Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Love's Pursuit Giveaway

With my deadlines, I haven't had a chance to read this book yet, so I'm sorry there's no review. However, to make it up to you, I'm giving away a copy of the book. Be sure to leave a comment below after reading about the book -- tell me what most intrigues you about this book.

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Love's Pursuit

Bethany House (June 1, 2009)


Siri Mitchell


Siri Mitchell graduated from the University of Washington with a business degree and worked in various levels of government. As a military spouse, she has lived all over the world, including in Paris and Tokyo. Siri enjoys observing and learning from different cultures. She is fluent in French and loves sushi.

But she is also a member of a strange breed of people called novelists. When they’re listening to a sermon and taking notes, chances are, they’ve just had a great idea for a plot or a dialogue. If they nod in response to a really profound statement, they’re probably thinking, “Yes. Right. That’s exactly what my character needs to hear.” When they edit their manuscripts, they laugh at the funny parts. And cry at the sad parts. Sometimes they even talk to their characters.

Siri wrote 4 books and accumulated 153 rejections before signing with a publisher. In the process, she saw the bottoms of more pints of Ben & Jerry’s than she cares to admit. At various times she has vowed never to write another word again. Ever. She has gone on writing strikes and even stooped to threatening her manuscripts with the shredder.

A Constant Heart was her sixth novel. Two of her novels, Chateau of Echoes and The Cubicle Next Door were Christy Award finalists. She has been called one of the clearest, most original voices in the CBA.


In the small Puritan community of Stoneybrooke, Massachusetts, Susannah Phillips stands out both for her character and beauty. She wants only a simple life but soon finds herself pursued by the town's wealthiest bachelor and by a roguish military captain sent to protect them. One is not what he seems and one is more than he seems.

In trying to discover true love's path, Susannah is helped by the most unlikely of allies, a wounded woman who lives invisible and ignored in their town. As the depth, passion, and sacrifice of love is revealed to Susannah, she begins to question the rules and regulations of her childhood faith. In a community where grace is unknown, what price will she pay for embracing love?

If you would like to read the first chapter of Love's Pursuit, go HERE

Monday, June 29, 2009

Smiling in the Frying Pan of Life

My friend Ane Mulligan sent me this photo. She told me it happened last week when her son was cooking.

That picture sums up my life right now Best laid plans and all, but I am getting slammed. It definitely feels like a frying pan -- and not just from the heat. Summer has hit Indiana with a vengeance. We had a long string of days last week where the heat index was close to 100.

I have a court appointed criminal appeal that was delayed for several months, so instead of writing it in April when I didn't have a book deadline, I'm working on it at all hours. I have one more week of lectures in the class I teach at Purdue, then the final exam and a stack of grading. My next Heartsong is due August 1...I've made great progress on it, but really want this to be my best book for them yet. And I have sample chapters to write for a couple requested proposals as well as a couple other series proposals sitting with publishers. Add in a full summer of activities for the kids and I'm in serious need of a Calgon-take-me-away week. :-)

I have several books on rest and Sabbath that I can't wait to read and glean from...when I can finally breath! So how do you find the smiley face in life's frying pan?

Saturday, June 27, 2009

The Vanishing Scultpor Giveaway

If you follow my blog, you know I don't read fantasy -- other than Sharon Hinck :-) But I have a copy of Donita Paul's latest book -- The Vanishing Sculpture to giveaway. All I can tell you about her books are that people who love fantasy and teenagers inhale these books. Here's some info on the book.

Donita K. Paul’s 250,000-plus-selling DragonKeeper Chronicles series has attracted a wide spectrum of dedicated fans–and they’re sure to fall in love with the new characters and adventures in her latest superbly-crafted novel for all ages. It’s a mind-boggling fantasy that inhabits the same world as the DragonKeeper Chronicles, but in a different country and an earlier time, where the people know little of Wulder and nothing of Paladin.

