Friday, August 31, 2007

Too Lovely To Pass Up

video I have always loved shadow puppets, and I can make exactly two things--a pretty good duck in flight, and a dog that barks. That's it. The man in this video, however, is AMAZING. This is one of the loveliest things I have ever seen. Enjoy!

~~Angie

Thursday, August 30, 2007

A Mastiff Minute (or two)

At the link below, a dog food company has put together these videos from owners--they're hilarious. And if you don't think it's possible that dogs could once talk, be sure to click on "Bernie" and "Lucy!"

http://www.longliveyourdog.com/dogpark/videos/

And on another light note, I've been making these little "movies" for my hubby to show to his middle school department. They're goofy, but that's the point. Anyway, I'm so tickled with my little mastiff movies that I thought I'd share "a mastiff minute" with you. Enjoy!

(BTW--the mastiffs in this video--Justus, Sadie, Charley, and Babe--are all ours, but Justus and Sadie are now in doggie heaven. The babies and people in this video are some of our long-suffering friends.)

~~Angie

video

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Buddy Hollywood Interview Online

Buddy Hollywood has just posted an interview we did about Doesn't She Look Natural? The interviewer, Paula Parker, did a great job of asking some insightful questions. You can check it out here. (If this link doesn't work, click on "home" then look under "latest news." )

Are you in central Florida?

If so, I'd love to meet you. On September 23rd, I'll be visiting with some friends at the First Christian Church (in the Tampa area). Click on the document to the right for more details.

~~Angie

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

First Lines


A WIP (work in progress) is a fragile thing. It is very much like a newborn baby, freshly caught in a midwife’s hands. It blinks up at the world in uncertain wonder while it silently begs to have a few smears of blood and slime wiped away.

Just like new parents who frantically count fingers and toes, novelists pay particular attention to the extremities: first lines. First scenes. Last lines.

The first line and first scene I shared with you last week has gone back to the garage for an overhaul (and please forgive me for switching metaphors!)

Anything that receives a less than spectacular response—or that doesn’t fill me with pleasure—needs to go back to the workshop. On a scale of 1-10, last week’s effort earned about a seven from me, so that’s not working. Off it goes . . . maybe not to the trash heap, but definitely not to the first page.

In any case, I asked some of my (more) brilliant friends for the first lines of their works-in-progress—unedited, slimy, newborns. I’m inspired just by reading them. ☺ Enjoy!

******

In the darkness, the covered bridge crouched over the creek like a giant cocoon. --From Anathema by Colleen Coble

By tradition, Saturday mornings were savored in the Clarkson household. --First line for: THE PERFECT LIFE (Thomas Nelson, spring 2008), by Robin Lee Hatcher

The muscles across Hannah’s shoulders ached as she continued driving toward a past she didn’t want to face. From When the Silence Whispers, by Cindy Woodsmall.

So high, houses smaller than her dollhouse, fields stretching out and away, a pond tossing sun rays skyward.—From The Edge of Recall, by Kristen Heitzmann

The Gulf of Maine lay easily beneath the mail boat’s keel, passing gentle swells below the vessel like a mother’s soothing stroke upon a baby’s back. This was misery to me. – Athol Dickson, Winter Haven, Spring, 2008

The morning sun had just cleared the summits to the east, so the grass in the small valley was still thick with dew, wetting the boots and the shins of the man and the boy. –From WIND RIVER, Tom Morrisey

A city in ruins, nine people dead and thirty dying, the bomber on the loose, and the best lead that Jason Logan could come up with was a nineteen-year-old punk named Michael Rondo. –From Darkening by Kathy Mackel.

Only the fog is real. --From Faces in the Sand, by Marlo Schalesky.

She wouldn't have said anything if that endearing band of pink hadn't showed above the top of his jeans as he leaned over the washer. --From Dancing in the Dark by Elizabeth White

Something about the lazy cadence of the Missouri River, so constant and wide and life sustaining, has always given me focus, even though it sometimes overflows its banks. –From Hallowed Halls, by Hannah Alexander.

Shouts from the edge of the forest shattered the afternoon quiet.
From The Captive Princess: The Story of Young Pocahontas, by Wendy Lawton.

I left him in tears. That’s right, tears. Even across the stage I could see his eyes puddling up and face turning white. –From The Skeptic, by Alton Gansky.

Kale wrinkled her nose at the dank air drifting up from the stone staircase. Below, utter darkness created a formidable barrier. –From DragonLight, by Donita Paul.

“Piper, don’t do it!” --From Our Space, by Sarah Ann Sumpolec.

The woman didn't even look at me when she came to the door where the housekeeper had left me waiting. From Here Comes The Ride, by Lorena McCourtney.

The man appeared in the doorway of my studio unannounced, a brown paper package tucked under his arm. From Whispers of the Bayou, by Mindy Starns Clark.

Leviathan glided purposefully through the depths, chance rays of sunlight shimmering against his scales while throwing his vast shadow into the waters below. From Atlantis: Leviathan's Hearth by Kacy Barnett-Gramckow.

Bea Abbot was desperate to escape from the paperwork on her desk, but an invitation to investigate a murder was not exactly the excuse she'd had in mind when she answered the phone. --From a murder mystery by Veronica Heley

My new and improved first line: The microcamera hidden in our officer’s glasses homes in on a poster of a long-necked blonde with wide eyes, a straight nose, high cheekbones, and an impish chin—the requisite parts of a face, all of which I am lacking. --from THE FACE, my WIP.

*****

That’s it. Which is your favorite first line? Which demands that you read on?

~~Angie, whose favorite of all time is: "Ross Wakeman succeeded the first time he tried to kill himself, but not the second or the third." --From Jodi Picoult's SECOND GLANCE.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Days & Hours



I'd like to tell you today about my friend Susan Meissner and her latest book. If you haven't read Susan, I think you're gonna love her!


Order this book

Back Cover Copy: Readers of suspense fiction will once again be enthralled with the latest entry in the compelling series featuring attorney Rachael Flynn and her continuing cast of intriguing characters.

A newborn is found alive in a trash bin and a young, single mother insists her baby was abducted. While St. Paul police are skeptical, attorney Rachael Flynn’s strange dreams lead her to believe the mother is telling the truth. But who would steal a baby only to leave it for dead?

