Wednesday, November 29, 2006

The Premier . . . the details

Photos: the Tyndale gals and an Oscar

Me and Mike Rich, the screenwriter

A huge poster on the street (about 10 feet tall)

"Elizabeth," "Joseph", and Catherine Hardwicke.

The details:

I landed in Los Angeles around lunchtime on Tuesday, then hauled my suitcase over to the terminal where four of the Tyndale women were due to come in. Both our flights were delayed, so it worked out great. While I sat and people-watched, I saw this one row of seats occupied by a family who looked like they might have come from Vietnam . . . three sleeping children piled on top of one another like puppies. One little boy had one shoe off and one shoe on, with his sister draped over him and Dad protectively watching over his brood. The man looked a little anxious until I caught his eye, smiled, and said, "beautiful children." Then he grinned at me.

The Tyndale gals came in and we piled into our stretch limo and headed to the hotel in Beverly Hills. I went to my room to check email (what else?) We had about an hour before we had to get dressed.

Now, none of us five girls had ever been to a Hollywood premier before. And since it was a fund-raiser for Habitat for Humanity, Karen joked that maybe we were supposed to wear jeans "with a beaded toolbelt." But who were we supposed to call to ask?

I said that the minute I said "premier" to the folks back home, the next question out of their mouths was "what are you going to wear?", so I was pretty sure we were okay in our fancy duds.

So there we were, all of us in basic black--except for one brave gal who wore magenta. :-) It was FREEZING outside (I'm a Florida girl, remember), and I did bring an evening coat (purchased at a clearance sale), but since none of the other girls had one, I figured I'd go with my chiffon wrap. Misery loves company.

I did hesitate as I got dressed--I didn't want to dress up too much, because I didn't want to look like I was trying to be a big wig (trust me, I know my place in the scheme of things), but I didn't want to look dowdy, either. So I bravely called forth my inner Brandilyn and went with a plain black skirt and a beaded top. Easy to wear, festive, and comfortable. And freezing.

We ate dinner at our hotel, then scooted out the door in taxis. (After posing for a few pictures, of course.) As we approached the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, we saw a tuxedoed mob in the sidewalk and the spangle of camera flashes. Touche! We had dressed correctly.
We got out, walked through the freezing wind, and picked up our tickets at the "will call" window. As I stood there, shivering, Gary Busey walked by. My first celebrity sighting.
How the red carpet works: The red carpet ran along the front of the building, not necessarily into the building, and some people were being pulled out so the photogs could take pictures. As we walked by, the young actor who plays Joseph was standing there, hands in his pockets, trying to look pleasant while he probably felt awkward (or at least I would have.) No one, of course, pulled us out for pictures, so we gratefully stepped into the warmth of the lobby and went upstairs to the theater.
Note: There are huge golden statues of Oscar scattered throughout the building (which immediately bring Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego to mind), because the Academy of Arts and Sciences sponsors the Academy awards. But this isn't the same auditorium where the Oscars are given out.

The theater was full. At the end of our row--Gary Busey. (Apparently at these things you can see lots of celebrities or one celebrity lots of times.)
The director and several of the actors were there, including the man who played Mary's father, Joseph, and Elizabeth. There were probably others, but no one made any introductions. Finally the lights dimmed and screenwriter Randall Wallace, a believer (he wrote Braveheart and We Were Soldiers, among others) introduced Catherine Hardwicke, who stood up and pretty much said, "I hope you enjoy the movie."

We watched the movie--and I've already given you my impressions. I have to admit that I watched with an analytical mind, because I couldn't help but think of the scenes I'd created for the novel and I was busy comparing fiction against film. One note: You know, movies have their pluses--you can show so much so economically--but nothing beats a novel for getting into a character's head.
After the movie, people stayed until the very end of the LONG list of credits, occasionally applauding (probably for friends in the audience.) And then we all went downstairs for the food provided by Wolfgang Puck's catering service. I didn't even go near the buffet line (too crowded), but we did spy a dessert buffet and headed in that direction.

After a while, the crowd thinned out long enough for us to pick out people we wanted to meet and greet. We spoke to Mike Rich, the screenwriter, Jonathan Bock, head of Grace Hill Media (doing promotion for the film), and some others. We desperately wanted to say hello to Catherine Hardwicke, the director, because she had admired the gift book Tyndale did for the film--and the book designers were with us. So, like a black and magenta amoeba, we sidled over to where she stood talking to some friends. We have such good manners we didn't want to just jump in and grab her, but after a while it became apparent that's what we'd have to do if we wanted to speak to her at all. But then came . . . yep, Gary Busey. And we surely didn't want to interrupt him, so we waited and waited and waited . . . and finally Karen Watson touched Catherine on the arm so our amoeba could absorb her and Gary. Catherine was very kind and gracious as we went around the circle and made introductions--including Gary B., who just said, "I'm Gary."

All in all, it was a lovely night and I got back to the hotel room at about ten-thirty--which was 1:30 a.m. on my internal clock. Went to bed, got up the next morning, and had breakfast with two dear pals who happen to live in CA. Spent all day yesterday flying back (delayed planes, missed connections), and finally got home at about 1 a.m. last night. The Hubster had roses waiting on my desk--flowers I didn't even see until this morning because I was so tired last night.

Enjoy these pictures! I'll have more coming in because we all promised to share the photos we snapped. And to my writer friends who are thinking about movie projects--when you have your premier, give me a call so I can come cheer you on. I have a dress. :-)


P.S. Tomorrow--the book of the month! (Where did November go?)

Just in from the premier

Wow. Saw the NATIVITY STORY movie and loved its elegant simplicity. You won't be disappointed.

You know what? I'm actually glad I didn't see the movie before I wrote the novelization, because I made some radically different choices for some scenes. I think it's nice to have the variety. (I'll explain why I made those choices when we have the BOM discussion.)

And the premier--wow again. Will post lots of pics when I get back into town, but I'm sitting in my Beverly Hills hotel and it's 2 a.m. my time, so I'm going to go to sleep. But I met the director, Catherine Hardwicke, Gary Busey, and got a picture of "Elizabeth" , played by Shohreh Aghdashloo. Said hello to the screenwriter, Mike Rich, and met his lovely wife.

And "Joseph" was there--trust me, he does a fabulous job in the movie. An amazing young actor.

Lots of details and pics when I get home. Stay tuned!


Tuesday, November 28, 2006

The Journey to LA

Tuesday morning, 7:13 am, Tampa airport, gate A 16. Got up at five a.m. to be here, but the eyelids are still heavy (of course that might be because I stuck myself in the eye with a mascara wand at 5:15 a.m.)

HT to Jeanne Wynn for sending me this link:

Seems there's a town in Illionis (CHICAGO!) that isn't allowing The Nativity Story to play at its annual Christmas festival . . . even though the festival also includes a manger scene. (Shaking of the head here.) Behold the power of film! They don't want to offend anyone.

