Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Family theme for Queen's speech - Home - ITN.co.uk

Family theme for Queen's speech - Home - ITN.co.uk

A big thank you to Leslie Sowell for sharing this link with me--I've always loved Elizabeth II, and I think you'll enjoy this message, too.

A happy Christmas to all.


Sunday, December 25, 2011

Dogs Saying Grace

In keeping with the spirit of Christmas, it's nice to see that some dogs know how to pray before their Christmas (and anytime) dinners:

A blessed Christmas to you!


Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Birthday surprise!

It's Angela Hunt's birthday, but you get the presents! Afton of Margate Castle, Roanoke, Then Comes Marrisge, and The Case of the Mystery Mark all FREE on Kindle today!

Friday, December 16, 2011

The Duggar's 20th baby

I don't routinely follow  the show "Nineteen Kids and Counting", but I was shocked and touched by recent photos released by the family after the mother, Michelle, miscarried their twentieth child in her second trimester.

I was touched because the photos show how beautiful and perfect the hands and feet of Jubilee Shalom Duggar were.  The family contacted "Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep," an organization I have endorsed in one of my books, in order to have a permanent memento of their 20th child.  These photos are beautiful, loving, and clearly show how human this tiny child was.

What shocked me was that TMZ called these pictures "photos of the fetal corpse" and even included a disclaimer of their site, saying that these photos might offend viewers.  Excuse me?  What kind of offense could these little feet cause?

Except . . . it truly might shock and educate those who believe that an unborn baby is a featureless fetus, a creature less than human simply because it has never breathed outside its mother's body.  TMZ treated this entire story of the Duggar's action as something macabre and horrible, and I, for one, think their reaction is what's macabre and horrible.

Human life is fully human at conception. There is nothing horrible or shameful about a baby in the womb, even a baby that does not survive in the womb . . . unless that baby is forcibly pulled from the womb with a vacuum machine, a scalpel, or pair of scissors, or a salty solution that burns the baby's skin from its body.

THAT's horrible. That's macabre. And I'm ashamed and shocked to realize that many in our nation have confused these two realities.


Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Living Adventurously

In 2006 I wrote the following as one of my columns for the Tampa Tribune  and thought I'd share it here, too:

When a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity comes along, an adventurous woman grabs it. In April 2001, my 275-pound dog was invited to appear on Live with Regis and Kelly. My husband said it was a crazy idea, but we cleared our calendars and flew to Manhattan to bask in our mastiff’s fifteen minutes of fame.

Last week, another unusual offer presented itself: would I like to attend the national premier of The Nativity Story in Hollywood? You bet. I cleared my calendar and spent a few days agonizing over what to wear, then jetted off to Los Angeles to mingle with the glitterati gathered at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

Why me? I’d like to think it’s because I’m an adventurous woman, but the real reason lies in my work. I’m a novelist by profession, and last May my publisher offered me a rush project. They had partnered with New Line Cinema to produce books based on The Nativity Story film: a gift book, a book for the advent season, and a novel. My job, if I chose to accept it, would be to turn the film’s screenplay into a novel over the next sixty days.

I leapt at the chance. I love historical fiction, and I had recently written a novel about Mary Magdalene, so first-century research was still rattling around in my brain. And who wouldn’t love to tell the story of what is arguably the greatest miracle of all time?

So in early June I settled down with my reference books and Mike Rich’s excellent screenplay. I was wary at first—Hollywood has made biblical movies before, and sometimes the finished product bears little resemblance to the historical record of Scripture. But Rich’s screenplay was right on the mark—except for a slight tightening of the probable timeline, his script was historically and biblically accurate.

For the next few weeks I slipped into the minds of Mary, Joseph, Elizabeth, and Zechariah. I studied expert works on first-century culture and tried to fill in the missing details of the accounts we read in the gospels of Matthew and Luke. While I wrote in my office, the cast and crew filmed the movie in exotic foreign locations like Italy and Morocco.

After meeting my deadline, I moved on to another project. I tried not to think about the upcoming movie, and when someone suggested that I might be invited to the premier, I laughed and said I wasn’t counting on it.

My novelization of The Nativity Story released in early November, and the film’s world premier took place at the Vatican on November 26th. More than seven thousand people saw the movie, and I’ve heard that the audience burst into spontaneous applause at the moment of the baby’s birth.

Two days later, I attended the film’s national premier in Hollywood. With representatives from my publisher, I walked over the red carpet outside the theater, then we made our way to our seats. I watched, amused and amazed, as Hollywood gathered to watch a reenactment of an amazing story.

For years, my slogan as a writer has been “expect the unexpected.” The Nativity Story fulfills that slogan beautifully, but not by human design. In the story of Mary, Joseph, Zechariah, and Elizabeth, God demonstrates that he delights in doing what he promised, but in surprising ways.
With the words of the prophets firmly in mind, the people of Isra’el were expecting a messiah from David’s lineage, a leader who would vanquish their enemies and secure the peace. They waited for a brilliant, charismatic warrior-king who would cleanse the land of the Roman occupiers and establish his throne on Mt. Zion.

What did they receive? A baby, born among livestock and nestled in a feeding trough. A child safeguarded by an adoptive father from David’s lineage, but far removed from kingly wealth and power. An infant born to a teenaged girl rumored to be pregnant before her betrothed husband took her home to be his wife.

The people of Isra’el were expecting a conqueror—they received a child who grew to maturity and died at the hands of Roman executioners. The world longed for a prince of peace and received a Jewish rabbi whose revolutionary precepts have, as he predicted, divided fathers and sons, mothers and daughters. But for those who regard the manger with eyes of faith, the child of Christmas is everything the world expected and more.