In The Vanishing Sculptor, readers will meet Tipper, a young emerlindian who’s responsible for the upkeep of her family’s estate during her sculptor father’s absence. Tipper soon discovers that her actions have unbalanced the whole foundation of her world, and she must act quickly to undo the calamitous threat. But how can she save her father and her world on her own? The task is too huge for one person, so she gathers the help of some unlikely companions–including the nearly five-foot tall parrot Beccaroon–and eventually witnesses the loving care and miraculous resources of Wulder. Through Tipper’s breathtaking story, readers will discover the beauty of knowing and serving God.

Author Bio:
Donita K. Paul
is a retired teacher and author of numerous novellas, short stories, and eight novels, including the best-selling DragonKeeper Chronicles, a series which has sold more than a quarter million books to date. The winner of multiple awards, she lives in Colorado Springs, Colorado, where she spends time mentoring and encouraging young writers. Visit her online at donitakpaul.com.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Food for Thought

Today, instead of posting, I want to direct you to a thought-proving opinion piece in Salon. Written by Frances Kissling, it addresses whether prochoice activists and leaders need to start addressing the ethics of abortion. Fascinating and interesting read. Pop over. Regardless of the side of the issue you fall on, this article will make you think.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Shepherd's Fall Review

I adored Wanda’s series of books for Barbour and have eagerly awaited her latest release, Shepherd’s Fall. This book is different from her earlier series – there’s no psychic turned Christian and the sidekick is not a police detective. Instead, the star of Shepherd’s Fall is Nick Shepherd, owner of Prodigal Recovery Agency and the lead bounty-hunter. If you have a skip who’s skipped out of bail, then his agency is the one you’d call.

The book opens with Nick making a choice that leads to the death of two teenagers as he takes in a wanted criminal. Compounding the problem is the fact that one of the teens killed is his daughter’s best friend. Eight months later the killer escapes determined to make Shepherd pay.

This plot bounces around among characters. There’s Zeena, a street hooker that has something that belongs to a crime boss and could get her killed. There’s her sister Annie who is desperate to find Zeena, the twin she hasn’t seen in years. There’s Jessica, Nick’s ex-wife who wrestles with how to reach and parent their grieving daughter. And Nick…the man who carries the weight of the world. And there are many more in this cast…but Nick’s perspective is the dominant one.

The Prodigal Recovery Agency is about to go out of business and Nick won’t even be able to make payroll if something doesn’t happen soon. Then Richie escapes from jail and the pressure is on to find Richie before Richie carries out his threats against Nick’s daughter.

Nick is under an immense amount of pressure and is tempted to do things that seem against his character. Then the pressure skyrockets.

This book has a different feel from Dyson’s earlier books, but is an enjoyable read for those who like a slowly building suspense. It takes some pages to get all the pieces and characters to come together, but once they’re in place, stop the clock because all you’ll want to do is read to the end of the conflict.

I sense this is the first in a series, but it definitely stands alone. So get out there and try this book. It’s going to be a great addition to your summer reading pile.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

I didn't know either!

Pamela's post this week about not knowing her own whodunit got me thinking. With Deadly Exposure, I thought I knew who committed the murder. In fact I wrote the book working toward one particular individual. Then as I was in the last 30 pages or so, I prayed before writing. Now I try to do this all the time, but that day I was talking with God about what would happen next.

He whispered that a certain somebody did it. I looked a little funny up at the ceiling. "No, he didn't."

"Yes, he did."

I went back and forth a few times before thinking, "Okay, I'll try it." Inside, I dreaded all the rewrites it would require. Wouldn't you know, it didn't take much of any. The antagonist makes sense. Most everything had already been planted. And the readers love the way it turned out.

And before you wonder if I'm incredibly strange, I really do pray about my books. I pray when I'm writing proposals asking God for creativity and wisdom. I pray as I'm writing, and not always, "God, help me, please. I'm stuck!" And I cling to Daniel 1:17: God gave Daniel and his friends, knowledge and intelligence in all areas of wisdom, literature and understanding dreams and visions.

I don't want to waste an opportunity He has given me.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Bread Machine Wisdom

Friday I made two creations in the bread machine. The first were cinnamon rolls, which were incredibly yummy. I substituted almond extract for the vanilla in the icing -- and my family gobbled them up.

Then I put together all the ingredients for whole wheat buttermilk bread. Three hours later I checked, and had nothing by a glob of goo with dry flour on top. What happened? The paddle didn't effectively mix the ingredients.

