Wednesday, September 29, 2010

FBI Citizens' Academy

So I'm in the Indianapolis FBI Citizens' Academy and loving it. But I'm sure those who know me are far from surprised :-)

The evenings are often filled with lectures about different efforts of the local office from gangs to white collar crime to terrorism and violent crimes. Last night was very interesting. The first hour focused on the application of the use of deadly force policy. As an attorney, I loved the parsing of phrases and figuring out how to apply that to real life situations. It really was an eye-opening session.

But the best part was when they walked us across the street to a conference room where they'd set up a training simulator that they use with FBI agents. One at a time we were handed a modified Sig 228, which was hooked into a machine that somehow read where we shot and told us if we'd hit, nicked or missed the moving target. There were approximately 20 different scenarios that they ran us through. In each case the student was supposed to decide whether to use deadly force and then attempt to shoot.

I bracketed my guy and probably winged him. But it was interesting to watch my response and the response of my classmates. One gal nailed her bad guy. This guy was not getting back up. But the rest of us gals for the most part bracketed and nicked them.

While an interesting exercise, it also reinforced how much is affected by how someone responds. In these video scenarios, the bad guys weren't actually responding to our shots. I would think that would change in real life.

Anyway, I continue to love this experience. I've decided I fall firmly into the geek category as I take detailed notes about everything. I just never know when I'll get to use some tidbit or other in a book.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Judgement Day Review & Giveaway

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Judgment Day
WaterBrook Press (September 21, 2010)

Wanda Dyson

I LOVED this book. Wanda is a talented author who creates characters you like, then thrusts them into crazy, suspense situations. In this one, she has two people who have a PI agency take on a client one doesn't like and the other has a history with. But if they don't help her, she will be ramrodded through a criminal trial. It's a great story -- one that was so good, I endorsed it. And because I like it so much, I'm giving away a copy to one person. Just watch the trailer and leave a comment about which TV show it reminds you of.

Wanda Dyson – "a shining example of what Christian fiction is becoming..." (Christian Fiction Review). She's been called a "natural" and a "master of pacing," but her fans know that whether it's police thrillers, suspense, or bringing a true story to life, Wanda knows how to take her readers on a journey they'll never forget.

Wanda is a multipublished suspense author, currently writing for Random House/Waterbrook. Her one attempt at a nonfiction book was picked for an exclusive release on Oprah. In addition to writing full time, she is also the appointment coordinator for the CCWC, Great Philadelphia Christian Writers, and ACFW conferences.

Wanda lives in Western Maryland on a 125 acre farm with a menagerie of animals and when she's not writing critically acclaimed suspense, or away at conferences, you can find her zipping across the fields on a 4-wheeler with Maya, her German Shepherd, or plodding along at a more leisurely pace on her horse, Nanza.

With the release of her newest hit, Judgment Day, Wanda is heading back to the keyboard to start on her next high-octane thriller, The Vigilante.

Sensational journalism has never been so deadly.

The weekly cable news show Judgment Day with Suzanne Kidwell promises to expose businessmen, religious leaders, and politicians for the lies they tell. Suzanne positions herself as a champion of ethics and morality with a backbone of steel—until a revelation of her shoddy investigation tactics and creative fact embellishing put her in hot water with her employers, putting her credibility in question and threatening her professional ambitions.

Bitter and angry, Suzanne returns home one day to find an entrepreneur she is investigating, John Edward Sterling, unconscious on her living room floor. Before the night is over, Sterling is dead, she has his blood on her hands, and the police are arresting her for murder. She needs help to prove her innocence, but her only hope, private investigator Marcus Crisp, is also her ex-fiancĂ©–the man she betrayed in college.

Marcus and his partner Alexandria Fisher-Hawthorne reluctantly agree to take the case, but they won’t cut Suzanne any slack. Exposing her lack of ethics and the lives she’s destroyed in her fight for ratings does little to make them think Suzanne is innocent. But as Marcus digs into the mire of secrets surrounding her enemies, he unveils an alliance well-worth killing for. Now all he has to do is keep Suzanne and Alex alive long enough to prove it.

