Monday, May 31, 2010

Thank you!

Today is Memorial Day.

Thank you to all the men and women who have served and currently serve in our military. We really should say thank you all the the time, not just the few times a year that the calendar reminds us to say thank you.

I think of the sacrifices soldiers like my Dad made. He enlisted in the Army after graduating from high school and spent a tour in Vietnam flying Hueys like the one in this photo.

After he came back, he eventually joined the National Guard where he flew through 2001. His unit was called up during the First Gulf War and spent several weeks at Ft. Riley before shipping to Saudi Arabia. I was sixteen at the time and in my first year of college. I vividly remember working at the NBC affiliate the night that Iraq started throwing SCUDS at Israel and thinking my Dad's in the middle of that fight. I remember joking about Dad's all-expense paid, government vacation to the great kitty-liter box. It was that or cry. And that wasn't an option, not with three siblings watching.

My Dad is an amazing guy. He's served in two wars and flew for many years in the Army and National Guard. But my Mom is an amazing woman. Without her support, he couldn't have done that. They eloped on Dad's way to Vietnam, so she's lived all of that with him. And I'll never forget watching her strength as she kept the businesses running, continued to homeschool three children, and did so much while Dad was in the Gulf.

So today, thank the military. But also thank their families. Without the families, it would be difficult or impossible for our soldiers to do what they do for our country.

Friday, May 28, 2010

More thoughts on the Promised Land

Okay, so one post wasn't quite enough. Here are a couple more.

Have you ever thought about the fact that the Promised Land that God gave us in the past may not be today's Promised Land?

Huh? Step back. Reread that.

If God has called us to move into something new, then what was the Promised Land just became our current Egypt. When I realized that a couple weeks ago, it hit me square between the eyes. How many times have I said, but this is where God wanted keep from moving forward.

We get comfortable. We get complacent. We begin to believe the lie that the past is all God has for us. But what if the past was to test our accountability? To test our faithfulness? And now God wants to give us more?

But I keep holding on to the past. Refusing to move forward with Him. Yikes! That's sin.

So, Father, please help me to have the vision to look for the Promised Land You have for me today. Help me to guard against complacency.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

What made Joshua and Caleb different?

I'm on tight deadline crunch this week, so this may be my last post of the week. We'll see. :-)

But wanted to let you know about one of the things I've been ruminating on the last couple weeks. What made Joshua and Caleb different from the other ten spies.

1) They were all selected to go into the Promised Land as spies because they were leaders in their tribes. That suggests to me they had some vision and standing in their communities.

2) They had all just walked through the Red Sea. On dry land. With the water held back by the invisible hand of God. Can you imagine?

3) They'd all just lived the series of miracle and plagues in Egypt. They had seen God's hand at work on their behalf to free them from Egypt. Not once. Not twice. But ten times.

Yet when these 12 walked through the Promised Land, only two could look at that environment and apply what had just happened. So the men are big. Who cares? Our God is much bigger. So the land seems like we'll have to fight for it. Who cares? My God just fought to free from generations of slavery.

Somehow, Joshua and Caleb had the vision to see that if God had moved in the past, He would move now. It was no big deal for God.

Lord, make me like Joshua and Caleb. Help me to see the situation as You do. That You are always bigger and mightier. And that You are more than able to do exceedingly, abundantly more.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Love this: Swagger Wagon

I don't have a minivan...yet. I love my Chrysler Pacifica. But this just about sells me. Thanks to the delightful Jenny B. Jones for making me aware of the "Swagger Wagon."

So sit back, smile, and celebrate your roles as mother and father to a posse. :-)

Friday, May 21, 2010

CFBA Tour: Predator by Terri Blackstock

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing



Terri Blackstock

I LOVED this book, even as it bothered, me and reminded me why we have to be so very careful about what we expose online. I picked it up one night and finished it the next. The writing is powerful -- one of Terri's best -- as she explores the dangers and pitfalls of online communities, all the while weaving a suspense that has the perfect thread of romance. The characters' emotions were real and deep. I could easily imagine feeling the same despair, doubt and grief that Krista and her father experienced -- though they dealt with it in different, yet similar ways. This book will pull you through the pages. And even though I guessed who the villain was about halfway through the book, it didn't slow down my reading as I waited to confirm whether I was correct. If you like suspense with a romantic thread, this is a great book for your summer reading list.