Mary, Joseph, the shepherds and the magi—since I have spent a little time in their minds and hearts, they will never again be icons for me. They are the most adventurous people I’ve ever known.


Tuesday, December 06, 2011

BOM: The Results/Reader reaction

I signed Nativity Story books after services at my church last weekend. A young woman who'd already read the novel came up and asked me to sign her well-worn copy. With tears in her eyes, she thanked me for the story . . . and said that though she'd been a Christian for years, she had come to see Jesus in a new light and Christmas would never be the same for her again.
I told her I felt exactly the same way.

I had a great interview with Cindy Swanson about this book. She wrote about The Nativity Story at her wonderful blog, which you can read here.

From Publishers Weekly
It's a difficult task to retell the biblical nativity story in a fresh way—after all, it has been novelized, brought to stage and screen, and is the stuff of endless children's Christmas pageants. Yet this companion novel to the New Line Cinema feature film (which will hit theaters December 1) should find a place on the bookshelf as a fresh and viable retelling. Hunt, the author of more than 70 books and working from Mike Rich's screenplay, refrains from oversanitizing the story, although Mary and Joseph are fairly one-dimensional (there aren't a lot of character flaws here). She depicts their gritty, hardscrabble existence as balanced by the love of family.

As a thoughtful reader would expect, the census trip to Bethlehem is no picnic, but some readers may be surprised that the shepherds and wise men show up at the stable together, unlike in the gospel account. The good-natured joshing among the three wise men provides a lighter note to the chapters where Herod's cruelty is well portrayed. Hunt balances the necessary violence with a sensitivity that will expand her readership. Her rich prose and cultural details utilize the five senses to recreate the familiar story, which spans many points of view and includes a fine subplot about Elizabeth, Zechariah and John. (Nov.) Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

At this writing, I haven't heard a lot of reader reaction--there are only a couple of reviews on Amazon.com, and they're favorable. But I have been AMAZED at what I've been reading on some blogs about the movie--long debates about whether or not Mary should have experienced birth pangs, people arguing passionately about whether or not the wise men showed up with the shepherds, and whether or not it's even proper to depict a scriptural event in film or fictionalized account.

Shaking of the head here. God often uses story to suit his purposes, and doesn't logic dictate that one must imagine what one cannot ascertain? In my books, I take great care not to contradict what we know to be true (either through Scripture or trustworthy historical records). The rest I fill in as best I can by using common sense and artistic license, in that order.

Of course no one knows that there were exactly three magi; Scripture doesn't count them. But it's logical to assume there were three because they offered three gifts.

Because I anticipated a certain amount of controversy about some elements of the story, I included a Q&;A section at the end of the book to address these issues. My take on the story rises from my "sola Scriptura" background--I do not believe Mary was divine, or a permanent virgin, or sinless, for she said that God would be her savior (Luke 1:47) --why would she need a savior if she had never sinned? I do believe she suffered labor pains, for she was like all the rest of us, even though the child conceived within her womb was the sinless son of God.

That's part of the miracle of the incarnation.

The novel, I should point out, is not a polemic for my point of view. It's a scriptural retelling of the story, pure and simple.

One day in heaven, we can ask our questions and find out whether Jesus had half-siblings or step-siblings or whether or not Mary felt the pangs of labor. Until then, let's endeavor to keep the spirit of unity in the bond of peace.

Tomorrow: Questions and Answers. Leave your question in the comments and I'll do my best to answer them!


Monday, December 05, 2011

BOM: The Editing

Photo: my book club in 2006, marveling over the fact that I baked . . . a Christmas miracle!

The editing of The Nativity Story was practically painless. My editor said I submitted clean copy (I try my best), and she had only a few queries--in fact, I received the edited manuscript with her queries while I was teaching at a conference, and I think it only took me about an hour to go through them.

In fact, when I handed the manuscript in, I told my editor I felt guilty--I should have suffered more (I usually do). But I was given a great screenplay to work from, the research was a joy (and, in God's sovereign plan, I knew just where to look for what I needed to know--God bless Alfred Edersheim), and the project was a pleasure.

Best of all, the folks at New Line okayed the manuscript without a single change.

Tomorrow: Results and reader reaction. And if you have any questions, be sure to ask them!


Sunday, December 04, 2011

BOM: The Writing

The Nativity Story is showing in schools in Virginia . . . very cool.

When the movie came out, my neighborhood book club went to see it together--and I enjoyed the film even more the second time! Maybe I was more relaxed, or maybe this time I wasn't as intent on noticing the differences between book and film. In any case, I highly recommend it. Don't wait--get out to see it at your first available opportunity! Here's a link to a review of the film by CT.

The writing--not much to say here, except that "the writing" went hand-in-hand with "the research" because whenever I came to a new scene in the screenplay, I checked the historical details with my reference books.

In writing the novel, I wanted to honor the structure of the screenplay, and I wanted to stick to the dialogue as much as possible. I didn't want the novel to read like a completely different critter. It is a novelization of a screenplay, so I wanted to respect Mike's excellent work--he had some great lines of dialogue, and they're in the book. But because the screenplay kept evolving (they were filming as I was writing), I also felt free to let the characters speak for themselves. Characters have a way of coming to life, you know, and sometimes they just kept talking.

