Thursday, August 28, 2008

Too Many Books?

Is there such a thing as too many books?

Oh, I hope not. But as I stare at the piles of books that literally surround me on my desk, I have to wonder.

I collect books like some people collect movies, dates, or experiences. And at the rate I collect them, I'll never catch up. Especially if I keep doing other things like cooking, cleaning, caring for my family. Not to mention writing, teaching, etc.

But there are several books I really want to get to. I have this idea to do a series on the blogs I write for with the guys who write legal suspense -- I really don't know many gals in CBA that do, and I'm not sure Lisa Scottoline would open my email LOL. It would be fun to include John Grisham, but I'm afraid I'd have a similar problem. I'd love to have him keynote ACFW some year, but don't think we could afford him. It would be pretty awesome though.

I love to study folks who write and plot well and these authors do. So here's a question for you, oh faithful readers... If you could ask an author anything what would it be? And if you could ask a legal suspense writer anything what would it be? If you like legal suspense, who's your favorite author?

Let me know, and I'll incorporate the questions into the interviews. Randy Singer's already said yes, and I think I can get several others to participate.

Then in October we can learn what makes these writers tick together. And how they come up with their diabolically twisted plots!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Review: A Passion Redeemed

Y'all know how much I loved A Passion Most Pure...that made me more than a little leery as I picked up A Passion Redeemed. Could Julie do it again? Pull me into a plot brimming with romance? And could she redeem Charity, the character most of us loved to hate in A Passion Most Pure? The answer to each question is yes!

Depth of beauty … shallow of heart, Charity O’Connor is a woman who gets what she wants. She sets her sights on a man who wants nothing to do with her. Although the sparks are there, he refuses to fan the coals of a potential relationship with a woman who ruined his life. Charity burned him once, destroying his engagement to the only woman he ever truly loved. He won’t play with matches again. But Charity has a plan to turn up the heat, hoping to ignite the heart of the man she loves. And she always gets what she wants—one way or another.

I really like Mitch in the first book, and really didn't care that much for Charity. Yet picked up this book knowing they would be together. Charity's story is one filled with trying to get everything she wants her way. The refreshing...and sad...part of this book is that she actually bears the consequences. This book is jam packed with romance...and passion -- like you'd expect. But it also has a strong spiritual thread. And as that unfolds the reader gains insight into Charity. How she became the person she is. Why we should love her anyway. And why we root so hard for her.

There's one point in the story, where I'm convinced Julie is setting up book three, then it looks like that will end book two -- and I started to feel a bit.. um cheated. Then a few pages later, I realize that's not where the book was headed. I guess you could say she kept me guessing. So even though this is a romance...twists and turns fill the road from the first word to the end.

I enjoyed this book -- and can't wait to see what she does with book three.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Captive Dreams Cover

Isn't it gorgeous! I've had the best covers so far....Can't wait to hold this book sometime next month.

Now back to writing the Complete Idiots Guide to Business Law. Three more chapters to write this week, and I can turn it in two weeks early!

And turn all my attention on my next novel. Yeah!

Monday, August 25, 2008

Review: The Faith of Barack Obama

As I've mentioned, this year it has been really hard for this political junkie to get excited about the presidential election. I think the fact that one candidate has clearly expressed his faith, while the other is such a maverick left me wondering what to believe. Plus, if I never received another one of those forwarded emails about Obama's faith, it wouldn't be soon enough.

Two things have helped energize me -- I'm literally ready to call the party headquarters and squeeze time into my jam-packed schedule to help my candidate. First, there was the forum hosted by Rick Warren. I really liked the non-confrontational approach of being able to hear the candidates answer questions without interruption. The second was this book.

I read this book with an eye looking for signs of bias. I didn't want someone to tell me what I should think about Obama's faith. I wanted to better understand where he's coming from. And I think this book, The Faith of Barack Obama, did that for me. It gave me a fuller picture of his background and the church he's attended. We've all heard of some of the outrageous things Dr. Wright has said, but this book helped me understand where he's coming from. That doesn't necessarily mean I like it or agree, but I at least have a context.

It also highlighted the post modern nature to Obama's faith. This is a concept that is smacking me everywhere I turn, and I am searching to understand. It's like anything else, I need to understand it, so I can figure out where it diverges from what I believe and where there's common ground for a starting point.

The most helpful chapter for me was the four faces of faith. In that chapter the author contrasts Obama with John McCain, Hillary Clinton, and George W. Bush. It was hugely helpful for grasping where McCain is coming from, especially in the context of his answers in the forum.

The last thing that was dead on was the challenge that we need to recognize that Obama has made it okay to be a Christian and politically liberal. He and I disagree on that – but it’s happened nonetheless, and I think is a reality as politics moves forward.

So if you’ve struggled like I have, I commend this quick read to you.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Presidential Forum

If you missed the Saddleback Forum last weekend like we did, here's your chance to catch up on it. I found this website that allows you to watch the forum and decide for yourself. I've been reading the Faith of Barack Obama

You can read the introduction by clicking on the read button.