I followed the same steps with both recipes. Checked myself against the recipe several times with each. Yet one was an amazing success and the other an abject failure.

Isn't that like life? In a spiritual sense you could say God was the missing ingredient. Everything was in place with the bread for a warm, fluffy, yeasty loaf of bread. Instead, I had a brick I could hardly knock out of the pan. God's been challenging me lately to examine my life and see where I'm leaving Him out of the mix.

I have the best intentions in the world. I truly want to live a life that pleases Him. But in the day to day, I sometimes fall short.

So here's to working this summer to keeping God at the center of our lives so He can whip our ingredients into something beautiful that will bring life to those around us.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Guest Post: Meeting Daddy

Amy was six weeks pregnant when her husband’s army unit deployed to Iraq for eighteen months. I felt my friend’s pain deep in my bones, aching with a brand of grief reserved only for times like that. Caring for her two young children and their home would be stress enough for her without the added demands and challenges of a new baby on the way. Concern for her husband’s safety would mask every remotely joyful moment. The wonder of labor and delivery lay shrouded in loneliness. And the child would be many months old before meeting his or her daddy for the first time.

Change a few details and backtrack more than fifty years and that was my story.

My father served with the Marines during the Korean Conflict. Four days after I was born, his unit shipped out, leaving my mom and me to fend for ourselves for the next thirteen months. When relating my personal history, I have to start with that. It shaped my beginnings. I lived my first thirteen months seven thousand miles away from the dad who loved me and wasn’t allowed to hold me until I was already walking and capable of squirming out of his arms.

He’d read magazines during Mom’s labor. Fathers weren’t welcome in the delivery room in those days. He saw his first glimpses of me through the nursery window. Then he obediently reported for duty aboard the ship that would take him far from us and into the arms of daily danger.

In an era before the invention of camcorders, camera phones, and e-mail, my mother and father had only air mail letters to connect their hearts. Letters and scalloped-edged black and white photos.

As the firstborn child, my photo album bulged, all the more so since still pictures offered my dad his only tangible evidence that I was alive, growing, and as happy as a child can be without her father.

Mom would have sent him a lock of my hair from my first haircut if I’d had any to spare. When I learned to blow kisses, she’d “collect” some in an envelope to send to him. An amateur artist, Daddy sketched cartoonish scenes from his Marine unit—jeeps and tents and enlisted men and helicopters. Even before I understood a word she said, my mom read those letters to me over and over again. They were my lullabies. She showed me his picture and talked about what a wonderful daddy I had.

Mom wanted me to know who he was and what he was like before he came home. From the stories they’ve told, both of my parents were nervous about that first meeting. They worried I’d be frightened of the stranger who was my father. He’d survived the war, but my fearing or resisting him would have killed him, they said.

To compound the concern, I was just at that age when a toddler begins to fear strangers. Somebody would smile at me in church and I’d start screaming.

But my mom had prepared me well. The pictures. The letters. Her gentle words about how much that smiling man in the pictures loved me. I’m told that when he finally came home and walked through the front door, I looked up at my mom, pointed to the tall Marine and asked, “Daddy?” Mom nodded, her throat imploding on itself. Her nod was all the assurance I needed. The next minute I was in his arms, dodging his tears of gratitude that I’d accepted him.

I give my mother a lot of credit for the success of that first meeting. She had prepared me well, leaving nothing to chance. My toddler mind entertained no doubt that he cared about me. I knew that truth before he even got home from the war because of what my mother taught me about him.

If the Lord walked into the room in a few minutes, would the people around me recognize Him not by His beard or hair or flowing robes, but because of how I have described Him?

Would people meeting Him for the first time find the situation comfortable and reassuring because of how well I prepared them?

Am I constantly showing others snapshots of the Lord through the way I live and love, the things I say about Him, the things He said that I pass on to them?

Do I talk about Him frequently, with loving words, expressing how very much He loves even those who have not yet met Him?

Would His sudden presence seem intimidating and frightening, or more like a warm homecoming?