A screenplay is action and dialogue. A novel is description, scenery, exposition, dialogue, and interior monologue. The advantage of a novel is that the reader and writer can really get into a character's head, so I did. I did constrain myself, however, and didn't let myself get sidetracked or take off in a completely different direction. No new subplots, no additional characters. And the only scenes I added were necessary, I felt, either to flesh out the history or the background of the action in the screenplay. I added scenes of Mary and Joseph dedicating Jesus in the Temple because I felt it was important to the timeline and because I wasn't under the same time crunch the filmmakers faced.  Plus, it was historical, and THE reason Mary and Joseph remained in Bethlehem for some time--until the angel told them to flee to Egypt. 

This is the only novel-from-screenplay that I've published, and I knew that the final work would have to be approved by the people at New Line Cinema. I knew my job was to respect the screenplay and the film while bringing the story to life in the form of a novel.

When I saw the movie, I noticed that some new dialogue cropped up as they filmed . . . and some scenes that were in the screenplay didn't make it into the movie. I know that's nothing unusual, and I'm glad that I wasn't bound to a time frame or word count in which to tell this incredible story. I admire screenwriters, but I love being a novelist.

Tomorrow: the editing.


Saturday, December 03, 2011

Supplemental Edition!

I was delighted when Tyndale invited me to the Hollywood premier of The Nativity Story.  That's me walking by the huge movie poster and--who else?--Gary Busey! The red carpet and the Tyndale men.

Visit this link to see a really beautiful music video from The Nativity Story. 

I hope your Christmas season is off to a delightful start! 


Friday, December 02, 2011

BOM: How the Idea Germinated

This one's easy--the idea didn't germinate. Not in the usual sense, anyway.

A year ago, screenwriter Mike Rich noticed that both Time and Newsweek had feature cover stories on the nativity of Christ. He wrote a screenplay, it was snapped up, and plans were made to produce a movie . . . in just under a year.

In late May 2006, an editor at Tyndale House called to see if I'd be interested in writing a novel based on Rich's screenplay. The catch? It'd be a fast job with a July 31 deadline, because the book would need to release at about the same time the movie opened.

I jumped at the opportunity for several reasons. First, I'm a speedy writer and the story was already plotted. I knew I'd have a screenplay to work from as well as Scripture. Second, I'd just finished Magdalene a few months before, so my first century research was still fresh in my mind. Third, who wouldn't want to explore one of the greatest miracles of all?

I had a few hesitations: if the screenplay followed the pattern of some Hollywood films, it might not be true to scripture. Second, I'd have to please New Line Cinema as well as my editors. Third, it would be a tight deadline, and I'd have to fit this into my calendar.

After praying about it, I felt led to go forward, so I told my editor I'd be willing to start in June--right after I got back from my Alaskan cruise. :-) I hadn't had a bona fide vacation in years, so I was determined to take one.

Before I left for Alaska, however, I went through the first version of the script to see if there were any "red flag" issues. I saw a couple of minor things that didn't seem historically believable, but felt I could work around them . By the time I saw a second version of the script, however, those things had disappeared. The filmmakers were definitely on the right track, so I signed on for the project.

Tomorrow: the research


Thursday, December 01, 2011

Book of the Month: The Nativity Story

From the back cover:

In the simple town of Nazareth, an angelic messenger appears before a teenage girl . . . who finds the courage to believe.
In The Nativity Story, developed from the screenplay by Mike Rich, Angela Hunt fleshes out the characters and histories of the people who lived through the miracles and mysteries surrounding the birth of Jesus Christ. This well-researched story is based on the scriptural account. Journey back through time as you relieve that the characters experienced and celebrate the wonder of Immanuel, God with us.
The movie opens today, so see the film, read the novel, and you'll find there are many differences!


Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The Nativity Story

As we prepare to move into November and December, I thought I would resurrect a previously-published blog series on THE NATIVITY STORY.  You may remember that this movie opened in 2006, but the movie and my novelization of the film are both still available. (The movie is on DVD, of course.)

You may recall that in May 2006 I got a call last May from Tyndale House--the film was being produced by New Line Cinema, and Tyndale wanted to know if I would take the screen play and write a novel from it. A rush job, but I'd just written MAGDALENE, and all my first-century research was still in my head. So I jumped at the opportunity, I loved the script, and wrote the novelization in a matter of weeks. Not such a tough gig--the story was already plotted. (VBG).

Anyway, enjoy this week of videos. And make plans now to watch THE NATIVITY STORY with your family and friends. What a wonderful way to celebrate the true meaning of Christmas!


Monday, November 28, 2011

You Deserve It . . . . Really?

Lately I've been cringing a lot at TV commercials.  First, at the commercials where the wife is portrayed as a genius while the husband is a bumbling idiot   (AT&T comes to mind, plus that one where the husband and son are trying to create socks that won't fall down), but lately I've been cringing most at the commercials that assure me that I "deserve" something or other. 

I first noticed it in those tacky attorney ads:  "Been in an auto accident?  You deserve to be compensated for your injuries, so call us today."

I deserve compensation?  No wonder our nation has an entitlement culture.  How much compensation do I deserve?  Enough to pay for my medical bills, or should I swallow this line:  "You deserve to be compensated for your pain and suffering."

Hmmm.  Who's going to pay me what I "deserve" as a result of suffering through those insufferable commercials?

But the "deserve" line has bled over into other commercials, too.  I deserve the best skin care. I deserve the best hair dye.  I deserve the finest foods and best hotels (whether or not I can afford them).  I deserve, I deserve, I deserve.

And this, right after Thanksgiving?  Truth to tell, I'm not grateful for anything I "deserve" because, after all, what I "deserve" is simply my due.

But give me what I don't deserve . . . and then you'll see real gratitude.

