Thursday, July 31, 2008

Computer Game for Typists

Okay, so you know how all the young kids are experts  at those games where they're shooting at things?  Now you can be an expert, too, and blow stuff up.  

I love this new time-waster by Crazy Monkey.  And when I played, I made it to the #12 spot!  

If you can type, you can win.  :-)


Wednesday, July 30, 2008

What’s so Inspirational About Fiction?

Today's creature: the Emperor Tamarin.  :-) 

Ouch.  That's the first word that came to mind when I opened my eyes this morning.  You see, this is camp week, so I had envisioned getting up early and getting to work every day, making great strides on the WIP, but you know what they say about the best laid plans. 

Instead I found myself dealing with the installation of my new granite countertops.  What can go wrong will go wrong, and it did. Monday they couldn't put on the island piece because they needed an electrician to unhook the cooktop.  My neighbor, God bless him, is an electrician, so he came over Monday afternoon and unhooked the cooktop.  In the mean time, Babe needed to go to the vet, and as I hauled her into the car, I pulled something in my back.  Ouch. 

Yesterday the men showed up to finish the installation, plus the plumbers, but though the plumbing went swimingly, the cutting out of the cooktop resulted in several CRACKS.  Oh, yeah.  Trouble in River City.  So then the service guy had to come out and he spent most of the day patching and repairing the cracks.  Seems that this particular beautiful stone, all the way from Australia, is prone to fissures and cracks.  (And there's a metaphor in that statement.) 

I find it hard to work with men in the kitchen and dogs barking, so how much did I get done yesterday?  Zip.  I did, however, run to home depot and buy quarter round molding, which I painted, cut, and glued into place to cover the 1/2 inch gap between the new counter and the old tiled backsplash.  No, I don't know how to miter corners, but I can use a caulking gun and I have enough clutter that I doubt anyone will look at my corners.  

Anyway--this morning I could hardly move.  But today I will sit in this chair and work hard.  Because I'm too stiff to do anything else.  

On to the topic at hand--Some folks have a little trouble understanding that you can be as moved toward God by reading a faith-filled novel as you can from hearing a sermon. (After all, Jesus used stories to reach His audience.) So some friends of mine shared quotes from letters they're received--proof that fiction can and does change lives.


“My entire soul was stirred by the challenges Fire of Heaven raised to me. It called me back to my first love with God, to holiness, to faith and worship like no book has done in some time.”
About Bill Myers’ suspense/thriller Fire of Heaven

“My first grade teacher read it to me and that is when I accepted the Lord.”
About Dave & Neta Jackson’s juvenile historical fiction Abandoned on the Wild Frontier

“Because of your book, I now believe.”
About Nancy Moser’s contemporary fiction The Invitation

“I would like to tell you how much I have enjoyed the books Dreamers, Brothers, and Journey. I could not put them down. I had almost given up my faith in God until my grandma had given me these books to read, which helped restore my faith in God and our relationship.
About Angela Elwell Hunt’s historical fiction Legacies of the Ancient River

“The religious themes in Star Wars sent me on an investigation that moved me eventually in the direction of Jesus Christ. From Pantheism to Christianity––what a track! It illustrates how Christ can use the world and some of its relativism to identify Himself to the unknowing.”
About Kathy Tyers’ science fiction Star Wars spin-off novels

“The Lord spoke to my heart anew and I believe that I realize more than I ever have how very important it is to listen to that 'still small voice' and to put my life in the hands of my Lord and Savior.”
About Deborah Raney’s contemporary fiction Beneath a Southern Sky

“I wish I had heard of you sooner because this book touched me like no other. It seemed like God was saying those very words to my heart. I know without doubt that He was speaking to me. I know that this trying time will soon be over…”
About Robin Lee Hatcher’s women’s fiction The Shepherd’s Voice

“Your book, Beyond the River, has really done something wonderful to me. Before my mom and I read it, I didn’t know what a great effect it would have on my life if I accepted Jesus into my heart. After I read the book, I accepted Him.”
About Robert Elmer’s youth historical fiction Beyond the River

“My life has been in absolute shambles for two years…Through my despair I wandered through a bookstore…your books have helped me to remember the trials we all go through and if you put faith in God, it will somehow work out…they have given me so much hope, I can’t even put into words.”
About Stephanie Grace Whitson’s historical fiction series Prairie Winds & Keepsake Legacies

“I was expecting to read some fluff…I was pleasantly surprised to find delightful reading coupled with deep theology and bedrock truths about our Father!”
About every good author’s INSPIRATIONAL FICTION

"You don't always have to chop with the sword of Truth.
You can point with it, too."
~ Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird


Tuesday, July 29, 2008


I seem to be on a dog video jag here . . . 