The murder of Krista Carmichael's fourteen-year-old sister by an online predator has shaken her faith and made her question God's justice and protection. Desperate to find the killer, she creates an online persona to bait the predator. But when the stalker turns his sights on her, will Krista be able to control the outcome?

Ryan Adkins started the social network GrapeVyne in his college dorm and has grown it into a billion-dollar corporation. But he never expected it to become a stalking ground for online Predators. One of them lives in his town and has killed two girls and attacked a third. When Ryan meets Krista, the murders become more than a news story to him, and everything is on the line.

Joining forces, he and Krista set out to stop the killer. But when hunters pursue a hunter, the tables can easily turn. Only God can protect them now.

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

Watch the book trailer video!

Terri Blackstock’s books have sold six million copies worldwide. Her suspense novels often debut at number one on the Christian fiction best-seller lists, and True Light, published last year, was number one of all Christian books—fiction and non-fiction. Blackstock has had twenty-five years of success as a novelist.

In 1994 Blackstock was writing for publishers such as HarperCollins, Harlequin and Silhouette, when a spiritual awakening drew her into the Christian market. Since that time, she’s written over thirty Christian titles, in addition to the thirty-two she had in the secular market. Her most recent books are the four in her acclaimed Restoration Series, which includes Last Light, Night Light, True Light and Dawn’s Light. She is also known for her popular Newpointe 911 and Cape Refuge Series.

In addition to her suspense novels, she has written a number of novels in the women’s fiction genre, including Covenant Child, which was chosen as one of the first Women of Faith novels, and her Seasons Series written with Beverly LaHaye, wife of Tim LaHaye.

Blackstock has won the Retailer’s Choice Award and has appeared on national television programs such as The 700 Club, Home Life, and At Home Live with Chuck and Jenny. She has been a guest on numerous radio programs across the country and the subject of countless articles. The story of her personal journey appears in books such as Touched By the Savior by Mike Yorkey, True Stories of Answered Prayer by Mike Nappa, Faces of Faith by John Hanna, and I Saw Him In Your Eyes by Ace Collins.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Congratulations to the 2010 Genesis Finalists

I'd like to offer a huge congratulations to the finalists of the ACFW 2010 Genesis Contest, a contest for unpublished writers. Many who final go on to receive contracts from publishers. Can't wait to see who wins!

(total entries: 47)

Cindy Hays
Lynnette P. Horner
Chris Kraft
Mark Lundgren
Christina S. Nelson

(total entries: 63)

Jeannie Campbell
Sarah Forgrave
Janice LaQuiere
Rebecca Syme
Linda Yezak

(total entries: 35)

Laurie Benton
Brenda Jackson
Robert Kaku
Lisa Karon Richardson
Katie-Marie Stout

(total entries: 65)

Susanne Dietze
Anne Greene
Pam Hillman
Lisa Karon Richardson
Ruth Trippy

(total entries: 45)

Rich Bullock
Barbara Early (double finalist with two entries)
Lynda Schab
Chawna Schroeder

ROMANTIC SUSPENSE (there was a two-way tie for the fifth finalist slot):
(total entries: 50)

Valerie Goree
Mindy Obenhaus
Leslie Pfeil
Dianna Shuford
Teri Dawn Smith
Terri Weldon

(total entries: 49)

Ben Erlichman
Suzanne Krein
Shelley Ledfors
Andra Marquardt
Holly Smit

WOMEN'S FICTION (there was a three-way tie for the fifth finalist slot):
(total entries: 76)

Lisa Buffaloe
Jennifer Fromke
Terri Haynes
Fay Lamb
Christina S. Nelson
Melissa Tagg
Michelle Ule

(total entries: 56)

Angela Bell
Lin Harris
Kasey Heinly
LoraLee Kodzo
Stefanie Morris

The winners will be announced on September 19th at the annual ACFW Conference in Indianapolis.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Story Behind "He Loves Us..."

