not sure what that entails. And this photo clearly shows that. Who has her arms wrapped around all three of her siblings? Yep...

But that's a simple characterizer. Identify the birth order of characters and it gives a core set of criteria for how they might act. But it's certainly not a guarantee.

I also tend to engage a full room -- doesn't matter how many people are in it. That's not necessarily a function of my birth order. For me, I think it had more to do with being an early homeschooler who felt the need to break the stereotype that homeschoolers are wallflowers. And I genuinely like people. But why might a character be an extrovert or introvert? What's the lie they believe about themselves?

All of these questions require thought and diving deep. Hard work. But critical to creating characters readers can emotionally connect with. And that after all is what we all want!

Friday, August 13, 2010

Classic Hollywood Reviews: Bringing Up Baby

Bringing up Baby is another of our favorite classic movies. In my mind it is about the perfect blend of slap stick romantic comedy.

Cary Grant is brilliant as Dr. David Huxley, a scientist who is waiting for the final bone to complete his dinosaur skeleton. He's also getting married in a day to someone who doesn't want love to interfere with his important work. But first he has to go try to get a large gift from a generous benefactor.

In steps Katherine Hepburn as Susan Vance, a ditzy socialite, who appears to have nothing going on other than the ability to mess up David's life. But she's set her cap for him and is determined to do all she can to make him hers.

Add in Baby, a leopard that's been sent to her, and the chaos explodes across the screen. As with most of my favorite classic movies, there is a very strong supporting cast that add to the characters played by the stars. Bringing Up Baby is a gem from 1938 and if you like music from that time period, you'll love Cary Grant and Katherine Hepburn singing "I can't give you anything but love, baby" ad naseum to the leopard. This film is on the National Film Registry, but didn't win any big awards the year it came out.

However, this film is perfect for a night you want to laugh and enjoy a good romance.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

The Homecoming: Review

The Homecoming is a continuation of the Unfinished Gift. For those who read the first book, you will love seeing the fulfillment of all your hopes and dreams for Patrick and his dad. Kathleen Townsend, Patrick's social worker, is back as well as his Grandpa and Italian neighbor. But where the first book is Patrick's story, this one is his father Sean's.

Through the pages, you will experience the war through his eyes. Everything from being shot down over Europe to traveling with USO stars throughout the eastern US and back to England in time for the second blitz. You get to experience the further healing of his relationship with his father, but wonder if you will make good decisions in all areas of his life. I hesitate to tell you more, because this is a book you should read.

The characters are rich and three-dimensional. The author's writing will transport you to World War II and its impact on the homefront. And through it all you will close the book with a contented sigh, sorry to leave the characters behind, but richer for your journey with them.

More about the book: No sooner is Shawn Collins home from the fighting in Europe than he is called upon to serve his country in another way--as a speaker on the war bond tour. While other men might jump at the chance to travel around the country with attractive Hollywood starlets, Shawn just wants to stay home with his son Patrick and the aging father with whom he has finally reconciled. When Shawn taps Katherine Townsend to be Patrick's nanny while he's on the road, he has no idea that she will be the key to his future happiness and the mending of his heart.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The Gathering Storm Review & Giveaway

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

The Gathering Storm
Summerside Press (August 1, 2010)

Bodie and Brock Thoene

I have long been a fan of Bodie and Brock's books. In fact, I first got pulled into the drama of World War Two through their books. I am thrilled to see this new series release, one that will fill the gap between two earlier series.

Bodie and Brock Thoene (pronounced Tay-nee) have written over 50 works of historical fiction. Over twenty million of these best-selling novels are in print. Eight ECPA Gold Medallion Awards affirms what millions of readers have already discovered—the Thoenes are not only master stylists but experts at capturing readers’ minds and hearts.

Bodie began her writing career as a teen journalist for her local newspaper. Eventually her byline appeared in prestigious periodicals such as U.S. News and World Report, The American West, and The Saturday Evening Post. She also worked for John Wayne’s Batjac Productions (she’s best known as author of The Fall Guy) and ABC Circle Films as a writer and researcher. John Wayne described her as “a writer with talent that captures the people and the times!” She has degrees in journalism and communications.