My cousin sent me this video of a dog and a crying baby--and I love how the baby stops crying once the dog starts!  :-)  Tee hee.  So cute, and it only lasts about a minute, so enjoy! 

~~Angie, back at work

Monday, July 28, 2008

Let Them Eat Cake, by Sandra Byrd

Hello!  Today I'd like to introduce you to my friend Sandra's latest book--good enough to eat! 

Let Them Eat Cake

By Sandra Byrd



…Chick-lit never tasted so good! LET THEM EAT CAKE is one of those rare chick-lit novels that integrates faith elements without being preachy, and includes plenty of romance without it being the only point of the protagonist's existence… Five star review,



Book Summary

Lexi Stuart is at a critical crossroads. She’s done with college but still living at home, ready to launch a career but unable to find a job, and solidly stalled between boyfriends.

When a lighthearted conversation in French with the manager of her favorite bakery turns into a job offer, Lexi accepts. But the actual glamour is minimal: the pay is less than generous, her co-workers are skeptical, her bank account remains vertically-challenged, and her parents are perpetually disappointed. Her only comfort comes from the flirtatious baker she has her eye–but even may not be who he seems to be!

So when a handsome young executive dashes into the bakery to pick up his high profile company’s special order for an important meeting–an order Lexi has flubbed– she loses her compulsion to please. “What am I going to do?” he shouts. “Let them eat cake!” she fires back with equal passion and a nod to Marie Antoinette. And then, something inside Lexi clicks. Laissez la révolution commencer! Let the revolution begin! Instead of trying to fulfill everyone else’s expectations for her life, Lexi embarks on an adventure in trusting God with her future–très bon!


Let Them Eat Cake was a Christy Award finalist for 2008



Best-selling author Sandra Byrd married the country boy who accepted her dare to eat escargot, and lives with him and their two children in Seattle, Washington. She’s published nearly three dozen books in the Christian market including her latest series, French Twist, which includes Let Them Eat Cake (2007) and Bon Appétit (September, 2008). Most of her other books are for the Young Adult market, and she’s published a book for new moms, Heartbeats.


Many of Sandra’s shorter works appear in periodical markets such as Relevant, Clubhouse Magazine, Pockets, Decision, and Guideposts. For the past seven years Sandra has shared her secrets with the many students she mentors through the Christian Writer’s Guild. Before turning to full-time writing, Sandra was an acquisitions editor in the ABA market.

Sandra’s first submission – and rejection – was at age 12.

 Boyfriend Bait Beef Stroganoff


1 1/2 pounds beef tenderloin, well trimmed, meat cut bite-sized pieces (about 1” square)
4 tablespoons (3/4 stick) butter
1/2 cup finely chopped shallots
2 ½ cups sliced mushrooms
2 cups canned beef broth

3 tsp corn starch
1 cup sour cream
2 tsp Dijon mustard

Over medium high heat, gently sauté beef tenderloin in 2 tablespoons of butter for about 2 minutes, till just seared on all side. You’ll still be able to see red. Remove from pan and set aside in a rimmed dish or baking sheet so you collect the juices.


Over medium high heat, sauté shallots and mushrooms in remaining butter until soft and wilted, about 5 minutes.  Mix corn starch into cold beef broth, whisk to blend. Pour into pan, and stir together with shallots and mushrooms till thickened, two or three minutes.


Add sour cream and mustard, stir to blend. Add beef and juices from dish; stir over medium just till warmed through. Sauce will coat but not be overly thick. Serve immediately over noodles or white rice, salt to taste. 


Sunday, July 27, 2008

The Amazing Skidboot

Home again, and sorting through 300 emails.  Note for future reference:  it does no good to arrive at an airport at 4 a.m. for a six a.m. flight if the ticket counters don't open until five. 

I think I need a nap. 

My friend Sharon sent me the following movie--and and it made me laugh and cry.  (These days I cry at everything.  I think it's hormones.)  :-/  

Anyway, take a moment to enjoy this video clip--and be amazed.  


Saturday, July 26, 2008

Let the Little Children Come

Today's photo: the white-faced Saki monkey. 

Yesterday I blogged about animals, and how my heart goes out to them . . .  and a few minutes ago I felt almost ashamed of that post.  Because Lori, one of this blog's readers, sent me a link to an article about a girl named Katie--a nineteen year old girl who decided a few years ago to be the arms and heart of Jesus in Africa.  Katie has a blog, too, and you can read it here.  

I'm not saying it's wrong to care about animals.  Far from it.  But how can we care less about little children who are dying from starvation and malaria? Humans are created in the image of God, and I am often amazed at my own ability to watch movies where people are blown up all over the place without eliciting so much as a whimper from me . . . but show me a suffering dog, even a fictional dog, and I go to pieces. 