Y'all know I love this song. Here's a great piece about the story behind the song. If you're like me, then things like this are interesting. I am truly amazed that songwriters can pack so much into a little song.

Haven't we all had times that life doesn't seem fair. We wonder why God allows the things He does. Yet the strength of His love is amazing and overwhelming.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Goals Redux

Remember that elaborate goals post I had earlier this month. It looked so good! Well, it all went out the window when my editors asked me to rehash a book again. I'm glad to do it, but it means I won't start writing the next book this month. Bye-bye, that goal. And I won't get to the synopsis I wanted to write. Sob.

But isn't that how life is. We make a goal. And then life happens.

The kid gets sick.

The boss asks for something different.

Our spouse has to travel a lot unexpectedly.

That's okay. Even if it weren't, we have to adjust. So here are my revised goals:

  1. Rewrite book four in the Guidepost series based on the revised outline. Hit it out of the park so all love it.
  2. Keep thinking about characters for a synopsis for a World War II series that is bouncing through my mind. While I LOVE this idea, recognize it won't get written this month.
  3. Start teaching my summer MBA business law class at Purdue. This is my sixth year I believe. I love teaching this class and can't wait to meet my new group of students.
  4. Finish the homeschooling. We do summer school a couple days a week most of the summer -- keep the math fresh and emphasize subjects that we agree on. But the kids and I are both looking forward to being done with five days a week.
  5. Research another World War II idea that is percolating -- this will have to hold until June.
  6. And start a proposal requested by one of my editors -- this will have to hold until June.
  7. Bible study at church for 4-6th grade girls -- this is going great! Up to 14 girls a week, which shows there was a real need.
  8. And there will be lots of work with the ACFW conference, too -- this doesn't change. Stay tuned for more.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Crossing Oceans CFBA Book Tour and Review

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Crossing Oceans
Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. (May 1, 2010)

Gina Holmes

Cara's review: this book is haunting and gripping. Jenny Lucas is dying and has to mend fences back home as she prepares her young daughter for a future without her. Usually, books with such deep and sad topics don't attract me, but I've heard such good things about Crossing Oceans, I had to give it a try. I am so glad I did. Written entirely from Jenny's perspective, the book dives quickly into the relationships that have to be mended. As Jenny's health declines, the stakes are raised. The writing sucked me in, and I couldn't leave the book alone until I reached the end, with huge tears rolling down my face. Tess Gerritsen calls the book "Poignant and unforgettable, this book will break your heart -- and then put the pieces back together again." I wholeheartedly agree.


Jenny Lucas swore she’d never go home again. But being told you’re dying has a way of changing things. Years after she left, she and her five-year-old daughter, Isabella, must return to her sleepy North Carolina town to face the ghosts she left behind. They welcome her in the form of her oxygen tank–toting grandmother, her stoic and distant father, and David, Isabella’s dad . . . who doesn’t yet know he has a daughter. As Jenny navigates the rough and unknown waters of her new reality, the unforgettable story that unfolds is a testament to the power of love and its ability to change everything—to heal old hurts, bring new beginnings . . . even overcome the impossible. A stunning debut about love and loss from a talented new voice.


Gina Holmes began her career in 1998, penning articles and short stories. In 2005 she founded the influential literary blog, Novel Journey. She holds degrees in science and nursing and currently resides with her husband and children in southern Virginia. To learn more about her, visit May 2010's issue of CFOM at Interview with Gina Holmes or Novel Journey.