I have news for America:  we don't deserve anything.  We don't deserve the many blessings we enjoy, but we enjoy them anyway.  I didn't wire the electrical circuits in my house, I don't purify my water, I don't build the furniture I sit on.  I could do nothing if others had not worked at their professions to make a living, and I'm happy to support them by buying their products.

But do I "deserve" those products?  No.

My mindset has undoubtedly been colored by the fact that the Greatest Giver of all time gave me mercy and a Savior when I was completely and totally undeserving.  My gratitude for that act bleeds over into the other areas of my life.

But listen carefully, and you'll see how we are being told how much we "deserve" in this country. Unless we realize how false that is, we may never dig ourselves out of the ungrateful morass our country finds itself in.

Thanks for letting me sound off.

Stepping off soapbox,


Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Checking in . . .

The halls are decked. Already. :-) 
I know it's been a while, but I've been caught up in baking (check out the baking blog and the latest macarons!), doing edits for FIVE MILES SOUTH OF PECULIAR, trying to work on my dissertation, and decorating the house for Christmas.

Yes, you read that right.  The inside of my house is now officially decorated with garland and red bows, and the Christmas tree stands guard in the living room. I don't usually decorate this soon, but the days ahead are full and my daughter and the Grand Baby are coming to visit around the first of December.  So I wanted to have Christmas, and if that means decorating on November 21, well, so be it.  :-)

We will wait to do the outside of the house until AFTER Thanksgiving.  :-)

For our family Thanksgiving, hubby and I always jump in the car with a few dishes and drive a couple of hours to this little town called Lake Hamilton--trust me, it's small.  But they have a lovely old woman's club, and my family rents the women's club so all the aunts and cousins and friends can eat a meal together.  We catch up and eat too much, then we play Dirty Santa--a tricky gift exchange, if you've never played it.  Then we take pictures, clean up the dishes, and head home until the next year.  It's a simple tradition, but I'm grateful for it. Without it, I'd hardly ever get a chance to see many in my extended family.

What are your Thanksgiving traditions?  Do you travel or stay home?  Do you have a favorite dish that simply must be on the table?  Have you ever had Thanksgiving alone?  I have, and it's not much fun. So if you know someone in that situation, invite 'em over and pull up an extra chair.  You'll be glad you did.


Thursday, November 17, 2011

Yes, Women Can Talk

It's a scientific fact that women talk more than men. After watching this video, you'll think they come out of the womb talking. :-) Too cute! Thanks to Clyde for passing this one along!

(That poor flummoxed father cracks me up!)


Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The Hunger Games Trailer

The HUNGER GAMES, by Suzanne Collins, was one of the best books I read last year. And now it's coming to the big screen, and it appears to be faithful to the book--what I can see, in any case. And one of my writer friends, Sarah Sumpolec, is an extra in the film, and she says she has seen herself twice in the trailer.

See Sarah? The blonde with hair up, in the ivory dress a little left of center. 

Sarah is in the long dress, a little left of center. 

I haven't been this excited about seeing a movie in a long time. I use a bit of the first chapter of HUNGER GAMES when I teach, and most folks come away wanting to read the book. It's amazing.

Have you read it? What did you think? What do you think of the trailer?


Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Bookworms, rejoice!

A tip of the hat to Robin Lee Hatcher for leading me to this video--apps for bookworms! Sound like they're right up my alley!

And of course, don't forget the Angela Hunt Books app.  You can download it here or with this code:



Monday, November 14, 2011

What if Blessings Come in Disguise?

I'm home from teaching at a workshop in Denver--for the HIS Writers chapter of ACFW. Had a wonderful time, but am glad to be home and settling back into my normal routine.

While in Denver, my friend Kay told me about this song . . . and I love it because it's so profound. Listen . . . and consider.



Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Handel's Messiah . . . in Alaska!

Links to this have been floating around the Internet, but if you haven't taken the time to watch, it's a good one.



Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Monday, November 07, 2011

Eight Rules for Good Writing

My writer friend Sibella sent me this quote from C.S. Lewis:

  • In 1959, an American schoolgirl appealed to C. S. Lewis for writing advice, and he sent her a list of eight rules for good writing: 

  • 1. Turn off the radio [and television].

  • 2. Read good books and avoid most magazines.

  • 3. Write with the ear, not the eye. Make every sentence sound good.

  • 4. Write only about things that interest you. If you have no interests, you won't ever be a writer.

  • 5. Be clear. Remember that readers can't know your mind. Don't forget to tell them exactly what they need to know to understand you.

  • 6. Save odds and ends of writing attempts, because you may be able to use them later.

  • 7. You need a well-trained sense of word-rhythm, and the noise of a typewriter will interfere.

  • 8. Know the meaning of every word you use.
    Source: C. S. Lewis. Collected Letters. New York: Harcourt, Brace and World, 1966, 291-292. Quoted in Kathryn Lindskoog, Creative Writing for People Who 
    Can't Not Write. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House, 1989, 253.

  • ~~Angie

    Sunday, November 06, 2011

    National Novel Writing Month

    It's back! National Novel-Writing Month. So here's a video to help us celebrate!

    Today I'm flying home from Indianapolis and the Indianapolis Christian Writers' Conference. Had a great time with new friends, old friends, and a former student from the single year I taught high school English!  Wonderful to be with so many folks who are enthused about writing, but I'm happy to be heading home now with a new book on my iPad.  :-)


    Saturday, November 05, 2011

    Serious Writers At Work

    If you can stand one more video, here 'tis: Serious Writers At Work. Enjoy!