Watch the book trailer:

If you would like to read the Prologue and first chapter of Judgment Day, go HERE.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Classic Hollywood Reviews: Harvey

This week, I want to talk about Harvey, a classic from 1950. I know you'll be shocked when I mention that Jimmy Stewart is the star of the movie...what can I say? I really like his acting :-)

Basically, Harvey is a slap-stick comedy in which a grown man (Elwood P. Dowd) introduces everyone to his friend Harvey, a six foot tall rabbit. His sister, played to perfection by Josephine Hull, tries to commit him to a mental institution, and a comedy of errors ensues. Elwood and Harvey become the catalysts for a family mending its wounds and for romance blossoming in unexpected places.

Jospehine Hull won the Oscar for Best Actress in a Supporting Role, and when you watch the movie, you will totally understand why. But you'll wonder why Jimmy Stewart didn't win the Best Actor Oscar, especially when you consider he makes a huge, invisible rabbit seem real.

This movie is a lot of fun to watch. Even though it's from 1950, it's still black and white (at least in the version I have). And it has a basically feel good storyline that makes you want to suspend belief for the 100 or so minutes of the movie. It's a film the whole family can watch and enjoy together.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

A Hope Undaunted Review and Giveaway

I love Julie Lessman's books. A Hope Undaunted is no exception. While the first book in a new series, if you've read the other books, you will love seeing favorite characters make reappearances. Katie O’Connor is a “modern” woman in the late 1920’s who has goals for her own future – which include a husband and a career. But when she is forced to spend the summer with a hated figure from her past all her plans seem to be tossed to the wind. A gripping story painted in the late 1920s. Wonderful romance, and rich cast of characters. LOVE IT!

One Grand Prize winner will receive a KINDLE preloaded with Julie Lessman's latest title. The Prize Pack (valued at over $150.00) includes:
* A brand new KINDLE, with Wi-Fi
* A Hope Undaunted by Julie Lessman
To enter, simply click on the icons below to fill out the entry form and be sure to tell your friends about the contest. Oh, and enter soon! Winner will be announced on October 7th.

Not only is Julie hosting the fabulous KINDLE giveaway, but also a FACEBOOK  PARTY and a BOOK BOMB!!!
Are you ready for PRIZES GALORE??? Then come to the Facebook Party!
How does a gift certificate and a signed book given away EVERY 10 minutes during an hour-long Facebook party sound? (Yeah, we think it sounds pretty great too!) On October 7th at 5pm PST (6:00 MST, 7:00 CST,party_bomb_facebook_button.3 & 8:00 EST) Julie is inviting you to attend the A Hope Undaunted Facebook Party! She'll announce the winner of the KINDLE and in addition to the prizes every 10 minutes, she'll also be giving away great prize baskets filled with even more Romance and Technology (Netflix, Starbucks,, Champagne body Lotion, Pearls, & more!)!
BUT WAIT … there’s more (and no, this is not an infomercial … it’s WAY better!).  If you participate in the Book Bomb on October 7th you’ll be entered to win a $50 gift certificate to All you need to do to participate is buy a copy of A Hope Undaunted on October 7th and send your receipt (just transaction number from store, store name & date) to! Each book purchased equals one entry, buy 10 books get 10 entries!