Ted Baehr, whom I interviewed a LONG time ago, has written an encouraging review of THE NATIVITY STORY that you can read here: He has also written an essay about the importance of this movie--must reading, and it's here:

I can't wait to see the movie tonight. If you haven't blocked out a time to see the film this weekend, do so. Or reserve a time for later in the month when you can take the entire family.

As Ted said: "THE NATIVITY STORY is a nearly perfect movie. It should be a movie that every Christian would want to see. It is certainly a movie that every Non-Christian should see. It testifies in every way to Jesus the Messiah and is clearly and consciously evangelistic. Such statements that this baby is the “greatest King” and “God made flesh,” that the gold is for the King of the world, that the frankincense is for the greatest priest of all, and that the myrrh is to honor the sacrifice, and many, many more pointedly proclaim the story of the Christ and the great news that there is salvation in none other."

I'm going with a tiny purse filled with tissues. Even the few snippets I've seen have opened the floodgates of tears. So invite a friend or two and see the movie!


Monday, November 27, 2006

Only a few hours until Hollywood . . .

So this morning I'm on the treadmill, trying not to think about the big premier tomorrow night, and instead trying to figure out how to order my day. Do I jump into my revisions of Fairlawn? Do I work on my theology paper (almost done)? Do I jump back into Fairlawn 2? Or do I just chuck the schedule and go shopping?

I have to interrupt my thoughts and the adventures of Syd and Vaughn when the phone rings. It's a reporter from WTSP, our local CBS affiliate, and they saw the article in yesterday's newspaper. Can they come by this morning to tape an interview? (Actually, last night I heard they would probably be coming. This morning we nailed down the time.)

So I showered (and was so distracted that I washed my hair with conditioner. Twice. Kept wondering why it wouldn't lather), got dressed, and put the dogs away. No time to clean the house.

The reporter and camera guy were very nice and put me at ease. Maybe too much at ease, because when they said they wanted to film me packing for the trip, I invited the entire watching world into my closet. :-)

In any case, if you want to watch the video, you can see it here:

Do I really speak in incomplete sentences? I suppose I do . . .


Handy Woman to the Rescue

Yesterday my local paper published an article about my upcoming trip to see the Nativity Story premier. If you're interested, you can read the article here.
On to more mundane things--
A couple of days ago, the thingamagig in our attic began to vibrate every time I ran the dryer. The more I ran it, the louder the hum became, until I began to worry about a possible fire danger in the attic.

Our house is two stories and the dryer is in an inner room on the first floor. That means the dryer ducting runs up through the second floor (though a wall in a closet) and then up through the attic to the room. Because that's a long way for lint to travel, the builder installed a DBF (dryer booster fan) in the attic. It's electric, and it turns on whenever it senses hot air coming through the duct.

The DBF has worked four years without a problem, but I began to suspect that it might be dying. So I went on the Internet to first 1) identify the thingamajig and 2) figure out who to call to fix it. Should I call an electrician? A duct cleaning company? An AC guy?

I found the fan, identified it, and read that it was supposed to be cleaned every six months! LOL! This is a part of the attic I never even ENTER, let alone clean!

So I called the company who made the fans and learned that these gizmos are supposed to be installed with clamps for easy removal. Mine wasn't. It was taped into the duct line with shiny electrical tape. And the very nice man on the phone assured me that I could find a way to do this myself.

I brought the 20 foot ladder out of the garage and climbed into the attic armed with a scalpel, duct tape, a flash light, a can of compressed air, and a tiny scrub brush. Found that cutting the DBF out of the duct line wasn't as severe an operation as it seemed--in fact, the hardest thing about working in the attic is finding a place to stand--there's no flooring up there, and my husband has already fallen through the ceiling once (in another house). He doesn't do attics anymore.
So, thanks to the miracle of compressed air, scrubbing, and duct tape, I managed to clean and reinstall everything. Found that the long duct is simply sticking up throught the ceiling--next time I think I'll take it down and vaccuum the thing out. It's amazing how much lint travels a very long way from the dryer. No wonder dryers create such a fire hazard!

And now my dryer is operating normally--quietly.

God bless tech guys who can explain things over the telephone.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

What is a Christian?

My pal Jim asked a question the other day and I'm still pondering it. He asked what I'd say if someone wanted to know if they were a Christian--how can a person tell if he or she is truly born again?

The easy answer is "well, if you believe in Jesus, you're a Christian," but that alone doesn't work for me. Even demons believe in Jesus--they know he exists and they know he's God incarnate.

There are at least three Latin words which are translated "believe," and they mean very different things. The first is noticia, from which we get our word notice--in other words, we believe something is real because it's coporeal; we can see it. (This is the kind of belief demons have.) The second is assentia, which has to do with agreement--we "believe" in someone because we agree with them. The third is fiducia (sp?), which has to do with placing something in trust (think fidicuary).

When I teach, I tell the kids that I believe in President Bush--I know he exists because I've seen pictures of him. I believed in him enough to vote for him, so for the most part I agree with his policies. But if I were taken hostage, do I believe that he'd come to rescue me enough to place my life in his hands? No.

But that's how I believe in Christ. And I think that truly being a Christian has to do with more than simple assentia or noticia belief. It means entrusting your life to him so that your life gives evidence of the indwelling Spirit: Love, joy, peace, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, self-control, the qualities we call "fruit."

I keep thinking of the parable of the four soils. Those seeds that fell on the second and third grounds--they grew up, they appeared to flourish. To the passerby, they looked like healthy plants. But ultimately they faded, and they did not bear fruit.

Jesus said that many would say to him in the last day, "Lord, didn't we do this and that for you?" and he will answer, "Sorry, I never knew you."

I think he says that to those who represent that third type of soil. I believe there are lots of people who think they believe "enough"--they walk the walk and talk the talk, but they're not following Christ, nor are they bearing the fruit of the Spirit. And when the heat of tribulation or trial comes on them, they wither and fade away.

I found a blog the other day written by people who describe themselves as "ex-Christians and ex-ministers." The blog exists solely to "debunk Christianity." I fear that these are examples of that third type of soil.

We often cultivate something in our churches I call "easy believe-ism." We tell folks to come down front, pray the prayer, and everything will be fine, they're saved and on their way to heaven. Well . . . no. Following Jesus is more than praying a prayer; it's repenting, surrendering, and living a life that results in spiritual fruit.

We often define grace as "God's riches at Christ's expense," but living for Christ will cost you something, too--your right to call the shots. Oh, I know we all slip into the driver's seat occasionally, but when the Spirit dwells inside a person, that driver's seat isn't comfortable for very long.

So--how do we know if we're true Christians? We are actively following Christ and seeing the work of the Spirit in our lives.

I just think we need to spell it all the way out.


Saturday, November 25, 2006

Delaware, Nativity, and Christmas!