Something I've really struggled with this year is the seeming need to demonize a candidate based on his religion. This book had a great chapter on The Four Faces of Faith. It helped get a perspective on John McCain. If anyone wants the first 48 pages, email me. I have them somewhere in my inbox and permission to forward them. I'll post more complete thoughts about the book next week. Let me put it this way -- it's been very eye opening and thought provoking.

Brandilyn Collins has some great insights on her blog. I agree with what she says and Rick Warren that it's time to be able to discuss religion without taking things to an extreme.

Anyway, after watching the forum, I'm finally getting excited about this campaign. Our friend David Jolly told us last October that John McCain was who we should get behind, and I honestly thought he was crazy. After listening to this forum, I'm ready to get involved and do my part. What an interesting political cycle.

And the winners are:

The winner of the That's (not exactly) Amore contest is Janna Ryan. And y'all convinced me that we needed to give away the full series. How could I even suggest one book when the series was an option :-)

And the winners of the Olympics contest are Lindsey and Ane Mulligan. If a few more people enter before the closing ceremonies, I'll pull another name. Remember for every ten entries I'll pull a name for one of my books.

Please contact me with your information if you're one of my winners :-)

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Nature will not...

Nature will not be admired by proxy...
--- Winston Churchill

This quote came up on my 1000 places to see before you die tear off calendar. There have been so many beautiful pictures, enough to leave me dreaming and drooling of places I would like to visit.

But this quote really hit me today.

Life is nutty right now. I'm not getting much sleep as I try to get the business law book finished, so I can focus on my novels and teaching this fall. Then there' s the conference coming up. Homeschooling my kids. Enjoying them. Taking a few minutes for me. It's really tight right now.

And I can't think of the last time I let myself relax and just enjoy. Even with the Olympics -- that only come every four years -- I've had a laptop in my lap most times I'm watching. Trying -- not always successfully to maximize the time.

So I want to work really hard the rest of this week. Write those last five chapters. And then take a day with the kids to relax. Enjoy the world around us. Before I dive back in to conference prep and writing those novels.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Children's Book Extravaganza

It's back to school time -- or if you're like us, your kids started weeks ago already. I'm always looking for great children's books since we're a family of readers. The other days I got three books that are absolutely beautiful. From illustrations to words, these books are beautifully packaged with great content for 2 year olds and up. Abigail enjoyed them, but I don't know how often she'll return to them.

So what are they you ask?

God Gave Us Heaven is a beautiful book by Lisa Tawn Bergren about the mysteries of heaven with an age-appropriate explanation of how we get to heaven.

Little Cub awakens one morning with some important questions on her mind: What is heaven like? How do we get there? Will we eat in heaven? Will we be angels? During a delightful day spent wandering their arctic world, Papa gently answers each question, assuring Little Cub that heaven is a wonderful place, “a million times better” than she can imagine. He explains how God has made a way for those who love him to enter their heavenly home forever after their lives on earth are over.

The next book is God Loves Me More Than That by Dandi Daley Mackall. This delightful rhyme explores the length, breadth, depth and loudness of God's love. I absolutely love the way it conveys God's love. It's "louder than a thunder-rumbling, storm-charged cloud." Isn't that great! And the pictures are wonderful, with a little boy starring in this book.

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

When God Created My Toes is a delightful romp by a little girl as she realizes that God made her and delights in her. Inspired by Psalm 139, this book starts at the toes and works its way up to the heart. Throughout its pages children will be reminded that they are special, no matter what they look like or do, just because God made them.

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

These books are wonderful and would make great additions to your library or precious baby gifts. I love to give books for baby gifts! Nothing like getting a child started in the right way. :-)

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Creation Museum

Sunday while we were in Ohio for the booksigning and research trip, we swung south to the Creation Museum. Eric and I were both surprised at just how well it was done. There wasn't anything cheap about it -- other than maybe the outside design of the building -- and that's being really nit-picky. The botanical gardens were beautiful. And the exhibits were professional. The kids were a bit young to grab the deeper concepts of creation v. evolution, but they both enjoyed the Noah segment. And the dinosaurs were pretty awesome to them.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Merciless by Robin Parrish



Robin Parrish

The world as we know it has ENDED.
DEATH and CHAOS creep across the globe and only the POWERLESS can RISE UP to stop it.

But can anything stop the onslaught of the DARKWORLD

From the earth's depths crawls a figure with skin like granite, flames for eyes, and the face of Grant Borrows.
Oblivion has arrived.

Every clock around the world has stopped. Time has frozen.

The Secretum have fulfilled the prophecy, unleashing on earth the most powerful being to walk the earth in thousands of years. His name is Oblivion and his touch is death.

He can't be slowed.
He can't be stopped.
And he can't be killed.

But as long as any live who trust in hope and love and freedom, the fight is not over.

They have only one chance before he brings forth the Darkworld.