All this fun begins with Revell’s blog tour SEPTEMBER 19-25, when 122 blogger/reviewers will post reviews about A Hope Undaunted, followed by the Book Bomb and Facebook Party!
So mark your calendars with these important dates:
September 19-25: A Hope Undaunted will be making an appearance on blogs across the country (and beyond!) in Revell's blog tour!
September 20th: The Technology and Romance KINDLE Giveaway launches (contest runs 9/20 - 10/6)
October 7th: Book Bomb Day (where everyone is encouraged to buy the book online at the same time!) and Facebook Party - meet and chat with Julie, win some great prizes & find out who won the KINDLE!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Looking for Great Books to Read? 2010 Carol Award Winners

Sunday evening, the winners of the 2010 Carol Awards were announced at the ACFW conference banquet. It was such fun to celebrate as friends' books were recognized for their excellence. I don't know how the judges choose between so many wonderful options. However, I can state with absolutely no qualms that these authors and their books are wonderful.

Extra excited for good writing buds Allison Pittman (a delightful woman and friend), Jenny B. Jones (she is such an amazing Southern belle) and debut novelist Dan Walsh, who writes AMAZING World War Two novellas -- ala Nicholas Sparks.

Then there's Terri Blackstock, who wrote an amazingly personal suspense story, Rene Gutteridge, who has a wonderful sense of humor that shines through in her life changing romance,  Susan May Warren, who has wonderful spiritual threads in all of her books, and Mary Connealy, a fellow Nebraskan with the most amazing sense of humor and books I can't forget years after reading them. And Christina Berry...with a book that will take your heart and hand it back to you at the end. So much talent!!!!

So take this list to your local Christian bookstore and ask your library to order them. They are great books!

2010 Carol Award Winners

  • Contemporary Novella: Susan May Warren, The Great Christmas Bowl (Tyndale House;
  • Karen Watson, Editor)
  • Historical Novella: Janet Tronstad, Christmas Bells for Dry Creek (Steeple Hill; Tina James,
  • Editor)
  • Short Contemporary: Mae Nunn, A Texas Ranger's Family (Steeple Hill; Melissa Endlich,
  • Editor) 
  • Short Contemporary Suspense: Jill Elizabeth Nelson, Evidence of Murder (Steeple Hill;
  • Emily Rodmell, Editor)
  • Short Historical: Dan Walsh, The Unfinished Gift (Revell; Andrea Doering, Editor)
  • Young Adult: Jenny B. Jones, I'm So Sure (Thomas Nelson; Natalie Hanemann/Jamie
  • Chavez, Editors)
  • Long Contemporary: Christina Berry, The Familiar Stranger (Moody Publishers; Paul
  • Santhouse, Editor)
  • Long Contemporary Romance: Jenny B. Jones, Just Between You and Me (Thomas Nelson;
  • Natalie Hanemann/Jamie Chavez, Editors)
  • Mystery: A.K. Arenz, The Case of the Mystified M.D. (Sheaf House; Joan M. Shoup, Editor)
  • Suspense/Thriller: Terri Blackstock, Intervention (Zondervan; Sue Brower/Dave Lambert,
  • Editors)
  • Long Historical: Allison Pittman, Stealing Home (Multnomah; Alice Crider, Editor)
  • Long Historical Romance: Mary Connealy, Cowboy Christmas (Barbour Publishing; Rebecca
  • Germany, Editor)
  • Speculative: Kirk Outerbridge, Eternity Falls (Marcher Lord Press; Jeff Gerke, Editor)
  • Women’s Fiction: Rene Gutteridge & Cheryl McKay, Never the Bride (Waterbrook Press;
  • Shannon Marchese, Editor)
  • Debut Author: Dan Walsh, The Unfinished Gift (Revell; Andrea Doering, Editor)

Monday, September 20, 2010

I'm back!

Just got back this afternoon from the ACFW conference. WOW! What a great, amazing conference. The teaching was great. The fellowship phenomenal. The chance to meet with my agent and lots of editors wonderful. And the worship healing. I'll post more later, just know that if you weren't able to attend this year, you really need to make plans now to join us next year in St. Louis.