Brock has often been described by Bodie as “an essential half of this writing team.” With degrees in both history and education, Brock has, in his role as researcher and story-line consultant, added the vital dimension of historical accuracy. Due to such careful research, The Zion Covenant and The Zion Chronicles series are recognized by the American Library Association, as well as Zionist libraries around the world, as classic historical novels and are used to teach history in college classrooms.

Bodie and Brock have four grown children—Rachel, Jake, Luke, and Ellie—and seven grandchildren. Their sons, Jake and Luke, are carrying on the Thoene family talent as the next generation of writers, and Luke produces the Thoene audiobooks.

Bodie and Brock divide their time between London and Nevada.

As Nazi forces tighten the noose, Loralei Kepler, daughter of a German resistance leader, must flee her beloved Germany. But is any place safe from Adolf Hitler's evil grasp? Loralei's harrowing flight leads her into the arms of needy child refugees, who have sacrificed everything in exchange for their lives, and toward a mysterious figure, who closely guards an age-old secret.

Explore the romance, the passion, and the danger of the most anticipated series of the last twenty years.

Born from the highly acclaimed and best-loved novels of three generations of readers -- The Zion Covenant series and The Zion Chronicles series -- Zion Diaries ventures into the lives of the inspiring and intriguing characters who loved intensely, stood up for what was right, and fought boldly during Hitler's rise to power and the dark days of World War II.

If you would like to read the first chapter of The Gathering Storm, go HERE

Monday, August 09, 2010

I Spent the Weekend with Heroes

This weekend I had the incredible honor of attending the Eleventh Armored Division's final reunion. These veterans were sent to Europe just in time to participate in the Battle of the Bulge in December 1944, and part of the division rode in the three vehicles that liberated Mauthausen Concentration Camp in Austria.

I spent the weekend with heroes. Even today, 65 years later, they don't see what they did as a big deal. Instead, it was their duty. They did it well. And they came home to live their lives.

I was there to listen to stories. And boy did I! I talked to women, asking what their experience had been like during the war. Learned tidbits and details that will make it into books.

Then I got to spend a lot of time chatting with the gentleman in this photo. Chet served in the 11th. But what I found fascinating is that he spent time at the Hollywood Canteen and the Stage Door Canteen in San Francisco. We spent almost an hour talking about his experiences stateside before he was shipped out. Then, last night at the dance, he started telling me about what Mauthausen was like. Unfortunately, the band started playing again so we'll have to continue that conversation. But he is such a delightful gentleman, I can't wait to talk to him again.

And then at the dinner Tricia Goyer, her friend Michelle Hill, and I sat with the sons and daughters-in-law of a vet that Tricia knew well. I was spellbound as they recounted their dad's stories with passion and zeal. I so wish I could have met this hero before he died.

Tricia, thanks for inviting me along. It was the experience of a lifetime. And one I hope I won't soon forget!

And thank you to the men of the 11th Armored Division (past and present) for all you did. I didn't say it lightly when I told you you are my heroes. It was an honor to meet you and share the weekend and your stories. May God continue to bless you!

Friday, August 06, 2010

Classic Hollywood Guest Post: Casting Stars in the Night; a Reader's Perspective

Today, I had to share this post that a reader put up on Monday. I read it and was just tickled by the way she took the time to cast Stars in the Night characters -- and Ruth did a GREAT job. April Erwin did a very similar post, but with different stars, at her blog. Be sure to check that one out, too.

I asked Ruth Anderson if I could repost her casting here, and she graciously agreed. Enjoy! And let me know who you would cast as one of the main characters. I think I'll let select a winner of Stars in the Night if we get more than 15 comments! Here's Ruth's post:

Cara Putman’s Stars in the Night sparkles with the glitz and glamour of old Hollywood. A novel that does such a fantastic job evoking that classic time period deserves a stellar cast, right? Here are my thoughts on the perfect cast for this novel – it’s not a comprehensive list, but I definitely tried to cover all of the major players in this drama (and had an absolute blast doing it!). The more I got into the novel, the more I could envision these actors bringing the story to life on-screen. Here’s a bit about the story, with a link to my review of the novel.