I'm sure the answer lies in desensitization, in the simple fact that we hear so much bad news about people that our hearts are hardened to it.  But I cannot claim to care for animals unless I care about people, especially babies (and unborn babies) and small children.  

I hope you'll take some time today to peruse Katie's blog and ask the Lord what you might be able to do to help this young girl.  Thanks.  


Friday, July 25, 2008

Update on Christian the Lion Story

Today's photo:  a tarsier. 

Mocha with Linda sent me this link, which contains an update to the Christian the Lion story.  I don't know why even reading this news story makes me cry like a baby.  Randy Alcorn says it's because the relationship between Christian and those young men is the relationship we'll have with animals on the new earth--maybe our hearts sense that this is the way it's supposed to be. 

Last night I was watching Animal Cops and there was a story about a man who adopted a shelter dog and then trained the animal to be a therapy dog--you know, one of those dogs who has good manners and can visit hospitals, nursing homes, etc.  Anyway, the camera showed this sweet dog, so eager to please, visiting with an elderly woman.  Without being told, the dog placed his paw in her lap and instead of smiling (his usual expression), he simply looked at her with this sweet and sympathetic expression on his face . . . I lost it.  Good thing I have a box of tissues by my bed.  

I am fascinated by the relationship between man and beast.  God gave us dominion over the animals and we lived together in harmony until the Fall, then God killed some animals to clothe Adam and Eve.  A picture of the sacrifice of Christ--and a picture of the many millions of sacrifices animals would make for man in the years to come. They serve us, they feed us, they keep us company . . . and they suffer in silence. 

I think that's what moves me most.  

Want still more details on Christian the lion?  Read a good article (and see adorable pictures) here.  


Thursday, July 24, 2008

Flying the Friendly Skies

If this is Thursday--and I hope it is--I'm leaving this morning for Missouri and the conference for young writers.  It's fitting, then, that my friend Lynda sent the following video for our viewing pleasure. 

That'll be five dollars, please.  :-) 


Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Chuck Norris on Language

I love this quote: " I genuinely believe we can do better. I believe we must do better. We need to leave a better legacy of decency, civility and respect for future generations. I believe we need to give them our best, and our best must be more than justifying the use of derogatory language based upon cultural or racial relativity or even freedom of speech. If we're going to reverse negative trends among our youth, it's going to begin with us establishing a better model for them of how we treat and speak about others."  --Chuck Norris 

A few days ago I blogged about profanity.  Robin Lee Hatcher recently alerted me to this column by Chuck Norris (yes, the karate/Texas Ranger Chuck Norris) that's worth checking out.  

Yes, words have power.  And we should use them carefully.  

I've been working hard on the WIP, organizing another collaborative project with 200 novelists, and putting together a proposal for a devotional.  No wonder I'm still working at 9 p.m.!  

Today's photo:  a dog, not a living mop.  The Komondor is a purebred dog who happens to look like he wears dreadlocks.  :-)  Don't see many of those around!  


Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Susie Warren's Latest book

Noble Legacy series, book 3 Finding Stefanie  ISBN 1-4143-1019-6  Tyndale  Romantic Suspense

When she put her dreams on hold to help run the family ranch, she never imagined they would slip out of sight. Luckily for Stefanie, those dreams are about to come knocking at her door.

Lincoln Cash has gained fame and fortune on the big screen, but a crippling secret leaves him one last chance to make his mark on the movie industry. With dreams of hosting a new film festival, Lincoln intends to remodel a sprawling ranch in eastern Montana to make it the newHollywood hot spot.

Unfortunately, a house fire threatens his plans. So does opposition from his new neighbor Stefanie Noble, who's not thrilled about his Tinseltown changes. What Lincoln and Stefanie don't know is that the fire won't be the last disaster to threaten Lincoln or his future. Someone is out for revenge... but who? And who is the real target?

Read chapter one:

Buy the book.

About Susie: Susan May Warren is the award-winning novelist of over twenty novels, many of which have won the Inspirational Readers Choice Award, the ACFW Book of the Year award, and have been Rita or Christy award finalists.  Her compelling plots and unforgettable characters have won acclaim with readers and reviewers alike.  She loves to write and help other writers find their voice through her boutique editing blog and services.  A former missionary to Russia, Susan May Warren,  her husband of 20 years, and four children, now live in a small town on Minnesota’s beautiful Lake Superior shore where they are active in their local church. 


Monday, July 21, 2008


Yesterday, after church, I worked on a proposal, worked on a collaborative project I'm helping organize for many, many writers, and then recovered 13 kitchen chairs.  

By the time I sat to write this, even my fingers were tired.  :-) 

So today I am offering a picture of an angora rabbit.  Right now it appeals to me . . . because it looks like a pillow. :-) . 