    Friday, November 04, 2011

    Guest Blogger: My dear friend, Nancy Rue

    Photo:  Nancy sent in this picture--LOL!  

    Blog title: Unexpected Dismounts Blog hop with Nancy Rue, Day 1

    It is with very great pleasure that I'd like to introduce my "kindred spirit" Nancy Rue.  Nancy and I met years ago, and even though I often teach at conferences where she isn't, I always miss her if she's not there.  :-(    So here she is to talk about her latest book (and a few other things--we're both new grandmas!), Nancy Rue! 

    From time to time, Angie Hunt and I teach as “Nangie” (get it? Nancy + Angie = Nangie). Because we approach writing so differently, we complement each other in the classroom and give our students more than one perspective. I am, of course, constantly in awe of Angie’s beauty, wit and wisdom, so when someone gets us confused or just refers to both of us as Nangie, I am highly flattered and want to adopt that person as my new best friend.
                      Yet the bond that exists between Angela Hunt and me goes beyond co-teaching. This is a woman without whom The Reluctant Prophet trilogy would never have been written, at least not in the way it has been. She talked me into attending a Donald Maass weeklong intensive with her that completely changed the way I write a novel – for the better, I hope. She has always encouraged me to follow the nudges God administers to me – just as Allison does in the novels. You want publishers to recognize the need for better children’s literature, Nancy? Hold a conference for children’s writers. You think want to write about a contemporary prophet? What’s stopping you?
                      That would be enough to make me “bow down and call her blessed,” as Angie herself likes to say. But there’s so much more. This woman whose blog you follow because you love her books and her wit and her eye for the quirky has more integrity than any ten people I know. You can always count on her to be honest, yet with tact. If she pays you a compliment, you’ve heard something genuine. She prays every decision through and is one of those rare people who can quote Scripture that applies to a situation without making you feel like you’ve been spiritually mugged. Being with Dr. Angie Hunt makes me want to be far better than I am.
                      So what fun to be a guest here! I think I was supposed to talk about my new book, Unexpected Dismounts, but again, without the influence Angie has had on me and my work, there would be no Allison Chamberlain riding through the streets of St. Augustine on her Harley, ministering to the prostitutes and turning the lives of the wealthy upside down.  My life would be diminished without her.

    Nancy Rue            

    Do you have someone in your life who has nudged you to make a difference or follow a dream? How might you encourage them today?

    Nancy is very kind to say the things she did, but truthfully, I think she's changed me more than I've changed her.  She's taught me to look outside the boxes, to consider things from a different vantage point, and to accept people where they are . . . instead of expecting them to hop to where I'd like them to be. Nancy demonstrates love and grace every day and can find the beauty in a manuscript that I've stabbed with my red ink pen . . . the woman has a gift, and I'm so blessed to call her friend.  

    AND--I've read the first book in the Reluctant Prophet series and I loved it. I think you will, too.    
    In Allison Chamberlain, Nancy Rue has created a fresh and unique protagonist to challenge all who follow Christ.  How will we change the world?  By being willing to leave our comfortable pews and habitual routines to truly listen to the voice of the Spirit…and show the world that Jesus called us to love.  Not to take care of ourselves, but to take risks in loving others.  The Reluctant Prophet Series are wonderful books with the power to change hearts and lives.

    Thanks for joining us on the Unexpected Dismounts Blog hop with Nancy Rue.  

    Nancy’s publisher, David C. Cook is sponsoring the blog hop with an opportunity to win some great prizes, including a $200.00 gift card for American Express.  To register to win & RSVP for the facebook party today. 

    If you are interested in hearing more from Nancy, you can visit her website, subscribe to her blog: The Nudge, join her on Facebook and/or follow her on twitter.

    Thanks for dropping by today! 


    Thursday, November 03, 2011

    Have been blogging . . .

    . . . over at the Lovin' Oven Bakery.  What can I say?  I'm home!  :-)


    Monday, October 31, 2011

    Oh. My. Shoes.

    If you've been following this blog very long, you know that I don't often gush about materialistic things.  Frankly, there aren't that many things that knock my socks off.

    Until I met these shoes.

    Oh, my.  Lately I've had this urge to purge, so I've been cleaning out drawers and closets, etc.  I decided that at my age, I no longer had to suffer the aches and pains of too-tall heels, so from now on, all my shoes were going to be sensible heels of 2.5 inches or less.  So I tossed out several pairs, then went looking for sensible shoes to fill some of the gaping vacancies.

    On zulily.com, one of my favorite flash discount shopping sites, I saw a pair of shoes that looked great. Ordered them, and found them when I got home yesterday.

    Wow.  Even the box took my breath away.  It wasn't a typical shoe box, with a lid that lifts off.  Oh, no, it was styled more like a drawer covered in delicate floral paper, complete with cord handles. The "drawer" slid out, and inside the delicate tissue paper I found the most glorious shoes.  So lovely, so unique, and so comfortable.  Even the bottom of the shoe was patterned with a lovely floral design in COLOR.

    I looked at the label: Poetic Licence, London (notice the British spelling).  And then I went online in a search for more of these shoes.  You'll find them all over the place, in everything from flats to too-tall heels (for this woman, anyway), but all of them are bright, unique, colorful, and dazzling.  I am in love.  Don't pay retail--you can find sites that discount them dramatically.  :-)

    So here I am, gushing over shoes.  (I ordered three more pairs).   And for these shoes, I might even venture to wear a three-inch heel.   (But not those you see in the purple picture!)  :-)


    Sunday, October 30, 2011

    Travel back in time via historical Penny Postcards

    What our beach looked like years ago. Today, those trees have been replaced by condos!
    Go to this site and click on your state, then your county.  Then scroll down to your city, or just admire all the views of how your county looked in years gone by.  Amazing and beautiful!