Oblivion is: Merciless

"Robin Parrish is the kind of writer who understands how to entertain from the word go. His stories are sure to shape fiction for years to come."
~TED DEKKER, author of ADAM

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

Cara here: I'm in Dayton, Ohio, today researching my next World War Two series, and Merciless is sitting at home. I meant to bring it with me -- oops! However, Eric and I both can't wait to read this book since we enjoyed the first two. This series is a high concept one that has to be read in order. If you have not read the first two, do not start with this one. Go back and read the first two. But if you want to get a sense of the series, read the first chapter. Think comic book superheros come to life -- in a book.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Awesome Article

Read this article on Nastia Liukin and her dad. I dare you not to cry. I cried when Nastia amd Shawn pulled off 1-2 -- not so much for the medals -- but watching their relief and emotions. The stuff of dreams -- and the relief on Shawn's face when she finished her power packed floor routine -- WOW!

Olympic Celebration Giveaway

I'm feeling the generosity of the Olympic spirit. And stealing an idea from one of the Barbour editors at The Edit Cafe -- she's giving away three sets of books. Be sure to click through and leave a comment there for a chance to win one of the three sets.

So in addition to the That's (not exactly) Amore giveaway -- you know you need to comment there, too.

Abigail with our cat Midnight

So tonight, I'm opening a new contest. Leave a comment about what your favorite Olympic event is. For every ten comments (from different folks) I'll give away one of my books. And for every ten new subscribers to my blog, I'll give away another book. So here's your chance to try a book you haven't read -- all while we celebrate. Go USA!!!

And enjoy these great pixs of my kids.

Jonathan graduated from preschool last Friday. He's so cute!

And then Rebecca is growing so much. She's really cooing and getting close to belly laughs. But her smiles are amazing! Priceless.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

That's (not exactly) Amore Review and Giveaway

Hey, faithful blog readers! I've got exciting news. Not only am I reviewing a fun book, That's (not exactly) Amore by Tracey Bateman, but you have the opportunity to win either a copy of this book or the whole series. I haven't read the first two books yet, though I'm now hunting them down, but my friend at Faith Words told me she'd let me give away either this book or the series. Isn't that cool! So read the review, and then tell me why we should giveaway the whole series. You have to promise to read it LOL So maybe one book is better after all. You decide!

Now here's the review.

Laini Sullivan is trying to finish her degree in interior design. Only problem: she may be color-blind and is failing her classes. Her only hope is to do a phenomenal job on the final project: redecorating her favorite coffee shop as it expands. She's feeling a bit off center since both drama queen roommates have moved out and wonders if she'll ever find a special relationship.

This book was a fun read. I laughed my way through it as I cheered for Laini to discover who she is. She's lived life trying to be what her parents expected. Now she's doing interior design, and it's just not working. So what should she do? I think most of us can relate to that question. Her journey of discovery is filled with friends, crazy experiences, and then there's her mother. Wow! Is her life complicated.

Laini is a lovable character that you want to root for. Unlike some chick lit books, I never wanted to smack her upside the head and tell her to grow up -- I'd begun to wonder if characters like Laini were still being written by anyone other than Trish Perry and Kristin Billerbeck. Okay, there was one time I thought she was being dumb, but her fears about Joe's family seemed real to her. So once in the book I can live with.

The spiritual thread is one I'm dealing with now, too. How can I incorporate God into my life on a daily basis through prayer. It seems so simple to say, but why is it so hard to do? Wouldn't it be easier to trust Him with our lives and hear Him when His still, small voice whispers if I was in constant communication?

So leave your comments. And let's see if it's a series giveaway or this book!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Women's Gymnastics

Wow! What a night. What a heartbreaker, but what performances. I love women's gymnastics and my heart broke for Alicia Sacramone when she fell. She takes the blame for a silver -- good night, people -- we got a SILVER !!!! but for any of you tempted to let her take the blame, you've got to watch this piece by Johnny R as he calls himself now, John Rothlisberger for those of us who watched him in a couple of his own Olympics. The math might be a tad off, but the principles the same. Even if she'd been absolutely perfect, we would have won silver. And let's face it. Silver is HUGE. Yes, gold is better, but I've always been partial to silver. LOL and those floor routines from the Chinese were so fun to watch. What a chance for them to play it up for the home crowd. Wow! It was a competition, and it's not over yet! Here's a summary of the event.

Finding Stefanie Review and Contest

I was just reading a quote from one of those tear off calendars. It said, "some experiences simply do not translate. You have to go to know." (Kobi Yamada -- no idea who that is). This may seem like a strange way to start a review, but I've found that quote doesn't hold true for Susan May Warren's books. They pull me right into the setting and characters' world. Finding Stefanie was no exception.

Let's face it, as the third book in a series, it could have been a let-down. After all, it's focused on the sister who's made all the right choices and worked hard to keep everything afloat while her brothers did their own things. But this book was wonderful. I picked it up as soon as it landed in my mailbox and didn't stop reading until I hit the end.

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

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

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

Stefanie has shadows that she won't step away from, and Lincoln sees everything crashing around him. They turn against each other. The sparks fly in this book, but there's so much more going on.