Sunday, July 20, 2008

Back to work

After church this morning, I have to get back to work!  I've been away from the WIP for more than a week, but it's time to dive back into my trial-in-progress and get back to solving Briley's problem.  :-)   

Before I do that, though, I have to sketch out a couple of proposals for future WIPs.   After I hand in this book, I am officially unemployed.  

Some of you may have discovered that "Doesn't She Look Natural?" is hard to find.  All of the online book stores show it as out of print, and in Orlando some retailers told me that they haven't been able to order the book.   I do believe the publisher is working on the problem (something to do with the new ISBN), but in the meantime I have placed several copies for sale on as an independent seller.  (I tried listing it on my own web site, but I'm using a new program and am having trouble formatting the HTML code.) 

But never fear--if you've been looking for the book, we are working on the situation. 

Today's marvelous animal:  the aye-aye.  No kidding!  :-)


Saturday, July 19, 2008

Harry Kraus's new blog

My pal Harry Kraus has a new blog--don't know Harry?  

I met Harry some years ago at a writer's conference.  Harry is a great novelist, a practicing surgeon (in Kenya, yet!), a missionary, and a godly man.  He has just undertaken blogging, and you will notice that I've added a link to his site . . . look at the blogroll on your right.  :-)  Or click here

Harry has helped me get my surgical terms correct more than once, and I'm so pleased to call him a friend.  So let's welcome him to blogdom--will you please drop by his blog and drop him a note?  Check out his new web design, too--and his photos.  They're amazing! 

Today's photo:  a yeti crab. 


Friday, July 18, 2008

Actual Analogies and Metaphors Found in High School Essays

Today's photos:  Robin Jones Gunn with Babe . . . and an axolotl.  :-)  

Kay reminded me of these, so I dug up this post from 2005 and decided to rerun it.  

You may have seen these, but they're too good not to repeat. Actual analogies and metaphors from high school essays . . . and I tell you, there are days when I've composed some that could compete with these! Enjoy!

1. Her face was a perfect oval, like a circle that had its two sides gently compressed by a Thigh Master.

2. His thoughts tumbled in his head, making and breaking alliances like underpants in a dryer without Cling Free.

3. He spoke with the wisdom that can only come from experience, like a guy who went blind because he looked at a solar eclipse without one of those boxes with a pinhole in it and now goes around the country speaking at high schools about the dangers of looking at a solar eclipse without one of those boxes with a pinhole in it.

4. She grew on him like she was a colony of E. coli and he was room-temperature Canadian beef.

5. She had a deep, throaty, genuine laugh, like that sound a dog makes just before it throws up.

6. Her vocabulary was as bad as, like, whatever.

7. He was as tall as a six-foot-three-inch tree.

8. The revelation that his marriage of 30 years had disintegrated because of his wife's infidelity came as a rude shock, like a surcharge at a formerly surcharge-free ATM.

9. The little boat gently drifted across the pond exactly the way a bowling ball wouldn't.

10. McBride fell 12 stories, hitting the pavement like a Hefty bag filled with vegetable soup.

11. From the attic came an unearthly howl. The whole scene had an eerie, surreal quality, like when you're on vacation in another city and Jeopardy comes on at 7:00 p.m. instead of 7:30.

12. Her hair glistened in the rain like a nose hair after a sneeze.

13. The hailstones leaped from the pavement, just like maggots when you fry them in hot grease.

14. Long separated by cruel fate, the star-crossed lovers raced across the grassy field toward each other like two freight trains, one having left Cleveland at 6:36 p.m. traveling at 55 mph, the other from Topeka at 4:19 p.m. at a speed of 35 mph.

15. They lived in a typical suburban neighborhood with picket fences that resembled Nancy Kerrigan's teeth.

16. John and Mary had never met. They were like two hummingbirds who had also never met.

17. He fell for her like his heart was a mob informant and she was the East River.

18. Even in his last years, Grandpappy had a mind like a steel trap only one that had been left out so long, it had rusted shut.

19. Shots rang out, as shots are known to do.

20. The plan was simple, like my brother-in-law Phil. But unlike Phil, this plan just might work.

21. The young fighter had a hungry look, the kind you get from not eating for a while.

22. He was as lame as a duck. Not the metaphorical lame duck, either, but a real duck that was actually lame. Maybe from stepping on a land mine or something.

23. The ballerina rose gracefully en pointe and extended one slender leg behind her, like a dog at a fire hydrant.

24. It was an American tradition, like fathers chasing kids around with power tools.

25. He was deeply in love. When she spoke, he thought he heard bells, as if she were a garbage truck backing up.

Now . . . want to try writing a so-awful-it's-good metaphor of your own?  


Thursday, July 17, 2008

Home Again

By the time this is posted, Lord willing, I will be home again and doing laundry.  :-)  It's always fun to be with my writer friends who have the same concerns, joys, and challenges, but it's also nice to come home and slide back into the real world. 