    A tip of the hat to Tanzel Rousey for leading me to this site. :-)


    Saturday, October 29, 2011


    The other day I was getting dressed in a hotel and a glimmer caught my eye. I looked in the mirror and saw the necklace that I wear almost all the time. It's silver, so it hasn't tarnished, and from its simple silver chain hang three silver tear-shaped pendants. These tiny pendants are engraved (in writing so small only I can see it) with one simple word each: Hope. Inspire. Dream.

    Hope--even in the midst of heartbreak, we can place our certain hope in the Lord. As bleak as the world may seem, though the future may appear daunting or formidable, we have the precious assurance that our hopes will be realized and our sorrow will last for a season, not for eternity. Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but when the desire comes, it is a tree of life.  Hope. A beautiful word.

    Inspire. God-breathed. We are inspired and we can inspire others. We breathe the breath of God into our bodies, hearts, and minds, and then we breathe it out into the bodies, hearts, and minds of others. Inspire. A humbling word.

    And finally, dream.  I've always been wary of dreaming for things that may not be part of God's ordained plan for this life, but some dreams are clearly God-inspired. And then there are the dreams that are not synonymous with "goal," but the visions we see on our closed eyelids as we sleep. I dream in color and vivid detail, and usually wake with a story on my lips, ready to entertain or bewilder my patient husband.
    Sometimes, I think, we achieve not because we dream not.  Dream. A challenging word.

    Hope. Inspire. Dream. I am happy to wear those words around my neck every day.  I ordered this necklace from a catalog years ago, and I don't think I've ever seen it since.

    But I'm glad I found it when I did.


    Friday, October 28, 2011

    This is precious--toddler thinks magazine is an iPad. :-)

    This reminds me of that funny scene in Star Trek IV where Scotty goes up to a desktop computer (in our time) and talks to it, expecting it to respond . . .

    Ah, babies and technology. Even my five-month old granddaughter seemed to know what to do with my iPhone the other day . . .


    Thursday, October 27, 2011

    The Yeti has gone Mainstream

    According to a recent article in the Wall Street Journal, Bigfoot is now being taken seriously, more or less, in Siberia, where he is known as the Yeti.  They are having a conference, and it's being by attended by an American woman who says she's regularly feeding a family of Bigfeet. Er, Bigfoots.  Whatever.

    The often-spotted, never-verified creature even has a biological classification: Homonid, the study of the science of Hominology.

    And I'd feature a photo, but, well, there aren't any of the actual creature.  :-)  And  I can see broken branches and twisted tree limbs in almost any part of the country.

    Have you ever encountered any strange creatures in the woods?  Do tell!


    Wednesday, October 26, 2011

    Chinese Toddler Hit Twice and Ignored

    Yue Yue, the little girl who died. 
    You've probably heard about the Chinese toddler who was hit TWICE by passing trucks and then ignored by several passers-by as she lay broken in the street.  I've just watched the video, and it's heart-breaking.

    I'll admit that pictures of Asian babies do something to me because MY children were Asian babies. I can't see that little two-year old Chinese girl without thinking of my own daughter.  But the resulting display of heartlessness has left China questioning its social values, which it certainly should.

    In this country, how many people are inflamed or incensed by stories of abused dogs and cats, yet they say nothing when a child is ignored on the street?  Have we become so inured to the sight of human suffering that we block it out?  Or are we just as guilty as the Chinese, who, like us, are so caught up in the demands of daily life that we don't see the shut-ins, the lonely neighbors, the frightened teenagers, the sullen children who are in need of help?

    I've been convicted by the story of this little girl.  Would I have stopped on that day, or would I have assumed that someone else was already running to help?  Would I have worried about lawsuits and liability, or would I think of Jesus' story of the good Samaritan?

    Lord, open our eyes today to the hurting people around us.  Jar us awake, if need be, and help us to see this world through your eyes.


    Tuesday, October 25, 2011

    Did you catch the birth announcement?

    Yesterday, experts tell us, the world's seven billionth baby was born.  Happy birthday, little one.  Welcome to a world that has never been this crowded with problems or potential.

    I loved the perspective on our planet's growing population in the Wall Street Journal.   The author of an op ed piece, William McGurn, states that human beings are "minds, not mouths" and my mind immediately went to the abortion vs. life debate.  How many times do we see unborn babies as potential problems when they are more likely to be potential blessings?  Adoptive parents wait with open arms for these "problem" unborns, and even when the child remains with his or her biological family, parents often find that these children bring their own special gifts to the family.

    Methinks this seven billion population total is God's way of pouring out his love on more people than ever before . . . offering yet another opportunity to fill our eternal and infinite home with infinite possibilities.

    Happy birthday, baby.  May you find your Creator and rejoice in your heritage.


    Monday, October 17, 2011

    Blue Ridge Glory

    I'm up here near Asheville, North Carolina, and the fall colors are gorgeous.  I really miss them, living in Florida, and this trip was a blessing.  Just look at this photo, snapped on my walk from the dining room to the lodge where we're all staying.  Brilliant golds, vibrant reds, still-gorgeous greens . . . it's lovely.

    What is fall like where you are?


    Sunday, October 16, 2011

    The Map or "Waxing Thoughtful at the Airport"

    My mirrors at home are kind,
    But photos do not lie. And in them I see
    A face unknown to me, though I have lived its contours and ridges,
    I have stamped its surface with a roadmap of passions and wounds.