Wow, we're already into the Christmas season! I have a zillion things to do--when do we find time to do the cards and the decorating?

A couple of news items: first, the photo today is of me and Judy Arthur, who I met at the Delaware Book Festival. Judy and I discovered that we have loads in common--mainly our children, who are twenty-something. Need I say more? If you've been there, you'll know what I mean.

Gary Soulsman, of the News Journal in Wilmington, wrote an interview article you can read here.

I also read a review of The Nativity Story movie with which I strongly disagree--and I haven't even seen the film yet! But (as you can tell from my comments after the review) the reviewer takes this film to task for using traditional elements while he applauds The Passion, which used even more traditional elements than the Nativity movie. It's apparent from some of the other comments that people who think they know the nativity story would do well to read the Scriptural account more closely. We have assumed so many traditional things are true . . . when it's quite possible they're not.
I'll be amplifying and explaining these statements next week, when The Nativity Story will be the Book of the Month. I can't wait to tell you all about it because I am really excited about this movie and the book! And the premier--I'll be heading to Hollywood on Tuesday, going to the premier on Tuesday night, and home later to tell you all about it!


Friday, November 24, 2006


Photos: The Food. The Red-haired Cousins. The dessert table. Daughter and hubby.
Yesterday, hubby, daughter, and I drove over to the annual family reunion in a small town in central Florida--a town so small that all I had to do was enter the name of the town in my GPS, and the talking woman took us straight there.

I thought I'd share some pictures--there were new babies this year, new faces, and dear, familar ones, too. And we were very grateful to be alive, together, and blessed. I wish I'd taken more pictures, but I quickly began talking and soon forgot all about my camera.

I hope your Thanksgiving was warm and wonderful!


Thursday, November 23, 2006

I baked

This picture is from my kitchen where last night I --drum roll--baked! A cherry cobbler, a Kentucky Derby pie, and a hash brown casserole. (How to you bake with two mastiffs sniffing at your countertops? Very watchfully!)

My relatives always gather at this women's club in a little town in central Florida. The aunts always bring the turkey and dressing, and the cousins always bring side dishes. There's no organization to it other than that, yet we always seem to have tables groaning with all kinds of goodies.

The Daughter came home yesterday and we went shopping--again, for the elusive thing to wear on the red carpet at the Nativity premier. I keep expecting someone to pinch me and tell me it was all a mistake, but so far, so good--we found something to wear and I have my travel reservations. (The other "thing to wear" didn't work when I tried it on. The skirt was too big, so back to the store it went.)

I've always tried to live according to that proverb that says it's better to sit at the low table and be invited up to the head table . . . than to sit at the head table and be asked to move to the low. In other words, I keep my expectations low, that way I'm not disappointed. (Aside: I've met so many authors who go, for instance, to their first book signing or their first booksellers' convention and are CRUSHED when there aren't lines out the door of huge posters emblazoned with their names and faces. "Keep your expectations low, sweetie," I always want to say, "and then if something nice does happen, you can be amazed and grateful."

I know, I know--I'm not a natural born promoter. (VBG) But that's why I keep expecting to go to the movie premier and be slipped in the back door rather than be allowed to walk down the red carpet. If anything else happens, I'll be stunned and grateful.

Speaking of gratitude, in all the holiday hubbub, be sure to stop and count your blessings today. One thing I'm grateful for? A couple of weeks ago, hubby and I were at Home Depot when hubby saw a woman he recognized and they chatted. Later she came up to him and said, "I hope I didn't commit a faux paus?"
Gary said, "What?"
"When I saw you at Home Depot," she went on. "I guess you were with your new wife--you know, that young woman?"
Gary laughed. "I don't have a new wife--I'm still making do with the old one!"
P.S. Kentucky Derby Pie is sort of like a chess pie--made of eggs, sugar, evaporated milk. I'll let you know how it tastes!

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

WIP Update

I haven't said much about it, but my WIP this week and last was the nonfiction project I'm doing with Mandisa, the fabulous girl who was a finalist on last season's "American Idol." I met with Mandisa last week in Nashville and was very impressed by her sweet spirit, her talent, and her surrender to the Lord. We are going to be working on her book from now until the end of January, ping-ponging the manuscript back and forth until it's everything it's supposed to be.

But tomorrow I'm taking the day off to hit the grocery store, bake a couple of dishes to take to the family reunion, and to start decorating for Christmas! I've found that it's harder to work up the old Christmas decorating desire once the kids are grown. And time flies so quickly these days, it feels like I just took all the Christmas stuff down! But I since I have to work on Friday, I think I'll snatch the minutes I can to hang some holly and pull out the stockings.

I wish you all a calm, peaceful, and blessed Thanksgiving with your family and friends. Drive safely if you'll be on the road!


Tuesday, November 21, 2006

National Bless an Author Day

Mary deMuth has done a really lovely thing by establishing National Bless An Author Day. Visit this link and leave a comment to bless an author who has touched your life!


It's a . . . Bananaphone!

Okay, so it's a cold (45 degrees!) and rainy day here--the perfect day to visit the above link and sing about your banana phone!

I don't make this stuff up. I just report it.


All together, now! ring, ring, ring, ring, banana phone!

Monday, November 20, 2006

How To Read a Novel . . .

I am a sucker for book reviews. No, not the ones that sprout like mushrooms on the Internet, but those from more reputable sources like Bookmarks, PW, the New York Times, and People Magazine. (Hey, don't knock People--Francine Prose reviews for them, and she's brilliant. You need to read her book, Reading Like a Writer. It's wonderful.)

Trouble is, I read all these reviews of books that look interesting, then I go to and click away. Result? A sizeable monthly bill and stacks and stacks of books on my library shelves. I could lose electricity tomorrow and be unable to work (forget the longhand), but I'd have enough to read.

Yesterday I read a review of HOW TO READ A NOVEL: A USER'S GUIDE by John Sutherland. It looked so good I've just ordered a copy, and I have to pass on this tidbit from the author: the McLuhan Test from Marshall McLuhan (and I have no idea who that is). McLuhan says: "Turn to page 69 of any book and read it. If you like that page, buy the book. It works."

Ha! Maybe that's another way of saying "If the author has found a way to defeat the Sagging Middles problem, you'll know it by page 69," but I think it's hilarious in any case.

And I can't help thinking of all the effort we novelists put into our first line, first paragraph, and first page. Maybe we should all start applying that effort to page sixty-nine? (To be fair, we should be applying that effort to every page, but you know what I mean.)

So I've ordered the book. I'll let you know if it's all as good as the page 69 advice.

(Aside: ever since Al Gansky and Jack Cavanaugh taught me to format my manuscripts like a printed book page, I can actually predict where page 69 might land. Thanks, guys!)

P.S. Just got a note from that says my Alias Season Five DVDs have shipped. Whoo-hoo! Something new for the treadmill!

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Is it that time of year already?