Stefanie has to learn to let go of the past and its mistakes. And the hardest lesson of all -- how to forgive herself. And trust herself not to repeat the past. Each time she's willing to step out and try, a roadblock occurs. Lincoln also has to step away from the past, but for different reasons. Isn't that like so many of us? Instead of looking to the fullness of what God wants to do in our lives now, we're trapped looking in the rearview mirror. As a result we miss so much and wonder why we feel stuck or forgotten.

There are a host of supporting characters who add rich layers to the book. And each has battles to fight, obstacles to overcome. Some way too close to real life.

On the suspense thread -- remember this book is primarily romance...and a great romance. But the suspense thread is stronger in this book than in the prior two in this series. I figured out who was doing it early in the book, but sure missed her motivation. And even knowing who was behind all the havoc didn't detract from the enjoyment of reading.

I am truly sad to see this series end. It was a great one...enjoyable...challenging... and great covers!

To see the other stops on the blog tour go here. And you can read the first chapter here.

And here are the details on the contest:

Grab your magnifying glass and join me on a Fact-o-Find!

Answer these questions about the bloggers on the tour and be entered to win a $50 gift certificate to the movie theater of your choice (you know so you can see some of Cash's great movies *G*)! Email Amy your answers (

Ready, get set, giddy-up!

1. Which blogger is adopting a girl from China?

2. This word 'featherbunkle' is found on which blog?

3. Which blogger is supporting the 'Pickens Plan'?

4. Which blog is "The Cutest Blog on the Block"?

5. Which blogger is a S@HM and also a wife, daughter, sister, friend, nursery director, and woman that is just trying to keep it all together?

6. Which blogger is taking the Southern Reading Challenge?

7. Which blog asks 'How may we serve you'?

8. Which blogger refers to her son as 'super good big guy'?

9. Which blogger is a self-proclaimed 'Starbucks Addict'?

10. Which blogger is a big Trekkie

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Have I mentioned...

Have I mentioned that I'm an Olympics fan? Have I mentioned that in 1992 while I was in college I worked for the NBC affiliate in North Platte, NE? Yes, I know ... It's probably the smallest affiliate out there, but why do you think Dani Richards is a television journalist in Deadly Exposure?

Anyway, back to the Olympics. In 1992 the sports director kept asking me for the trivia about the different athletes, because I've been an Olympics junky -- probably since 1984 when I was ten watching Mary Lou Retton score a perfect ten and win gold. That's the stuff dreams are made of.

And tonight I got to bite my nails...with my laptop in my lap pretending to write about antitrust law, while the American men battled it out to win bronze in the team gymnastics event. We also watched two teens from Indiana come close, but fall short in men's synchronized platform diving. Frankly, I don't think you could push me off the platform if you somehow got me to climb up there. I mean, that's like three stories up there! That's insane.

But so were the acrobatics the men from around the world did tonight. I watch them and wonder if I really want Jonathan to do much more than he's doing right now. You know, learning how to do a cartwheel and handstand.

I got two books in the mail today that I can't wait to read. The first is the new book from Thomas Nelson on the Faith of Barack Obama. There's been so much rhetoric about that -- and frankly I'm a bit sick of it. This from a former political junky. I can't believe I just called myself former! (All my friends from when we lived in DC are shaking their heads, and would take my temperature if they could. Anyway, the introduction was interesting and thought-provoking, so I'm going to see if I can get permission to post that. If anyone wants the first 48 pages, email me. I have them somewhere in my inbox and permission to forward them.

Hey, what do you know, I found the widget on TN's website. Enjoy the preview. I'll tell you what I think after I read it.

And the other book is Julie Lessman's A Passion Redeemed. Those of you who read my review of her first book understand what an exercise of discipline it is not to pretend the rest of the world doesn't exist while I read it. I can't wait to see what she does with Charity's story.

It's very late/early depending on your perspective, and I need to write for another hour, so I'm signing off.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Mrs. Rosey Posey: Great Books for kids

he Mrs. Rosey Posey Series

Mrs. Rosey Posey is an eccentric, grandmotherly character who tells stories to the neighborhood children and teaches them how God loves and cares for them. Recommended for children ages 4-7.

Mrs. Rosey Posey and the Baby Bird by Robin Jones GunnMrs. Rosey Posey and the Baby Bird

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Young readers will learn that God cares for every living creature in Mrs. Rosey Posey and the Baby Bird. A baby bird falls from its nest, and Mrs. Rosey Posey takes care of it.

All the while, she intrigues the children by telling them that someone else saw the baby bird fall. The story and illustrations will pull children into the quest to discover who it is.

Mrs. Rosey Posey and the Yum Yummy Birthday Cake by Robin Jones GunnMrs. Rosey Posey and the Yum Yummy Birthday Cake

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Mrs. Rosey-Posey’s birthday is a great occasion for a parade and a feast. But when Mrs. Rosey Posey puts out a tempting birthday cake full of wonderful treats, can Sarah follow Mrs. Rosey Posey’s rule about not touching?

Children learn a personal lesson about repentance and trust, and discover the meaning of forgiving and loving people when they wrong us. This fanciful story will make young readers hungry for more!