When the baby disappears again, Rachael agonizes over her decision to allow the baby to be returned to his mother. Did she make a terrible mistake? And where is that missing baby? Who would wish the child harm? Rachael races to see past the deception that threatens to send a young mother to prison and a newborn to a terrible fate.

Publisher: Harvest House Publishers (September 1, 2007)

I've asked Susan to tell us more about this book:

Days & Hours is the third installment of the Rachael Flynn mystery series. My heroine is a 30-year-old defense attorney-turned-prosecutor who works in the Ramsey County Attorneys office in St. Paul, MN. She lives in a loft apartment across the river in Minneapolis (and she used to travel that bridge that collapsed!!) with her artist husband, Trace. Trace has a circle of highly artistic friends, one in particular named Fig, who help her pick apart crime scenes by sketching possible scenarios. With their help and her gift-like insights into the human condition, Rachael assists St Paul homicide detective, Will Pendleton, solve tough cases.

When I was a guardian ad litem for the state of Minnesota, I was introduced to the world of the single mother who lives in poverty, dependent on the state, and often woefully unprepared for motherhood. I delved into that world in Days & Hours, paying particular attention to the stigma we place on the stuck-on-welfare mom. They are not a one-size fits all demographic. Some cannot find success no matter how hard they try. Some simply don’t try. Most love their children as best they can. Many know it takes more than love to raise a child, but they have no other resources at their disposal. I don’t pretend to offer answers, just raise awareness.

The other titles in this series are Widows & Orphans (2006) and Sticks & Stones (2007). Widows & Orphans is a current finalist for the ACFW Book of the Year.

Here’s what one early reviewer said of Days & Hours: (Kelly Kelpfer, Novel Reviews)

Days and Hours
is tragic, beautiful, awful and realistic. Susan Meissner has done it again. This is the first of her Rachael Flynn series that I've read, and I will be picking up those I've missed. Meissner writes with depth and compassion, honesty, and a poignancy that wraps around the reader, bringing her characters to life in the reader's imagination.


Rachael's life, like so many real women, becomes intertwined with her job. Bad enough. But when the job is gut-wrenching on bad days and difficult on good ones, Rachael is faced with choices beyond what most women are forced to consider. Several moments in the book go beyond "just a good story" into soul-tweaking. . .

Looking for an author who produces great book after great book? Meissner needs to be on your check it out list.

And from Colleen Coble:

“My first Susan Meissner novel, Days and Hours, won’t be my last. This enthralling mystery kept me up way too late and made me look at single moms in a whole new way. Rachael Flynn is a heroine I won’t soon forget. Highly recommended!”

Susan's blog: http://susanmeissner.blogspot.com
Her website: www.susanmeissner.com

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Video Test--see my dog on Regis!

video

I'm testing blogger's new video feature. Here's hoping it works! (This video is from 2001).

~~Angie

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Saturday Fun



I have two announcements today--first, my friend Kathy Mackel has joined the blogosphere! See the link at the right or just go to http://godanddogwalking.blogspot.com . Kathy is a wonderful writer and friend, as I'm sure you'll discover.

Second, blogspot has finally implemented a way to post videos on our blogs! You KNOW I'll be all over that as soon as I figure it out. I have a couple of videos I can't wait to share, but I have to finish my daily pages before I can begin to experiment.

Okay, call the kids around and play this online game. It's silly, but who says we have to be serious all the time? Good luck at feeding the cat!

http://www.cutecats.net/index.php?cutecats=feedthecatonlinegame

~~Angie, who does NOT need another way to procrastinate

Friday, August 24, 2007

The Birds' Eye View Helps Ministers


Found an interesting story in my paper last week--a helicopter in Denver has become a popular way for religious leaders to gain perspective on their missions, writes Stephanie Simon in the LA Times. Monks, rabbis, imams and pastors have taken up the offer of a free ride on the chopper called "Prayer One" and run by pilot Jeff Pucket.

Seems that after taking a ride on Pucket's chopper two years ago, Rev. Tom Melton realized that helicopter rides might encourage ministers to work for their entire city, not just their congregation. Anyone can take a free ride if they express a passion for God and a desire to serve, but ministers get priority.

I know the feeling--so many times when I'm up in an airplane and looking out the window, I look down at all the little houses and cars and am reminded of how small we really are compared to God. And yet he's so much bigger and higher than I am at jetliner altitude.

You can get the same feeling playing Sim City, of course. (VBG).

My hat's off to Jeff Pucket. Fly on!

~~Angie

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Ruffian



Photo: the real Ruffian, circa 1976.

In July 1976 I was eighteen and preparing to leave home. In August I would join The Re'Generation for a year-long tour, so I wasn't thinking much about television, national sports, or world events. So I missed something that would have broken my heart had I paid it any attention.

Last night I watched RUFFIAN on DVD, a movie produced by ESPN. And even though I knew what was coming (the movie summary told me that the horse broke her leg in a match race in July 1976), I experienced the single most upsetting moment I have EVER seen on film--made so much worse because I knew it was true.

When I saw that piece of footage, I--well, I'm not sure what the word is: yelped, sobbed, screamed--sort of a combination of all three, and then I sat there sobbing noisily for the next ten minutes of the movie. I kid you not, it's a good thing I wasn't in a theater--they'd have asked me to leave.

Afterward, I looked up Ruffian on the web, and found actual footage of that tragic race on youtube.com. Fortunately, the actual footage, shot from a distance, isn't nearly as graphic as what you see in the movie. But I went to bed last night with swollen eyes, a red nose, and a spongy brain.

The true tragedy is that Ruffian didn't have to race against FOOLISH PLEASURE. It was a race designed for the media and the business, and had nothing to do with establishing Ruffian as the finest filly of that year--and probably of all time.

I'm not even sure I can recommend the movie. I'm glad I saw it, but it was a heart breaker. I can recommend the performances of everyone who performed in the movie, especially Sam Shepherd. And the real Ruffian, who is featured in footage at the end.

I'm still getting teary-eyed every time I think about it, and I've just ordered a book on Ruffian from Amazon.com. Maybe it's my childhood attachment to BLACK BEAUTY, but I just can't let this one go.