Any other day, attorney Audra Schaeffer might have been flattered by the friendly overtures of Robert Garfield – a real-life movie star. But on the flight from Indianapolis to Hollywood, Audra can think of little else than finding her missing sister. When Audra arrives in the city of glitz, glamour, and stars – and learns her rising-starlet sister has been murdered – all thoughts of romance fly away.

Determined to solve the mystery and find justice for her sister, Audra takes a job with the second Hollywood Victory Caravan. Together with the handsome Robert and other stars, she crisscrosses the southern United States by rail in a campaign to sell war bonds. When other mysterious events unfold, Audra realizes that if she doesn’t get her emotions back on track where Robert Garfield is concerned, she could be flirting with real danger!

Rosalind Russell a.k.a. Audra
*Here's a link to my review of Stars in the Night.*

When sisters Audra and Rosemary Schaeffer are introduced at the beginning of Stars in the Night, their close relationship (especially Audra’s protective “big sister” instinct) immediately reminded me of the sister relationship from the film My Sister Eileen. There have been a couple film versions of the Sherwood sisters story, but to cast Stars I have to go with the 1942 film version.

Audra Schaeffer, played by Rosalind Russell: To my mind, Rosalind Russell is the perfect actress to portray Audra, the no-nonsense, aspiring attorney. After all, Russell is well-known for playing strong female characters on-screen (think His Girl Friday). Audra’s always felt inferior in the looks department when compared to her sister. I think Russell’s gorgeous, but has more of a girl-next-door type beauty (especially in this photo) than compared to some other old Hollywood glamour girls.

Janet Blair a.k.a. Rosie
Rosemary Schaeffer, played by Janet Blair: Rosemary would get very little screen time in a film version of Stars, but since she played Russell’s sister so well in My Sister Eileen I can’t imagine anyone else who would be better in the role of Audra’s gorgeous, aspiring starlet of a sister. This photo is in keeping with the fact that Rosemary dyed her brunette tresses blonde after a couple of months in Hollywood.

Robert as Robert :)
Robert Garfield, played by Robert Taylor: Classic movie fans may recognize Taylor from some of the splashy, Technicolor epics he starred in later in his career (Knights of the Round Table, Ivanhoe). But I’m rather partial to his earlier film roles, where he displayed quite a knack for comedy (Her Cardboard Lover - absolutely hilarious movie!) or being an earnest, romantic lead (Waterloo Bridge, Magnificent Obsession). I think Taylor is perfect for the romantic lead in Stars. He and Russell make a nice pair, no?

I had a really, really, REALLY difficult time deciding on the "perfect" Robert there's a few bonus photos at the end of this post. After all, an actor's bound to have a lot of headshots, right? :) (Hmm...I see a Robert Taylor film festival in my future...)

Dick Powell as Det. Franklin
Detective Franklin, played by Dick Powell: Detective Franklin is with the Hollywood PD, investigating Rosemary’s murder. He strikes me as lean, intense, and businesslike (and at one point, if I recall correctly, he’s described as rather “rumpled” in appearance). I could think of any actor better suited to portray him than Dick Powell. All you have to do is watch is performance as Raymond Chandler’s famous detective Philip Marlowe in the classic (and wildly entertaining) film noir Murder, My Sweet, and I think you’ll agree.

Betty Garrett a.k.a. Victoria
Victoria Hyde, played by Betty Garrett: Betty Garrett played the Rosalind Russell role in a later, musical version of the movie My Sister Eileen, which probably influenced my decision in some small way to include her in this Stars cast. That, and the fact that I think she’s a terrific actress. Victoria is described as beautiful but much, much nicer (i.e., less stuck on herself) than most of the actresses Audra encounters. Garrett was definitely not your typical Hollywood star, and I think this photo perfectly captures her elegance and charm – essential characteristics for the role of Victoria.