Mrs. Rosey Posey and the Fine China Plate by Robin Jones GunnMrs. Rosey Posey and the Fine China Plate

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Natalie comes to Mrs. Rosey Posey's house when her friends go to a movie that Natalie's parents won't let her see. Mrs. Rosey Posey gives Natalie a treat and lets her choose which plate she'd like to eat it on. Mrs. Rosey Posey tells her a story about a special china plate that sets itself apart for a visiting king.

This much-loved classic story helps Level 2 readers understand how sometimes being told no is really God’s way of setting them aside for his very best intentions.

Mrs. Rosey Posey and the Hidden Treasure by Robin Jones GunnI brought these books home from ICRS, and the kids and I have really enjoyed them. Mrs. Rosey Posey books are fun to read and have wonderful values slipped in. If you're looking for some great early readers for kids you know, get these books. They're delightful and the illustrations are great!

Mrs. Rosey Posey and the Hidden Treasure

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In this story, Mrs. Rosey Posey slips Ross, Jacob, and Adam a treasure map while they are playing pirates in her tree house. Their rollicking treasure hunt brings surprises and a lesson about a special treasure.

Children love playing at Mrs. Rosey Posey's house because she is always ready for an adventure. This imaginative book helps young readers discover what an invaluable treasure God’s Word is.

Sunday, August 10, 2008


Okay, if you're awake, did you just watch the men win the 4 x 100 freestyle relay. OHMIGOSH!!!!! This was the most amazing relay I've ever watched. Eric and I stood with jaws hanging on the ground. It looked like the French had it sewn up. But WOWOWOWOWOW. What an absoltuely amazing race from all four but Lezak hit 46 seconds flat. That is so incredibly fast.

And the ladies' gymnastics. As Jonathan said after watching one of hte gals, "that's amazing!" It's going to be an exciting team final. I can't imagine the shock of having a teammate get injured as you're ready to start your first event. That changes the strategy a bit, but they rallied.

I'm an Olympics junky. Here are a couple loose quotes that I think are very interesting for parents:

Shawn Johnson's coach says that he tells her it's okay to make mistakes as she gets ready to go out. And that gives her the freedom to do the crazy, amazing skills that she does. Because a mistake isn't the end of the world. If you saw her on the beam today, you know it works. She was rock solid.

Jason Lezak said "we'll let our swimming do the talking," when asked why they didn't respond to the trash talking from the French. We could all learn from that. Just let our actions talk when others challenge us.

Okay, I have to get back to writing, but just had to share my excitement!!!!

Go, USA :-)

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Olympics & Writing

Okay, guys, I just to say it is killing me that I have two very tight deadlines right now -- and the Olympics are on! I love the Olympics -- when I worked at a NBC affiliate in 1992, I was the go-to person for trivia for the Sports Director.
And I need to be writing. But I want to just watch. So -- how do y'all cut out the distractions or multi-task. And, umm, if I don't respond super fast in the next couple weeks, just blame it on the Olympics :-)

Did anyone watch the Opening Ceremonies last night? They were neat -- but I still think the archer lighting the Flame in the Barcelona games was cooler. But the actual program at the beginning last night was impressive. What about those drums. Wow! The choreography was pretty amazing. And what a testament of the Chinese philosophy. Anyway, what did you think?

Any tips on avoiding distractions or multi-tasking? And don't forget to sign up for the giveaways -- I've listed them with links in the right-side toolbar near the top :-)

Lonestar Sancturary Review

Allie Siders is desperate to help her 5-year-old daughter, Betsy speak again. But with a stalker out for revenge, all Allie can think about is the safety that awaits them at the peaceful Bluebird Ranch, nestled deep in Texas Hill country. The ranch is a sanctuary for abused horses and troubled youth. …

In this book, author Colleen Coble takes her characters’ deep into a mix of mystery and suspense as well as relational issues. The book opens with the stalker in Allie’s residence taunting her. In a panic, Allie grabs Betsy and runs to the only place she can think to hide that also promises safety. The only problems: she has no money, nobody expects her, and she can’t tell anybody what’s really going on for fear the stalker will find her.

The book is filled with romantic twists that kept me turning the pages as much as the suspense did. She’s been so focused on surviving since her husband died, that she hasn’t had time to fully grieve. Romance is the last thing she is looking for, especially when the only men around are ranch hands and Rich Bailey, the handsome foreman. Everything conspires to keep Allie isolated, yet for the sake of her daughter she will do things she never imagined.

The tension is high as the stalker continues to strip Allie of everything important to her and strange events occur at the ranch. Just when it doesn’t seem like things can get worse, Allie faces a custody battle that could destroy Betsy.

The setting is rich. I could picture the isolated Texas setting, and almost taste the grit in my mouth. The characters are richly drawn and detailed, with even the supporting cast causing me to root for them.

This was a book I couldn’t put down. Fortunately, I read it on a plane so I had uninterrupted hours to inhale it.

If you like romantic suspense, this book is well worth the time and money.

Friday, August 08, 2008

Beach Dreams Review

Beach Dreams is Trish Perry's latest book. Up front, there are a couple things you need to know. First, this cover is TOTALLY different from her first two. The reason: she's finishing Sally John's Beach House series. Hence, the title is Beach Dreams. Second, this book is Tiffany and Jeremy's story, but the style is a bit different, I think in large part because Trish was finishing someone else's story.