I'm thrilled Eric was able to drive down and join me for the awards banquet last night. Jeane Wynn took this photo, and I had to share it! Isn't he handsome :-)

The second highlight of the conference was the opportunity to meet Janette Oke! She attended to help celebrate Carol Johnson, and it was a THRILL to meet the author who helped launch Christian fiction and mentored me from a distance as a teen. She answered several letters and I still have those precious responses.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Autumn's Promise
Avon Inspire (August 3, 2010)


Shelley Shepard Gray

Since 2000, Shelley Sabga has sold twenty-six novels to numerous publishers. She has written a seven book contemporary series for Avalon books. She also published The Love Letter, a western for Avalon. Five Star Expressions published Suddenly, You in February of 2007. This novel is a historical western set in the mountains of Colorado.

Shelley has written nine novels for Harlequin American Romance. Cinderella Christmas, her first novel with them, reached number six on the Waldenbooks Bestseller list. Her second book with them, Simple Gifts won RT Magazine’s Reviewer’s Choice award for best Harlequin American Romance of 2006. The Mommy Bride, was chosen by Romantic Times Magazine as one of their TOP PICKS for May, 2008.

Under the name Shelley Shepard Gray, Shelley writes Amish romances for Harper Collins’ inspirational line, Avon Inspire. HIDDEN and WANTED the first two novels of her ‘Sisters of the Heart’ series, were chosen to be Alternate Selections for the Doubleday/ Literary Guild Book Club. FORGIVEN, book 3, has received glowing reviews. Avon Inspire is releasing four novels by Shelley this year.

Before writing romances, Shelley lived in Texas and Colorado, where she taught school and earned both her bachelors and masters degrees in education. She now lives in southern Ohio and writes full time. Shelley is married, the mother of two teenagers, and is an active member of her church.

Some promises are meant to be broken...

Until Robert Miller met Lilly Allen, his world had been dark. A widower after only two years of marriage, he'd been living in a haze, feeling that, at twenty-four, his life was already over.

But thanks to his friendship with Lilly, he now has new reasons to wake up each day. He knows his connection to her doesn't make sense. She's only nineteen, with a past the whole town talks about. Even more, she's not Amish, like Robert. A marriage between the two of them could never happen.

Lilly's heart is drawn to Robert, not to his faith. No matter how much she admires his quiet strength and dependability, she doesn't think she could ever give up her independence and reliance on the modern world. Is their love doomed before it even begins?

If you would like to read the first chapter of  Autumn's Promise, go HERE.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Classic Hollywood Reviews: The Shop Around the Corner

If you like the movie You've Got Mail, then you should check out The Shop Around the Corner. It's the original filmed in 1940 and starring Jimmy Stewart and Maureen Sullivan. As you watch both, you'll see elements that are taken from the original and adapted to modern times. Klara and Alfred work in the same clothing store and despise each other. However, they are penpals without knowing it. And as a result of those letters fall in love with each other. And just like You've Got Mail, they have to discover that they really are the people they love.

I adore You've Got Mail --- the chemistry between Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan is great. And there are some lines that are just priceless.

Joe Fox: The whole purpose of places like Starbucks is for people with no decision-making ability whatsoever to make six decisions just to buy one cup of coffee. Short, tall, light, dark, caf, decaf, low-fat, non-fat, etc. So people who don't know what the hell they're doing or who on earth they are can, for only $2.95, get not just a cup of coffee but an absolutely defining sense of self: Tall. Decaf. Cappuccino.

Kathleen Kelly: [writing to "NY152"] People are always saying that change is a good thing. But all they're really saying is that something you didn't want to happen at all... has happened. My store is closing this week. I own a store, did I ever tell you that? It's a lovely store, and in a week it'll be something really depressing, like a Baby Gap. Soon, it'll be just a memory. In fact, someone, some foolish person, will probably think it's a tribute to this city, the way it keeps changing on you, the way you can never count on it, or something. I know because that's the sort of thing I'm always saying. But the truth is... I'm heartbroken. I feel as if a part of me has died, and my mother has died all over again, and no one can ever make it right.