Lana as Lana :)
Lana Garfield, played by Lana Turner: Really, is there any other choice for Robert’s ex-wife? I can’t think of anyone better than Lana Turner to play the role of a high maintenance, rather manipulative rising star than Ms. Turner. Just watch her wreck John Garfield’s character in The Postman Always Rings Twice and you’ll see what I mean.

Laird Cregar a.k.a. Mark
Mark Feldstein, played by Laird Cregar: Mark is described as a big, imposing guy who gets dates based on his perceived position of importance in Hollywood – not his charm or good looks. Cregar’s name may not be familiar to classic film fans, but his face may be. He didn’t have a long career, but he appeared in everything from Charley’s Aunt to The Black Swan. However, his appearance in the film noir classic I Wake Up Screaming proves he’s perfect for the role of Mark. There are a few eerie similarities in both characters…that’s all I’m going to say. Don't want to spoil anything... :)

Lou Costello a.k.a. Artie
Artie Schmaltz, played by Lou Costello: I had a really hard time coming up with an actor to play the role of Artie Schmaltz, the smarmy Hollywood talent agent. With a last name like Schmaltz, you know the character is designed to make your skin crawl. Based on the character description, Artie isn’t overtly threatening appearance-wise…so I think this would be a great opportunity for Costello to play against type. Trust me on this one. *wink*

Sydney Greenstreet a.k.a. Det. Franklin
Detective Brown, played by Sydney Greenstreet: Brown is the opposite of Detective Franklin in manner and appearance, and comes aboard the Hollywood Caravan when it encounters some unwelcome drama on the tour. Greenstreet, who has played memorable villainous characters in The Maltese Falcon and Casablanca also portrayed the detective Nero Wolfe in the early 1950s radio series. With his memorable screen presence and striking voice, I think he’d play Brown perfectly.

Juanita Moore a.k.a. Dalia
And last, but certainly not least, we have Dalia, played by Juanita Moore: Moore’s character Annie, the devoted maid and mother in Imitation of Life, reminds me most of the sweet and wise Dalia, the costume mistress, that Audra befriends on the train.


Well, people, this post was an absolute marathon to compose and format...but I had a lot of fun putting it together. :) I'm obviously WAY too obsessed with classic Hollywood, no? Who knows, there might be future "Casting Call" posts for you in the future - let me know what you think (especially if you've read the book!!).

As promised, here are a few bonus photos of the "leads" in this little production of Stars in the Night - Rosalind Russell as Audra Schaeffer, and Robert Taylor as Robert Garfield:

Don't they make a lovely couple? :)

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

The Bishop: review

I waited and waited and waited for the release of Stephen James' next novel and The Bishop did not disappoint. This is the perfect book for people who like a gritty, forensic, serial-killer type of book.

The one caveat I have to put on it is that if you can't handle gruesome murder scenes, either skip those pages or the book.

But Patrick Bowers and many characters are back from earlier books with all the many layers to the book that involves. Finding the killers is still the driving force of the book, but there is so much else going on the book has a richness I love. It also moves quickly through the 500+ pages -- I finished it in 24 hours. And even though I anticipated a couple of the twists, I thoroughly enjoyed the book. Steven James is a master of taking a basic plot and twisting it up with so many knots and layers that as a reader I am compelled to keep reading.

I can't wait for the next book because I see a large confrontation looming. So if you like books like Lisa Gardner's FBI forensic series, you will thoroughly enjoy this book and series.

Steven James Launch Party!

Monday, August 02, 2010

Sunday, August 01, 2010

Winners of Stars in the Night Launch Contest

After putting all the many entries in a spreadsheet and using to select the winners, I am please to announce the following will receive launch packages:

The Grand Prize goes to.....drum roll please... Tammy G!

First Prizes (a collection of my World War Two books) go to:
  • hspruitt
  • Jan Kern
  • Karen Zupancic
  • Anonymous (Madison)
  • lori
Second Prizes (a copy of Stars in the Night) go to:
  • Renee Troxel
  • Apple Blossom
  • Stephanie Wetli
  • Pat Grau
  • Beth Davis Loughner
Congratulations to all the winners, and a huge thank you to everybody who helped spread the word about the release of Stars in the Night!


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