Yesterday I went to run errands on my usual errand-running day. Went to Target, PetSmart, Marshalls, T.J. Maxx (and there you have 'em--my favorite stores!)

Found bumper-to-bumper traffic at every place. The aisles were so crowded we could barely move in the stores, and once I had to stop and direct traffic around the shoe aisles at Marshalls.

Clearly, Christmas shopping has begun. Obviously, I will find another day to run errands.

I usually take Saturdays as my sabbath and I do no ordinary work on that day. I'm thinking from now until January 2007, I'm going to start taking Fridays instead. Maybe even Thursdays.

It's not that I don't like people or Christmas, but I don't like crowds. I'm a fast-paced browser who counts burning many calories as one of the health benefits of shopping. I walk fast, I shop fast, I can pull out that charge card like Marshall Dillion handling a six shooter. But Christmas crowds are not my favorite thing.
As I left Winn Dixie yesterday, the woman at the Salvation Army kettle called out "Merry Christmas." I answered in the same way, but I was thinking, Please let's just get through Thanksgiving first, okay?

Four weeks of Christmas rush is enough. Why must we extend it to six?
I have a feeling I already know the answer.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

We haven't given up on Alias yet!

Okay, all you Alias fans! The link above takes you to an online game that promises to give you all the answers to your unsolved Alias questions . . . plus the game's a lot of fun. It's all to promote the sale of the new Alias DVD collection--all five seasons in a keepsake Rambaldi box.

HT to Kelli Standish for pointing me to the game. Once I got started, I couldn't quit until I'd solved all four levels. Try your memory, skill, and luck! And let me know how you do!
(HT also to Kelli for the cool Alias font in the picture!)


Friday, November 17, 2006

For What Shall it Profit a Man to Win the World and Lose . . . His Soul?

On November 15, the St. Petersburg Times reported that Gerald Fraller of Tampa is selling his soul. Really. The notion rose from a phone conversation with the man's only friend. Gerald was so miserable, he was willing to sell his soul in order to change it. A great idea . . . if he could figure out how to advertise this unique sale.

So he spent two months outlining an online sweepstakes. The grand prize? His soul. On Monday, the day after his 28th birthday, he quit his job as a computer technician and launched a web site:

For each dollar donated, you get one entry. The lucky winner will get a real lifelong contract entitling the owner to benefits including:

  • a percentage of Fraller's taxable income for the rest of his life, guaranteed minimum of $500 per year.
  • The power to choose the first name of all his children
  • The power to make his new year's resolutions
  • plan his wedding day
  • and write the inscription on his tombstone.

Fraller says that since he's spent most of his life alone (he doesn't know his bio father, his mother couldn't care for him, he was in and out of foster care, his only marriage ended in divorce), he likees the idea of being bound to another person for as long as he lives.

By the second day of his soul-sale, he had gathered $404 in donations. By January 30 he'll set a date for the drawing, which will happen before Nov. 1, 2007. Oh, and he's also looking for a wife, if you're interested.

I don't know about you, but this is the kind of news story that spurs story ideas in me. What if a man really could sell his soul? What if the devil wins his sweepstakes? I could see a thriller, a chick lit, a romance, all stemming from this single idea.

But I find it sad to think that this man would sell his soul to someone for a dollar. Is that what he thinks his soul is worth? I also find it interesting that he wants to preserve his free will--unfortunately, that's what far too many of us want to do. We give our souls to Jesus, but boy, we only want to give him control over a few select things. Yet, if he is Lord, shouldn't he be Lord over all of our lives?

So . . . want to take a chance at winning a man's soul? You can find anything for sale these days.


Thursday, November 16, 2006

One more time

Again blogging over at Charis: Part 2 of yesterday's bit.


Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Skip on over to Charis

Blogging today over at Visit me there!


Tuesday, November 14, 2006

What Does Google Think of You?

Ever think that all these computers are spying on you? They may be! I know that if you use gmail (I do), webbots are constantly scanning the contents of your email and placing appropriate ads on the page where you view your mail.

In any case, this is interesting. Visit to see what Google thinks of you! You can enter your name or the name of whomever, even a place or thing. It's fun! (Hint: don't use quotation marks in your search term.)

I'm in Nashville Monday and Tuesday, doing work for my nonfiction WIP. More details to come later. It's rainy and gray here, and I'm suddenly very grateful to live in the land of almost-constant sunshine.


Monday, November 13, 2006

The Nativity Story to Premiere at Vatican

Nov 10, 8:35 AM ET

A movie about Christmas by the company that produced the Oscar-winning "The Lord of the Rings" will make its world premiere at the Vatican this month.

"The Nativity Story," which opens in the United States and Italy on Dec. 1, will be screened at the Vatican's Pope Paul VI Hall on Nov. 26, Vatican officials said Friday.

It was not yet known if Pope Benedict XVI would attend the screening, said Claudia Di Giovanni, from the Vatican's Pontifical Council for Social Communications.

Producers said in a statement that 7,000 people would be invited to the premiere, and that proceeds from the event would go toward the construction of a school in a village in Israel about 25 miles from Nazareth, the town of Jesus' childhood. The statement said that the village, Mughar, has a diverse population, including Christians and Muslims.

Mughar is one of the towns hit by rockets fired by Lebanon-based Hezbollah guerrillas over the summer.

Di Giovanni said that the screening would be preceded by a reading from the Gospels and a prayer "to give a spiritual aspect" to the event.

The movie stars Australian-born Keisha Castle-Hughes, of "Whale Rider" fame, who plays the role of Mary, and Oscar Isaac, who stars as Joseph. "The Nativity Story" is directed by Catherine Hardwicke, who did "Lords of Dogtown."

Di Giovanni said that while some made-for-TV movies have had their premieres at the Vatican, it is believed that "The Nativity Story" will be the first feature film to have its premiere there.

Note: this is not the premier I'll be attending. Lord willing, I'm heading to LA on the 28th.


Sunday, November 12, 2006

Babe Update

Babe has an ear problem. It's nothing serious, all my mastiffs have had this at one time or another. They have flappy, floppy ears, you see, and not enough air gets up in those folds so gunky things have a tendency to grow and accumulate. Left uncleaned, the ear gunk irritates the ears, resulting in a dog that shakes her head constantly and stinks.

Yesterday morning my hubby was trying to pray with me before heading out. Babe stood beside me at the kitchen counter, and I found it hard to focus on prayer with waves of dog stink washing over me. This is pungent stuff!

So I promptly got my spray bottle of mixed vinegar and water, the perfect doggie ear cleaner. Charley doesn't like the spray bottle, but he's learned the after-spray ear rub is worth the aggravation. Babe, however, hasn't learned that, and after one squirt she was off like a rocket. I spent the rest of the morning trying to corner her in the kitchen, and every time I put my hand out to touch her ear, she ducked and even showed her teeth. She didn't snarl, but she let me know she had TEETH and she wasn't happy.

