Sunday, November 30, 2008

MASTER, AWARD-WINNING HISTORICAL NOVELIST QUESTIONS:
WAS ANNE BOLEYN A DEVOUT, MISUNDERSTOOD MARTYR?


(COLORADO SPRINGS, CO) Ginger Garrett is a recognized expert in ancient women’s history, having received much critical acclaim for Chosen: The Lost Diaries of Queen Esther and Dark Hour. Yet Garrett has now turned her attention from biblical women to that ill-reputed, oft-hated woman of history, Anne Boleyn. And the story Garrett weaves is anything but the story you’d expect.


What if Anne was simply a frightened girl sent to make amends for her
family’s soiled name? What if her refusal to succumb to the king’s sexual
advances wasn’t borne of manipulation for the crown but of obedience to
the demands of her faith?

Remember, Anne was an enemy to the religious establishment of her time,
espousing the virtue of reading the scriptures for oneself rather than paying
the priests of the Catholic church for Biblical counsel and absolution. Was
her staunch belief in the personal relationship with God instead of The
Church the reason history has painted her with such a broad, evil stroke?

Garrett believes this is the case. “One worry that did stay with me during the writing of the novel was that Anne Boleyn’s story has become familiar to many readers. What encouraged me to push through, however, was all the research that told me the other versions had her quite wrong. They paint her as a scheming seductress, a master manipulator...but her crime, as they put it, was ‘manipulating’ Henry by refusing to sleep with him until she was his wife...It might just prove she took her Christianity more seriously than anyone else in that age.”


At a time when people were scourged, beaten, and burned at the stake for being caught with a personal copy of the Bible, Anne Boleyn brought one into the royal chambers and dared to tell the King to read it as well. This September, readers just might see that Ginger Garrett has finally shown a light on the true Anne Boleyn, a woman of staunch faith and searching soul.


In the Shadow of Lions · by Ginger Garrett · September 2008
978-0-7814-4887-1· $13.99 · David C. Cook

Who is GINGER GARRETT?


Ginger Garrett is an expert in ancient women’s history and the author of several critically acclaimed books. Ginger’s first novel, Chosen: The Lost Diaries of Queen Esther, was a finalist for the Christian Book Award, recognizing it as one of the top five inspirational novels for 2006. Ginger was also nominated for the Georgia Author of the Year Award for her novel Dark Hour.

Her nonfiction Beauty Secrets of the Bible reveals how biblical women viewed beauty and the natural foods, perfumes and cosmetics that complemented their spiritual beauty.

In the fall of 2008, Ginger will release In the Shadow of Lions, the first of a three-part fiction series for David C. Cook. In the Shadow of Lions focuses on the untold story of Anne Boleyn and how guardian angels may help shape human history.


Ginger is a popular speaker at women’s events, and a frequent radio and television guest. Ginger Garrett has been interviewed by media across the country including Fox News, The New York Times, FamilyNet Television, National Public Radio, Billy Graham’s Hour of Decision, Harvest Television, and more.

Thank you to Glass Road Public Relations, LLC for providing me with a copy of the book. If you would like to contact GRP you can find them at:

Glass Road Public Relations, LLC ~~ ph (615) 986-9516 ~~ fax (615) 986-9517 ~~ www.GlassRoadPR.com

Shadow of Colossus by T.L. Higley



It is time to play a Wild Card! Every now and then, a book that I have chosen to read is going to pop up as a FIRST Wild Card Tour. Get dealt into the game! (Just click the button!) Wild Card Tours feature an author and his/her book's FIRST chapter!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!





Today's Wild Card author is:


and the book:


Shadow of Colossus

Broadman & Holman Publishers (August 1, 2008)


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


T.L. Higley holds a degree in English Literature and has written three previous novels, including Fallen from Babel, and more than fifty drama productions for church ministry. A lifelong interest in history and mythology has led Tracy to extensive research into ancient Greece and other myth systems, and shaped her desire to shine the light of the gospel into the cultures of the past. She lives in the Philadelphia area with her husband and four children.

Visit the author's website.

Product Details:

List Price: $14.99
Paperback: 400 pages
Publisher: Broadman & Holman Publishers (August 1, 2008)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 080544730X
ISBN-13: 978-0805447309

AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:


Rhodes, 227 bc

Seven Days Before the Great Quake


In the deceitful calm of the days preceding disaster, while Rhodes still glittered like a white jewel in the Aegean, Tessa of Delos planned to open her wrists.

The death of her body was long overdue. Her soul had died ten years ago.