    Recently someone said that I have much in common with Annette Benning—
    The same hair, same coloring, the same age. The same apparent aversion to
    Map-erasing surgeries and nerve numbing agents.

    I cannot speak for Annette, but in photos I see fine marks sketched by myriad smiles,
    Grooves carved by innumerable words and dining occasions.  I fancy I can trace
    The salty tracks of watery gallons, a rivulet-smoothed plane running from north to south.
    Other marks are deep crevasses carved by grief: of desire denied, fissures of frustration, clear tracks of unyielding sorrow.

    But a loving hand has smoothed those cracks, filled them in not with man-made substitutes, but with peace and understanding.
    Yet a trace remains. A print intended to remind me, I think, of the pain and the Panacea. 
    So I look at human portraits and reflect upon the creator’s loving hand. A road for each of us, a path preplanned.

    I will not envy when I study fresh-faced youths who have barely begun to live. And for those who would deny their existence with stitched and stretched skin and false fills, I feel a measure of pity.
    For a face is a road map, a wordless book that speaks every language.
    A mirror of a soul. 


    Wednesday, October 05, 2011

    A season in baseball . . .

    This year I became a baseball fan.  And one of my deepest regrets is that I didn't become a fan while my daddy was living.  I think we would have enjoyed talking about our teams.

    The boys in blue. 
    As a writer, I know the key to making any sports story come alive is to focus on a PERSON.  And that's why I became a baseball fan.  Because my youth pastor hubby knows a young man who has been moving around in the majors, and this year he happened to get picked up by our home team.

    So suddenly we KNEW somebody on the team, and what's more, we like him.   (And I'm not going to give you his name because . . . well, because it feels wrong.)  So we began to devoutly follow the Rays, and I think I watched more baseball games than even my husband did.  I watched during the day, I watched at night.  I even got an iPad program that allowed me to "watch" when I was traveling.
    Loved this kid's enthusiasm. 

    And I asked my hubby so many questions I think I drove him crazy:  Why doesn't it count as a hit if the batter hits the ball?  Why do Little League teams and soccer teams shake their opponents' hands after a game and professional teams don't?  How can a runner get to first base if he never even hits the ball, but just sends it rolling around?  And why is it fair for a pitcher to intentionally walk a hitter? Shouldn't he get a chance to hit the darn thing?
    The Trop was rockin'. 

    And through it all I learned a lot more about baseball than I ever thought I'd know.  And all of it, of course, is grist for the writer's mill, though the idea of writing a baseball book seems pretty far out for me.

    This guy--in a manta ray suit--yelled, "Put me on Facebook; I don't care!" To which I replied, "Obviously." 
    Anyway, if you didn't see the game that put us in the playoffs--Rays versus Yankees, who dominated 7-0 throughout the first seven innings--you missed a miracle.  We got into the playoffs and had high hopes--after all, miracles can happen more than once--but our dreams came to an end yesterday. But hubby and I were in the stadium, sitting right beneath the huge video screen, and saw it all come down to a final inning, a final out.

    And as I watched the Rays players manfully consoling each other in the dugout, I realized that these demigods of the athletic world will now feel like chess pieces being moved around.  Managers trade players; they move people; they shift players for reasons that have to do more with skill and salary than with team loyalty. So some of the young men who formed this Rays team may never play together again--at least not wearing the same team jersey.

    So this ending is bittersweet.  I assume the Rays will field a team next year, and so will the other MLB franchises, but I've come to know and appreciate each face under those caps and helmets.  So thanks, guys, for a great year and a terrific learning experience.  Hope to see you again in the Spring.


    Monday, October 03, 2011

    Lake Michigan--beautiful!

    I spent last week teaching at the Maranatha Christian Writers' Conference in Muskegon, Mi.  The facility was located practically on the shores of Lake Michigan, so every morning I walked down to the lake and then wended my way back through the woods.

    See the beautiful doe I met?  She was closer than it would appear. 

    It's so beautiful.  I wish I'd brought my "good" camera, but made do with my iPhone camera.  Just look at some of these sights.

    Maranatha is a lovely conference, with great people and a lovely location.  Not to mention the fall-ish weather.  Loved every minute of it.


    Thursday, September 29, 2011


    I've been up at the Maranatha Christian Writers' Conference all week, on the shores of Lake Michigan in Muskegon. Beautiful place! I've even felt a chill in the air.

    Know what I've noticed over the years? Some writers want to be unusual people. They talk about how strange they are, as if strangeness is a quality to be cultivated. Well, I've got news for you--I have about a hundred close writer friends, and they're not strange at all. You could have dinner with any one of them in a public place and no one would stare at you. On the other hand, when I took my daughter to art school, I stared at everyone in attendance. You want to know unconventional, get thee to an artists' colony.

    Maybe, you say, I don't notice that my novelist friends are strange because I'm strange. But I still beg to differ. Every been to a dentists' convention? Hung out with circus folk? Gone "backstage" at a dog show? If you've done any of the above, you'll realize that everyone is strange in their own way. And when like minds congregate, the difference tends to show.

    Yet when writers cultivate their unconventionality, I think we make writing seem altogether too mystical, as if mere mortals can't possibly aspire to it. Blarney and poppycock. Anyone with the gift of sitting still can learn to write. They may not be artistic about it, but if they can speak and think, they can write. Written communication is not rocket science.