So . . . the spray bottle isn't going to work with Babe. (Who says we train dogs? They train us, truly.) So then I found one of those squishy turkey baster things you can use to clean human ears. I filled it with vinegar and water and called Babe over for a belly rub. While she was lying at my side, I squirted a little vinegar and water into her ear and proceeded to massage it in--as long as she'd lie still, which wasn't long.
By nighttime I was rewarding her for letting me touch her ears with a towel--if she'd let me do it, I'd give her a treat. That worked for a while, but now she flinches and ducks if I just move to touch her head. She looks at me like she's lost all trust in me.
Right now I think I'm going to leave her ears alone for a couple of days. I'd hope she'll forget, but I know better. Dogs have long memories.

So I have a feeling I have my work cut out for me when it comes to Babe's ears. If you have any ideas, I'd love to hear them.


Saturday, November 11, 2006

The Perfect Purse

So SteinMart was having a sale today, and I had a card for an additional 20 percent off clearance items. (Of course, most of the things I got were not on clearance. Sigh.)

Sigh. Anyway, I got my outfit for the premier--unless I change my mind between now and then. And then, to top it off, I bought the perfect evening purse. See photo. It's tiny and cute and a splash of color on an otherwise all-black outfit, yet it's big enough for a room key, a small brush, lipstick and a camera. What more could a girl need?

What did I get? I definitely tried to remember that less is more. So I found a full skirt rather like the one in the Donna Karan photo below, except there's a little interest at the hem--a strip of velvet, I think. And then I found a sleeveless black top, scoop neck (not low), and quite simple. Then I found a wide leather belt with a LARGE round gold circle clasp. Ta da! Simple. And a black velvet wrap in case it's chilly. I have black lace shoes, I have jewelry, so I think I'm set.

All those sequins were awfully tempting--trust me, the stores are awash with sequins now--but I didn't want to do the sparkly thing. I'll reserve that for the cruise ship. (VBG).

My motto, you know, is "expect the unexpected" so the unexpected element will either be this cute little purse, or maybe a net crinoline under the skirt . . . we'll have to see. Stay tuned!


Friday, November 10, 2006

My favorite children's books . . . and more

Someone just asked me to name my five favorite children's books in two categories. If you're Christmas shopping for a child, you might want to consider these . . . they are wonderful!

Picture books:
Nicholas Cricket by Joyce Maxner (I dare anyone to read this aloud without tapping their toes!)
Weird Parents by Audrey Wood (parents love this one as much as kids)
Joey by Jack Kent (a gentle lesson for moms, too)
Why Christmas Trees Aren't Perfect by Richard Schneider
Argyle by Barbara Brooks Wallace (why fame isn't all its cracked up to be)

Chapter books:
Charlotte's Web by E.B. White
The Incredible Journey by Shelia Burnford
Black Beauty, by Anna Sewell
Ramona Quimby, Age 8, by Beverly Cleary
The Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum

WIP update: 10,000 words done on the second Fairlawn book, IN LIEU OF FLOWERS. Rough drafting is a matter of sitting down and letting it spin out of you.

I spoke at a meeting of the Florida Writer's Association, St. Pete chapter, last night. What a fun group of folks! I had a great time . . . and hugs to the dad and his daughters who drove all the way from Gainesville! Write on, friends!


Thursday, November 09, 2006

Challenge of the Year

So . . . what does one wear to a film premier in LA?

A few years ago I lost sixty pounds and was so thin that I could wear virtually anything. All those cute young fashions actually looked good on my skin-and-bones frame. But then some of those pounds crept back to their original places and now I once again look like the middle-aged mother I am.

So—what does a MAM wear to a premier?

I went to Dillards yesterday and tried on several dresses from the holiday wear department. Bad move. At one point I stared in the mirror and was instantly reminded of the headline I’d just seen on a tabloid at the grocery store. “THE BUMP IS BACK!” the headline screamed, “AND BRAD IS OVER THE MOON!”

Well—I’m not Angelina Jolie, I’m not pregnant, and my bump doesn’t come and go—well, not routinely. And in far too many dresses yesterday, it wasn’t shy about making its appearance.

(BTW, if you’re male and reading this—you may excuse yourself now. Thank you very much.)

Most of the dresses I tried on were cut too low, hemmed too short, and sewn too quickly. I found myself wishing that I lived in the 1950’s—I LOVE those full-skirted dresses Lucy and Ethel always wore when they went out on the town with Ricky and Fred. I actually have one of those (found on eBay), but it has about a 24 inch waist, and that’s just not going to happen in less than three weeks.

So—I emailed my daughter, the fashionista. Never fear, she says, I can go simple and elegant and accessorize. She says to stick with Ralph Lauren (whom I love) or Donna Karan.

I know Lauren, so I go online to check out the new Donna Karan collection. To my great relief, it’s composed of pieces I might even have in my closet. There’s no way I can BUY any of the pieces I saw (see the photo? One of those pieces sells for $1995.00, the other for $2595.00, and I have no idea which is which), but I think I can come close to replicating either this look or something similar. And I’ll be comfortable!

I was watching a Doris Day flick a few months ago with Jim Bell, Nancy Rue, and Lisa Samson . We gals were exclaiming over Doris’s small waist and her adorable hat, and we remarked that such small waists were possible because women were generally girdled until they couldn’t breathe . . . at that point Jim turned the movie off and said we needed to concentrate.
LOL! Men. They just don’t understand how important these things are . . .
So . . . if you have any ideas, I'm open. And since I used the picture, I feel duty-bound to say that YOU can shop the Donna Karan collection here .

~~Angie , now looking for the Ralph Lauren collection . . .

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Guest Blogger: Robin Lee Hatcher

Robin Lee Hatcher began writing her first novel in 1981 and saw it published, with all its imperfections intact, in 1984. Fifteen years and thirty books later, she followed God's call on her heart to write Christian fiction. In October 2006, her 50th book was released. A Carol for Christmas is a story about the desires of our hearts and how God wants to change and use them for His glory.
A Carol for Christmas
Robin Lee Hatcher
ISBN 0-310-25776-X
144 pages
$12.99 (hardcover)

Never underestimate the true spirit of Christmas.

Carol Burke was born to sing. It was the life she had always dreamed of. There was only one thing she loved more, one person for whom she would willingly sacrifice her dreams: Jonathan Burke. Married against their parents' wishes, both are determined to make a life together despite the hardships. Jonathan works hard at his father's department store, leaving Carol alone in their tiny apartment. But long hours turn into late nights, thanks to Jonathan?s insatiable desire to prove himself to his father--even at the expense of the one he loves best.

Into the midst of an increasingly empty marriage comes an unexpected chance for Carol to sing again. Is this the opportunity of a lifetime, or a time for her to let go and trust her future to God? Carol knows one thing: she longs most of all to share her first Christmas with Jonathan, creating their own memories and traditions and breathing new life into their marriage.