Ten years this day.

Tessa took in a breath of salty air and shivered. From her lofty position outside Glaucus's hillside home, she watched the populace's torches flicker to life in the dusk. Across the city the day's tumult at the docks slowed. The massive statue of Helios at the harbor's frothy mouth caught the sun's last rays as it slipped into a cobalt sea. The torch he thrust skyward seem to burst aflame, as though lit by the sun god himself.

He had been her only constant these ten years, this giant in the likeness of Helios. A silent sentinel who kept vigil as life ripped freedom and hope from her. Painful as it was, tonight she wanted only to remember. To be alone, to remember, and to mourn.

"Tessa!" A wine-sodden voice erupted from the open door behind her.

The symposium had begun only minutes ago, but Glaucus was already deep into his cups. Bad form in any company, thought Tessa, but Glaucus rarely cared. Tessa inhaled the tang of sea air again and placed a steadying hand against the smooth alabaster column supporting the roof. She did not answer, nor turn, when she heard her fat master shuffle onto the portico.

"Get yourself back into the house!" Glaucus punctuated his command with a substantial belch.

"Soon," she said. "I wish to watch the sun god take his leave."

A household servant crept out and set two torches blazing. An oily smell surged, then dissipated. From the house floated harsh laughter mingled with the tinny sound of a flute.

Glaucus pushed his belly against her back and grabbed her arm. The linen chitôn she'd taken care to arrange perfectly fell away, exposing her shoulder. She reached to replace it, but Glaucus caught her hand. He brought his mouth close to her ear, and she could smell his breath, foul as days-old fish.

"The others are asking for you. `Where is your hetaera?' they say. `The one with more opinions than Carthage has ships.'"

Tessa closed her eyes. She had long entertained Glaucus's political friends with her outspoken thoughts on government and power. While his wife remained hidden away in the women's quarters, Glaucus's hetaera was displayed like an expensive pet with sharp teeth. Tessa had once believed she led an enviable life, but the years had stripped her of her illusions.

She stroked the polished filigree of the gold necklace encircling her throat and remembered when Glaucus fastened it there, a gilding for his personal figure of bronze.

"Now, Tessa." Glaucus pulled her toward the door.

Her heart reached for the statue, clinging to her first memory of it, when Delos had been home and innocence had still been hers.

When I open my wrists, I will do it there.


Ω


The andrôn, central room of the men’s quarters, smelled of roasted meat and burning olive oil. Glaucus paused in the doorway, awaiting the attention of those who had curried enough of his favor to be invited tonight. When the small crowd lounging on low couches at the room’s perimeter turned his way, he pushed her into the lamp-lit center. “Tessa, everyone,” he shouted. “Making a grand entrance!”

The room laughed and clapped, then returned their attention to the food and wine on the low tables beside them. In the corner, a young girl dressed in gauzy fabric blew thin streams of air into a small flute. Tessa’s eyes locked onto the girl’s for a moment. A private understanding passed between them that they were both objects of entertainment, and the girl looked away, as though ashamed to be seen so clearly. A desire to protect the girl surfaced in Tessa, a maternal feeling that of late seemed only a breath away.

Glaucus pulled her to a couch and forced her down onto the gold-trimmed red cushions. He lowered himself at her right and leaned against her possessively. A black bowl with gold designs waited in the center of their table, and Glaucus ladled wine from it into a goblet for her. To the room he said, “To Tessa—always the center of attention!” He raised his own cup, and his guests did the same.

Tessa’s gaze swept the room, taking in the majority of men and the few women reclining against them. The moment was suspended, with cups raised toward her, drunken and insincere smiles affixed to faces, lamplight flickering across tables piled with grapes and almonds and figs, and the flute’s lament behind it all.

Will I remember this night, even in the afterlife?

“To Tessa!” Shouts went round the room, cups were drained and thumped back to tables, and the party quickened around her.

Glaucus reached for her, but she pushed him away. He laughed. “It would appear my Tessa is a bit high-spirited tonight,” he said to the others. “And what shall be done with a mischievous hetaera?” His thick-lipped smile and raised eyebrow took in the room and elicited another round of laughter. He nodded, then turned his attention to the man on his right, resuming a conversation whose beginning she must have missed.

“Your objections earlier to the naturalization of the Jews are noted, Spiro. But to extend citizenship to the foreigners among us can often be expedient.” Tessa could not see Spiro, his frame completely blocked by the bulk of Glaucus beside her, but his voice poured like warm oil. Yet underneath his smooth tones, Tessa heard the cold iron of anger. He was one of few among the strategoi to contradict Glaucus publicly.