[last lines]
Joe Fox: Don't cry, Shopgirl. Don't cry.
Kathleen Kelly: I wanted it to be you. I wanted it to be you so badly.

Now everyone sigh with me. The sad thing is I have seen You've Got Mail so many times, I knew all the quotes IMBD had. Now, I haven't see Shop Around the Corner that often, but anyone who loves You've Got Mail and Jimmy Stewart has to take the time.

See if this quote from Shop Around the Corner feels familar:
Klara Novak (Miss Novak): [In her letter to Alfred] : Oh, my Dear Friend, my heart was trembling as I walked into the post office, and there you were, lying in Box 237. I took you out of your envelope and read you, read you right there.

Kathleen Kelly: What will NY152 say today, I wonder. I turn on my computer. I wait impatiently as it connects. I go online, and my breath catches in my chest until I hear three little words: You've got mail. I hear nothing. Not even a sound on the streets of New York, just the beating of my own heart. I have mail. From you.

I love it :-)  I hope you enjoy these movies, too!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

My Temporary Home

A friend posted this recent Carrie Underwood video on her facebook page. The first scene with the little boy made me think of the Children in Need of Services cases I worked. But watch through. What a message and reminder that this is our temporary home. Our true home is still coming. But you'd better have a tissue ready!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Inspiration v. Transformation

Yesterday in Sunday School, we watched the second video in the Extraordinary study by John Bevere. One of the things he mentioned was whether we settled for inspiration which can come from many sources (books, poetry, music, etc.) or for the transformation God wants to work out in our lives.

Someone mentioned during the discussion that we tend to run from transformation because it's work. Lots of work.

I've been thinking about that. Actually wanted to add to that in the class, but ran out of time. So here's my thought.

We are willing to invest our time in the things we value and that matter to us. For example, I spent four year getting my undergrad degree. I valued it. Knew it would open doors for me that made the investment of time and money worth it.

Then I invested four years in law school. Again, even though there were parts of the process I hated, I invested the time, energy, and money to get a degree that I valued. I knew it would open doors and allow me to do things I couldn't do without it.

And now I've invested five years in getting some sort of unrecognized, advanced degree in writing. I value the opportunity God has given me to tell the stories He puts in my heart. I've invested oodles of time, money going to conferences to learn, money to buy books, money to hire babysitters, etc., because I value it.

So to say I don't want transformation because it's too hard is a flimsy excuse. If I truly want to become the woman God has called me to be then I need to be equally prepared to surrender my life and do the hard work of making the changes He requires.

Okay, I'm done preaching. For now :-)

Coming to the Indianapolis Public Library: Terri Blackstock & Gayle Roper

If you're a reader or a writer, you'll want to take advantage of this opportunity. On Saturday, September 18, at noon, NYT best-selling author Terri Blackstock and multi-published author Gayle Roper will speak at the downtown Indianapolis Public Library. A beautiful new facility located at One Library Square, 40 E. St. Clair St., in downtown Indianapolis, this is your opportunity to ask these two authors your questions about writing.

Adults are invited to hear Terri Blackstock, author of "Intervention," and Gayle Roper, author of "A Stranger's Wish," discuss their lives and works. This will be followed by a question and answer session and book signing. This program is held in conjunction with the American Christian Fiction Writers annual conference. This program will be held in the Clowes Auditorium at Central Library.

I hope you will join us for a fun event. And an opportunity to meet these great ladies.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

CFBA Tour: The Bridge of Peace

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

The Bridge of Peace
WaterBrook Press; Original edition (August 31, 2010)
Cindy Woodsmall

I have not had time to read this book yet, but have to say Cindy weaves stories and characters that are rich and pull me deep into their world. I am itching to get to this book as it taunts me from my desk shelf. Cindy and her writing are well deserving of all the awards and bestsellers lists she's landed on. She is also one of the sweetest, nicest women I know.