In light of how you and I act day to day, would others respond to His entrance into their lives this way:

“Oh, sure! I recognize Him. I've heard my neighbor talk about Him. I've seen my coworker act like that. I've heard those same affirming words coming out of my brother-in-law's mouth. I've seen examples of what He's like. His amazing love and generosity and compassion and caring don't surprise me at all. They are just what I expected from what my friend shared about Him. I heard that His touch brings healing. I heard that He can help make sense out of the questions that trouble me. I didn't need more of an introduction than the one my friend already gave me. I’d recognize Jesus a mile away.”

Pictures and reflections and stories and evidence still lack the wonder of that first face-to-face encounter. As I Corinthians 13:12 (KJV) reminds us, “For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face; now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.”

Cynthia Ruchti writes stories of “hope that glows in the dark.” The drama/devotional radio broadcast Cynthia writes and produces—The Heartbeat of the Home—airs on 16 radio stations and two cable/digital television stations. Cynthia is editor of the ministry’s Backyard Friends magazine. She also serves as current president of American Christian Fiction Writers. Her debut novel—They Almost Always Come Home—releases in spring 2010 with Abingdon Press.

*Article reprint from Victory in Grace.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Congratulations to the new winners

Congratulations to the latest winners:

Ladybug is the winner of Daisy Chain.

Emma, please contact me so we can get you your copy of Tour de Force.

And Kristen and Jo won copies of Never the Bride. Kristen, please email me.

Those who need to email me, you have one week to contact me before I draw another name. Congrats, ladies!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

A Bride in the Bargain Review

A Bride In The Bargain: You may not know this, but I started reading historical fiction when people told me that A Bride Most Begrudging would change my opinion about the genre being worn out. They were right. And Deeanne has done it again with A Bride in the Bargain.

I'm not allowing myself to read much right now because I'm under different deadlines. To meet them, I simply can't inhale books like I usually love to do. So this book I have savored a few chapters at a time, when I have longed to curl up with a blanket and tall glass of sweet tea and race through it.

With A Bride in the Bargain you'll travel back in time to the days after the Civil War and travel with a Mercer bride to the Seattle area. The only trouble is this gal doesn't know she's a Mercer bride, she thinks she's traveling to be a cook. You can imagine the sparks that fly with the correction of her ideas. The spiritual thread is layered into the story in a way that adds to the dimensions of the hero and heroine. And the romance is -- spicy spaghetti as a another blogger that has referred to Julie Lessman's books. This is not your grandmother's romance. Instead, the hero and heroine are well aware of each other, they just resist.

I have thoroughly enjoyed this book. If you're looking for a fresh historical romance set in a time and location that isn't done, check this book out. It's worthy of the addition to your reading list.


The Wedding Is All Planned...
Someone Just Needs to Tell the Bride

In 1860s Seattle, redwoods were plentiful but women scarce. Yet a man with a wife could secure 640 acres of timberland for free.

Joe Denton doesn't have a wife, though. His died before she could follow him to Seattle and now the local judge is threatening to take away his claim. In desperation, he buys himself a Mercer bride--one of the eastern widows and orphans brought to the Territory by entrepreneur Asa Mercer.

Anna Ivey's journey west with Mercer is an escape from the aftermath of the Civil War. She signed on to become a cook--not a bride. When she's handed over to Denton, her stubborn refusal to wed jeopardizes his land. With only a few months before he loses all he holds dear, can he convince this provoking, but beguiling, easterner to become his lawfully wedded wife?

If you would like to read the first chapter of A Bride In The Bargain, go HERE

Deeanne Gist, the bestselling author of A Bride Most Begrudging and The Measure of a Lady, has a background in education and journalism. Her credits include People magazine, Parents, and Parenting. With a line of parenting products called "I Did It!® Productions" and a degree from Texas A&M, she continues her writing and speaking. She and her family live in Houston, Texas.

