Monday, July 30, 2012

Where's Cara? Mackinac Island

 This weekend my family made the drive to Mackinac Island. We made the trip so that I could sign A Wedding Transpires on Mackinac Island at the Island Bookstore.

The last time we visited the island, it was so I could do some research for A Wedding Transpires on Mackinac Island. That time, while my family visited the Fort, I spent time with the police chief. My kids were just grateful he didn't throw me in jail for asking the questions I did!
I absolutely love the island. It is a place that the moment we step on the ferry to transport us across the lake, I begin to relax. And then we arrive! It's truly like stepping back in time. Quaint. Slow-paced. Relaxing. Love it!

Can you name the long building?
After returning, it's easy to remember the charm of Mackinac Island and why I set a book there. Look for more photos later this week. But until then, where do you like to get away? Is there a place that is a peaceful escape?

My oldest posed this photo :-)

Friday, July 27, 2012

Return to Mackinac Island with Love Finds You on Mackinac Island

Today I'm headed to Mackinac Island for a booksigning Saturday. This week, in anticipation of returning to the island, I read Melanie Dobson's historical Love Finds You on Mackinac Island. I loved stepping onto the island as it existed in 1894, a nice dovetail to my contemporary A Wedding Transpires on Mackinac Island.
Elena Bissette is playing on the stage of the Gilded Age. She knows she has to marry someone wealthy enough to save her family from a destitute future. But all she longs for is to marry someone who will love her for who she really is, not who society demands she pretend to be. On the island she has a sanctuary that is invaded by a man who seems to love everything she does. The question is can he love her and if he does can she marry him at her family's jeopardy? Chester Darrington is the most sought after bachelor on the island, but he has no interest in another society girl. All he cares about are the inventions he might be able to sell to the masses. When they collide can they dig past the misunderstandings and find love? 
I thoroughly enjoyed this story of being true to ourselves while balancing that with playing the roles expected of us. Melanie describes the Island in beautiful detail, transporting the reader to its peaceful borders.  The characters left me longing for just a few more pages with them. It was a beautiful story that will join my keeper collection of books. 

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Rare Earth Review

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Rare Earth
Bethany House Publishers (July 1, 2012)
Davis Bunn

As I showed y'all last week, this was one of the books waiting for me when we returned from Germany. It also quickly climbed to the top of the stack because I'd read the first book, Lion of Babylon, and remembered it being a book I couldn't put down. This one quickly followed with pacing that slowly built to a pace that I literally couldn't put down. Mark Royce is back as the reluctant hero who wants to improve the world. He has the skills to go into situations no one else would want. And he is a hero that reminds me of David in the Bible: a heart for God, few assets, and a scraggly group.  Can they do what it takes? There is also the hint of a romantic thread, too. This book is great for those who love an international thriller...and it will give you a heart for the African people as you read. I loved it and can't wait for the next installment!


Born and raised in North Carolina, Davis left for Europe at age twenty. There he first completed graduate studies in economics and finance, then began a business career that took him to over forty countries in Europe, Africa, the Middle East and Asia.

Davis came to faith at age 28, while living in Germany and running an international business advisory group. He started writing two weeks later. Since that moment, writing has remained both a passion and a calling.

Davis wrote for nine years and completed seven books before his first was accepted for publication. During that time, he continued to work full-time in his business career, travelling to two and sometimes three countries every week. His first published book, The Presence, was released in 1990 and became a national bestseller.

Honored with three Christy Awards for excellence in historical and suspense fiction, his bestsellers include The Great Divide, Winner Take All, The Meeting Place, The Warning, The Book of Hours, and The Quilt.

A sought-after speaker in the art of writing, Davis serves as Writer In Residence at Regent’s Park College, Oxford University.  


Marc Royce stares out of the helicopter, a sense of foreboding rising with the volcanic cloud. Below, the Rift Valley slashes across Africa like a scar. Decades of conflicts, droughts, and natural disasters have left their mark.

Dispatched to audit a relief organization, Royce is thrust into the squalor and chaos of Kenyan refugee camps. But his true mission focuses on the area's reserves of once-obscure minerals now indispensable to high-tech industries. These strategic elements--called rare earth--have inflamed tensions on the world's stage and stoked tribal rivalries. As Royce prepares to report back to Washington, he seizes on a bold and risky venture for restoring justice to this troubled land.

But this time, Royce may have gone too far.

