Friday, October 29, 2010

Classic Hollywood Reviews: Snow White

1938 was a very good year for kid's movies. It was the year that Walt Disney released his very first full length feature film cartoon. Who hasn't seen Snow White at least once, read the Disney based version of the book at least once, or introduced their own children to the magic and wonder of the story about a princess who must escape the evil queen who wants to kill her because her beauty usurps the queen's?

Compared to some of today's cartoons (Cars, Incredibles, Finding Nemo) the artistry seems to basic. But at the time, it was light years ahead of what movie goers expected. Think of Willie the Steamboat Captain cartoons from the 20s with the earliest versions of Mickey Mouse. And there is something about the cartoon that makes it an appealing story even 70 years later.

Come on, name the seven dwarves. I bet most of us can rattle them off without thinking. And the songs are timeless: heigh ho, heigh ho.... or the one with Snow White singing into the wishing well.

Disney was honored in 1939 for his groundbreaking movie with a special Oscar that had the seven dwarfs on it.  Who was you favorite dwarf?

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Swimming at Victoria Falls? Really???

One of the great things about homeschooling is that I'm always learning something new. Yesterday in history we were studying some of the early (1800) explorers of Africa. That required us to dig a bit deeper into Sleeping Sickness (you don't want it!) and Victoria Falls. Had to share this video of people swimming at the top of the falls.

All I can say is seriously? Really? And who was the person who first jumped in to see if the swimming was safe? Talk about an adrenaline rush!

And it makes the little waterfall we enjoy in North Carolina seem really tame!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Waiting and Anticipating

Ever have those seasons in life when you know you're in a season of waiting? That God has placed you there for whatever reason?

I've got a couple of those going...

In the next four to six weeks (I'm voting for four!), our little boy will join us. Since this is the last time I'll be pregnant, I'm trying to enjoy every moment, but for those of you who've been here, you can relate to how it hits a point that isn't really that fun. The squirms and kicks poke and prod, and I begin to feel like a beached whale. I am thrilled this pregnancy has gone well...but I'm also ready to meet this little guy!

Then there's the season of waiting and anticipating with writing. I'm working on proposals for new books and edits for a book that releases in the late spring. The ideas are beginning to really jell, and I feel the excitement of the hunt...but I also know so much is outside my control.

That's the story of my life right now. So I lean into God, trusting that He continues to have good plans for my life. And enjoy the moment, because I know life's going to get a wee bit more complicated in a few weeks.

So as Indian summer turns into chilly weather, where does God have you?

Friday, October 22, 2010

Classic Hollywood Reviews: The Sound of Music

Sing with me....
   "The hills are alive....with the sound of music...aaaaa...with songs they have sung for a thousand years..."

In some ways the Sound of Music, doesn't feel old enough to be a classic. I remember watching it most years during the holiday season as a child. It was one of those annual rites of passage. But the movie did release in 1965, so it fits.

In case you haven't seen it, the Sound of Music is based on the true story of a novice nun who is sent to the home of an Austrian widower during the early days of the war to serve as a nanny to his seven children. It is filled with wonderful songs and music from Rogers and Hammerstein.

It's a romance cloaked in the way the world changes when Austria unites with Nazi Germany. It's a stirring tale, and the children are priceless. The movie was well recognized for its excellence winning five oscars including Best Picture.

If you haven't seen it and want a taste, be sure to view the trailer here.

Now if you've seen the movie, I'd love to know your favorite song or character. Leave a comment!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

CFBA Tour: A Very Private Grave

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
A Very Private Grave
Monarch Books (August 1, 2010)
Donna Fletcher Crow

This book looks fascinating, but deadlines have kept me from diving in as much as I'd like. So stay tuned for a full review later!

Watch the book video:


Donna Fletcher Crow is author of more than thirty-five novels. She has twice won first place in the Historical Fiction category from the National Association of Press Women, and has also been a finalist for "Best Inspirational Novel" from the Romance Writers of America. She is a member of The Arts Centre Group and Sisters in Crime. Find out more at

"History and mystery and murders most foul keep the pages turning ... A fascinating read." –Liz Curtis Higgs, bestelling author of Thorn in My Heart
“A Knickerbocker Glory of a thriller, a sweeping, page-turning quest served up with dollops of Church history and lashings of romance. Donna Fletcher Crow has created her own niche within the genre of clerical mysteries.” – Kate Charles, author of Deep Waters
“As in Glastonbury, Donna Fletcher Crow’s descriptions of the English and Scottish settings in her new mystery are drawn with real artistry. Lovers of British history and church history will be impressed by her grasp of both.”—Sally Wright, Edgar Award finalist and author of the Ben Reese Mysteries
Felicity Howard, a young American studying for the Anglican priesthood at the College of the Transfiguration in Yorkshire, is devastated when she finds her beloved Fr. Dominic bludgeoned to death and Fr. Antony, her church history lecturer, soaked in his blood.