“Like-minded foreigners, perhaps,” Spiro said. “But the Jews make it no secret that they despise our Greek ways. They disdain even our proudest achievement, our Helios of the harbor. They must be expunged, not embraced by weak-willed politicians who—”

Glaucus raised a pudgy hand. “You presume an authority not yours, Spiro.”

“Only a matter of time, Glaucus.”

Glaucus snorted. “Again you presume. The people of this island are too clever to choose seductive charm over solid leadership.”

Spiro laughed quietly. “Why, Glaucus, seductive charm? I didn’t realize you had noticed.”

Glaucus shook his head. “Perhaps the women are affected, but it is the men who vote.”

Tessa sensed Spiro lean forward, his eyes now on her. “And we both know where men find their opinions.”

Glaucus snorted again and swung his legs to the floor. It took several tries to raise his ponderous body from the cushions. “Get drunk, Spiro. Enjoy your delusions for one more night. But next week I sail to Crete, and I expect them to fully support my efforts.”

He nudged Tessa with a sandaled toe. “Don’t go anywhere. I will be back.”

Tessa watched him leave the room, relief at his temporary absence flooding her. She was to travel to Crete with him next week, though she had no intention of ever stepping onto the ship.

The previously unseen Spiro slid to her couch now, an elbow on the cushion Glaucus had just vacated. He was older than she, perhaps thirty, clean-shaven like most of the others but wore his jetblack hair longer, braided away from his face and falling just above his shoulders. His eyes, deep set and darker than the night sea, studied hers. A smile played at his lips. “What are you still doing with that bore, Tessa? You could do better.”

“One slave master is as another. To have something better is only to be free.” She was not truly Glaucus’s slave in the usual sense, and Spiro knew it, but it made little difference.

Spiro smiled fully now, and his gaze traveled from her eyes, slowly down to her waist. He took liberties, but Tessa had long ago become heedless of offense.

“That is what I like about you, Tessa. One never meets a hetaera who speaks of freedom; they are resolved to their place. But you are a woman like no other in Rhodes.”

“Why should I not be free?”

Spiro chuckled softly and inched closer. “Why, indeed? Ask the gods, who make some women wives and give others as slaves.”

Spiro’s hand skimmed the cushions and came to rest on her thigh. “If you were mine, Tessa, I would treat you as the equal you deserve to be. Glaucus acts as though he owns you, but we all know he pays dearly for your favors. Perhaps it is you who owns him.” Spiro’s fingers dug into her leg, and his eyes roamed her face and body again. Tessa felt neither pleasure nor disgust, a reminder that her heart had been cast from bronze. But a flicker of fear challenged her composure. Spiro, she knew, was like one of the mighty Median horses: raw power held in check, capable of trampling the innocent if unleashed.

A shadow loomed above them, but Spiro did not remove his hand. Instead, he arched a perfect eyebrow at Glaucus and smiled. Tessa expected a flash of anger, but Glaucus laughed. “First, you think to rule the island, Spiro, and now you think to steal Tessa from me, as though she has the free will to choose whom she wants?” Spiro shrugged and moved to the next couch.

Glaucus plopped down between them again. “She will never be yours, Spiro. Even when I am dead, her owner will only hand her to the next man in line to have paid for her.” He waggled a finger at Tessa. “She is worth waiting for, though, I can tell you.” Another coarse laugh.

Something broke loose in Tessa then. Caused perhaps by the vow taken while drinking in the sight of the harbor’s bronze statue, and the assurance that soon nothing she did now would hold consequence for her. Or perhaps it was ten years of bondage, commemorated this night with nothing more than continued abuse.

Whatever the reason, she rose to her feet. The room silenced, as though a goddess had ascended a pedestal. She lifted her voice. “May the gods deal with you as you have mistreated me, Glaucus of Rhodes. I will have no part of you.”

Glaucus grabbed her arm. “Your heart is not in the festivities tonight, my dear. I understand. I will meet you in the inner courtyard later.”

He did this to save face, they both knew. Tessa wrenched her arm free of his clutches, glanced at Spiro, and felt a chill at the look in his eyes. She raised her chin and glided from the room.

In the hall outside the andrôn, she looked both directions. She had no desire to stay, yet the world outside the house was no more pleasant or safe for her. She turned from the front door and moved deeper into the house.