Cindy Woodsmall is a New York Times best-selling author whose connection with the Amish community has been featured on ABC Nightline and on the front page of the Wall Street Journal.

She was also a homeschool mom. As her children progressed in age, her desire to write grew stronger. After working through reservations whether this desire was something she should pursue, she began her writing journey. Her husband was her staunchest supporter.

Her first novel released in 2006 to much acclaim and became a best seller. Cindy was a 2007 ECPA award finalist, along with Karen Kingsbury, Angela Hunt, and Charles Martin. Her second book, When the Morning Comes, hit numerous best-sellers lists across the US, including edging into the extended list of the New York Times, coming in at number thirty-four. Her third book, When the Soul Mends, hit the New York Times best-sellers list, coming in at number thirteen, as well as making the USA Today’s best-sellers list.

Cindy continues to write and release best-selling works of fiction, and she’s also written a nonfiction work with an Old Order Amish friend, Miriam Flaud. The book is titled Plain Wisdom: An Invitation into an Amish Home and the Hearts of Two Women. It will release March 11, 2011.

Her real-life connections with Amish Mennonite and Old Order Amish families enrich her novels with authenticity. As an adult, Cindy became friends with a wonderful Old Order Amish family who opened their home to her. Although the two women, Miriam and Cindy, live seven hundred miles apart geographically, and a century apart by customs, when they come together they never lack for commonality, laughter, and dreams of what only God can accomplish through His children.

Cindy, her husband, their three sons and two daughters-in-law reside in Georgia.

Love alone isn’t enough to overcome some obstacles.

Lena Kauffman is a young Old Order Amish schoolteacher who has dealt all her life with attention raised by a noticeable birthmark on her cheek. Having learned to move past the stares and whispers, Lena channels her zest for living into her love of teaching. But tensions mount as she is challenged to work with a rebellious young man and deal with several crises at the schoolhouse that threaten her other students. Her lack of submission and use of ideas that don’t line up with the Old Ways strengthen the school board’s case as they begin to believe that Lena is behind all the trouble.

One member of the school board, Grey Graber, feels trapped by his own stifling circumstances. His wife, Elsie, has shut him out of her life, and he doesn’t know how long he can continue to live as if nothing is wrong. As the two finally come to a place of working toward a better marriage, tragedy befalls their family.

Lena and Grey have been life-long friends, but their relationship begins to crumble amidst unsettling deceptions, propelling each of them to finally face their own secrets. Can they both find a way past their losses and discover the strength to build a new bridge?

Win a "Trip To Amish Country"...contest opens August 31st -December 31st...go HERE to enter!

If you would like to read the first chapter of  The Bridge of Peace, go HERE.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Classic Hollywood Reviews: Casablanca

Humphrey Bogart. Ingrid Bergman.

Chemistry. Tension. War.

What more do you need to make a classic romantic drama?

A dark hero. A piano player as sidekick. The Vichy French. Nazis. And a husband who is wanted for resistance efforts.

Three Academy Awards including Best Picture in 1944.

Memorable lines like "Play it again, Sam," "Here's looking at you, kid," and "Of all the gin joints, in all the towns, in all the world, she walks into mine." 

Casablanca is one of those movies that is iconic and unforgettable. It is the story of Rick and Ilsa, but also the story of the war. Ilsa's husband, who she'd been told had died in resistance activities when she had a brief affair with Rick, has stumbled into his bar in Casablanca. The Nazis are there, and Rick is making a living running a bar. All kinds of subplots exist with people trying to flee the reach of the Nazis, but as they close in there is little anyone can do to escape.

Ilsa is desperate to get the fake documents she and her husband need to escape. She'll even stay with Rick if that means Victor escapes.

Rick is enigmatic and played perfectly by Humphrey Bogart. I think this is one of his finest roles.