Following the cryptic clues contained in a poem the dead man had pressed upon her minutes before his death, she and Fr. Antony—who is wanted for questioning by the police—flee the monastery to seek more information about Fr. Dominic and end up in the holy island of Lindisfarne, former home of Saint Cuthbert.

Their quest leads them into a dark puzzle...and considerable danger.
If you would like to read the Prologue and first Chapter of A Very Private Grave, go HERE.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

CFBA Tour: While We're Far Apart

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
While We're Far Apart
Lynn Austin

In an unassuming apartment building in Brooklyn, New York, three lives intersect as the reality of war invades each aspect of their lives. Young Esther is heartbroken when her father decides to enlist in the army shortly after the death of her mother.

Penny Goodrich has been in love with Eddie Shaffer for as long as she can remember; now that Eddie's wife is dead, Penny feels she has been given a second chance and offers to care for his children in the hope that he will finally notice her and marry her after the war.

And elderly Mr. Mendel, the landlord, waits for the war to end to hear what has happened to his son trapped in war-torn Hungary. But during the long, endless wait for victory overseas, life on the home front will go from bad to worse.

Yet these characters will find themselves growing and changing in ways they never expected--and ultimately discovering truths about God's love...even when He is silent.

If you would like to read the first chapter of While We're Far Apart, go HERE.

It was during the long Canadian winters at home with her children that Lynn made progress on her dream to write, carving out a few hours of writing time each day while her children napped. Lynn credits her early experience of learning to write amid the chaos of family life for her ability to be a productive writer while making sure her family remains her top priority.

Along with reading, two of Lynn's lifelong passions are history and archaeology. While researching her Biblical fiction series, Chronicles of the Kings, these two interests led her to pursue graduate studies in Biblical Backgrounds and Archaeology through Southwestern Theological Seminary. She and her son traveled to Israel during the summer of 1989 to take part in an archaeological dig at the ancient city of Timnah. This experience contributed to the inspiration for her novel Wings of Refuge.

Lynn resigned from teaching to write full-time in 1992. Since then she has published twelve novels. Five of her historical novels, Hidden Places, Candle in the Darkness, Fire by Night, A Proper Pursuit, and Until We Reach Home have won Christy Awards in 2002, 2003, 2004, 2008, and 2009 for excellence in Christian Fiction. Fire by Night was also one of only five inspirational fiction books chosen by Library Journal for their top picks of 2003, and All She Ever Wanted was chosen as one of the five inspirational top picks of 2005. Lynn's novel Hidden Places has been made into a movie for the Hallmark Channel, starring actress Shirley Jones. Ms Jones received a 2006 Emmy Award nomination for her portrayal of Aunt Batty in the film.   

Monday, October 18, 2010

Are we breaking our kids?

My sister posted a link on her facebook to an article written by Single Dad Laughing. I'd never heard of him, but the post really got me. Take a moment to pop over and read it here, then promise you'll come back.


Think about it. How often have you seen a parent do that to a child in public?

Then how many times have you and I done that without thinking? Usually in the privacy of our homes. Isn't there a fine line between teaching our children to respect and crushing them? I long for my children to have wings. To be able to do anything that God places on their hearts to do. I want to partner with God to develop these precious kids into the men and women God created them to be.

To know that God gave them great minds.
That He's given them great purpose.
And not to hold them back because of anything I say or do.

Thank God for His mercy and grace that covers our failures. But today, I want to be more like Him. Extending unfailing and unending love while training them to live lives that will delight their Heavenly Father's heart.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Review: Don't Look Back

While I liked the first book in this series, Don't Look Back is a brilliant suspense offering from Lynette Eason. With this book she has won me over and created a fan. Not common with a second book!

Jamie Cash is a heroine you can't help but cheering for and understanding. What she has overcome is mind-boggling. And what she is headed into is terrifying. But through it all she has an inner strength and faith that resonated. And I loved her career path -- who wouldn't find a forensic anthropologist fascinating?!?! And Dakota Rich is the perfect hero. An FBI agent, he is richly drawn, at a different point in his faith journey, but completely a hero with no hopes of the heroine reciprocating his love...yet he's there anyway. Made me think of Christ as I read.