Last year at ACFW, Trish told me she had been asked to turn her next book into the last book of another author's story. I wasn't sure how that would work...but it does.

The cover threw me -- I guess I forgot in the intervening months...and was expecting another brightly colored cover. But the characters were the same ones I'd loved (or hated) in Trish's first two books. Tiffany has changed in only good ways. And Jeremy is as lovable as always.

Here's part of the back cover: "Tiffany LeBoeuf has a problem. She's lost her job, her mother has recently passed away, and she has zero social life. And then she meets Jeremy. But Tiff is a new Christian and knows she shouldn't be attracted to this unbelieving (but charming) Brit. And then there's Eve...Jeremy's girlfriend..."

This book travels to San Diego where Tiffany goes to relax with her dad, and Eve goes to hang out with a friend. When Jeremy shows up to surprise Eve, the surprises pile up.

Tiffany wrestles with how to live her new faith, and constantly turns to Ren (from Too Good to Be True) for advice.

There were glimpses of the humor that I love in Trish's other books, and the spiritual thread was relevant and non-preachy, another element I love in her books. The supporting cast is great...filled with characters you'd love to meet and spend time with in real life. And the ending was a fitting wrap up to Trish's series.

So don't let the cover throw you. This is still a Trish Perry book that you'll enjoy from the first page to the end.

Thursday, August 07, 2008


So yesterday morning I was feeling pretty good. I've gotten some good writing chunks in, feeling on track. I know what I have to write each week to hit my deadlines, and pretty much hit them the first week.

No sense of panic. Just a sense of deliberate "have to run this race to the end" kind of feeling.

I worked on ACFW conference projects in the little pockets of time over the afternoon, so that I could jump into writing when we got home from church. Then it was 11:15, and my baby was still crying and I hadn't written one word.


I have to trust God that He will help me redeem every moment as I race to these deadlines. That He will help me do everything I need to for the ACFW conference. That somehow I'll get everything done in a way that pleases Him and brings Him glory.

As I stare at my keyboard and begin to feel the pressure build again, I know I have to trust Him. And if you feel inclined to pray that He will help me focus on the truly important things and let the others go, I'd so appreciate it. He's been so abundantly faithful. Now it's my turn.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

All Through the Night Review

All Through the Night was a book I picked up expecting to like, but not inhale the way I did. I enjoyed My Soul to Keep, and thought this book would be similar. Nope, this one definitely upped the meter on the suspense. And LOVED the hero and supporting characters.

In All Through the Night, Davis Bunn's latest book, broken relationships and unfulfilled promises scar Wayne's past like burned-out craters. ... He finds himself helping a retirement community's senior citizens and then pulled into a situation that he's not sure he can believe. A fabulously wealthy man has been approached by an ... angel??? And now he wants to hire Wayne to investigate. Was it really an angel? Does he need protection?

There's a romantic thread to this book, but the suspense is by far the more prevalent plot. Wayne is joined by an unlikely group as he tries to figure out what's going on. There's Foster the retired dry cleaning business owner, Jerry the retired cop, and Julio the 13 year old kid he's helping. And Victoria is the retired missionary with a direct line to God -- in a totally un-gimmicky way I might add. Tatyana is Wayne's link to his new employer and someone who seems to understand Wayne's pain without downplaying it at all.

Wayne is a character who carries scars, and I liked him for them. He's also a man of action who will do it what it takes to protect those around him. He's the kind of hero I like to see in a book. Strong, yet well aware of his weaknesses. And in this case ripe for change. I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and suspect Eric will, too. Davis Bunn is becoming one of my go-to authors. One more book like this one, and he will be firmly on that list.

You can read the first chapter here.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Searching for Spice Review

Megan DiMaria's debut novel Searching for Spice is a fun switch from the typical books I read. It was one I savored instead of racing through. Here's a synopsis:

Linda Revere longs to have a sizzling affair ... with her husband -- a practical, no-nonsense community college science teacher. Unfortunately, life isn't scripted, and nothing goes according to plan. From having a demanding boss and at times a frustrating job to helping her family and friends with their troubles, life seems to be preventing Linda from achieving her goal of an exciting and passionate marriage. Linda hopes God will answer her prayers to jazz up her marriage, but is she ready for what happens next.

What I loved about this book is that even though I'm not getting ready to celebrate my 25th wedding anniversary -- yet -- I could relate to the desire to add a little sizzle to my marriage. I think we all hit those times where we'd like to make a good thing even better. And who hasn't seen their efforts backfire before watching God take care of it in a way that's far better than anything you could have planned?

And Linda's life is full of challenges just as she gets her plan in action. The struggles are real. And the triumphs are all the sweeter for living through the valleys. With this book I'd laugh, and then ten pages later be convicted that maybe I tended to act like Linda when confronted with troubles. I love it when a book makes me think even as I enjoy and savor it.

While this isn't the normal book I would pick up, I can tell you that I can't wait to read Megan's next book!