Since the debut of those novels, her very original, very fun romances have rocketed up the bestseller lists and captured readers everywhere. Add to this two consecutive Christy Awards, two RITA nominations, rave reviews, and a growing loyal fan base, and you’ve got one recipe for success.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

No-Cost Big Reward Father's Day Gift Ideas

There we sat at dinner - a time that, in my mind, is supposed to be calm and non-stressful. (I've heard food digests better.) But, after a draining workday, little things can seem huge. The kids were planning yet another summer business endeavor which crawled all over my husband. He began lecturing the negatives of such an endeavor...point 1, point 2...I felt like we were in a business meeting. I must have rolled my eyes. I glanced at my daughter who wasn't listening to her father. She was looking at me. Her response to point 1 and 2: rolling her eyes.

Children do what we do . . . Boy, that's a scary thought for me. How do you treat your husband? Do you respect him with your words, actions, attitudes, eyes? I struggle sometimes when I feel so justified in my disrespect. Can you relate? I think the best thing we as moms can do to help our children to respect their dad is to treat him with respect ourselves. Here are some Father's Day (and everyday) tips to help our children respect their fathers:

  • A compliment a day goes a long way! Brag on your husband in front of your children (and in front of him).
  • Show me the love! Let your children know how much you love their daddy. Show affection in front of your children. They may say, "Yuck!" but it provides much needed security for their lives.
  • Instead of being put-out -Pray! Include your children in praying for dad's job, leadership, etc.
  • Give him grace . . . Show him grace even when he doesn't deserve it . . . remember, neither do we. Nehemiah 9:17b says "But you are a forgiving God, gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love."
  • Phone Manners. Next time you are in the middle of something and your husband calls you on the phone, be aware of your tone of voice, are you respectful? . . . little ears may be listening and learning.
  • "Daddy's Home!" Be as excited to see your husband when he comes home from work as your children are! Make yourself stop what you are doing to greet him.
  • Choose your battles -When you think your husband is being unfair (and it's a battle you need to fight) talk to your husband in private; listen first and speak last. Psalm 141:3 "Set a guard over my mouth O Lord; keep watch over the door of my lips."
Try these no-cost (big rewards) Father's Day gift ideas and see if it proves to be the gift that truly keeps on giving!

Laurie Lovejoy Hilliard and Sharon Lovejoy Autry are wives, moms, sisters and great friends. They are the founders of Mom and Loving It Ministries whose mission is to provide hope for families by encouraging and equipping moms.

After these sisters and their families toured 40 states speaking and singing to thousands of moms, they settled in the North Texas area near their hometown of Whitesboro. They've been featured on numerous TV and radio shows and have written Mom and Loving It: Finding Contentment in REAL Life, and Hold You, Mommy: Moments with God for Moms on the Go. Their musical CD, Hold You, Mommy has encouraged thousands. Laurie and her husband Charles, have four children, Sharon and her husband Pat, have three.

This twosome inspires audiences at their Mom and Loving It Conferences to move from simply enduring motherhood to enjoying it. Through their genuine hearts and relatable stories, moms are put at ease and challenged to be a "Mom and Loving It!"

To find out more about using their books as studies in your ladies group, having them for a conference or to sign up for a free monthly Mom-e-Moment visit them at http://www.momandlovingit.org/

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Never The Bride Review & Giveaway

I was delighted to be asked to read and endorse this book. Rene Gutteridge is a writer with a great comedic voice and her enthusiasm for this project was contagious. Then I read the book.

Never the Bride is a delightful book. Jessie, the heroine and star of the book, is a wise-cracking, sarcastic gal I'd love to take to lunch. This book had me in stitches as I laughed with Jessie, in tears as I felt her pain and desperation. If you're looking for a book that's more than a romance, this is the book. This novel will speak to the heart of every woman who's ever sought the perfect man, by pointing them to the perfect romance.

You will be challenged as you read Jessie's struggles to give up the purple pen. She's determined to plan her life -- anyone relate? Even if you're happily married, this book has a underlying message that will resonate and have you examining your heart. This book truly is so much more than a romance.

Leave a comment about the thing God has challenged you to give up to Him, and I'll enter you in the contest to win this book. I have two to giveaway, so if we get over 20 comments, I'll give one to two lucky people.

More about the book:

Jessie Stone has spent thirty-five years fantasizing about marriage proposals, wedding dresses, and falling in love. She’s been a bridesmaid eleven times, waved dozens of couples off to sunny honeymoons, and shopped in more department stores for half-price fondue pots than she cares to remember.