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

Monday, July 23, 2012

A Glimpse into Where I Create

Here's a glance into the area where I work when I'm writing -- and not hanging out at Panera. Believe it or not, for someone who craves clean, organized space, this is about as good as it gets for my desk. Between ACFW, writing, homeschool co-op and teaching, I have a lot of projects to juggle in a small space. Last week I collected a large diaper box of books to take to our church library. I should have taken before photos to show what a difference that made. Ah well!

Friday, July 20, 2012

Book Explosion at the Putmans & Giveaway

It's the end of the week and I'm still coming off jet lag so I thought it was time for one more fun post.
Here are the first three books I read.

When we got back from Germany, here is one category of things that waited for me. I was like a kid at Christmas! (And you cannot imagine how many books I said no to!) Needless to say, I've been reading like crazy since I got home. It feels soooo good to read a real, physical, pages-in-my-hand book rather than on my iPad.
Now I'm reading Rare Earth and the Mackinac Island book is next.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Pleased to Present the Carol Award Finalists for Christian fiction

So excited to bring you this list of Carol Award finalists. I won a long time ago in short historical... and it is always fun to see who makes the list each year. If you're looking for a summer reading list, here you go. The ones I've read (about half) are fantastic!
ACFW Carol Awards
Winners will be announced during ACFW’s annual conference gala in September in Dallas.
Debut Novel:
Fairer Than Morning  by Rosslyn Elliott (Thomas Nelson – Ami McConnell, Editor)
The Loom by Shella Gillus (Guideposts – Beth Adams, Editor)
Give the Lady a Ride by Linda W. Yezak (Sky Sail [Port Yonder Press] – Chila Woychik, Editor)

Monday, July 16, 2012

Few more photos...Humor me?

As I write this, I have photos on the brain. Since our trip to Germany was a once in a lifetime, I got a new camera. As a result, I have 1800 photos I'm sorting, tagging, and getting ready to do something with. That doesn't count the ones my husband and kids took. So here are a few. While we're at it, anyone have tips on sorting photos? 

Boom! Bang! Firepower!
My kiddos

Friday, July 13, 2012

A few photos from Germany

Today we're jet-lagged and our eight-week adventure is over. I hope you'll humor me if I share a few photos from last week. These are from a city park in Hannover, Germany, our homebase for the last eight weeks.

I was writing a guide to Hannover for GISMA and uncovered more information about a park we'd heard about.  The Stadtpark was built in 1951 and took a bit to find. It's tucked behind the "old" stadthaus (town hall) and we had to actually walk through to find it because we weren't sure where to go.

Once inside, we found a beautiful green space filled with flowers, water, and benches for sitting and enjoying. You could sit in the sun or under the shade of large trees. All the green space is one thing I will miss about Hannover. Lafayette doesn't do that well.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Do You Trust God with Your Secret Dreams

Today I'm going to direct you to an article I wrote for MTL(More to Life), an online magazine. It'll give you a glimpse into my family's summer that ends as we board the plane for home in the morning.

And as you read, consider your secret desires. Is God big enough? Involved enough in your life to make them happen. I'll say again, I don't know why He said yes to this dream...but I'm going to keep asking because I don't want to miss the purpose. And I know there is always a purpose, even if it's simply to say yes.

What's your dream?

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Need Summer Reading? Interview with Author Krista McGee & Giveaway

Today, I'm delighted to introduce you to my new friend, Krista McGee. When we stopped at Thomas Nelson in March, one of the books they handed my daughter was Starring Me. She inhaled the book, with lots of giggles. So I decided I, too, must read it. It was a fun read as I ran on the treadmill. Enough about that though. I'm delighted the publisher is willing to give one reader a copy of this book! Read through to the end for how to possible get one copy of the book. Here's more from Krista...

1) Starring Me has a clever setting with a reality show, but there’s much more to it. How did you get the idea for Starring Me?

This series of books is loosely based on biblical characters. First Date was based on Esther, and in that book, I began with the Esther story and crafted Addy's story around it. With Starring Me, I had my character, Kara, and looked for a biblical story that could parallel hers. I have always loved the romance of Rebekah and Isaac, and I thought that could fit. Because Kara loves acting, I knew I'd have to place her in a situation where she'd have the opportunity to pursue that love, while also being unknowingly pursued by a boy. Isaac was the long-awaited child of Abraham and Sarah, so having him be the somewhat overly-protected only child of older parents worked for my "Isaac"-- Chad Beacon. The "mediator" is the Beacon's assistant, Flora, a quirky character who feels from the start Kara is "the one." And so the stage was set!