At this moment, however, I am sitting in the lobby of a hotel, next to a very noisy waterfall--no kidding, I think I'd have to yell if someone sat next to me.  But I have checked out of my room, so I have no place to go but this comfy chair.  Thank heaven they have wireless internet. 

My cousin, who loves animals as much as I do, sent me some photos of unusual animals.  I'm going to be sharing some of them in the days ahead, just to remind you of how gloriously creative God is.  :-)  This particular creature is called, appropriately enough, a blobfish. 



Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Novelists' Retreat

For some of my friends who want this photo, here's the official 2008 retreat picture.  Click on the photo to enlarge. 


Orlando, FL

So I'm here in Florida, attending the International Christian Retail Show for retailers . . . and seeing a lot of old friends.  Attended the Christy banquet on Saturday night. Didn't win, but didn't expect to, so that's okay.  :-)  I've attached some photos of some folks you may know.  

Last night we went to Epcot for the Tyndale author dinner.  After dinner we were treated to a performance by some amazing Chinese acrobats and then to the fireworks display at Disney--pretty amazing.  A great way to end the convention.  

P.S.  That's Jerry J with the coin purse on his nose.  I did it first, but he looks better in his.  :-) 

Enjoy the photos! 


Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Rachel Hauck: Love Starts with Elle

Hi, everybody!  Here's a look at a new book from a friend of mine, Rachel Hauck.  You can order it here. 

  About the book: She's the last of five sisters to find true love. So, when Elle Garvey's wide receiver-turned-pastor boyfriend, Jeremiah Franklin, proposes, she answers an enthusiastic, "Yes." Until...she discovers the engagement comes with unexpected sacrifices. But every relationship requires compromise, and as Jeremiah takes on a large Dallas pastorate, Elle’s life purpose and calling is challenged. As she stays behind in Beaufort, South Carolina to plan the wedding and sell her beloved art gallery, doubt shadows her engagement decision. Meanwhile, New York lawyer Heath McCord needs a change of scenery and moves with his young daughter to the low-country with dreams starting over and writing a novel. As Heath renews his hope and heart, Elle's life begins to unravel. Crushed when Jeremiah ends their engagement, she heals morning by morning, praying in a dilapidated chapel, searching for passion and purpose. In the midst of crisis, God’s love ignites her heart, and as her friendship with Heath blooms into love, Elle understands beauty always rises from the ashes. About Rachel: Rachel Hauck is the author of ten, going on eleven novels, and has recently become “acclaimed.” (Yeah, funny how that happened. Some dude found her lottery stub stuck to the bottom of his shoe and tried to “acclaimed” her, but her husband refused to pay out.)  Living in central Florida with her hubby of sixteen years, two dogs and one ornery cat, Rachel is a graduate of Ohio State University and a huge Buckeye football fan. One day she hopes to stand on the sidelines next to Coach Tressel as a famed, acclaimed OSU alumni, beloved for her work in literature and letters. (She’s written at least a couple hundred letters in her life time.) She is a worship and prayer leader in her city, a lover and disciple of Jesus.  Visit her blog and website at 

***  Romantic Times Book Club Review of LSWE Top Pick, 4.5 Stars Hauck is quickly making a name for herself as an insightful and thoughtful author. It's great to catch up with characters from previous novels as well as meet new ones. Elle is vulnerable, yet wise, and the romantic angle will leave you sighing with delight. ***  

Interview How did Elle come to be? 

RH: Elle was a great, funny, beautiful, character in Sweet Caroline. She had a small story line going and I saw that she was strong enough to carry her own novel. So, I proposed her as the next book and my editor loved it. 

How much of you is there in Elle? Your husband in Heath? 

RH: I think there’s some of us in each of the characters. Tony’s strength and confidence in Heath, my love of prayer in Elle. She is more controlled and goal oriented than I am, but I am one who looks a head like Elle. 

What was your favourite scene to write? 

RH: I had a few favorite scenes. I think the scene with Julianne and Elle in prayer chapel is one of my favs. And almost all the scenes with Elle and Heath. And oh, I love, love the first scene with Heath after he’s moved to Beaufort!  

What do you hope readers take away from this story? 

RH: There’s something you discover about yourself in meditative, concentrative prayer you cannot discover any other way or place. 

Why did you pick the setting of Beaufort, South Carolina? 

RH: A worship leader friend of mine wrote a song called Praise House. The slide background for the song lyrics was of an old, white, clap board shack with the words Praise House painted across the front. When I asked him about the shack and the song, he showed me a home video of his trip to Beaufort, looking for this elusive praise house he'd seen on the internet. I loved the scenery and the setting, loved seeing the lowcountry, and thought I needed to set a book in South Caroline. Since it's not far from my home, the research was easy.  