~~Angie

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Women in Film--true beauty



First, I have to tell you about my friend, Sandra Byrd. She's a novelist and I did a teeny little favor for her. What'd she do in return? She sent me bubble gum balls! I'm so happy (and busy chewing my bubble gum).

On to the topic of the day--In my research on faces and beauty, I've run across some interesting things. First, click on the link below take a gander at the following morph--notice especially how the eyes seem to follow you and remain constant. See any familiar faces? The names of the actresses are listed below the video. (But after watching, come back here!)

http://www.flixxy.com/women-in-film.htm

Fascinating, huh?

Okay, now visit this site: http://www.beautyanalysis.com/index2_mba.htm Be sure to click on the sub link that says "PHI--the key to beauty"

Dr. Stephen Marquardt has done a study of beauty and found its formula--if you look around his web site, you'll see that the Greeks said that all beauty is mathematics. If that is true then perhaps there is a mathematical code, formula, relationship or even a number that can describe facial beauty.

Historically many different numbers have been tried in an attempt to describe beauty however, only one mathematical relationship has been consistently and repeatedly reported to be present in beautiful things.

The "Golden Ratio" is a mathematical ratio of 1.618:1, and the number 1.618 is called "Phi".

To make a long theory short, beautiful things correspond to that ratio--and by looking at the examples on his web site, you can see how we find beauty in things that fit the ratio. (Makes you marvel at God the master designer, doesn't it? Look how often the formula repeats in the human body, in sea shells, in plant life. Amazing!) Notice especially that gadget that looks like a three-toothed comb--it measures the ideal ratio for beauty, and just look how those ratios are present in the human face. I don't know why this fascinates me, but it does.

Dr. Marquardt has devised his "beauty mask" based on the formula--certain ratios have to be present in order for a face to be symmetrically and classically beautiful.

Now, look at the actresses' morphing film again, and notice how many of those faces would fit the mask. Hmmm . . . there is a definite standard there.

How does all this apply to my WIP? I have no idea.

~~Angie

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

the Mind/the Soul


I read a fascinating article in the January 29 edition of TIME magazine. A doctor wrote about a patient who had cancer. The cancer had begun in his lungs and spread to his brain, and the doctor watched as the patient slowly deteriorated. His wife and three children were at his bedside every night, even when his brain was overtaken by the cancer.

"His brain had already been destroyed," Dr. Scott Haig wrote. "Tumor metastases don't simply occupy space and press on things, leaving a whole brain. The metastases actually replace tissue. Where that gray stuff grows, the brain is just not there."

During the cancer's final stage, everyone knew death was imminent. The patient had slipped into a coma and didn't speak, move, or interact in any way. But on Friday night, with his wife and children around him, the patient "woke up, recognized them, and said his final goodbyes."

Dr. Haig writes: "What woke my patient that Friday was simply his mind, forcing its way through a broken brain, a father's final act to comfort his family. The brain is a uniquely personal domain of thought, dreams, and countless other things like the will, faith, and hope. These fine things are as real as rocks and water but, like the mind, weightless and invisible, maybe even timeless. Material science shies from these things, calling them epiphenomena, programs running on a computer . . . "

I think what Dr. Haig saw evidenced was the soul. God created man with two parts--a soul and a body, and each is incomplete without the other. I know that in the intermediate heaven our souls will wait for resurrection with our bodies, but we will have supernatural bodies in heaven, REAL bodies that do not age, sicken, or die.

I also learned a new word this week--Hylomorphism. It is the belief that soul animates body, and says that mind and body are a holistic unity. Scripture supports this view (Genesis 2:7, Psalm 16:10, etc.)

I could go on and on, but this has given me a lot of food for thought. Hope it has for you, too.

P.S. Happy Birthday to my son!

~~Angie

Monday, August 20, 2007

Elizabeth White's new book, "Off the Record"


I'd love to tell you about my friend Beth's
new book, OFF THE RECORD. I was able to spend some time with Beth this summer, hanging out in Atlanta--she's a dear Southern girl, and she's precious to me. Enjoy the following information about her latest novel! http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0310273048

Off the Record by Elizabeth White

Ambition on a collision course with a secret from the past...

Judge Laurel Kincade, a rising political star, is announcing her candidacy for chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court. Her aristocratic Old South family, led by her judge grandfather, beam as she takes the podium. Then her eyes light on a reporter in the crowd-and suddenly her past is on a collision course with the present.

Journalist Cole McGaughan, religion reporter for the New York Daily Journal, has received an intriguing call from an old friend. Private investigator Matt Hogan has come across a tip-that Laurel's impeccable reputation might be a façade. Matt suggests that Cole dig up the dirt on the lovely judge in order to snag his dream job as one of the Journal's elite political reporters.

There's just one problem: Cole's history is entangled with Laurel's, and he must decide if the story that could make his career is worth the price he'd have to pay.

A sensational scoop becomes a rollercoaster ride of emotions. Can Laurel and Cole find forgiveness and turn their hidden past into a hopeful future-while keeping their feelings off the record?

Reviews:

"OFF THE RECORD is a thrilling read that will have readers quickly turning pages and yet hoping the story never ends. Elizabeth White has once again written a “keeper shelf” story. The characters are fresh and multi-dimensional, with flaws that make them seem all the more realistic. The story is fast paced, engaging, and fun. There are a few secondary characters I hope to see again in their own stories. Fans of wonderful stories with a great message that is woven into a delightful story with ease will need to pick up OFF THE RECORD today. I highly recommend OFF THE RECORD to everyone; you are bound to be as eager for more of Ms. White's writing as I am."