It also gives an interesting perspective on the war in 1942. Casablanca premiered the month that Allied troops invaded North Africa. And gives a snapshot of how films were being used to position public opinion. It also hints at the plight of Jews trying to escape the Nazi machine committed to consuming them.

If you haven't seen Casablanca, you really must. It is that good.

BTW, here's an interesting website devoted to the film that contains gems like proposed sequels.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Stars in the Night & ACFW Bookclub

Stars in the Night is currently one of a dozen good books being voted on for the ACFW Bookclub's book in January. If you're a member, would you mind popping over and voting for it?

If you aren't a member, it's really easy to become one and free! All you have to do is send a blank email to: . After you do that, go to this link, where you'll see all the great historical options. Then I'd love to have you vote for Stars, but if there's another book you'd prefer, then vote for that one :-)

Here's more on the bookclub:
American Christian Fiction Writers is proud to sponsor the ACFW Book Club. Our goal is to connect readers of Christian fiction with today's best and brightest Christian authors. Members are invited to read and discuss the "Book of the Month" here.  In addition, chats with the author of our chosen Book of the Month will be held the first Monday of every month in the chat room at Announcements will be posted letting members know what book(s) the group is reading and when chats will be held.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Movies that Resonate

On Sunday, we started a new Sunday School class, John Bevere's Extraordinary. Eric and I have done several other studies from him and found them to be challenging and thought-provoking.

This week he was introducing the concept of living extraordinary lives and used movies as an illustration. Something like 70% of the blockbusters of all time have heroic, extraordinary people doing extraordinary things. But as I thought about some of the movies he highlighted, it got me thinking.

Lion, Witch & the Wardrobe. Spiderman. Superman. The list was much longer. But the first half of the list contained movies like these. But were the heroes really extraordinary?

Or is the power that they were ordinary people presented with extraordinary challenges and circumstances who pushed past their fears and weaknesses to rise to the occasion. Lucy Pevensie extraordinary? She was what nine-years-old when she pushed through the wardrobe. Peter Parker was a geeky kid who didn't fit in anywhere. Then he has a spider bite that gives him powers he never wanted and fights the whole series. Yet, he rises to the occasion to use them for good.

That's the power of these movies.

They give us hope that we, too, can rise to the occasion when called upon.

And that's what attracts me to World War II. A generation of ordinary people thrust into extraordinary times who rose to the occasion. Who do you think of as an ordinary person who rose to confront extraordinary circumstances?

Extraordinary Promo from Messenger International on Vimeo.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

CFBA Tour: Love Me Tender

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Love Me Tender
Summerside Press (September 1, 2010)

Janice Hanna


Award-winning author Janice Thompson also writes under the pseudonym Janice Hanna, She got her start in the industry writing screenplays and musical comedies for the stage. Janice has published over fifty books for the Christian market, crossing genre lines to write cozy mysteries, historicals, romances, nonfiction books, devotionals, childrens books and more. In addition, she enjoys editing, ghost-writing, public speaking, and mentoring young writers. Janice currently serves as Vice-President of CAN (Christian Authors Network) and was named the 2008 Mentor of the year for ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers).

She was thrilled to be named the 2010 Barbour/Heartsong Author of the Year with three books on the top ten list for that house. Janice is active in her local writing group, where she regularly teaches on the craft of writing. Her online course, "Becoming a Successful Freelance Writer" has been helpful to many who want to earn a living with their writing. Janice is passionate about her faith and does all she can to share the joy of the Lord with others, which is why she particularly enjoys writing. She lives in Spring, Texas, where she leads a rich life with her family, a host of writing friends and two mischievous dachshunds. She does her best to keep the Lord at the center of it all.


As "Love Me Tender" plays in the background, Debbie Carmichael determines to salvage her family's restaurant, Sweet Sal's Soda Shoppe, when her father's health fails. Teen heartthrob Bobby Conrad agrees to perform at a fundraiser concert. But just two weeks before the highly publicized event, Bobby backs out of the benefit. Enter Johnny Hartman, a young, unknown singer to take Conrad's place. Debbie soon realizes the twists and turns leading up to the concert are divinely orchestrated. And it isn't dreamy Bobby Conrad who has stolen her heart - but the tender love of Johnny Hartman.