Monday, August 04, 2008

Interview with Author of The Shack and Giveaway

Wednesday, I participated in a blogger conference call with William P. Young, the author of The Shack. This is greatly abridged; it's just the notes I typed as quickly as I could. I tried to capture the highlights, and I hope that you can get a part of Paul's (as he is called) personality. He is incredibly smart and humble, very charming. If you would like to hear the entire interview, go here for Jill Hart's podcast of it.

I was very impressed with his heart and where he's coming from. I'm over halfway through the book...once you get past the first 80 page and into the conversations with the three persons of God, I'm enjoying the book. As he says, he's an accidental author -- and it shows in some of the mechanics of the book. However, the content is intriguing. My Mom, sister Janna, and I were talking about it late last week. We all took different things from it, but it's challenged us to consider what boxes we've put God in.

I have a copy of the book to giveaway, so be sure to leave a comment.

Blogger Conference Call with William P. Young 7/30/08 NoonET/9AM PT
Featured guest: Paul Young, author of THE SHACK
Moderator: Miriam Parker
Christy Lockstein:
Jill Hart:
Leslie Sowell:
Nicole Petrino-Salter:
Patti Chadwick:
Patrick Sullivan, Jr.:
Shawnee Goodnight:
Tammy Marcelain:
Ted Reyes:
Gretchen Geyer:
Joe Wikert:
Cara Putman:
Caleb Newell:
Natalie Nyquist:

Nicole Petrino-Salter: If I'm not mistaken, you've said you wrote this book for your children. Why? Wrote for children. Accidental author. Didn’t take classes. Always written as gift for friends and family. Kim (wife) encouraged to put in one place where you think because it’s outside the box…get to local printers by Dec. 2005 – first run 15 copies. 7 to Kim and kids, rest to friends and relatives …got feedback…and that’s the first time I thought about publishing something. Vague idea though.

Ted Reyes: There are two perspectives when it comes to suffering: One is that it is a gift from God, and the other is that it is a punishment from God. Which of these two do you think would make modern 21st century people develop a closer relationship with God– suffering as a reward, or as punishment?

There’s a third perspective that suffering is neither…that God utilizes both to accomplish his purposes. Not that discipline…when we think of punishment or other terms, we have to define them. What is punishment? Gift? Suffering isn’t necessary for maturity. Most suffering is at my own hands. Choices I made or other people made. As child sexually abused. That’s not gift or suffering -- Blind man in John 9 – this is an opportunity for God to be glorified. If God is responsible for suffering, then He’s the enemy. Suffering comes from living in a fallen world but not from Hand of God.

Shawnee Goodnight: A statement from a critic I found fascinating to say the least and would love to hear your opinion on "The Shack deliberately suggests we don't take the Bible seriously but instead rely on our own thoughts and understanding- that is the threat!" some of the controversy comes from individuals who raise questions but haven’t read the book. The angriest people haven’t read the book. That’s not a bad thing…the controversy brings the questions to the forefront. With regard to scripture, that’s not happened. It moves people back to Scripture. What about the bible have we been unable to hear it anymore. Message written to put scripture in format that broke through the intellectual paradigms that were resistant to hear. This accusation is founded on a particular fear that isn’t happening. Nobody would seriously think this is not a flawed book. It’s fiction, a story, not systematic theology.

Leslie Sowell: I became interested in The Shack because of the controversy surrounding it. Unlike most people I know, I totally understand the Abba side of God, and so some of the things you say in your novel are easy for me to wrap my mind around - however other things - like that there is no hierarchy in the Trinity was a little more than mind-blowing. Please give theological evidence for this theory. Absolutely believe there is no hierarchy. That’s the orthodox position. Community 101: “the notion of such a notion of …content teaches the opposite.” There is mutual submission within the Trinity. Hierarchy in the Trinity is not the orthodox position.

Patrick Sullivan: What was your inspiration to make God a black woman when YHWH first shows up? Have you gotten pushback from religious leaders for this? Couple things. I’m writing this for my six kids. Not writing for the masses. I can do pretty much anything I want. Missionary kid – used this imagery because I don’t want my kids stuck in a paradigm where God is a white male. Female is as inadequate as male because He’s spirit. Can portray God as a male, female, burning bush, big eye, nostril. Wanted it outside the existing paradigm. Fits the story. Mackenzie’s issue is with his dad, so he’s very resistant to the male imagery of God. He is in the shepherd who leaves the 99 to find the 1.

Patti Chadwick: Was the author really the Ghost writer of this Mackenzie Phillips? Was this written based on a true story? The ghost writer…writing his story for his kids…author is Mackenzie and Missy. People miffed that even though sold as fiction, people believe it’s non-fiction. The process is real, the conversation is real. There is no physical shack. The roads are real. The book is a parable: fiction where truth is embedded…gets past intellectual resistance. A metaphor: the shack represents the human soul much like the garden. Store secrets, lies, addictions. It’s you but what you hide. For author: 38 years building the shack (a house of shame); took 11 years in the shack to deal with the stuff.