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

Watch the Video Book Trailer:

A Woman Called Sage CFBA Book Tour and Review

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing

A Woman Called Sage
Zondervan (April 1, 2010)

DiAnn Mills
Cara's Review:
This book has the best of historical fiction. Compelling Characters. Unique setting. Hints of romance. And a nice dose of suspense. Set in Colorado, it is Sage's story of hunting the men who killed her husband and unborn child. To accomplish that she becomes a bounty hunter in 1880s Colorado. Unlikely career choice for a woman. She tangles with a marshal that she must work with to survive. The book has fast pacing, and the pages turn with speed.


They took away everything she, she’s out for revenge.

Sage Morrow had it all: life on a beautiful Colorado ranch, a husband who adored her, and a baby on the way. Until five ruthless gunmen rode up to their ranch and changed her life forever. Now Sage is a bounty hunter bent on retribution.

Accompanied only by her majestic hawk, she travels throughout the Rocky Mountains in search of injustice, determined to stamp it out wherever it’s found. The stakes are raised when two young boys are kidnapped and Sage is forced to work with Marshall Parker Timmons to rescue them. But Sage may ultimately get more than she bargained for.

In this exciting historical romance set in the late 1800s, murder, intrigue, kidnapping, and questions of faith will keep you in suspense until the final pages.

Award-winning author, DiAnn Mills, launched her career in 1998 with the publication of her first book. Currently she has over forty books in print and has sold more than a million copies.

DiAnn believes her readers should “Expect an Adventure.” DiAnn Mills is a fiction writer who combines an adventuresome spirit with unforgettable characters to create action-packed novels.

Six of her anthologies have appeared on the CBA Best Seller List. Three of her books have won the distinction of Best Historical of the Year by Heartsong Presents. Five of her books have won placements through American Christian Fiction Writer’s Book of the Year Awards 2003 – 2007, and she is the recipient of the Inspirational Reader’s Choice award for 2005 and 2007. She was a Christy Awards finalist in 2008.

DiAnn is a founding board member for American Christian Fiction Writers, a member of Inspirational Writers Alive, Romance Writers of America’s Faith, Hope and Love, and Advanced Writers and Speakers Association. She speaks to various groups and teaches writing workshops around the country. DiAnn is also a mentor for Jerry B. Jenkins Christian Writer’s Guild.

If you would like to read the first chapter of A Woman Called Sage, go HERE.

Watch the Video Book Trailer:

Monday, May 10, 2010

Interview with Tim Downs

Y'all, I am sooooo excited to have Tim Downs join us today. I have enjoyed Tim's sarcastic sense of humor since Eric and I heard him speak at a couple Family Life Today Weekend to Remember retreats. He and his wife Joy added so much to those weekends, and his sly humor was so enjoyable. Then we found his first two Bugman books, which were published by Howard. I picked them up a couple times, then finally bought them -- not sure what to expect from books that had a geeky forensic entomologist as the star. They were FABULOUS!!! Think Grissom from CSI, only so much funnier.

This year, I'm delighted that Tim will be our keynote speaker at the ACFW conference. It will be such a treat for attendees! But today he's at my blog to talk about his latest book, Wonders Never Cease, which releases tomorrow. You can download the first three chapters to read from his website. While Nick is nowhere to be found in the book, it's a great read.

Tim, your next book is a bit of a departure from your last new novels. Tell us about Wonders Never Cease.

After doing three Bug Man stories in a row (First the Dead, Less than Dead, and Ends of the Earth) I needed a change of pace—something other than death and decomposition. I had the idea for Wonders Never Cease a couple of years ago but never seemed to be able to find the time to write the story, and this seemed like a good time. There are two concurrent plotlines in the story: a little girl who thinks she's seeing angels, and a neurological ICU nurse who comes up with an idea to manufacture a near-death experience for one of his patients in order to publish a book and make a fortune. I wanted to contrast legitimate spiritual experience with spiritual fakery, because both of them are out there. On one level Wonders is a just-for-fun story, but on another level it has some very profound ideas.