The hallway opened to a courtyard, with rooms branching in many directions. Along the back wall, a colonnaded walkway, its roof covered with terra-cotta tiles, stretched the length of the courtyard. A large cistern gaped in the center. Beside it stood a large birdcage; its lone inhabitant, a black mynah with an orange beak, chirped in greeting.

Glaucus had said he would meet her here later, but from the sounds of the laughter behind her, the party raged without her. She should be safe for a few minutes at least. She crossed to the bird she had adopted as her own and simply named Mynah. Tessa put a finger through the iron bars and let Mynah peck a hello.

Her head throbbed, as it always did when she wore her hair pulled back. She reached above her, found the pin that cinched her dark ringlets together, and yanked it. Hair loosed and fell around her, and she ran her fingers through it in relief.

A sharp intake of breath from across the room startled her. She whirled at the sound. “Who’s there?”

A soft voice in the darkness said, “I am sorry, mistress. I did not mean to startle you.”

Tessa’s heart grasped at the kindness and respect in the voice, the first she had encountered this evening. She put a hand to her unfastened hair. Somehow she still found it within herself to be embarrassed by this small impropriety.

The man took hesitant steps toward her. “Are you ill, mistress? Can I help you in some way?” He was clean-shaven and quite tall, with a lanky build and craggy face, Glaucus’s Jewish head servant, Simeon.

“No, Simeon. No, I am not ill. Thank you.” She sank to a bench.

The older man dipped his head and backed away. Tessa reached out a hand. “Perhaps—perhaps some water?”

He smiled. “I’ll only be a moment.”

She had disgraced Glaucus tonight, in spite of his effort to laugh off her comments. How would he repay the damage she had done him? His position as a strategos of the polis of Rhodes outranked all other concerns in his life, and he would consider her disrespect in the presence of other city leaders as treasonous.

In the three years since Glaucus had paid her owner the hetaera price and she had become his full-time companion, they had developed an unusual relationship. While he would not allow her to forget that she was not free, he had also discovered her aptitude for grasping the intricacies of politics, the maneuvering necessary to keep Rhodes the strong trading nation that it was, and to maintain Glaucus’s hold on leadership within this democratic society. Power was a game played shrewdly in Rhodes, as in all the Greek world, and Glaucus had gained a competitive edge when he gained Tessa.

Rhodian society had declared her to be a rarity: beautiful, brilliant, and enslaved. But the extent to which the decisions of the city-state passed through her slave-bound fingers was unknown to most. And in this she held a measure of power over Glaucus. She recalled Spiro’s astute comment earlier: Perhaps it is you who owns him.

Simeon returned with a stone mug in his hands. He held it out to her and covered her fingers with his own gnarled hand as she reached for it. His eyes returned to her hair. “I—I have never seen you with your hair down,” he said. He lowered his gray head again but did not back away, and his voice was soft. “It is beautiful.”

Tessa tried to smile, but her heart retreated from the small kindness. “Thank you.”

He didn’t look up. “If you are not ill, Tessa, perhaps you should return to the symposium. I should not like to see Glaucus angry with you.”

Tessa exhaled. “Glaucus can wait.”

Another noise at the courtyard’s edge. They both turned at the rustle of fabric. A girl glided into the room, dressed in an elegant yellow chitôn, her dark hair flowing around her shoulders. She stopped suddenly when she saw them.

“Simeon? Tessa? What are you doing here?”

Simeon bent at the waist, his eyes on the floor. “The lady was feeling ill. She requested water.” His eyes flicked up at Tessa, their expression unreadable, and he left the room.

Tessa turned her attention to the girl, inhaling the resolve to survive this encounter. At fourteen, Persephone hovered on the delicate balance between girl and woman. Glowing pale skin framed by dark hair gave her the look of an ivory doll, but it was her startlingly blue eyes that drew one’s attention. In recent months, as she had gained understanding of Tessa’s position in her father’s life, Persephone had grown more hostile toward her.

She raised her chin and studied Tessa. “Does my father know you’re out here?” Her tone contradicted the delicacy of her features.

Tessa nodded.

“So he let his plaything out of her cage?”

Tessa’s eyes closed in pity for the girl, whose mother had abandoned her for the comfort of madness.

The girl flitted to where Mynah cheeped inside its bars. She picked a leaf from a potted tree and held it out to the bird. “But who am I to speak of cages?” she said. She raised her eyes to Tessa. “We are all trapped here in some way. You. Me. Mother.”

“Cages can be escaped,” Tessa said, surprising herself. She had never dared to offer Persephone wisdom, though her heart ached for the girl.