2) How did you get the idea for Starring Me?

Friday, July 06, 2012

Exercise: I think I can, I think I can

I don’t know about you, but I often have grandiose dreams about the exercise goals I can accomplish. Then reality sets in and I have to acknowledge I am a mother of four – two of whom are small. And I don’t have a gym membership.

Even so, physical fitness is important to me. When I don’t find a way to wedge it into my days, I get grouchy, stressed, and depending on the day ansty. If I’ve established any sort of exercise routine, my body lets me know that it appreciates the chance to let off steam. So what’s a homeschooling mom to do?

Over the years, I’ve had to get creative.

  • o   For a wonderful season, I met twice a week with a neighbor to do Body Pump while her girls napped. We’d turn her basement into our personal gym and push our bodies while connecting and fellowshipping. Then she moved. I still haven’t recovered!
  • o   I’ve trained for the Indianapolis 500 mini-marathon. There is nothing like knowing you will run 13.1 miles the first weekend in May to make this girl get on the treadmill or outdoors to run the miles necessary to not fall on my face. After the first year, I’ve made it my goal to run a little faster each time. I’ve taken years off when I was pregnant or had a small infant (my husband makes such crazy requests!), but it’s a great way to push my body and fitness levels at a time of year I just want to curl up with a good book. Did I mention I’ve learned how to read while running?
  • o   I’ve invested in exercise DVDs. Because gyms don’t work for me at this season, I decided last year to take a small fraction of a gym membership and buy an assortment of workout DVDs. That’s meant some Jillian Michaels, a couple Denise Austin, and a few Turbo Jam. The result is that I have an assortment to choose from: everything from Jazzercise to yoga or Pilates. If I only have 25 minutes, I have a video for that. If I don’t want to sweat, I have a video for that. What I don’t have is an excuse not to exercise.
  • o   Now that my children are getting older, I’ve incorporated family walks and bike rides into our schedule.  I could do more with this, but it’s another way to model a lifestyle of fitness.
How do you find time to exercise? Any tips you can share? 

Wednesday, July 04, 2012

Celebrating Freedom

Happy Fourth of July! I don't know about you but every day, I am so grateful to be from the United States. There are things I don't agree with (Mandatory health care), but I am always thankful that I was born and live in the United States of America. As you celebrate with family, friends and fun, I wanted to share some thoughts on freedom. What's your favorite quote or verse: 

Webster's 1828 Dictionary definition of the word, "freedom":
1. A state of exemption from the power or control of another; liberty; exemption from slavery, servitude or confinement. Freedom is personal, civil, political, and religious.

All we have of freedom, all we use or know, this our fathers bought for us long and long ago. ~Rudyard Kipling, The Old Issue, 1899

For what avail the plough or sail, or land or life, if freedom fail? ~Ralph Waldo Emerson, The Works of Ralph Waldo Emerson, vol. 9 (Poems) [1909]
For Fun: Coloring Pages:

Scriptures on Freedom:

"For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another. For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself" (Galatians 5:13,14).

"For so is the will of God, that with well doing ye may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men: As free, and not using your liberty for a cloke of maliciousness, but as the servants of God. Honour all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honour the king" (1 Peter 2:15-17).

Monday, July 02, 2012

E-Books: Still not convinced..

Within about a week in May I purchased a refurbished iPad2 and found myself with an iPhone (courtesy of my husband). I dutifully loaded them with the Kindle app and books determined to give reading on them a try. I love to have books with me everywhere, but when I had a Kindle, I really didn't use it. For some reason it just didn't click as an enjoyable reading experience for me.

The iPad is great for reading if I'm sitting up (on a train, in a car, waiting somewhere, etc.), but I'm finding it a bit cumbersome for reading in bed or reading while I'm working around the husband laughs when he catches me reading as I blow-dry my hair. The iPhone works better in those settings, but I find I am constantly advancing the page because I read FAST. But the smaller size makes it surprisingly easy to read while on the go or in bed.

Do you have an e-reader? Do you like it? Why or why not? I still think my preference will remain a physical book. There's just something about holding it that I love. Though one of the books I read recently on a reader, I'm likely to purchase in physical form. Doesn't hurt that it's by one of my favorite authors, Randy Singer.


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