But shopping in the love-of-her-life department hasn't been quite as productive. The man she thought she would marry cheated on her. The crush she has on her best friend Blake is at very best…well, crushing. And speed dating has only churned out memorable horror stories.

So when God shows up one day, in the flesh, and becomes a walking, talking part of her life, Jessie is skeptical. What will it take to convince her that God has a better love story than one of the thousands she’s cooked up in her journals? Will she trust Him with her pen when it appears her dreams of being the bride are forever lost?

A romantic comedy with a spiritual twist, Never the Bride is what it means to lose control—and getting more than any woman could ever imagine.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Tour de Force by Elizabeth White & Giveaway

Beth has graciously agreed to give away an autographed copy of this book, so be sure to play along and leave a comment!
Isn't this cover beautiful! I purposefully didn't ask for this book for review. I'll buy it after I turn this next book in, but here's the blurb...doesn't it sound good. And keep reading for something fun they asked us "creative" types to try...

Tour de Force by Elizabeth White.

Gillian Kincade is a soloist with Ballet New York, a sought-after guest artist, and a committed Christian. Though she may be an anomaly in the world of dance, Gilly believes her devotion to God isn’t compromised by following her dreams. Then she meets Jacob Ferrar.

Jacob is the brilliant young artistic director of the Birmingham Ballet Theatre and a born-again Christian. When he offers Gillian the lead in his latest ballet she accepts, knowing it won’t necessarily further her career, but it will touch her soul.

On the chaotic road to opening night, Gilly and Jacob develop a deep professional respect for each other and begin to fall in love. Then their brilliant first performance is destroyed by a terrible accident, and suddenly both must face an uncertain future. Together, they dance the fine line between personal vision and God’s will, listening for the guidance of the Father’s heart. You can learn more about Elizabeth's books at http://elizabethwhite.net.

Okay, so here's the fun thing. They asked us to write an acrostic using the letters in the title. Um, I'm so not creative in that respect. So prepare to laugh as you read this! I'm calling this an ode to summer :-)

UVA rays
Delicious ice cream
Everybody dance now
Frolic in the sun
Outside all day
Roast marshmallows
Carefree days
Evaporates too quickly

Tada (envision bow here). Anyone want to play? Leave an acrostic for one of the words in the title, and I'll have my kids select a winner. The winner can have their choice from my stack of giveaway books. So leave your acrostics :-)

Friday, June 12, 2009

Guest Post: Saved By the Bell

A Summer to Remember -- Sharon Lovejoy Autry

The final bell rang. The kids screamed for joy. Mom sits in the carpool line wondering, "What in the world are we going to do all summer?!"

Maybe as summer has begun, you've found yourself resentful and angry because your children constantly "interrupt" your schedule. If that's how you're feeling, you're normal.

But, wait. We wanted these kids, right? Are they really interruptions or blessings in disguise? How can we move from simply surviving the summer to making it a summer to remember?

Here are a few ideas to get you out of the summer survival rut:

1. Realize they won't be this way forever. What is it about your kids that you won't have in two years? If you are a parent of:

Preschoolers: Look at their hands and notice how tiny they are. Enjoy that.
Elementary children: When you're away from home, call them. Their voices sound small on the phone. That always reminds me to enjoy their innocence rather than expecting them to act like little grown-ups.
Tweens: Laugh at and enjoy their giggles (usually girls) and the fascination they have with being gross (usually boys)! Hopefully that won't last forever!
Teens: Even if they are driving you crazy, make your home the safe place. I still remember the fun place our parents created at home. It was our refuge. Let kids feel safe in your home by cutting down on the criticism and looking for ways to build them up. Mom and Dad's secret was a ping-pong table. We spent hours there.
2. Say "no" with a smile. It makes you and your child feel better. They know you have some regret at having to say no. You are on their team.

3. Play music. Anger and music don't usually dance. Movie soundtracks, praise songs, music from my teen years or even classical stations. I rarely find myself upset with my kids when we have music playing in the background.