Persephone turned toward her, studying her. “When you find the key, let me know.”

"Tessa!" Glaucus's voice was thick with wine and demanding.

Tessa turned toward the doorway. The girl beside her took a step backward.

"There you are," he said. "I've sent them all away." He waddled toward them. "I am sick of their company." He seemed to notice the girl for the first time. "Persephone, why are you not in bed? Get yourself to the women's quarters."

Tessa could feel the hate course through the girl as if it were her own body.

"I am not tired. I wished to see the stars." She pointed upward.

Glaucus stood before them now, and he sneered. "Well, the stars have no wish to see you. Remove yourself."

"And will you say goodnight to Mother?" Persephone asked. The words were spoken with sarcasm, tossed to Glaucus like raw bait. Tessa silently cheered the girl's audacity.

Glaucus was not so kind. "Get out!"

"And leave you to your harlot?" Persephone said.

In a quick motion belying his obesity, Glaucus raised the back of his hand to the girl and struck her against the face. She reeled backward a step or two, her hand against her cheek.

Tessa moved between them. "Leave her alone!"

Glaucus turned on Tessa and laughed. "And when did you two become friends?"

Persephone glared into her father's corpulent face. "I despise you both," she said.

Glaucus raised his arm again, his hand a fist this time, but Tessa was faster. She caught the lowering arm by the wrist and pushed it backward. Glaucus rocked back on his heels and turned his hatred on her.

Tessa kept her eyes trained on Glaucus but spoke to the girl, her voice low and commanding. "Go to bed, Persephone." She sensed the girl back away, heard her stomp from the room.

The anger on Glaucus's face melted into something else. A chuckle, sickening in its condescension, rumbled from him.

"High-spirited is one thing, Tessa. But be careful you do not go too far. Remember who keeps you in those fine clothes and wraps your ankles and wrists in jewels. You are not your own."

But I soon will be.

Glaucus reached for her, and she used her forearm to swat him away like a noisome insect. "Don't touch me. Don't touch her. Take your fat, drunken self out of here."

The amusement on Glaucus's face played itself out. The anger returned, but Tessa was ready.

Glaucus's words hissed between clenched teeth. "I don't know what has come over you tonight, Tessa, but I will teach you your place. You belong to me, body and spirit, and I will have you!" His heavy hands clutched her shoulders, and his alcohol-soaked breath blew hot in her face. Every part of Tessa's inner being rose up to defend herself.

It would all end tonight.

I really loved this book! At first I wasn't sure if it would be something that I'd enjoy, not having read many books in this time period. Well, I have no idea what I was thinking. T.L. created a period of time that I'm not fascinated with. The extent of research she must have done causes my brain to twinge! Shadow of Colossus was so detailed that I truly felt like I had stepped back in time. T.L. created a very vivid picture of the time period before Christ.

Shadow of Colossus takes us back to the time before Christ. It amazes me that there seems to be very little time that Jews weren't being mistreated. The same goes for women. I know in other countries women still don't have many freedoms like we do here in the States.

As in Tessa's case, she was a piece of property, owned until the man died and then she was to be given to the next man who paid for her. Very few of us modern women would have made it as long as Tessa did. Then, as with every good book, comes our hero, Nikos.

Nikos plays a strong character in this book and sees Tessa's brokenness, inspite of the coldness she tries to portray. Another person who was pivotal in this book was Simeon. God had Simeon in Tessa's life to help lead her to a saving knowledge of Himself. The fact that Simeon and Tessa had a speaking relationship, when he was servant and she was a hetaera. If you want to know what "hetaera" is, check out Shadow of Colossus.

That's something else I found wonderful about SoC is the use of historical terms, which are defined at the beginning of the book, thank you T.L. :)

I have to say, I thoroughly enjoyed this book and can't wait for the next book.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Brandon Heath "I'm Not Who I Was"

When I first heard this song, it made me think of high school. I am not who I was way back when. Personality wise I'm still the same. People could spend 5 minutes with me and realize I'm still the dork I always was. I was the class clown back then and still am. It's what's on the inside that's different. Oh, I'm still the same sinner I always was, still struggling with doing right from wrong. Feeling like I'm living Romans 7 more often than not. But, I have a hope and a future, something I didn't have back then.