Reviewed by Wendy Keel, The Romance Readers Connection Rating 4 1/2

"Off the Record is a love story. It's a story about forgiveness. It's a story about grace. It's a story about God's redemption. It's a very personal story. The thing that grabbed me about Off the Record was not the action. It was all about the characters for me. I didn't care about the politics. I didn't care about the journalism aspects. I didn't care about any private investigators. I cared about the people--the hero and heroine. I loved, loved, loved Cole McGaughan. And I loved their story. And I loved the writing. Loved it. Here's the opening sentence: Laurel Kincade, surrounded by reporters in the rotunda of the Alabama Judicial Building, suddenly understood her great-great grandmother's propensity to shoot Yankee invaders on sight and ask questions later. (11). But I also loved this line, 'Most of the world's ills would be cured if all its bottom-feeding scavengers were fried to a crisp and served with hushpuppies.' (18) Anyway, I really enjoyed this one!” --Becky's Christian Reviews

"The theme of this book was letting God control your life and you staying out of it. It's these kind of spiritual threads that have been coming at the right time for me, and for our world in general. If any one individual could learn this lesson, Off the Record is a good book to start."
Winter, RodeoSuspense.blogspot.com

"I just have to say that I LOVED this book! Did I say that I LOVED it? This book combines a interest of mine (law and politics) with a wonderful Christian story. It really made me think about the politics in our country." --Janis, Dandelion Momma, http://www.janisrodgers.blogspot.com/

INTERVIEWS:

http://relzreviewz.blogspot.com/2007/08/interview-with-elizabeth-white.html/
http://pammeyerswrites.blogspot.com/
http://www.kellyklepfer.blogspot.com
http://www.camys-loft.blogspot.com/

ELIZABETH WHITE is the author of Fireworks and Fair Game as well as the critically acclaimed Texas Gatekeepers series from Love Inspired Suspense. She lives in Mobile, Alabama, with her minister husband. Visit her on the web at www.elizabethwhite.net

~~Angie

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Trial Run of the WIP first chapter


Okay, I'm feeling brave. Here's the first scene of the WIP, THE FACE. Feel free to leave comments below. (One thing I'm wondering about is this: it's a book about women and relationships, really, but there is a lot of technology--think ALIAS. It needs to feel like both, but I know this scene is heavy on tech and light on relationships. But--does it raise questions in your mind?)

Chapter One
Sarah


The image on my monitor is grainy, but I’m seeing exactly what our officer is seeing: a wet and shiny London street. A stationery shop. A store window.

“Spock, are you reading me?” Hightower asks.

“Copy that, you’re five by five,” I assure him.

Hightower pans the rendezvous point from left to right. The surveillance camera, hidden in the frame of his eyeglasses, performs remarkably well, given the cloudy conditions. “No sign of ‘im yet.”

I lean toward the microphone at my workstation. “Hold that position, Hightower.”

Our officer remains motionless as Dr. Mewton leans toward the monitor, her hand pressing against my shoulder. She points to a small box hanging from a streetlamp. “What do you make of that, Sarah?”

I click on the object and magnify the image. “Looks like a traffic cam.”

“Any way to be sure it’s legit?”

From his workstation, Judson lifts his head. “The address?”

“New Bond Street,” I tell him. “The closest intersection is with Conduit.”

The text-to-speech engine of Judson’s computer begins to repeat the address as his keyboard rattles. “Sorry,” he says, slipping his headphones onto his ears. A moment later he pulls the headset free. “That traffic cam is confirmed. One of several in the Mayfair district.”

The image on my monitor bobbles as Hightower sneezes.

“Bless you,” a baritone voice replies in my headset.

Mewton glances at me. “You heard that?”

I nod as Hightower turns. A small man stands behind him on the sidewalk, his face round and wet beneath a bald scalp.

“Our contact doesn’t look like much of a threat,” Dr. Mewton says. “That man looks about as dangerous as a bookkeeper.”
Judson grins, but I don’t understand why he finds her comment funny.

“Refresh my memory--” I glance at Dr. Mewton over my shoulder--“but wasn’t it a bookkeeper who brought down Al Capone?”

“You’ve been watching The Untouchables,” Judson says, his grin spreading. “Costner was great in that one.”

Dr. Mewton doesn’t answer, but crosses her arms and focuses on the monitor, reminding us that we are working. I turn back to my computer and snap a photo of the man, then pull it out of the frame and activate the facial recognition program. Hundreds of faces flash in the margin of my monitor as the computer searches for a match.

“Excuse me,” the contact says, blinking beneath wire rimmed glasses, “but does the bus to St. Paul’s stop here?”

“You want the number eleven,” Hightower replies, giving his half of the verbal recognition exchange. He gestures over his shoulder. “Would you rather wait out of the rain?”

“Cómo no, a good idea.”

Dr. Mewton and I watch in silence as Hightower turns toward the stationery shop. The scene on the monitor blurs as he surveils the street in a quick glance, then his hand appears in the lower portion of the frame. “There,” he says, pointing to a door beneath an awning.

The facial recognition program beeps, presenting us with a name and photograph. Our officer’s contact, known to Hightower as “Santiago,” is Pedro Sandoval, a Spanish national.

Dr. Mewton reads the information to Judson, who enters it into his computer database. A moment later he informs us that
Pedro Sandoval is a clerk in the accounting office of Saluda Industries.

“Well, what do you know.” Dr. Mewton exhales in a rush. “The man is a bookkeeper.”

“Now all we need is Eliot Ness to put these murdering thugs away.” Judson lifts his head. “Are they going into a building?”

“Yes.” Dr. Mewton answers for me. “Looks like a passageway.”

None of us speaks as Hightower opens the unmarked door and steps inside. The area beyond is dark, so we see nothing but shadows until the camera adjusts.

Beside me, Dr. Mewton shifts her weight. “Sarah?”

“I noticed that,” I say, jotting a note. “The aperture adjustment is too slow.”

“Look,” our bookkeeper says, more confident now that he’s off the street, “I know what is happening at Saluda. I can get you names, dates, cargo container numbers, whatever you want, but you must make it worth my while. I am not risking my life for nothing.”

Hightower holds up a reassuring hand. “Haven’t I promised we’d take care of you?”

The smaller man snorts. “I would rather take care of myself. And that is what I will do as soon as payment is made.”

“And you provide the information we need.”

“Claro, of course.”

The image on the monitor rises and falls as Hightower nods. “You’ll contact me in the usual way?”

“Give me a week or two.” The small man takes a deep breath and buttons the top button on his overcoat. “Shall you leave first?”

“You go. I’ll wait and then exit through the stationery shop.”

The small man bobs his head again, then opens the door and steps into a rectangle of light. Hightower turns, revealing a shadowed hallway and another door in the distance, then he focuses on a plastered wall. “Did you get that?”

Dr. Mewton taps the microphone near her chin. “We did. Your contact is Pedro Sandoval, a clerk in the accounting office. He ought to be able to get whatever we need.”