Then a broken promise leaves her wondering. Can anything, anyone, even God, heal her crumbling hopes? The answer comes when Carol finds herself face-to-face with the true spirit of Christmas.

1) What inspired the idea for A Carol for Christmas?

Actually, this is one of those odd things that happen in publishing. I was working on Return to Me (a prodigal daughter story) when my publishing schedule got changed around. Zondervan decided they wanted that novel to come out at a different time of year, so they requested I do a Christmas novella first. Because I was already invested in the two sister protagonists in Return to Me, Elena and Roxy Burke, I decided I would enjoy telling the love story of their parents, Jonathan and Carol. I thought back to my first Christmas as a teenage bride and the struggles young couples can have as they try to meld different Christmas traditions from two separate families into something new and unique to them. That was the starting point, but as happens with all of my ideas, the characters took the story the way they wanted it to go.

2) The novel, Return to Me, is a sequel to this novella. Tell us about it.
Sure. Here is the back cover copy for Return to Me which releases in July 2007:

Ambition lured her away.
Failure brought her home.
Can grace heal her broken heart?

A lot has changed since Roxy Burke escaped small town life to become a Nashville star. Her former boyfriend Wyatt has found Christ and plans to become a minister. Her sister Elena, who comforted Wyatt when Roxy ran away, is now his fiancee. Her father Jonathan, a successful businessman, is still heartbroken over the estrangement of Roxy from the family.

Now Roxy--her inheritance from her grandmother squandered, her hopes of stardom dashed--finds her way home, not by choice but because it's her only option. Her father's love and forgiveness surprise her, but her very presence throws the contented Burke family into turmoil, filling Roxy with guilt and shame.

Elena is shocked to discover doubt and resentment in her heart about her father's easy acceptance of Roxy into the family circle. Wyatt wrestles with doubts about marrying Elena. And Roxy struggles to accept forgiveness. Isn't she more deserving of rejection? As the story of the prodigal plays out, each member of the Burke family must search for and accept God's grace.

3) Can't help noticing that both Carol and her daughter Roxy love to sing and dream of singing careers. Are you a singer?

I love music and have the heart of a great singer, but alas, not the voice. My singing borders on being a "joyful noise." I can stay on key most of the time, but perfect pitch is not one of my gifts. Still, in my car or around the house, I am usually singing along to something (contemporary Christian, worship, country, golden oldies). The louder it's cranked, the better I sound.

4) This is your 50th release. Do you have a favorite among your own books?

I have different books that are favorites for different reasons. All of my CBA novels were written because the story was important to me at the time, because I felt God wanted me to write it, so I could never pick just one.

5) You're a native Idahoan and most of your books are set there. If you had to move out of state, where would you go?

Somewhere in the west where at least one mountain range is always in view. I mourn for the mountains when I can't see them. Of course, Hawaii might be nice. I could lie on the beach and look at the mountains. Not quite the same mountains I'm used to, but I think I could acclimate.

6) What scripture verses have spoken to you lately about your writing?

I've kept this one on my desktop for many years:

"Be strong and courageous, Robin, and do the work. Don't be afraid or discouraged by the number of words you need to write, for the LORD God, my God, is with you. He will not fail you or forsake you. He will see to it that all the work related to this novel is finished correctly." (1 Chronicles 28:20, Robin's Revised Version, based on the NLT)

A more recent one is this:

"But my life is worth nothing unless I use it for doing the work assigned me by the Lord Jesus -- the work of telling others the Good News about God's wonderful kindness and love." (Acts 20:24)

7) Name one thing you would change about your physical appearance and why?

I would have different hair, not thin and baby fine. I'm tired of bad hair days.

8) Since your new release is about Christmas, let's end with a Christmas question. Name your favorite holiday dessert and why.

Frosted sugar cookies. When my two daughters were little, we would take a Saturday in early December to make cookies, to eat and to give away to others. I would roll, cut, and bake. They would sit on stools at the long kitchen counter and frost. There would be one bowl of red frosting, one of green, one of blue, one of yellow, and one of white. I cut snowmen and stars and Santa Clauses and Christmas ornaments. There was frosting all over the counter by the time we were done. Oh, and all over my daughters' mouths, too. Those December Saturdays ended a long time ago, but I still remember and miss them.

Thanks for having me on your blog. May the coming holiday season be rich with love for you and your readers.


Tuesday, November 07, 2006

BOM: Questions and Answers

Questions and Answers:
Betsy asked: I think the parable of the Lost Sheep is everybody at some point in their life. When you write you parable stories do you find yourself in awe of everything?
I find myself in awe of everything almost every day! I love looking for metaphors and analogies--in fact, I see them everywhere. That's why parables come naturally to me, and I love using them . . . primarily because Jesus used them. They are such great teaching tools.
Regina asked: I would like to know if you have a page where I can get a list of all the books and series in order? That would be very helpful.
If you go to my web page and click on the link that says "browse books," you'll see all my titles grouped into categories. From there it's simply a matter of selecting contemporary or historical, etc., and all the books are there, lined up in order from most recent to oldest. Happy browsing!
I think that's it. My neighborhood book club has just left my house (the gals met BABE tonight--and I'm happy to say that Babe loved all of them. Before I brought Babe in, though, I passed out drool rags to each woman.)
Thanks once again for coming along with me for another book of the month. Next month: the Nativity Story!
And news flash -- looks like I'm going to be able to attend the premier in Los Angeles! How cool is that? I keep pinching myself . . .

Monday, November 06, 2006

BOM: The Awakening--Results and Reader Reaction

I mentioned the other day that some folks won't always "get" the message buried inside a parable. Jesus had to explain his parables to his disciples, so that's why I include discussion questions at the end of my books. Whether or not readers have a book club, I'd love for them to consider the questions and ponder the hidden truths that are very much a part of the story.

Okay--now on to the good and the bad. I could just share the positive reviews, you know, but I want you to see that I don't always hear only the "good things."

From Publisher's Weekly:

A dreamlike quality pervades this lovely tale by Hunt, the veteran author of more than 70 books. Thirty-five-year-old Aurora Norquest is left floundering after the mother she's nursed through dementia dies. Aurora rattles around her Manhattan apartment, suffering from agoraphobia and contemplating suicide. She also begins to wonder about the father she's never known, a famous horror novelist. Yet something as significant as finding her father is a long shot for Aurora, who is afraid even to walk to her apartment building's lobby. Then Philip, an economics teacher, gently pries Aurora from her cocoon and awakens her to life—and to faith. (Readers will notice the names correspond to the princess and prince in Sleeping Beauty, among other parallels.) As Aurora confronts her haunting dreams, voices (could they be from God?) and fears, she begins to discover that much about her past that she had taken for granted was untrue. The novelist father—who has everything, yet longs for the daughter he's never known— intentionally mirrors the biblical parable of the shepherd and the one lost sheep. The capable Hunt handles the mechanics of storytelling with aplomb, and the happy conclusion, while a bit rushed, should please. Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From an Amazon review of UNSPOKEN:

I loved UNSPOKEN! After not even being able to finish THE AWAKENING I was afraid Angela Hunt was done with giving us wonderful refreshing stories but she has redeemed herself with Sema's story . . .