4. Go outside. Sometimes taking a walk or bike ride with the kids can do wonders to change everyone's perspective.

5. Things aren't always as they seem. Remember that the way you are seeing things at this moment is probably not how it will look in a couple of hours. Frustrations can build and dissolve quickly when you have kids.

6. Offer them 30 minutes of your time. After they have helped pick up around the house let them pick what the two of you will do together and watch their eyes light up! For older kids, offer them the day off after helping for an hour.

7. Ask your kids what they think is fun. You might be surprised to find that their idea of fun often doesn't cost any money. My sister was amazed to find that her 7-year-old son's idea of "fun" was playing tag in the front yard with dad, mom and his little sister.

8. Slow down. Successful parenting doesn't mean you have your children involved in every possible extra-curricular activity. Successful parenting means you are there for them. If you've been running all year, it takes "practice" to enjoy staying home. Don't give up. Turn off the computer, TV, cell phone, etc. and read or play games (no matter what the age of your children).

9. Pray. When you are at your wit's end, ask God to help you remember what to do with your kids. On our own, it's hard to enjoy the moments because "life happens." But God has a way of giving us perspective that will slow us down and help us see our families the way He sees them: with love and compassion.

The next time you blow your top or realize you're just surviving your kids instead of enjoying their clumsy feet, silliness, or their constant desire to talk on the phone, stop and think, "one day I'll miss this!" The funny thing is, tomorrow we'll be longing for today. If we choose to think like that long enough, the kids won't be the only ones sad to hear the school bell ring this fall.

Sharon (Lovejoy) Autry, a mom of 3, co-authored Mom and Loving It, Finding Contentment in REAL Life with her sister, Laurie (Lovejoy) Hilliard, mom of 4. http://

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

ACFW Conference: The place for writers

I am so excited -- the countdown to the ACFW conference is on -- just look to the right on my blog. I love, love, love going to conference, even though I've been on the board the last two years and worked through most of it. There's nothing like the energy, fellowship, worship and learning that occurs at ACFW.

If I counted right there are 17 editors and 12 agents taking appointments - and others are teaching without the appointments. Just look at the list of publihsers:
Abingdon Press
B&H Publishing Group (formerly Broadman & Holman)
Bethany House Publishers
Guideposts Books
Harvest House
Steeple Hill
Summerside Press
Thomas Nelson
Tyndale House

And I am so excited about the early bird! Don Maass, author of the Breakout Novel and Fire in Fiction will lead that session. Then there are the continuing sessions, workshops and late night chats. The opportunities to develop your fiction writing is unparalleled. So check it out. I hope to see you in Denver on September 17-20!

Monday, June 08, 2009

Winners and a New Giveaway

I took a few minutes last night to select winners. I love the random number generator a friend gave me. Takes the mystery out of trying to pick winners without bias :-) Anita Yancy won the copy of A Claim of Her Own by Stephanie Whitson and Raspberrygirl and Anne won copies of my latest release: A Promise Kept.

Also stay tuned, I'm thinking of fun ways to get you involved in telling the world about my Heartsong Presents books. Would you like to help? If so, leave some ideas on ways you could help tell people about my books. I'll compile them and give you the opportunity to participate. I need to do a little more thinking before I totally roll that out.

I'm still in a giving mood. So I'm going to giveaway a copy of Mary DeMuth's Daisy Chain. It's southern fiction at its literary and heart tugging finest!

Friday, June 05, 2009

Is ACFW for You?

I've been a member of ACFW for more than four years, and credit belonging to the organization with helping me launch my writing career. If you were to ask me what you should do if you're serious about writing, I'd point you to ACFW.

Recently, our president developed answers to commonly asked questions about whether ACFW is for you...

Have you spoken with writers who are unsure if they should join ACFW? Are you a writer who joined but is unsure this is where you belong?

We sometimes hear questions like these. You might find your own concern among them.

I'm not published yet. Do I belong in ACFW?

MOST of our members are unpublished, but are working TOWARD publication. You're welcomed with open arms. Here you will find training in fiction writing and information about the Christian fiction industry that will help you reach the Lord's goals for your writing. Note that His goals may or may not include publication, but we will work with you, encourage you, and pray for you while you find out.

I write non-fiction exclusively. Do I belong in ACFW?