I went back and forth between putting up this video or Brandon's new song Give Me Your Eyes which I love. If I keep it in my brain (hahahahaha) that'll be my video next week. Oh, it's so hard not to share my thoughts on that song right now. Thanks for testing my patience Lord. Tonight, for this moment it's working. :)

About I'm Not Who I Was, I also think about those relationships that either weren't very good or ones that I had a negative impact on. I also think about my relationship (or lack thereof) with my dad. I think he knows I'm not who I was, but I don't know.

One thing I've noticed about Brandon's songs is that he's got this clapping thing going on. He has it in this song and Give Me Your Eyes. I have no idea what the instrument is that he uses but I find it intersting that it's been used in the songs have have gone straight to the top. Brandon's songs aren't just feel-good, yippy I'm a Christian songs. They have deeper meanings and challenge us. I appreciate that about his music.

I hope you enjoy this video as much as I did.


Enoch by Alton Gansky



It is time to play a Wild Card! Every now and then, a book that I have chosen to read is going to pop up as a FIRST Wild Card Tour. Get dealt into the game! (Just click the button!) Wild Card Tours feature an author and his/her book's FIRST chapter!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!





Today's Wild Card author is:


and the book:


Enoch

Realms (October 2, 2008)


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


Alton Gansky is the author of twenty-one published novels and six nonfiction works. He has been a Christie Award finalist (A Ship Possessed) and an Angel Award winner (Terminal Justice). He holds a BA and MA in biblical studies and has served as senior pastor for three Baptist churches in California, with a total of over twenty years in pulpit ministry. He and his wife live in the High Desert area of Southern California.

Visit the author's website.

Product Details:

List Price: $13.99
Paperback: 307 pages
Publisher: Realms (October 2, 2008)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 159979344X
ISBN-13: 978-1599793443

AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:


He first thought of his feet.

It seemed an odd first thought, but there it was. His gaze drifted to a pair of soft-topped shoes, each with a symbol stitched to the side.

"N." He wondered why anyone would stitch a letter on footwear.

He raised a foot, then wiggled it. The shoe felt good. He dug a toe in the sandy dirt, then raised his head. A field surrounded him. No crops, no buildings, no people. Just a wide expanse of rugged scrub that shivered in the cold wind.

A full-circle turn revealed nothing but the same: miles of empty land. He blinked against the wind and the bits of dirt and dust it carried. To the west the sun lowered itself to the horizon. In the opposite direction, darkness crawled up the sky, keeping pace as if the descending orb pulled a curtain of night behind it.

Turning to face the sun again, he saw a break in the expanse of near-barren ground. At its edge ran a thin fence. He moved toward it, amused at the soft crunch the earth made with each step of his N-shoes.

Something scampered to his right. A covey of quail sprinted away and then took to the air, flying a short distance before making contact with the earth again. The sight made him smile.

Henick wrapped his arms around himself to ward off the chilling breeze. The material of his multicolored shirt felt soft against his arms and palms. He kept his gaze down, protecting his eyes from the sun's glare and looking up only long enough to get his bearings and check for holes or rocks that might cause him to stumble.

The fence was a simple series of metal stakes supporting four strands of metal wire punctuated with evenly spaced barbs. He extended a finger, touched one of the points, and frowned. The knife-sharp tip drew a drop of blood. He stuck the offended finger in his mouth. A quick scan of the fence's length revealed no gate.

A short distance from the fence ran a wide, smooth, black surface with a series of white dashes down the middle. He marveled at its unerring straightness.

He returned his attention to the fence. He wanted to be on the other side but preferred to arrive there with skin and clothing intact. Placing a hand on the top strand, he pushed down. The metal wire moved, but not enough to make straddling the thing acceptable. He tried again, this time using both hands. The wire fence gave more but still too little.

Henick decided on a different approach. He stepped to the nearest metal upright and tested it. It looked old, as if it had spent a lifetime stuck in that one spot. Seizing it with both hands and careful to avoid the stinging wire, he shook the thin metal pole. It wiggled. He leaned into it and then pulled back, repeating the motion twenty or thirty times. The metal felt cold against his bare hands, and gritty rust tinted his flesh.

When he had worked the pole loose, he lifted its base from the ground, then moved to the next upright and reenacted the procedure. With two posts loose, Henick could step across the barrier without injury.

Once on the other side, he replaced the posts, stomping the surrounding dirt with his foot until the soil was as compact as he could make it. In time, weather would reseal the posts to their original strength.

The exertion had warmed him enough to raise a film of perspiration on his brow and beneath the black hair that hung to his shoulders. The breeze found each moist area and chilled it. He could expect a cold night.