Eric thoroughly enjoyed the book -- and he's a very critical reader. Folks, he said the characters engage you quickly and carry you on a ride that takes you unexpected places. I have to agree. Now back to Tim...I’ve learned that God usually teaches me something as I write each book. What did He show you as you wrote Wonders Never Cease?

He reminded me that it isn't easy to have faith in a world like this; a lot of people will think you're crazy if you do. The Bible describes faith as a fight that has to be fought, and that's what I wanted to show in Wonders. The little six-year-old girl in my story is practically persecuted for believing she's seen an angel. But why? In a universe as strange as ours, is that really so unbelievable? That's what I want readers to consider.

I love your suspense, especially the Bug Man novels. In fact my husband and I usually fight over who gets to read them first. Tell us a bit about how you came up with Nick Polchak, a wise guy of the first order. Did he step into your mind fully formed or did he tease you for awhile?

Several years ago I read an article in a science magazine about the emerging science of forensic entomology—this was before all the CSI-type forensic shows were on television. I thought a forensic entomologist would make a terrific character because they’re not law enforcement types—they’re just people who chose to get a PhD in bugs and picked up the forensic application of their science on the side. I figured an FE would make a really quirky character, someone who might even like insects more than people—and Nick Polchak was born. I think Nick has evolved a bit over the years. He might have been a little darker when I first introduced him in Shoofly Pie; he’s a bit more light-hearted these days.

And falling in love! That was a departure. What’s the strangest place you’ve found yourself doing research for a novel? Rensselaer for a forensic entomology seminar? Or somewhere else?

Definitely Rensselaer, where I did my original research on forensic entomology at a seminar where crime scene investigators are taught to collect insect evidence at crime scenes. We spent the first three hours of every day watching slides of murder victims—and they were serving Krispy Kremes in the back of the room. I’ll never look at a donut the same way again! It’s not always that grisly, though; next week I’ll be in the Poconos with my wife doing research for my next Bug Man story. I’m hoping for a heart-shaped bathtub.

You and your wife have written non-fiction books and served with Family Life Today Weekend to Remembers. If you could tell people one thing you’ve learned about marriage and how to make it work, what would that addition to reading your marriage books :-)

A healthy marriage results when two healthy individuals get married—that’s why the spiritual component of marriage is so important. It’s also important to remember that marriage isn’t just a relationship, it’s a set of skills—there are things to learn and do. Unfortunately, a lot of people entering marriage today lack those skills. That’s why conferences like the Weekend to Remember are so helpful.

Last question. If you could go anywhere in the world, where would you go and who would you take?

In my life I’ve come to believe that what you do isn’t nearly as important as who you do it with. So, to answer your question, I would go with my best friend—my wife—and it wouldn’t much matter where we would go. As long as I was with her, I’d have a great time.

Where can readers find you on the web?
My Website

Friday, May 07, 2010

Visiting D.C. Part Two

Wednesday, I barely scratched the surface of wonderful things to do while you're in D.C. Here are a few more...some of these take some advance planning unlike Wednesday's activities. Others are great to do anytime. So here goes...

The Monuments: The Lincoln Memorial, Washington Monument, Jefferson Memorial, the Vietnam Veteran's Wall, National WWII Memorial, and Korean War Memorial are all worth seeing. My recommendation -- to maximize your time -- is to walk this end of the mall at night. The Korean Memorial in particular is HAUNTING at night. We stumbled on it the first time at night, and it's still my preferred way to introduce folks to it. Al the others are pretty stunning that way as well. Think all the white marble against the dark sky. And they are lit and staffed into the night, where the Smithsonians and other buildings usually close at 5.

If the kids are joining you, then go to the National Zoo -- you can get there from downtown on the metro -- the subway will be your friend anyway, so you might as well ride it to the zoo. The zoo is very well done. We loved going there.

And a tour of the Capitol is pretty neat, too. To book a tour, you need to work through your congressman or senator's office. You can access the visitor's center without a ticket, but will need a ticket for a tour. It's best not to wait and hope to get one on the day you hope to tour. The White House tour is amazing, but again, you need some lead time to arrange - but it never hurts to call and see if you can squeeze on a tour. The link takes you to information on that.