“Good. Don’t want to be wasting time with a custodian.” The scene on the monitor tumbles and goes dark as Hightower removes his glasses. Our connection is not broken, however, because his voice continues to buzz in my headset. “Hey, Spock.”

I stiffen as he calls my code name. “Yes?”

“The Candyman there with you?”

I glance at Judson, whose sightless eyes are fixed on some vacant point between my desk and the wall. “He’s about five feet away.”

“Tell him the Yankees stink. And I’ll tell him so in person the next time I’m due for a tummy tuck.”

“I heard that,” Judson growls into his mic. “And you’d better hope I’m not the angel on your shoulder the next time you have a hot date.”

Hightower laughs. “Later, kids. It’s been fun.”

When he breaks the connection I shiver, as always, in the unsettling rush of dead silence.


~~Angie

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Hurricane Season REALLY arrives




Well, as I write this, Hurricane Dean is churning out there and we're all beginning to think about buying bottled water at the grocery store. I'm not really concerned about Dean; I'm more worried about Felix simply because he's the storm in THE ELEVATOR that hits Tampa Bay. So if Felix comes our way . . . well, you know what they say about a prophet in her own town.

In the mean time, my insurance company, prodded by the state of Florida, has just sent me what I call the "Dummies Guide to Homeowners' Insurance." Actually, I'm delighted to have this piece of paper. It says exactly what we're covered for . . . and what we're not.

First of all, you need to know that we DO have hurricane coverage--with an $11,000 deductible. (sigh.) And here are some other things for which we're covered (and NOT.)

Fire or Lightning--yes.
Hurricane: yes
FLOOD (including the surge from a hurricane): NO
Wind or Hail OTHER than hurricane: Yes
Explosion: yes
Riot: yes
Falling Aircraft: yes
Vehicles (I assume this means cars that crash into the house): yes
Smoke: yes (already used this one when the smoke from my candles ruined the carpets)
Falling objects: yes
ICE, SNOW, OR SLEET: YES. (If a blizzard hits Tampa bay, we're all set).
Freezing: yes
Volcano: yes
Sinkhole: yes (actually, this is very good. Florida is one big sinkhole)
Mold: NO

So . . . this is the insurance I'm DELIGHTED to have. I just think it's funny that we're covered for VOLCANO and SNOW but not flood or mold. :-)

So if a storm comes our way . . . I'll be stocking up on TILEX and bleach!

~~Angie

Friday, August 17, 2007

Tanzel's New Book


MANY years ago, I was introduced to Tanzel Rousey by my friend Lisa Samson. First, we marveled over her name--it's so unique and so is she. Then I discovered that Tanzel was a church secretary in Macon Georgia, with a flair for humor and a dash of outlandishness. She's "out there," but only in the nicest way! (You have to ask her about the typos she has personally put in church bulletins.)

Tanzel fell in love with the Heavenly Daze books, and Lori and I had established a yahoo group for readers of that series. (You can join, too, if you haven't already. Just send an email to
heavenlydaze-subscribe@yahoogroups.com ). Soon after the yahoo group's formation, I asked Tanzel if she'd be "moderator" for the group--a leadership role she accepted and has maintained with great style and diligence for about six years.

Now Tanzel's getting ready to retire from her secretarial job, and she's written and published a book! Knowing her, it's going to be wonderful. You can read all about her book at http://www.tanzel.org . Best of all, you can download a copy of her book and begin reading it TODAY!

I love Tanzel and I know you will, too. And no, she didn't ask me to post this. My testimonials are completely unsolicited. :-)

~~Angie

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Beth Yeshua


Last weekend in Philly, Nancy and I had the opportunity to visit Beth Yeshua, a Messianic Jewish temple. Our friend Terri Gillespie invited us, and we were so thrilled to go. I didn't know what to expect, but I knew a couple of things going in--first of all, God has not abandoned his chosen people. Second, Scripture says that whomever blesses the Jews will be blessed by God. And third, I was raised in a church where that latter precept was practiced--I remember our church handbell choir playing for a reformed Synagogue on a Friday night--simply to bless them with beautiful music.

Anyway, we walked into the synagogue on Friday night and were warmly greeted even though the service had already begun. Up front, a married couple was reciting the Sabbath prayers--the woman lit the candles (lovely, isn't it, that the woman ushers in the Light of the World?), and then the man recited the prayers, broke the bread, and shared the cup with his wife.

And then the praise music began--and I don't think I've ever experienced anything like it, and yes, I've been to charismatic churches. Not only did they sing with great fervor and praise, but women and men came forward to dance in the open space. A lovely circular dance that looked sort of like a grapevine that included frequent raising of the hands to heaven--hard to describe, but it was lovely. Several times I had to stop singing and bite my lip just to keep from bursting into tears. I might have allowed myself to weep, but we were on the front row AND I knew I didn't have a single tissue in my purse. Note to self--next time, pack a box of Kleenex.

Terri summed up the feeling for me after the service. She spoke of her first worship experience and said it seemed to her that this is what worship in heaven would be like--all of us, Jew and Gentile, combining our worship styles of song and dance in praise to the Lord Jesus, Yeshua, our King. Amen, Terri. That's exactly what it was like.

I wish you all could have been there. I'm still processing my thoughts and feelings, but I'm sure they will bubble up in a story to come . . . and soon.

~~Angie

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

The Rapture Song on You Tube


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LvB3FWk8Xss

Okay, if you grew up watching "A Thief in the Night" or even if you have been reading the "Left Behind" series, you need to watch the above clip on YouTube. It's done in good fun, but it makes a point . . . even though I've never been nervous about the Rapture. On the contrary, I've been looking forward to it (even though I did kind of hope that the Lord would wait until after I'd gotten married.)

HT to Robin Lee Hatcher for alerting me to this--it's a hoot! Apparently this minister of music wrote it for his pastor's sermon on Daniel and the end times.

~~Angie, hard at work on her book . . . and I'M READY!

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Okay, just for fun



Because you had NOTHING else to do today (this is when I wish I had grandkids), here's a site to visit: www.simpsonizeme.com. (Thanks to Lissa Halls Johnson for the link.)