    One of my favorite writing books is Dare To Be a Great Writer by Leonard Bishop. I've had this book for years and never tire of flipping through the assorted entries. But one entry, I think, was written entirely tongue in cheek. Bishop says that once you have become a best-selling author, you need to develop a persona; you need to cultivate the writer's mystique:

    "No longer have casual conversations. Conduct orations. Not with passive platitudinous ponderosities, but with dynamics and charm. Use the body language of a shadow-boxing pugilist. Develop cunning facial expressions. Grimace as though pained with profundity. Wink, pout, sigh, crack your knuckles in contemplation. Use a repertoire of snappy jokes employed by any popular dentist. Be direct, outspoken, bold. Do not become subtle or ethereal with implication. Audiences are not talented at grasping existentialist innuendo. Rehearse being extemporaneous. "

    I respond to the above with a ROFLOL. And while I'll admit that my ten presentations at schools in the past week contained a LOT of body language, acting, and humor (two girls from one school dubbed me the 'drama queen'), most of that was just to make sure my audience remained awake and interested.

    Yes, writing requires a lot of hard work. Writing a good novel takes hard work and endless hours. Writing an artistic novel takes even more time. Writing an artistic novel that doesn't put people to sleep requires even more effort. Few folks commit to that level of sacrifice.

    But there are surgeons who strive for that level of excellence in their field . . . and teachers who aim for excellence in order to influence young lives. And broadcasters and mothers and fathers and architects and pastors and dog groomers, all of whom have committed their lives and their careers to excellence for the glory of God.

    Does that make them strange? In a sea of mediocrity, perhaps. In the light of eternity, they're not strange at all. They're the called, the committed, the good stewards. The ones who will hear "Well done, good and faithful servant."

    I aspire to be one of them, but I don't think that makes me strange. Just . . . called.


    Wednesday, September 28, 2011

    Myers-Briggs and Now This?

    It had to happen. They now have "types" for bloggers.
    I have to admit that I use "types" all the time. Myers-Briggs is my favorite tool for creating characters and it's also helped me understand my spouse, my friends, and my independent, hard-headed self.
    But the following is for fun. Click on the link and see what "blogging type" you are!

    P.S. Thanks to Cindy Swanson, where I found this gem!

    Your Blogging Type is Logical and Principled

    You like to voice your well thought out opinions on your blog.
    And if someone doesn't what you write, you really don't care!
    Serious and blunt, sometimes people take your blog the wrong way.
    But you're a true and loyal friend to those who truly get you.

    Tuesday, September 27, 2011

    Flannery O'Connor--wow!

    I've been reading Flannery O'Connor's Mystery and Manners like a devotional--one chapter a day, with time to savor and think about each page. Today's essay, "The Nature and Aim of Fiction" ought to be required reading for anyone who would write novels. With a wry sense of humor, O'Connor speaks plain truth and challenges at the same time.

    This is priceless, and one of those "plain truth" comments:

    "But there is a widespread curiosity about writers and how they work, and when a writer talks on this subject, there are always misconceptions and mental rubble for him to clear away before he can even begin to see what he wants to talk about. I am not, of course, as innocent as I look. I know well enough that very few people who are supposedly interested in writing are interested in writing well. They are interested in publishing something, and if possible in 'making a killing.' They are interested in beng a writer, not in writing. They are interested in seeing their names at the top of something printed, it matters not what. And they seem to feel that this can be accomplished by learning certain things about working habits and about markets and about what subjects are currently acceptable."

    Oh, if you could see what I've seen--the rapt attention beginning writers pay to editors who dare to talk about trends and "the market" and what's currently selling. Who cares? By the time a book is written and published, today's trend is yesterday's news. And if you're writing to the market, you're not even beginning to write from your passion. You're not listening to the voice of God, the voice of Truth, but the voice of consumerism.

     I love this essay!

    Friday, September 23, 2011

    Rediscovering the Known Country

    I've been reading G.K. Chesterton's book ORTHODOXY, and he cracks me up. Philip Yancy's foreword is priceless, but he doesn't steal the show from Chesterton.

    I love how in chapter one he says he set out searching for truth and was like a man who lands upon an island, thinks that it's some exotic place, and finds out that it is in fact Mother England. Says Chesterton: "If this book is a joke it is a joke bagainst me. I am the man who with the utmost daring discovered what had been discovered before. If there is an element of farce in what follows, the farce is at my own expense; for this book explains how I fanciesd I was the first to set foot in Brighton and then found I was the last. It recounts my elephantine adventures in pursuit of the obvious . . ."

    That's how I often feel about my own life as a Christian and a writer. The Lord brings me through some lesson--and I usually think it's definitely uppergraduate stuff--and then I find that I'm setting foot in the Land of Knowledge with youngsters who learned my new lesson a long time ago. Or never needed to learn it in the first place. :-)

    I can't wait to become a little better acquainted with Mr. Chesterton. They say he won over his debate opponents not by blasting at them, but by laughing at himself. I think you can see a little of his humor in this passage:

    "It may be that somebody will be entertained by the account of his happy fiasco. It might amuse a friend or an enemy to read how I gradually learnt from the truth of some stray legend or from the falsehood of some dominant philosophy, things that I might have learnt from my catechism--if I had ever learnt it. There may or may not be some entertainment in reading how I found at last in an anarchist club or a Babylonian temple what I might have found in the nearest parish church."

    And that's one of the joys of writing the kinds of books I write. I tell a story in which characters have their eyes opened--and some of my readers will be already acquainted with the new vision, but others won't be. One group will be nostalgic, perhaps, the other fascinated. And those who don't or can't see the truth--well, they could be bored or offended, I suppose. Each to his own reaction. My job is not to react, it is to write.

    Off to attempt it for another day.