If you would like to read the first chapter of Love Me Tender, go HERE.

Monday, September 06, 2010

Homeschooling and Community Colleges

This may sound off the wall...I don't usually write about homeschooling. But I'm also very proud to have been homeschooled and now homeschool my kids. As a result, I've got a heart for those who are homeschooling. Having both perspectives gives me a unique view.

The other day I got an email newsletter from a homeschool mom who has developed an expertise in preparing our kids for college -- a very needed niche. But she wrote something that bothers me. She suggested that homeschooled teenagers going to community colleges is a very bad idea. After listing several reasons, I knew she firmly believed her position, but it still bothered me.

I started college at a community college at the age of 16. The smartest thing my parents did was support me in my dream of starting college then, but also by being extremely firm that I would do it from home. Fortunately, North Platte has Mid-Plains Community College and I was able to take a full load of classes there while still living at home. Here are a few reasons that I plan to follow the same course with our kids.

1) I was able to test everything I learned at home in the college environment -- but with the big advantage of being able to come home and get added resources and arguments as needed. For example, I was prepared for evolution to be part of the coursework in science, but when the first day of world history emphasized evolution, it threw me. But I was able to go home, dig up books, and bolster my arguments with my mom to bounce them off of.

2) I wasn't an oddity as a young student. People really didn't care that I was a couple years younger than the norm, because a community college is by its very nature a mix of traditional and returning students.

3) I had amazing opportunities in the much smaller classes to test my academic and leadership abilities. The development of both led to scholarship at the university and my first nomination for the Truman Scholarship. And my younger age actually made me stand out in the hyper-competitive Truman environment, while the leadership experiences I gleaned and grades I earned completed the package.

As we've cleaned and rearranged the house, I actually found my letters of recommendation and application for the Truman scholarship. The letter I received from the then executive director encouraged me to reapply because of the way I stood out. And the only reason I could reapply is because I'd first been nominated as a community college student. Usually, the award is for juniors from four-year institutions.

4) It let me work through many of the issues students are confronted with at college while still at home. I had the accountability of both parents and formed positions that served me well at UNL. To me that just seems wise.

5) The classes are small. Have I mentioned that? I got 90% of the freshman and sophomore classes out of the way -- in classes with 20-40 students rather than 200+. I also had the accountability of being known...I couldn't slack off because the teachers knew who I was and were watching. Talk about helping me develop great study habits. I also learned that it was okay to speak up in class. My instructors actually encouraged it.

As homeschoolers, we invest years in our children. Why not help them ease into independence?

So I can see the other arguments. Really. But at this point still plan on the community college transition for our kids.

Friday, September 03, 2010

Classic Hollywood Reviews Back next week

The carpet and house upside down made me miss this week's review. Sorry, folks. Now the internet is back up and Friday's almost over. So next week, I'll restart those reviews. Are you enjoying them? Casablanca will be up next. Love that movie! "Play it again, Sam" and all that :-)

Thanks for your patience as life is nuts!

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

New Carpet anyone...

This week we're getting new carpet. Can I just say ugh!

Imagine moving...without moving. Every stick of furniture in our house has to move. Closets have to be cleared to hip height. Imagine all the "stuff" five people accumulate when they've lived in the same spot for eight years. Now add in an extra five very high bookshelves.

What a process.

It's a good long as we are ruthless about purging. We're using it as the catalyst to rearrange kids' rooms and by extension our room. But it's a process. One I don't want to repeat for at least twenty years. So if you hear any groans coming from Indiana, just attribute them to us.

And my husband, poor guy, has had to do most of the moving. The joys of hitting my third trimester in a few days. He's been amazing!


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