You upload a picture and receive a copy of yourself, "simpsonized." I never really watched the Simpsons TV show, but I was desperate for something to blog about . . .

Attached are two of my pictures . . . and it really doesn't take as long as you might think. Enjoy! (And I really dont' think the picture you upload has anything at all to do with the result . . . right?)

Angie

Monday, August 13, 2007

Home from Nangie in Philly!



Whew! Had another one of those days where I wasn't sure I would make it home. My plane from Philly was supposed to leave at9:55 a.m., but at about nine o'clock, a flight attendant told us that our plane was being hauled away to the hangar . . . not a good thing. But they flew in a jet from out west some place, so we were able to board by one o'clock and I was home by four. Unpacking now, clearing my desk of mail, and preparing to jump back into the work in progress as of tomorrow morning! I have to get busy!

But Nancy and I had a wonderful time with our two NANGIE classes at the Greater Philadelphia Christian Writer's Conference. The photo is of one of our Nangie groups--sorry I didn't think to snap a picture of the other one. Great folks, and I hope we get to work together again! (Nangie folks--click on the picture for a close up view!)

The second photo is one I kept looking for in Philly, but apparently I forgot to add it to the 456 other photos on my iPhone! So here's Nancy with my Charley. Aren't they adorable?

That's all the news from my (cluttered) end of the world. Hope your weekend was great!

Now, back to the CIA . . .

P.S. Had two lovely things waiting for me when I came home--first, Mandisa's new CD, TRUE BEAUTY. I'm listening to it now--lovely! And a new book: The Artful Edit by Susan Bell. Hmmm. Hope to learn something new!

~~Angie

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Birth Announcement


Okay, so you knew it was coming, but it's here! Right before I left Florida, the UPS truck pulled up with a box of books--copies of DOESN'T SHE LOOK NATURAL, to be precise. I was surprised, because I thought the book didn't release until October . . . which may be the case in some locales, but I suspect copies are rolling out all across the country even now.

So . . . I need to give away a book. :-) And here's how we'll do it.

There is a mistake in the book (my editor suggested I change a name--I did change it, but I only changed it once, and the name occurred three times on p. X?X And none of the copy editors caught the mistake, either.)

So--whoever leaves the X?Xth comment to this post will win a free copy of the book. I'll give you a hint--the number is less than fifty. I'm not babysitting the computer all day (busy teaching at a conference), so I'll count up the comments and announce the winner at some point over the weekend. I'll mail the book to the winner when I get home.

Remember to wait until someone else leaves a comment before posting twice--it's nice to take turns. :-)

Thanks! Have a great weekend!

~~Angie

A Dark and Stormy Night



Time for the annual awarding of the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest, given to the best of the worst writing. (And if you think it's easy to write badly, you should give this contest a try. A friend of mine, Wendy Lawton, won the prize in the children's category one year--I'm so proud of her.)

This year's winner was Jim Gleeson, 47, of Madison, Wisconsin. His entry:

"Gerald began--but was interrupted by a piercing whistle which cost him ten percent of his hearing permanently, as it did everyone else in a ten-mile radius of the eruption, not that it mattered much because for them 'permanently' meant the next ten minutes or so until buried by searing lava or suffocated by choking ash--to pee."

ROFLOL! Gleeson's prize was $250.

The contest, in case you didn't know, takes its name from Victorian novelist Edward George Earl Bulwer-Lytton, whose 1830 novel "Paul Clifford" famously begins, "It was a dark and stormy night." Entrants are asked to submit bad opening sentences to imaginary novels. Citations are handed out for several categories, including "dishonorable mention" awards for "purple prose" and "vile puns."

Want to try your hand at it? Leave YOUR entry for the contest below--and I'll work on mine. (If this is Thursday, I'm at the Philadelphia writer's conference, so I'm running to and fro. And guess what? It's even hotter here than in Florida!)

~~Angie

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

It's HOT! How Hot? Well . . .



For several weeks now, I've been receiving invitations to "Shelfari." I finally found a few minutes to procrastinate and checked the website out--and what fun it is! So I've invited most of the folks in my email address book and posted some of the books my reading group has read over the last few years.

If you want to check Shelfari out, scroll down this page and look to the right--you'll see a link to Shelfari as well as a sample of the books on my virtual shelf. Be a "friend" and sign up--it's fun, it's free, and it's dedicated to book lovers!

And now, to my scheduled topic:

A couple of years ago one of my editor friends was attending the ICRS convention in Orlando. We were walking outside to the parking lot, and he asked me, "How can you stand living in this heat?" I laughed and said it was easy because we Florida folk generally don't step outside until October.

Got the following in an email and thought it hilarious . . . and all too true!

You know it's August in Florida when . . .

--The birds have to use potholders to pull worms out of the ground.
--The best parking place is determined by shade instead of distance.
--Hot water now comes out of both taps. (When I do a cold water wash, the clothes come out warm.)
--You can make sun tea instantly.
--You learn that a seat belt buckle makes a pretty good branding iron.
--The temperature drops below 95 and you feel a little chilly.
--You discover that in July it only takes 2 fingers to steer your car.
--You discover that you can get sunburned through your car window.
--You actually burn your hand opening the car door.
--You break into a sweat the instant you step outside at 7:30 a.m.
--You realize that asphalt has a liquid state.
--The potatoes cook underground, so all you have to do is pull one out and add butter, salt and pepper.
--Farmers are feeding their chickens crushed ice to keep them from laying boiled eggs.

and finally--you know it's August in Florida when the trees start whistling for the dogs!

~~Angie

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

BOM: Questions and Answers



Pam asked: My question isn't about the book per se, but how do you handle critics like that one you posted. I know such negative reviews are sure to come for anyone, but it's so easy to let one bad apple wipe out all the good reviews.Pam

A: Wipe out the good reviews . . . in whose mind? One bad review among a dozen or so glowing reviews on a web page merely makes the gnarly reviewer look . . . well, gnarly. A friend of mine once remarked that she'd rather get all one-star and five-star reviews than a host of three-star reviews because she likes it that people are passionate about her books--they either love 'em or hate 'em. I think she has a good point. I know I'm not everybody's cup of tea, and that's okay. I try to please the readers who understand what I'm trying to do. As to that bad review affecting me . . . well, sure, you'd have to be made of stone not to feel some sting. All bad reviews hurt because people say things on Amazon and in their blogs that they'd never DREAM of saying to a person in a face-to-face conversation. (Which ought to be a red flag, I think. After all, someone offering constructive criticism ought to be able to do it kindly.) But when you've been writing for as long as I have, you discipline yourself to concentrate on writing your best and offering a worthy sacrifice to the Lord. You try not to be distracted by bad reviews that make you doubt yourself or good reviews that make you over-confident or cocky.