And the suspense plot is great! I have to admit that I figured out who the killer was a little over halfway in, but the twist at the end was unanticipated. And even though I know who had done it, the pages flew as I tried to see if I was right.

This book is rich with layers and a great read for those who like intense romantic suspense with a strong faith element.

I received the book from the publisher.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Classic Hollywood Reviews: Singing in the Rain

Singing in the Rain is one of those all time classic Hollywood musicals. It is perfection...except for one dance sequence in the middle that doesn't make any sense or add anything to the movie. But the rest of it is a wonderful story with great actors, wonderful songs, and dance numbers that make you want to get up and dance, too.

One of my friends mentioned this one on facebook, and someone commented that they wished it was possible to walk down a street and watch people break out into perfectly choreographed songs and dances.

Gene Kelly is brilliant as Don Lockwood, but I adore Donald O'Connor as Cosmo in this movie. He plays the funny man to the hilt, while Debbie Reynolds gets to play Kathy, the ingenue who has a dream and wants to chase it in Hollywood at the time talkies are making their move. Gene Kelly hams it up as an overdone silent movie star who has to make the transition to the talkies...unfortunately his costar has a voice that won't make the transition. So Don and Cosmo come up with a scheme with Kathy's help that will turn the Dancing Cavalier into a glorious talking film.

Singing in the Rain was nominated for two Oscars, but didn't win either category. It is listed at #79 in IMDb's top 250 list. Here's a link to the trailer.

This is a movie the whole family can enjoy -- though there is that one dance sequence with Cyd Charisse that just doesn't fit. Other than that, the movie is perfection.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

CFBA Tour: Embers of Love

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Embers of Love
Bethany House (October 1, 2010)

Tracie Peterson

Tracie Peterson is the bestselling, award-winning author of more than 85 novels.

She received her first book contract in November, 1992 and saw A Place To Belong published in February 1993 with Barbour Publishings' Heartsong Presents.  She wrote exclusively with Heartsong for the next two years, receiving their readership's vote for Favorite Author of the Year for three years in a row.

In December, 1995 she signed a contract with Bethany House Publishers to co-write a series with author Judith Pella.  Tracie now writes exclusively for Bethany House Publishers.

She teaches writing workshops at a variety of conferences on subjects such as inspirational romance and historical research. Tracie was awarded the Romantic Times Career Achievement Award for 2007 Inspirational Fiction and her books have won numerous awards for favorite books in a variety of contests.

Making her home in Montana, this Kansas native enjoys spending time with family--especially her three grandchildren--Rainy, Fox and Max.  She's active in her church as the Director of Women's Ministries, coordinates a yearly writer's retreat for published authors, and travels, as time permits, to research her books

The logging industry in eastern Texas is booming, and Deborah Vandermark plans to assist her family's business now that she's completed college. Unexpectedly, her best friend, Lizzie Decker, accompanies her back home--fleeing a wedding and groom she has no interest in.

Deborah, the determined matchmaker, puts her sights on uniting her brother and dear friend in a true love match. Deborah soon meets Dr. Christopher Clayton, a much-needed addition to the town. As their lives intersect, Deborah realizes that she has a much greater interest in medicine and science than the bookkeeping she was trained in.

But when typhoid begins to spread and Lizzie's jilted fiance returns, Deborah wonders if true love can overcome such obstacles...for those dearest to her, and for herself.

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

Monday, October 11, 2010

For those who like weirdness

Here's a link to a video over at Stuff Christians Like. It features Chris Tomlin, so I was expecting something serious. Wrong! It's another parody along the lines of the Toyota ad and that one with the Dads. Can't think of the title to either right now. But if your Monday is weighing you down, this will either make you laugh or crinkle your nose as you try to figure it out.

Friday, October 08, 2010

A Memory Between Us

A Memory Between Us is Sarah Sundin's latest release. It follows Walt's older brother Jack. This time the heroine is an Army nurse who stays above the normal banter between nurses and their patients. She's highly resistant to romance, burdened by providing for her orphaned siblings. Be sure to click on the banner above to learn more about Sarah's contest.

Major Jack Novak has never failed to meet a challenge--until he meets army nurse Lieutenant Ruth Doherty. When Jack lands in the army hospital after a plane crash, he makes winning Ruth's heart a top priority mission. But he has his work cut out for him. Not only is Ruth focused on her work in order to support her orphaned siblings back home, she carries a shameful secret that keeps her from giving her heart to any man. Can Jack break down her defenses? Or are they destined to go their separate ways?