And another Amazon review:

The Awakening is a truly astounding work of art. . . I am reluctant to even write a review on this book as I feel completely handicapped in relating how much Angela Hunt means to me. Since becoming a Christian I became both lost and found; found in Christ, but lost in the world. Everything I had once loved, the literature, the art, movies, it all now lacked that God-spark and spirit. . . . .
In The Awakening we have Aurora, the significance of the name not lost, trapped by lies built up as stakes supposedly to keep her safe. I related deeply to this woman who connects to the world through books, and is somewhat wary of the human heart. She is in want of nothing, rich, intelligent, attractive, but she is disconnected from the world, from her heart and from her soul and her mind is becoming unseamed as it knows she needs the truth to survive, but is Aurora strong enough to let the truth enter her world? Gently a neighbor helps Aurora see the light, the light of truth, of God, of her own being and she lifts those stakes of lies and realizes she is not alone, she is not helpless. I would recommend this book to anyone as a testimony to the power of Christ . . .
Angie here again: Wow. Letters like that make all the work worthwhile.

Seriously--I hope the last two reviews illustrate something I've learned--you can pour your heart into a book, pray over it, polish it, and offer it to the world. Some people won't be able to get through it, and others will praise it to the skies.

But you know what? While I'm grateful for the latter kind of letter/review, I know that it really isn't my pen that's working. It's the Spirit of God. The same Spirit that called Aurora to wakefulness works through the printed page to touch readers. When that miracle happens, it isn't due to me . . . it's the Spirit's work. I do my part and try to remain faithful to my calling and craft, but it's God who works the true miracles.

Tomorrow: your questions, if you have any. Leave them in the comments and I'll answer them tomorrow!
P.S. If you've been following the Haggard affair (sorry for the choice of words), Brandilyn Collins has an interesting perspective featured in her blog today. Click on her name in my blogroll to the right.

Thanks for coming along on another BOM journey!


Sunday, November 05, 2006

BOM: The Editing

Once again, I'm hard-pressed to remember the editing, but I do remember a few things. Obviously, as I mentioned before, T.J. Maxx vanished. (Too bad--I love that store.)

When I handed in the book, I wrote it in first/third POV, all present tense. My editor didn't like that, so I changed it to all first person. Because it can be confusing for a reader to read a new chapter in another character's head, I planted little clues in subheads:

Any chapter which began "Apartment 15A" was Aurora's

"Apartment 15B" was Philips (the Boy) and

"Apartment 15C" was Clara's.

I don't know that many readers caught the hints, but they were there.

Lisa Bergren, who was hired as freelance editor, suggested that I enhance the scenes where Aurora struggles to go down the stairs, a new step each day. A great suggestion.

I do remember one exchange Lisa and I had--at one point, Aurora describes herself as "middle aged" and she's thirty-five. Lisa, who is about that same age, protested that she hadn't reached middle age yet! I replied that man is granted "three score and ten," and thirty-five is exactly the half-way point. If that's not middle-age, I don't know what is!

Now that I'm nearing two score and nine, I think thirty-five is terribly young. Even though it IS exactly "middle age." I'm hoping, however, to make it to ninety-six. (VBG)

Tomorrow: The results and reader reaction


Saturday, November 04, 2006

Bom: The Writing

I'm in Dover, DE today (Saturday)--speaking at the Dover Book Festival at noon. If you're anywhere in the area, please stop by!

Writing The Awakening was not without its challenges. I wanted the book to be horrific--it's the closest thing to a horror novel I've ever written, yet I don't think I even came close to Stephen King terrain. (VBG) Aurora has some pretty vivid nightmares, and I intended them to be God-sent, because God is not only love, but he is terrifying to those who don't know him and have never encountered his holy majesty (I think his holiness is pretty terrifying, actually, even to those of us who believe.)

The story exists on two levels--a novelist father yearns to know his daughter, just as God yearns to love his creatures. The novelist encodes messages to his daughter that will break through the web of lies that surrounds her just as God reveals his glory, majesty, and love in nature, in kindness, in the things we call "common grace." The rain that falls on the just and the unjust; the kindness men can show to one another apart from God--these things stem from common grace.

Aurora is struggling to break free of her fears, but she is also being summoned on many levels. God/the father tries to reach her through many avenues, but she rejects them until they become terrifyingly real.

When I teach writing, I often talk about the need for an ACTIVE protagonist--you want a character who will DO something and not just sit around. That's why Aurora was a challenge--she couldn't do anything BUT sit around. So I had to give her concrete goals--baby steps, as it were, so she could strive to simply leave the apartment and get on with her life. A protagonist also needs high stakes, and Aurora's is the highest--early on, it becomes clear that she will take her own life if she doesn't succeed. She's had enough of living in solitude and fear.

I was working on my theology degree while I was writing this book, and the one truth I wanted to illustrate was that no one comes to God unless the Spirit calls him first. I wanted to show that calling--that determined, relentless pursuit of the hound of heaven, the Father who summons us into the family. The calling of God is not always a gentle affair. It can have risks, and it can be terrifying. Aurora found it so.

Tomorrow: The editing


Friday, November 03, 2006

BOM: The Research

The Awakening required research in a couple of new areas: first, New York City. Fortunately, I'd been there recently. Second, I had to research agoraphobia, which is usually defined as "fear of open spaces." But a person truly suffering from agoraphobia can experience panic in any unfamiliar place, and over time, his or her world grows smaller and smaller. I read books on the disorder, but it wasn't until I talked to Patsy Clairmont, who used to suffer from agoraphobia, that I got a real handle on the personality traits Aurora would need. I got more useable information in a ten-minute talk with Patsy than I did through reading a couple of books.