Stepping to the middle of the black path, he bent and touched the surface. It appeared smooth but felt coarse beneath his fingers. The black material radiated gentle warmth. He straightened and looked up and down the long road. It seemed to have no end in either direction. Deciding that one direction was as good as the other, Henick began to walk, choosing his course so the wind would be at his back and not in his face.

When the last of the sun's disk fell beneath the horizon, Henick had made two or three miles. He passed the time by counting the white dashes in the middle of the strange path or wondering about the letter N on his shoes. He liked the shoes; they made walking easier.

A quarter moon replaced the sun in the sky but offered little light. Soon the final light would follow its source below the distant horizon. If he had remained in the open field, he would have had to stop his journey. Walking over uncertain and irregular terrain with no light would be foolish, but the hard path with its white lines made it possible for him to continue.

Just before the sun said its final good-bye, Henick saw a black and white sign with a puzzling, irregular shape and the words Ranch Road 1232. Sometime later he saw a sign that read Don't Mess with Texas.

The air moved from chilly to cold, but the breeze had settled.

Henick kept moving.

Lights and a rumble approached from behind. The light split the darkness and gave Henick a shadow that stretched impossibly long before him. He stopped and turned, raising a hand to shield his eyes against the glare.

The roar grew louder. The lights neared.

A sudden blaring assaulted his ears, but Henick stood his ground.

"What are you? Nuts?"

The voice came from behind the glare. A large metal device pulled alongside. The words pickup truck entered Henick's mind.

The vehicle stopped. "Have you plumb lost your mind, boy? I coulda run you down and not even known I hit ya. What are you thinking?"

In the dim light, Henick could see two people seated in the truck: a man in his sixties and a woman of the same age.

"Go easy on him, Jake. He looks confused. Maybe he's lost." The woman's voice rode on tones of kindness.

"That it, boy? You lost?"

"I am just walking," Henick said.

"In the dark? Where you headed?"

Henick thought for a moment. "That way." He pointed down the long stretch of road.

"Ain't nuthin' that way but Blink, and there ain't much reason for going there unless that's your home. I'm guessin' it ain't. Pretty small town; I think I'd have seen you before."

"I don't live there."

The man the woman called Jake exited the truck and eyed Henick. "It's a bit cold to be out in nuthin' but blue jeans and a flannel shirt. It's supposed to drop into the forties tonight."

"It is true. I am cold."

"Give him a ride, Jake." The woman had slid closer to the driver side door. "We can't leave him out here. He's liable to step in some pothole and break a leg."

"More likely he'd step on a rattler. They like the warm asphalt."

"Either way, Jake, we can't leave the man out here."

"All right, all right, just keep your shoes on." Jake looked at Henick. "Turn around."

Henick raised an eyebrow.

"Turn around, boy. I jus' wanna make sure you ain't packin'."

"Packin'?"

"Totin' a gun. You sure you haven't wandered off from some kinda home for the slow?"

"Jake!"

"All right, Eleanor, I don't mean no disrespect." He motioned for Henick to turn in place. Henick did. "OK, here's the deal. I'll give you a ride, but that's all. Me and the wife were going into town for a meal. Friday night is our evening out. Been doing that for thirty-five years."

"I would like a ride."

"Yeah, well, don't have no room for you up front, so you'll have to ride in the back. I got some blankets to keep the wind off you. It's the best I can offer."

"Thank you." Henick climbed into the bed of the truck and leaned against the cab.

"Blankets are behind my seat. I'll get 'em."

A few moments later, Henick, snug in two wool blankets, turned his face heavenward, gazed at the stars, and wondered what a "Texas" was.


Enoch is a book to stretch the imagination. It begins with a man, calling himself Henick, wandering in the middle of "nowhere", TX. A couple picks him up as he's walking along the middle of the road. From there, strange things begin to happen. Someone in a movie theater hears and sees a message that shouldn't be in the movie. Katherine Rooney is watching an I Love Lucy episode she's seen numerous times when the same message is apparently spoken by Lucy. The message begins to appear everywhere, including the New York Times.

We then meet Mary-Martha Celestine. She is a piece of work. She is basically a cult leader who has an amazingly huge following. When she's giving "her" message, she allows her followers to believe she is channeling a spirit. She hears about the messages everyone is seeing and hearing, and decides to use it in one of her "sermons". What happens the day she chooses to implement this idea is freaky. I can see this happening to someone who opens themselves up to evil without completely understanding the implications.