Kay asked about my position on truth-telling: I think you could make a good, biblical case that you don't owe truth to your enemy. Certainly we owe it to our Christian brothers and sisters. But if someone is going to take a truth we give them and use it for an ungodly reason, perhaps we could be excused for dissembling or withholding the truth. Certainly we could be forgiven. :-) In THE TRUTH TELLER, Lara lives a lie for five years, rationalizing that she's doing it to keep her son safe, but then she realizes that this lying life is not God's best for her. So she faces the truth . . . and the evil man who would use the truth against her. Truth telling when life is at stake forces us to rely upon God . . . and isn't that the best option?

~~Angie

Monday, August 06, 2007

BOM: Results and Reader Reaction


This car reminds me of my daughter's tattoo. :-)

Okay, back to the BOM: results and reader reaction to THE TRUTH TELLER have generally been good. I had the book vetted by a doctor and a lawyer before I submitted it, just to be sure I had my procedures right.

The book won a couple of awards and was *this* close to being optioned for film, but nothing came of it.

Here are a couple of representative Amazon reviews:

I began THE TRUTH TELLER at nine o'clock at night, figuring I'd spend an enjoyable hour reading, then call it a night. Two pages into this story, that plan went out the window. At midnight, my husband came downstairs rubbing his eyes. "Are you coming to bed?" I shook my head, eyes glued to THE TRUTH TELLER. "Not anytime soon, honey!" Finally at two in the morning I finished the book, having moved not one muscle in five hours (except for gripping the pages during several tense moments!). As a big fan of Angela Hunt's writing, I can assure you, this is her best novel yet. Stunningly crafted, THE TRUTH TELLER presents characters worth caring about and a story I couldn't put down...literally! I loved it.

(Bless you, anonymous reader!)

But then again, there's always the other side of the coin:

I can not understand the hype behind this book. I read a lot, I mean a lot. This was the first that I've read by Angela Hunt and probably the last. She took the first three hundred pages just to develop the theme. This "page turning thriller" then bogs down into a completely lame court room bore for the final 100 pages. It left me wondering if she has ever even been to court for a traffic ticket. The character development was fair at best and the plot was overly predictable - except for when it bordered on the unfeasible and ridiculous. I don't look to shoot holes through the books that I'm reading but this one is filled with them. There are dozens of Christian authors light years beyond her story telling capability. Unless you're already a fan of hers, save your time.

(Bless you, Ms. Johnson, for doing your part to keep me humble.)

Okay--tomorrow is question and answer time. If you have any of either, please leave them in the comments! Thanks!

~~Angie

Sunday, August 05, 2007

BOM: The Editing




After I'd finished the "submission draft" of The Truth Teller, my editor invited me to visit the Bethany House editorial offices. I happily accepted and enjoyed my visit to Minnesota, and I especially enjoyed hearing about how they were about to elect a wrestler (wasn't it?) to be their governor.

In one meeting we had about the book, my editor suggested a minor plot reversal. I understood why she suggested it, and I'd tell you what it is, but that would spoil the book for anyone who wants to read it. Let's just say that I had a certain experiment working, and they wanted the experiment not to work. Since it wasn't a big deal and wouldn't really affect the story outcome, I agreed.

Writing a book is a team process. I've heard it called a duet between author and editor, but it's often even larger than that. The entire team works to get the message from author to reader, and nothing gets done without a team effort.

News flash: Today I received my FIRST copy of DOESN'T SHE LOOK NATURAL?, hot off the press. It's really lovely--the colors are very vibrant and very pink and green. :-)

Today I cleaned out my technology stash--sold some old cell phones over the internet and THREW AWAY my old pocket PC and dozens of cords that used to go to who knows what. Kinda sad, how quickly our gadgets become obsolete.

Tomorrow: results and reader reaction for the Truth Teller.

~~Angie

Saturday, August 04, 2007

BOM: The Writing


The writing . . . honestly, I can't remember. Happened a LONG time ago. But I do remember coming to a standstill when I came to the subject of lying and the question of whether it is ever all right to lie.

I honestly believe that fiction must present both sides of an argument in order to avoid being didactic. In the Bible God gave us stories of people who made wrong decisions as well as stories of people who chose right. So in painting Lara’s dilemma, I had to examine all sides of the ethical questions involved. It wasn’t easy.

In my research, I discovered the true story of the Lying Baptists and the Truthful Baptists—two groups which came out of an eighteenth century church which split over one question: if a man was being tortured by Indians who demanded to know where his family was hiding, ought he to tell the truth or lie? While I was writing The Truth Teller, I badgered my editor, friends, and family members with questions like, “If you were hiding Jews in your basement during the Holocaust and the Nazis appeared at your door to ask if you knew where any Jews were hiding, how would you answer?”

The Truth Teller is also about how the world perceives purity. If you knew someone who not only always told the truth but could also discern when others were lying, how comfortable would you feel in his presence? Some folks might try to worship such a gifted person; others would seek to destroy him. Politicians might well run from him, scientists would want to study him, psychiatrists would want to delve into his subconscious and discover which area of his brain had overdeveloped.

What if this person were your own beloved son—and only five years old?

I have always used lots of research books and articles as I write, but this book sent me scrambling to find contemporary experts—in medicine, in law, in parenting. The technology described is cutting-edge, and the story of the “iceman” found frozen in an Austrian glacier is absolutely true. The Truth Teller, like my other books, is rooted in fact.

If you’re wondering whether I’d lie to save my family or tell the truth and face God with a clear conscience—well, you’ll just have to read the book. If it works as fiction should, you’ll consider viewpoints you haven’t considered before, solidify your convictions, and confirm your faith.