Elle's an artist. Is this reflective of you? Perhaps a secret passion or hobby? 

RH: No, I only can dream of being an artist. Seriously, I can't draw stick people. I love art and when Elle came to live in Sweet Caroline, she came as an artist. Didn't really even have to think much about it.  Elle is a reflection of society today - very artsy and romantic, feeling oriented, living by intuition more than "thought and reason." If you study the Romantic Era of the 1800's, the landscape of society today is very much the same. We're in a Renaissance of that time.  So, having her go on a journey of prayer really fit her emotional palette. 

What is the number one challenge facing most Christians in the realm of prayer? 

RH: Of course, this is my opinion based on observation and experience, but it's time management. We just have so many voices and sounds in our lives today. So many choices. It's hard to carve out time to get alone with God. I'm not talking "Quiet Time," setting aside fifteen minutes to read a devotional and pray - which is a component of getting to know the Father - more about stealing away to be with Him. Contemplative, soaking prayer takes time, discipline and concentration. I still struggle, but those days I sit at His feet for an hour or more - either alone or in a corporate prayer setting - is when I feel the most connected with Him.  We need all kinds of prayer - on the run, emergency, pleading, hopeful, thankful prayers. But we also need to find time to sit and soak. Song of Solomon 2:14 says, "O my dove, in the clefts of the rock, In the secret place of the steep pathway, let Me see your form, let Me hear your voice; for your voice is sweet, and your form is lovely."  Jesus is talking to the individual believer here about stealing away with Him. He longs for those alone times. In the clefts of the rock, in the steep pathway speaks of the difficulty of getting to the secret place with Him. There are a lot of things I do in my life that will account for nothing in eternity. I remind myself that setting aside time for Him is one thing that will endure, and prosper both now and always.  There's a great line in the book from a wise friend of Elle's, and it's one I adopted for myself, "Pray is not inactivity." It's a very active, and proactive verb! 

So, what's in the pipeline for you? 

RH: Ah, look for something fun and interesting in the spring! ;) How’s that for a sneak peek?

Monday, July 14, 2008

Novelists' Retreat

I am here in Orlando, retreating with my novelist pals.  When I arrived on Thursday afternoon, Mark Mynheir and Jim Bell helped me carry my luggage--and my hats--from the car.  

Aren't they hilarious?  


Sunday, July 13, 2008

Do you know your burger chains?

I didn't do so well on the candy quiz, but I got eight of 12 right on this quiz about hamburger chains.  (I only wish they had added Five Guys, my new favorite burger place.)  

How'd you do on this one? 

BTW, I do make (according to my family) the world's best hamburgers.  Here's my secret: 

Take a couple of pounds of ground beef, put in a bowl.  Add about 1/2 cup catsup.  Then add about 1/2 cup of honey or molasses.  Then add a bit of salt, pepper, and nutmeg.  Then add some chopped onions (I use the dried kind, but you can use fresh).  Then add a clove or two of garlic, minced very fine.  Then add about 1/4 cup of Worcestershire sauce. 

Mix everything together very well and then shape into patties. They should be dark in color, from the sauces.  Grill.  (These might have a little trouble holding their shape.  If so, you'll want to grill them on foil with holes punched in it so the grease can drain.)  

Ta da!  Wonderful burgers. :-)


Saturday, July 12, 2008

Book Meme

This meme comes from Linda.  Feel free to use it on your blog if you like! 

 Do you remember how you developed a love for reading?  The earliest book I remember reading on my own was called "A Child's Bible Reader."  Each week an aunt (I think her name was Charlotte) read stories to her niece and nephew. I read that book over and over . . . and I still have it!  I think it instilled in me not only a love for reading, but a love for God's Word. 

2. What are some books you read as a child? I read all sorts of things.  I remember finding a box of books in this house we lived in--I think it came with the house. In it were copies of JANE EYRE, GONE WITH THE WIND, HIS BEST GIRL, and a biography of Albert Schweitzer.  I read every one of those books over and over--and I think I was about seven or eight. If I didn't understand something, I just kept going.  :-) 

3. What is your favorite genre? I don't really have a favorite.  The only thing I don't particularly care for is fantasy--sorry to say so, but the Lord of the Rings just leaves me yawning. I have no idea why. 

4. Do you have a favorite novel? Without a doubt--THE NUN'S STORY, by Katherine Hulme. I think this book was also in that box of books, and I've read it dozens of times.  Wonderful, and based on a true story! 

5. Where do you usually read? In my library chair, or on a plane.  These days I really have to work to find time to sit and read for pleasure. 