Starred Review. Sundin’s second wartime inspirational romance…is an exceptional read, building on A Distant Melody (2010), but able to stand alone. A riveting tale…, Sundin’s novel features characters living large under emotional and physical stress, while the setting provides invaluable details and insights into the wartime mindset. –Booklist

Four and a Half Stars. Strong historical facts woven together with persuasive characters makes A Memory Between Us…a gripping tale of war, intrigue and love. Tight, skillful writing is an added perk to this must-read romance. –RT Book Reviews.

Classic Hollywood Reviews: Holiday Inn

Thanks so much for leaving some of your favorite movies here and on Facebook last week. You've given me quite an assortment to track down.

So today I want to share one of my all time favorites with you: Holiday Inn. Don't let the title scare you off. This is not a Christmas movie though they do sing White Christmas in it. And let's face it, who can sing that song like Bing Crosby? In fact, the movie won its only Oscar for best song in White Christmas. Hum with me...I'm dreaming of a White Christmas. Just like the ones I used to know...

Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire are the male leads in Irving Berlin's classic. They take turns crooning out hit after hit: songs like Easter Parade, You're Easy to Dance With (yes, Fred Astaire croons and dances in that one), Be Careful It's My Heart and many more. you can find the full list here.

There's a classic love triangle between Jim (played by Bing), Linda Mason, and Ted (Fred). Some of the lengths that Jim goes to keep them apart are comical, especially in one of the dance scenes. Imagine mixing a very stiff 18th Century French dance with jazz. :-) And Jim gives up his dream so that Linda can have hers, but the way he does it is a wee bit heavy-handed. For the rest, well, you'll have to watch this movie yourself. It can be viewed at anytime of the year.

And don't forget to appreciate Fred Astaire's brilliant firecracker dance. I LOVE IT!!!!

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Fighting Fatigue

Tonight (Tuesday) I'm tired. I can tell I'm 31+ weeks pregnant and still maintaining a full life. Edits are going great! Yeah!!! The FBI Academy was another fascinating look behind the scenes. Yeah! But I'm wiped out.

Can you tell with this goofy photo I took Monday? 

It doesn't matter. The light at the end of this tunnel comes next Wednesday when I may hit send on my edits and lounge in my pajamas for a week -- just kidding, but I'll make sure I take the time to relax and step away for a day or two. I'll read a good book or watch a great movie. Spend extra time in the Bible. And rest for a bit.

Until then, my obligations continue. And trust me it's a good thing. Really. I'm so grateful that I have edits and deadlines and opportunities like the FBI Citizen's Academy. You should see the story ideas flying through my mind.

But today's post is really a question for you. When you get worn down by the pace of life, what do you do to rejuvenate?

Monday, October 04, 2010

The Joys of Edits

Edits are a necessary...even critical part of writing. But not my favorite part.

I love the work of taking a story and making it better. I love that my editors always catch things that I miss, threads that get dropped, characters that are cardboard, etc.

But I hate the getting into them. It usually takes me a couple days after reading the letter to process all the advice, suggestions, and manifestos contained in the edit letter. Then I have to hype myself up to jump back into the story and weave the suggestions in. Sometimes it involves cutting chunks. Other times, it involves writing new chapters. Either way, the pages look like they waltzed through the Battle of Gettysburg, covered with track changes.

Then I finally hit a point where it's flowing. I remember the global suggestions and dive into the characters and story, finally remembering why I loved the story in the first place. Last night I finally hit that point with the book I'm currently editing. Good thing since I have one week left to work on it under the truncated deadline.

It'll be worth it. Really :-)

Friday, October 01, 2010

Classic Hollywood Reviews: Your Turn

All right. I've revealed some of my favorite classic movies over the last few months. Now it's your turn.

What's your favorite classic movie?

While I've picked movies from the 30s and 40s, your definition of classic could include the 50s (An Affair to Remember), 60s, 70s, 80s (Footloose :-) ) or 90s (You've Got Mail. But what are the movies you love to watch? The ones you return to over and over again? The ones that make you cry every time (Steel Magnolias). That you can't watch without laughing, even though you know all the punch lines (Hitch). Or that just grip you with excellent characterization or some other element that makes them a keeper and return watcher.

So share those movies. And I'll share a copy of my new book, Timeless Treasures with at least one person who leaves a comment.


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