Tomorrow: The editing

~~Angie

Friday, August 03, 2007

Oregon Christian Writers




I have to interrupt this regularly scheduled blog series to extend a hearty and heart-felt thanks to all those who helped make the Oregon Christian Writers' conference such a delight. I have never come home so rested and relaxed!

Thank you Pat, Donna, Mary, Eva and Petey, Sandy, Phil and his magic mandolin, DJ, Ernie, Christine and Sherry (see you on the blogs!), Stu, Hillary and John, Sally, Jeanne and Gloria, and Bobbi and the bookstore staff . . . and I am SURE I have forgotten someone. (The hospitality committee even had BUBBLE GUM BALLS waiting in my room!) I had a wonderful time catching up with Gloria and Dan, Bill (who talked opera with me), Karen (who taught me a new photography trick) and Nick, not to mention pals Meredith and Randy and so many others . . .

No wonder they call Oregon "God's country."

P.S. The photos are of the dahalia fields . . . aren't they amazing?

~~Angie

BOM: The Research



As I type this, it is 2:17 AM on Friday morning--I've just gotten in from Oregon, and what a blessed trip! I had such a wonderful time at Oregon Christian Writers--I don't know if I did anything for them, but those folks blessed my socks off! Such lovely people and warm hearts . . .

Anyway, I have to catch some zzz's and go get my puppies out of the kennel first thing in the morning. I am suffering loads of mama guilt just thinking about them away from home. Charley Gansky gets really homesick. :-)

Okay, back to the topic at hand--You might think that a book set in contemporary times doesn't require as much research as a historical novel--wrong! (Well, I suppose it all depends upon the topics you address.)

I had to learn about my setting, of course (Charlottesville, VA), my heroine's occupation (physician's assistant), and a wee bit about sperm banks and genetics. Enough to sound credible, at least. I also had to learn about computer encryption, reference librarians, and how to vanish under a fake name.

I "refreshed" the manuscript before I handed in the Thomas Nelson edition, and in addition to cutting thousands of unnecessary words I also found a couple of places where I'd written, "He logged on and waited for the modem to dial his connection . . ." LOL! Technology changes quickly!

The research wasn't difficult, though, and as I said, I only had to learn enough to sound credible. The point of the story isn't technology--it's Lara's feelings about this special child, and her decisions about whether or not to live a lie or honor truth. Yet even that took research. I had to grapple with the Scriptural examples of people who lied and God seemed to bless them for it--the midwives in Egypt, the prophet who sent the enemy warriors to the wrong house, even Rahab. I wrestled with one question for a long time: is it ever right to lie? Before you answer, ask yourself what you'd tell the Nazis who came to your door . . . if you were hiding Jews in your attic. Hmmm.

Tomorrow: the writing.

~~Angie

Thursday, August 02, 2007

BOM: How the Idea Germinated

I owe The Truth Teller to the O.J. Simpson trial. I’ll never forget how frustrated I felt one afternoon when I watched the endless parade of witnesses on television. “I wish,” I said aloud, staring at the TV, “that there were a human truth detector who could just walk into that courtroom and settle this once and for all.”

But from where would such a person come? And how would he obtain this gift? As I mused over those questions and devised plausible answers, the germ of The Truth Teller was born.

Another part of the idea for THE TRUTH TELLER came to me when I read about the real "ice man" discovered in the Italian Alps (that's his photo). I was fascinated by this account of a well-preserved body . . . so well preserved, in fact, that he was probably the oldest body we had to examine (5300 years old).

With that idea in mind, I started to think about the Second Law of Thermodynamics (otherwise known as the Law of Entropy), and about the indisputable truth that people of former eras were much more intelligent than we are. (They didn't have as many gadgets, but could you build a pyramid? Neither can our construction people--they have no idea how the Egyptians did it with the tools available at that time.)

So I thought that perhaps the human race is "winding down," and our DNA is being eroded by many factors. It's not evolution, it's "devolution." So if the iceman could have a child--if we could harvest his sperm or even his DNA--we might see a "wonder child" as a result.

So I created a modern woman, Lara, whose husband has died from cancer, but who made deposits in a sperm bank before his demise. After mourning her husband's loss, Lara wants to have his child. Unknown to her, a mad scientist who believes in "devolution" arranges to have her husband's sperm sample manipulated . . . so she will become pregnant with the Iceman's baby.

Cool idea, huh? Trouble is, this book was way ahead of its time when I was trying to sell it. I wasn't even sure I could say "sperm bank" in a Christian novel. Plus, I had been writing historical romances (heavier on the history than the romance), and this would be a huge departure for me.

So at the convention one summer, I met with my editor and started off the conversation like this: "Well, what do you all want from me next? Another historical?" And my editor replied, "We want to know what YOU want to write."

And a gleam filled my eye as I said, "Well . . . I've had this idea about a woman who has a caveman's baby . . ."

And thus THE TRUTH TELLER was born. Bethany House took a huge chance on the book, and after it finally went out of print, Thomas Nelson brought it back again. And in the process, more than a book was born--I discovered the sort of writer I was supposed to be. I wasn't supposed to follow the crowd, I was supposed to find ideas and topics that interested me and write those books.

And that's the same advice I give new writers today. You have to write books that put the gleam in YOUR eye.

Tomorrow: The research.

~~Angie

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Book of the Month: The Truth Teller


Happy August! (Where did July go?) This month I thought I'd talk about The Truth Teller which, as you can see, has been through two incarnations: first with Bethany House, later with Thomas Nelson.

So stay with me this week as we take a look at an oldie but goodie!

A five-year-old boy can sense who is telling the truth...and who isn't. It's a gift some will do anything to silence and a mother will do anything to protect.

Lara Godfrey desperately wants to have a child--a living legacy from her late husband. Placing her life in the hands of a doctor she believes she can trust, Lara doesn't realize a web of deception is being woven around her. An unseen voyeur, with dreams of immortality, plans to use the child for a test--an unbelievable experiment that could have genetic consequences not only for Lara's baby, but for the entire human race. In the face of danger, Lara must make impossible choices. That's why she flees the clinic before the baby's birth. It's why she changes her name and hides. She knows she must protect this gifted child who can see through lies and identify truth. Yet how can an innocent truth-telling boy survive in a world that wants to destroy truth at any cost?

Tomorrow: How the idea germinated . . .

~~Angie