Christy Lockstein Where were you when you found out that you had made the NYT Bestseller list? How did that feel? In Honolulu…there to do a series on Romans. Got the phone call that made the list and made #1. How impossible is this? A not for real author who gave a gift to kids, friends who don’t know the publishing industry that well. Put together something for print that nobody would take, less than $300 spent on marketing. This is a God thing. It did everything I wanted it to do when I gave it to my kids. Thrilled to be a Rudy and carry the bags. Shake my head and wonder what God’s up to. I sure don’t understand. But it’s been thrilling.

Sarayu: Hindi…means wind…this is the common wind that catches you by surprise. So hot you think you’ll die and the wind comes out of nowhere and cools you off and changes everything.

What tip to accidental authors: publishing was never a target, no identity as an author. I am proof that if God wants to do something He can use a donkey or a bush. When you have something, give it as a gift. Give it to 10 people who love you and 10 people who don’t know you. Get different feedback from the groups. Then hear. What is the Holy Spirit saying to you. Don’t presume the purposes are to become known and famous…God is good at disrupting our idolatry…let it unfold…it all comes down to hearing…what’s He saying?

Saturday, August 02, 2008

FIRST: Romancing Holleywood Nobody

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

Today's feature author is:

and her book:

Romancing Hollywood Nobody

NavPress Publishing Group (July 15, 2008)


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

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

Other Novels by Lisa:

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

Visit her at her website.

Product Details

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


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

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

is brewing coffee right here in the TrailMama.


“Morning, Scotty. The big day.”


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

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

You know what I mean?

And we have lots of differences.

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

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

Starbucks Schmarbucks.

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

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

And boy is this a switch!

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

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

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

She's a hippie. What can I say?

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Scotland, here we come.”

Scotland? Well, sort of.

An hour later

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

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

I'm just lovin' that.

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

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

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

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

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

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


I set down my pen. “Finished!”

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

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

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

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

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


“Are you kidding me? Wyoming? Why?”

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

“Lots of people?”

“Know any of them?”

“Uh. No.”


“Okay, Wyoming it is, then.”

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

“I'll take it.”

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

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

I kid you not.

Wish I was kidding.

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

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

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

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

Okay, time to blog.

Hollywood Nobody: April 30

Let's cut to the chase, Nobodies!

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

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

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

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

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

August New Fiction Releases

We've got 14 new Christian novels this month. Though technically summer lasts into September, August holds more hot, kick-back days to read to your heart's content! And we've got plenty of good choices to pick from!

1. A Lady of Secret Devotion, Ladies of Liberty series Book 3 (independent series where each book stands alone) by Tracie Peterson from Bethany House Publishers. Cassie Stover gets caught up in an intriguing mystery that may cost her her heart, if not her life.

2. An Irishwoman's Tale, First book of related books by Patti Lacy from Kregel Publications. A family crisis sends an impetuous Irishwoman and her chatty Southern friend back to the breathtaking cliffs of County Clare.

3. Bluegrass Hero by Allie Pleiter from Steeple Hill Love Inspired. Farm owner Gil Sorrent has his hands full when bathshop owner Emily Montague's soaps clean up his farmhands.

4. Criminal Obsession by Tamara Tilley from Evergreen Press. The most terrifying part was she knew it was just a game to the killer.

5. Double Jeopardy Book 2 of The McClains: Bound by faith, honor and love by Terri Reed from Steeple Hill Love Inspired Suspense. Anne Jones witnessed a murder. Now she’s in hiding. But someone knows where—and who—she is. Her new handsome boss has vowed to keep her safe. Yet she will have to disappear again lest she put both their lives in jeopardy...

6. Hidden Deception by Leann Harrison from Steeple Hill. Haunted by the past, Elena struggles to trust God for the future.

7. Hidden Treasures Book Two of the McBride Sisters' series by Kathryn Springer from Steeple Hill Love Inspired.
Searching for a valuable painting on the Halloway's estate is risky business for photographer Meghan McBride . .but when she comes face to face with Cade Halloway, who's there to sell the former family vacation home, she discovers the real risk is losing her heart.

8. Love Starts With Elle Lowcountry book 2 by Rachel Hauck from Thomas Nelson. Elle Garvey loses everything to gain it all. Heath McCord heals from his painful past in order to find true love a second time.

9. Miss Aggie's Gone Missing The Misadventures of Miss Aggie: Book One by Frances Devine from Barbour Publishing's Heartsong Presents Mysteries. In attempts to rescue Miss Aggie Pennington-Brown from her many misadventures, Victoria Storm and her elderly boarders find hair raising and sometimes hilarious adventures of their own.

10. Quills & Promises Delaware Brides, book 2 by Amber Miller from Barbour/Heartsong Presents. Separated from Madison when he leaves to fight the French and Indians, Elanna Hanssen must choose between her heart and her head, especially when Madison's integrity is questioned.

Friday, August 01, 2008

Cincinnati Area Signing -- Join us!

Join us August 16, for a booksigning at the Barnes and Noble in West Chester, Ohio. Four of my Indiana writing buds and I will be there for a panel and then to sign books. We'd love to have you join us!


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