Wow! That's a lot to see and do -- and all of those things are FREE! Well, your tax dollars at work. So be sure to take advantage of them -- and there are at least a dozen free options I didn't mention. These are simply the must do's on my list.

The one place I haven't been that I'd love to go is the Spy Museum. Imagine that! There is an entry free (it's not cheap-- $18 for adults), but I've heard it's great.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Visiting D.C.

We lived in DC for eight years after college. I LOVE that city. In fact, we're talking about getting back this year for a visit since the kids have been learning American history this year. DC is like one big history experience.

Every once in awhile a friend will ask for advice on what to see or do while they visit there. Since it's vacation planning season, here's my hit list. Today I'll talk about my absolute must-sees -- and the great thing is most of it is free!

Must dos:

Holocaust Museum. Fabulous. Thought provoking. Horrifying. All at the same time. One key...make sure you stay at the end of the ticketed exhibit to watch the survivor stories at the end to end on a hope note. It's been several years, but I believe they still operate on timed-entry tickets. So my advice is to show up first thing in the morning to get your ticket, then go see something else and return based on your entry time. The exhibit will take at least an hour. If you don't have a timed entry pass, there is a children's exhibit that I believe does not require the ticket.

National Gallery of Art: take one of the one hour tours for a quick overview of the gallery and introduction to the key paintings like the only Leonardo DaVinci in the western hemisphere. I prefer the West Gallery because it has art from the 13th century to early 2oth century. The East Gallery has the modern art -- but does have awesome temporary exhibits from time to time. And it has a wonderful impressionist collection...that's my favorite part...

The American History Museum (Smithsonian): has great exhibits, but a really fun one is the first ladies' inaugural gowns.

All three of these things are on the Mall -- so right downtown. And you can do these in a day. It'll feel a bit rushed but is doable.

Next on the list is the Air and Space Museum. The first time I went, we had one hour. My sister and I stepped foot in each exhibit...but I can't say I learned much. You could literally spend three or four hours there. I have not been to the expansion at Dulles Airport, but I've heard it's great, too. I'm referring to the one on the mall -- basically across from the National Art Gallery and near the Capital. While not inexpensive, the Air and Space Museum has a food court in it, so it's a good place to land when you're hungry. It also has an IMAX theater.

Hmm, I think that's enough for today. All of these places are great for kids and adults alike. Come back Friday for the rest of our tour of the wonderful free experiences in Washington, D.C.

Monday, May 03, 2010

Goals for this month

Last night, I sat down and sent a question to a small writer's group I'm in. What are your goals for May?

Of course, that meant I had to start with mine. So here goes...for the month of May, I will...

  1. Write 20K words on my next Guideposts novel. My editors have the outline and are super fast, so I expect to be able to start writing soon. 20K a month in May, June and July will even leave me a couple weeks for edits. That would be awesome.
  2. Develop a synopsis for a World War II series that is bouncing through my mind. I'm in research mode on it, and it's time to start doing the work of developing the characters to go with the settings and historical hooks. I LOVE this idea, and hope my agent and some editor somewhere will love it, too. Historical romance with suspense. Yeah!
  3. Start teaching my summer MBA business law class at Purdue. This is my sixth year I believe. I love teaching this class and can't wait to meet my new group of students.
  4. Finish the homeschooling. We do summer school a couple days a week most of the summer -- keep the math fresh and emphasize subjects that we agree on. But the kids and I are both looking forward to being done with five days a week.
  5. Research another World War II idea that is percolating.
  6. And start a proposal requested by one of my editors.
  7. I'm also excited that this week I'll start a new Bible study at church for 4-6th grade girls. That will be a step outside my comfort zone, but I know God is asking me to do it. Besides, it's a great group of girls. Can't wait to see what God does in them and me.
  8. And there will be lots of work with the ACFW conference, too.
There. That's it. So what are your goals?


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...