I also had a character who was an economist, so I had to do a bit of research on that. Fortunately, a New York Times article on the guy who originated "freakonomics" fit that bill and gave me just what I needed.
I had to research New York apartments. I found a lovely book with original floor plans from New York apartment buildings, and placed Aurora and friends in the exact plans of an old Manhattan building. That was fun.
I also had to think about the Christian content. Even though I intended The Awakening to be a parable--an earthly story with a heavenly meaning--I knew some readers would do well to get through the story, let alone dig for the deeper meaning. (Parables are like onions--and some folks only want to pull off the peel.) So I made one character, the next door neighbor, a Christian. It's a little overt Christian content, but not too much. The real spiritual meaning lies beneath the surface . . . by design.
Tomorrow: the writing

Thursday, November 02, 2006

BOM: How the Idea Germinated

The Awakening sprang from T.J. Maxx, actually. Or at T. J. Maxx.
I was in the dressing room, trying on an outfit, and I suddenly wondered what would happen if I happened to hear the voice of God. Audibly. Really. Like a burning bush experience, but in T.J. Maxx.
Would people think I was nuts? Would I want to tell people at all, or would I keep the experience to myself? A sane person probably would--then I remembered that old John Denver movie with George Burns playing God. I don't remember much about it, but I do recall that the message God wanted spread around was something like "be nice to each other."
Well . . . okay. But if God was really going to speak, don't you think he'd say something of more import than "be nice?"
So then I realized that this message or whatever would have to mean something to the individual. And it'd help if the individual was a little unbalanced in some way, so that hearing a voice out of the blue wouldn't strike her as a reason to race to the psychiatrist's office.
What if she couldn't race to the psychiatrist's office? What if she were homebound? I could make her an agoraphobe . . . but how could a person live like that for a long period of time and not seek help? Maybe she'd been homebound because she was caring for an ailing parent. She'd have to live in a place where it's possible to get anything one needs via delivery, so that almost immediately limits the book to New York City, where you can get groceries, food, wares, delivered straight to your door. You could live as a hermit amid the millions of Manhattan and few people would even notice.
Okay . . . so what would God tell this woman, and why would he need to tell her? And because most of my stories are parables, how does this situation mirror a spiritual situation?
Those were the thoughts that shaped the book. And in the end, mainly due to my editor (who wasn't sure most people would know what a T.J. Maxx was), the department store completely disappeared. I was left with Aurora Norquest, age 35, living in the top floor of a Manhattan apartment building, where she has spent the last ten years caring for her dying mother. The mother dies, and Aurora is finally free to live her life . . . if she can find the courage to leave the apartment. But she's been kept prisoner there by more than her fears. She's also been trapped by a web of lies.
This novel is extremely metaphorical, and so I started thinking in terms of Sleeping Beauty . . . hence Aurora Rose and Prince Philip. And even the wicked queen. (BG)
Tomorrow: The research

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Book of the Month: The Awakening

Thanks for your many suggestions about which title to do for November's BOM. I put all of your suggestions on the calendar, but since I couldn't do all of them in November, I settled on The Awakening for this month. It was originally published in 2004 by WestBow, and it's still in print.
Recovering from the isolation of caring for her recently deceased mother, Aurora Norquest begins to experience bewildering dreams. As she seeks to understand the voices that fill her sleeping hours, she learns that her mother has hidden a secret . . . a truth that could change Aurora’s present and set a new course for her future.

Aurora is aided in her understanding by Philip Cannon, the neighbor who shows more than a friendly interest. With love as his ally, Philip helps her discern between truth and falsehood, the voice of guilt and the voice of love.

Christy-award winning author Angela Hunt delivers another parable for readers who enjoy being caught by surprise and delving a little deeper into life’s challenging issues. Read and be awakened . . . as you listen for echoes of a still, small voice.
Cindy Swanson wrote a very complete review of The Awakening that you can read here:

Tomorrow: how the idea germinated


Booklist Names Top Ten Christian Novels of 2006

Top 10 Christian Novels: 2006. Mort, John (author).

FEATURE. First published October 1, 2006 (Booklist).

Terrorists seem to have gone underground in this year's Christian fiction, and apocalyptic novels haven't made much of a comeback since the Left Behind series. Instead, there was the Dan Brown effect, producing several Mary Magdalene stories, and there were some fine literary novels from veteran Vinita Hampton Wright and a winning newcomer, Beth Webb Hart. The novels covered here were reviewed between October 2005 and September 2006.

Dickson, Athol. River Rising. 2006. Bethany, $17.99 (0-7643-0162-X).
A mysterious black man named Hale Poser arrives in the little bayou town of Pilotville, where he demonstrates his powers as a healer and his gift for making peace.Dickson retells the Gospel story with a nice feel for Cajun ways and his trademark gothic flair.

Gabhart, Ann H. The Scent of Lilacs. Revell, paper, $12.99 (0-8007-3080-1).
Thirteen-year-old Jocie Brooke explores her family's secrets in this wise, universal tale of growing up in a small Kentucky town, featuring Jocie's senile, Bible-quoting aunt; her wandering mother; and her father, a sad "interim" pastor.

Hart, Beth Webb. Grace at Low Tide. 2005. WestBow, paper, $13.99 (1-5955-4026-1).
Rather like Mick in The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter, DeVeaux DeLoach is a precocious southern girl full of wisdom and charm. Hard times hit her family, and they move to the South Carolina coast, where DeVeaux reaches young womanhood.

Hart, Beth Webb. Adelaide Piper. 2006. WestBow, paper, $13.99 (1-59554-027-X).
Hart's second novel, about a promising high-school girl who is date-raped, keeps up the pace set by Grace at Low Tide.

Hunt, Angela. Uncharted. 2006. WestBow, $19.99 (0-8499-4484-8).
Leaning on the TV show Lost, Hunt shipwrecks six old friends who have lost their youthful ideals. The seemingly familiar plot takes a menacing twist when it becomes clear that the island on which the friends have washed up is, literally, hell.

Mackel, Kathryn. The Hidden. 2006. WestBow, paper, $13.99 (1-59554-037-7).
Escaping a wrenching emotional scene at her family's ranch, Susan races across the highlands on a spirited stallion and is thrown into a deep chasm, where she discovers an odd, androgynous young man. Is he an angel? A demon?

McGowan, Kathleen. The Expected One. 2006. Simon & Schuster/Touchstone, $25.95 (0-7432-9942-6). McGowan postulates that Mary Magdalene wasn't just married to Jesus, she was also married to John the Baptist. She had a child with John, two with Jesus, and the two bloodlines have engaged in a clandestine feud for centuries. It's all about to surface with the appearance of "the expected one."

Rourke, Mary. Two Women of Galilee. 2006. MIRA, $21.95 (0-7783-2374-9).
Joanna, a Jewish woman, is married to Chuza, Herod's chief steward. After falling ill, she appeals to her cousin, Mary, mother of Jesus, for an introduction to her son. Jesus heals Joanna, but then her loyalties are torn. Should she compromises her husband by following Jesus?

Thrasher, Travis. Admission. 2006. Moody, paper, $12.99 (0-8027-8024-1).
When a young woman goes missing, Jake Williams is employed by her parents to track her down. Jake's quest returns him to college haunts and brings back painful memories, prompting a spiritual inquiry as he confronts old sins and a woman he once loved but let down badly.

Wright, Vinita Hampton. Dwelling Places. 2006. HarperSanFrancisco, $23.95 (0-06-079080-6). Mack Barnes knows that family farms are extinct, but he cannot bear to lose his land. Wright's quiet, lyrical prose captures an Iowa farm town with precision and compassion, and celebrates how one resilient family manages to hang on and even triumph.

(I'm so thrilled to be among such august company! ) See the complete list here: )