Although some of our members write both fiction and non-fiction, almost everything ACFW does is geared toward the novelist and the Christian fiction market. Good writing principles carry over into both "camps," and using fiction techniques brings new life to non-fiction. But unless you write fiction, you may find it more beneficial to join one of the organizations that addresses non-fiction writing, publishing, and markets. Whatever you decide, you'll want to note that discussion on the loop needs to stay focused on fiction writing topics.

I just want to promote my book here. Do I belong in ACFW?

Our primary objectives are training writers, educating them in Christian fiction, and serving as an advocate for the Christian fiction industry. Promotion of our authors is not a key function but a great byproduct of the relationships made within ACFW. The connections you make here--as well as the opportunities for enlisting book reviewers and getting your book considered for New Releases and our Author lists on the website--will help get the word out to other authors and the readers who frequent our website. But your strongest promotional endeavors will come from other sources than ACFW. However, education ABOUT promotion and marketing is one of our strong suits. Sharing information about promotional opportunities happens all the time within ACFW.

I'm self-published. Do I belong in ACFW?

ACFW's mission and vision are to prepare novelists for success in traditional publishing, helping our members strive for excellence in the craft and develop skills that will help their books attract the attention of CBA publishers. Other groups may focus more on self-publication goals. From the beginning, ACFW has sought to prepare authors and their books for acceptance by CBA publishers. We aren't tailored to guide writers to well-respected self-publishers or to help promote self-published books. Self-publishing has a different dynamic, especially in the world of fiction. But there are still ways in which you may benefit greatly from ACFW membership. As you take advantage of the wealth of knowledge and information in our craft-training classes, our website archives, and our main loop, you will grow in your craft and become even more skilled at the kind of writing the Lord has designed for you, no matter what type of publication outreach He has in mind specifically for you.

I'm multi-published and have a strong marketing team, a great agent, and more contracts than I can manage. Do I belong in ACFW?

Do you need to know that other writers understand your challenges? Do you appreciate the encouragement of those who are blessed by what you write? If you are multi-published, you no doubt have learned the secret--that a writer can never stop learning. Just as a prolific author always is digging into (or back into) a craft classic, he or she can benefit from fresh ways of looking at subjects like POV, deepening emotion, writer's block, character motivations... Or you may find your greatest joy in ACFW membership is the opportunity to help other writers over the hurdles you conquered long ago, or in some aspect of mentoring through your knowledgeable answers to the main loop. You'll find both camaraderie with other multi-published authors and plenty of opportunity to assist the yet-to-be-published in their writing journey.

ACFW is always looking to expand and enhance what we offer to both the newcomer and the veteran novelist. We understand that we can't meet every need, nor can we fully focus on every aspect of fiction that deserves attention. But we're working very hard to show that if you're serious about writing great novels, this is where you belong!

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Cornhusker Dreams

If you've been waiting to read Canteen Dreams, Sandhill Dreams, and Captive Dreams, Barbour is rereleasing them in one volume in November. Just in time for Christmas giving :-)

I received the copy of the cover last week. Isn't it great! There is something so exciting about seeing the cover for a book. Brings new life to the concept all over again.

Monday, June 01, 2009

A Promise Kept Arrived!

Thursday I received copies of my latest book. I love the UPS man!

Isn't this a beautiful cover. I've been so pleased with Heartsong Presents. They have been so wonderful to work with. And this image captures the book.

Can new love endure such heartbreaking trials?

Josie begins her newlywed life with excitement and love. Art Wilson is everything she hoped for in a husband. It seems her prayers have been answered as many dreams come true. But when one dream dies, Josie is not sure her wounded heart will ever heal.

Art Wilson adores his bride and can't spend enough time with her. But he never anticipated how challenging marriage could be, especially with the distraction of a new job in a strange city coupled with the arrival of a distant cousin seeking refuge from the bombings in London.

Josie and Art both wonder where God is when one dream dies and another is blessed. Can they keep the promises they made and build a love that will last a lifetime?

In honor of it's arrival, I'll pick a winner from those who leave comments. For every ten comments, I'll pull one winner. So leave your comments. I'll pick winners next week.


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