6. When do you usually read? My favorite time is on an airplane.  No distractions, and nothing to make me feel guilty! 

7. Do you usually have more than one book you are reading at a time? Oh, yes.  I have piles of partly-read books all over the house, but most of those are nonfiction.  With novels, I tend to read until finished, unless I get bored with it. 

8. Do you read non-fiction in a different way or place than you read fiction? See above. 

9. Do you buy most of the books you read, or borrow them, or check them out of the library? I buy them.  Because if nobody buys books, authors starve.  Sad but true. 

10. Do you keep most of the books you buy? If not, what do you do with them? I keep them for a while, then I either give them away, exchange them, or shelve them.  But I ran out of shelves a long time ago.  Around here, we shelve and then we stack! 

11. If you have children, what are some of the favorite books you have shared with them? Were they some of the same ones you read as a child?  My son has never been a reader, and my daughter loved to read until the school's accelerated reading program killed the joy of reading for her.  I'm still upset about that. 

12. What are you reading now? I just finished BECKY for my neighborhood book club.  And I have a half dozen nonfiction legal books on my desk, fodder for the WIP. 

13. Do you keep a TBR (To Be Read) list? List?  No. Stacks.  Everywhere. 

14. What's next? Whatever my book club chooses for next month . . . and whatever I grab as I head out for my next plane trip.  One of my pet peeves is running out of books before I get where I'm going. I hope the Kindle will solve that little problem! 

15. What books would you like to reread? The Nun's Story . . . MODOC, and THE CALL OF THE WILD.  

16. Who are your favorite authors? Now I'm going to get in trouble--I have too many author friends and too many favorites!  So I'll name authors I don't know personally--Jodi Picoult, Anita Shreve, Allison Weir, and Phillipa Gregory come to mind. 

That's it!  Feel free to be tagged! 


Friday, July 11, 2008

Out of town

If this is Friday (and it should be), I am out of town at a writer's retreat with some of my best buddies.  I'll try to take lots of pictures and check in, but I know I'm going to be very busy throughout the next week. I'll do my best to keep up. 

Photo:  our novelists' group last year.  You might see lots of folks you know! 


Thursday, July 10, 2008

Tammy Alexander's FROM A DISTANCE

Do you hear Bette Midler singing when you read that title?  I do!  Anyway, my pal Tammy Alexander has a new book out, FROM A DISTANCE.  And I thought it might be nice to let her talk about it a little . . . 

An Interview with Tammy Alexander about her latest 

Q: Elizabeth Westbrook is a proponent of women’s rights – a suffragette and a woman aspiring to be the first photographer/journalist for the Washington Daily Chronicle. However, you chose to afflict her with a lung disorder that reminds her often of her true weakness and mortality. How purposeful was the dichotomy of this strength and weakness? Where did the idea come from?


A: While the dichotomy grew out of Elizabeth’s developing character, it was also a conscious choice on my part. I just didn’t know at the outset what her physical weakness would be. When I first started “getting to know” Elizabeth Westbrook, I quickly discovered she was a strong-minded woman. Not a current day feminist,per se, but she was determined to achieve her goals, wanting above all to be the woman God wanted her to be. And yet, even in that earnest and honest desire, her perspective was skewed. Part of her journey in From a Distance is learning what it means to give God her dreams, to surrender her aspirations for His.


Q: What drew you to the Civil War and freed slaves as issues to set alongside the infant feminine movement?


A: Being born and raised in Atlanta, I’ve long held an appreciation for Southern history, and for the Civil War in particular. I’ve looked forward to writing a book where I could blend the rugged backdrop of the Colorado Territory with that of the antebellum South. I’ve read numerous accounts and diaries from men and women of that era and have a deep respect and appreciation for what they endured, and for their contribution to this country’s rich and diverse heritage.


Q; Josiah’s story is truly one of mercy and grace in a person’s life. He tells Elizabeth, “Knowin’ Jesus has already sifted through what’s comin’ before it gets to me…Well, I reckon that ought to be enough.” This is not an easy lesson for anyone to learn. Can it be taught be any means other than pain and loss? Do you think this is the key to understanding why people have to endure suffering?


A: I truly believe that a faith like Josiah’s has to be refined by fire, as it says in I Peter 1:7. By trials. I know that, personally, I grow closer to God in the hard times more so than the easy times. A dear friend once said, “Nothing happens to me but what it first hasn’t been sifted through the loving hands of my Heavenly Father.” I believe that. I believe God is sovereign and He knows what’s coming down the pike, so to speak, in my life. And that nothing touches me or my life that hasn’t been “allowed” by His sovereignty.


Now, does that mean that everything that happens to me is purposed by God? No, I don’t believe so. I believe that we live in a fallen world where sin exists, and that just as I have free will, so does someone else who’s chosen not to follow God. And when our “free wills” collide, things happen.  Sin happens. Be it fair or not, we pay for the consequences of others’ choices. Oftentimes dearly.


Did God want me to be sexually abused when I was a little girl? No. I think His heart broke when that man took me in a back bedroom and, on repeated occasions, sexually assaulted me. But God (obviously) allowed that to happen. And through the years, He’s also provided healing for those emotional wounds, as well as avenues to share that healing.


Writing Revealed (my second book) was a healing journey from sexual abuse for me that I hadn’t anticipated. But God knew. I believe that when I first created Annabelle Grayson’s secondary character in Rekindled, God knew I’d writeRevealed, and He was already waiting for me in that moment a year later as I wrote Annabelle’s story, even as He was with me in that current moment when her character first “stepped onto the page.”


And something more… I believe that years ago—even as a man lured a little six-year-old girl into a bedroom and sinned against her—God was already setting into motion a plan for her healing. And that He knew I’d someday answer His call to be a writer, and that His glory would be made known through the story of a prostitute who was abused at a tender age. I never could have written Revealed, I never could have gone to those dark places in the human heart, had I not experienced such pain. And then later…such amazing joy!


Q; Daniel, Elizabeth and Josiah all reach a point where they either choose to share or are forced to share the truth about their circumstances. Why do we feel so compelled to hide what is painful from others when it is in the sharing of our trials that we often find forgiveness and freedom from the guilt often associated with those trials? Why is it so difficult to see and understand how God works in our lives even through these difficult times?


A: It’s hard to take off the mask and let people see who we really are—warts and all, as the saying goes—because it makes us vulnerable. And when we’re vulnerable, we can get hurt. All over again. And who wants to intentionally open yourself to more hurt? And yet, when we’re vulnerable, we’re real. (Writing this makes me want to run grab my copy of The Velveteen Rabbit and read it all over again!) Being real, being authentic, is such an attractive quality in a person.


As I get older, I see God most through these difficult times in my life, and yet my seeing Him, sensing and witnessing His presence, doesn’t always help me to understand the “why” behind something He allows. I’ve long ago surrendered the quest to figure out why God does something. Searching for the answer to a “why” has never led to a deeper faith step in my life. Choosing to trust Him despite not knowing the reason why something happened, choosing to trust (in the words of Job) “though He slay me”….does.


Q: Will we get to see more of these three great characters in the next book in this series? How many books will this series contain?


 A: Yes! We’ll see these characters in the next two books, which will release in 2009.


Q; What exciting things is God doing in your life right now? Any closing words of encouragement you want to share with your readers?


A: An exciting (and memorable) moment happened for me recently. My husband and I are having some landscaping done, and one afternoon the landscaper asked me what I did for a living since I was “always home.” LOL! I told him I was a writer, and he shared that his wife loved to read. And that she was currently on bed rest, due in three weeks with their fourth child.


I gave him a set of Fountain Creek Chronicles (Rekindled, Revealed, Remembered) to give to his wife. Well, I got an email the next night saying that his wife was loving Rekindled and was telling him every single scene when he got home from work, so he wouldn’t have to read the book—his wife had already told him everything!


The next day he arrived. I met him in the backyard to discuss some details and he said, “Before we start, I just want to thank you for writing that book.”


“Rekindled?” I asked.


He nodded. “My wife finished it last night. She loved it.” He got a little quiet. “She came up to me afterward and told me that reading that book made her love me more, and that she was more committed to our marriage now than she had been.”


There are moments in your life when you wonder if you’re doing what God made you to do. While I have no clue whether I’ll be still writing novels ten years from now, I have no doubt that I’m doing what God designed me to do…for this moment in time. And I’m grateful to share the hope in Christ that He’s entrusted to us. That’s what this brief little journey called life is all about.


Q:What aspects of your work do you enjoy the most?

A: Having written! When the book is done, all revisions made, and I’m holding that first “hot off the press” copy in my hands. Oh, that’s a wonderful feeling.


The next best thing is typing “THE END” on a first draft.


Q: Preach it, sister!  What are the most challenging problems for writers?

A: I can only speak for myself, but it’s discipline. Discipline to write a set word count everyday. Discipline to keep at it when “the muse” isn’t particularly generous that day. Along with the discipline of writing even when you don’t feel like it, comes the discipline of exercising each day, after those long hours of sitting (not good for the hips!). Then the discipline to “turn off the story” (or at least mute it) when you’re with family and friends. Again, sometimes easier to do than others, especially when I’m on deadline. Like now!


Q: For what achievement would you like to be remembered?

A: I most would like to be remembered for having made a difference in people’s lives. In the end, people are what matter. Not achievements, not awards, not accolades, not print runs, not bestseller lists. But people.

Amen! Thanks for stopping by! And tell me the truth--doesn't that gal on the cover look like she's thinking, Where'd I lose my pearl earring?  LOL!