As I was getting closer and closer to the end, I couldn't imagine any way Mr. Gansky would be able to finish the story neatly. The end happened quickly and I like mine to gradually come to an end. Of course, that's personal preference. Enoch was a really interesting book and the way it ended left it open to at least one more book. I really hope Mr. Gansky decides another story is worthwhile! I would absolutely read his next one!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

The First Escape by G.P. Taylor



It is time to play a Wild Card! Every now and then, a book that I have chosen to read is going to pop up as a FIRST Wild Card Tour. Get dealt into the game! (Just click the button!) Wild Card Tours feature an author and his/her book's FIRST chapter!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!





Today's Wild Card author is:


and the book:


The First Escape

SaltRiver (August 20, 2008)


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


A motorcyclist and former rock band roadie turned Anglican minister, Graham Peter (G. P.) Taylor has been hailed as "hotter than Potter" and "the new C. S. Lewis" in the United Kingdom. His first novel, Shadowmancer, reached #1 on the New York Times bestseller list in 2004 and has been translated into 48 languages. His other novels include Wormwood (another New York Times bestseller which was nominated for a Quill book award), The Shadowmancer Returns: The Curse of Salamander Street, Tersias the Oracle, and Mariah Mundi. Taylor currently resides in North Yorkshire with his wife and three children.

Visit the author's website.


Product Details:

List Price: $ 19.99
Hardcover: 288 pages
Publisher: SaltRiver (August 20, 2008)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1414319479
ISBN-13: 978-1414319476

AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:


















the first escape was a very different book for me. I want to clarify that this is youth fiction. I have read quite a bit in that genre and have liked most of what I read. I like that Christian authors are stretching the industry's imagination. They're thinking outside the box!

So, to begin with I really liked how G.P. Taylor incorporated the graphics with the story. I also thought the different fonts used throughout the story helped with it's creepiness. I really think adolescent kids will really get into this story because the graphics add a whole new dimention.

Personally, I couldn't get into the story. It was a bit dark for me. When I thought about my 9 yr old reading it I wasn't sure if he'd be ready for it. I guess if he were a pre-teen I'd be more inclined to have him read it, but even then I'm not sure. I kept coming back to, "huh." when I was reading it.

Again, this is my opinion. From what some of the other reviewers said, they really liked it. I think this book is going to appeal to other people, as is evident by their reviews. I wish I could put my finger on what didn't click for me, I just can't. So, my suggestion, find some other reviewers such as: and see why they did like it since I wasn't captured by it. ~Mimi

Friday, November 21, 2008

When death hits close to home

Today has been an extremely disconnected day. I received a phone call around 8:30am from a friend of mine in town. She asked me if I'd heard about our friends Jeanette and Pete. I thought she was talking about their problems at work with their company. Recently they'd been told the company had gone into bankruptcy and they lost all their $ in their 401Ks. Both worked for the same company. That was in the past week and a half. My friend continued talking and she asked me if I'd heard the Pete had a heart attack and died last night.

In complete disbelief I said something about there being no way because I would've received a phone call from Jeanette. I'd talked to her around 9pm last night. We talk a minimum of once a week. This past week had been more because of work. I told my friend I was going to call Jeanette and I'd get back to her.

So I called a few times with no answer. I decided to call the school since our kids go to school together and they know me really well. I asked to talk to the principal and she wasn't in. So then I asked to talk to the secretary. As soon as she started to respond to me about information, I could tell by the tone in her voice that my fears were coming true. I hung up and started calling Jeanette again.

When she answered I asked her, "tell me it isn't true." Jeanette asked me how I heard and that she couldn't tell me that, that Pete was gone. I broke down on the phone. What do you say to someone in this situation? My heart broke for her and her 3 kids: Aaron-9, Evan-8, and Brianna-6.

We talked for a bit and she was concerned about picking up the Cub Scout popcorn tomorrow and then not being able to have Aaron help with the Toys For Tots set up. I told her that she only needed to worry about today. Nothing else mattered. At one point she told me she was going to miss him so much. They were best friends. They didn't have a perfect marriage and no one does, but they had a great marriage.

Pete was a hands on dad. He was a man's man. He loved to tinker with things. Pete enjoyed going camping with the boys for Scouts. He was always willing to help with the boys if I needed a guy thing done with them. Pete found a lawn mower for me this past summer and fixed it up good as new. He was a large man with a large heart.

Now in the blink of an eye, he's been taken from this world. How can that be? I saw him at the Den meeting on Tuesday. He looked fit as a fiddle for a 6 foot-something guy. Did he know what was happening to his body? The doctors think it was heart related. They worked on him for a number of hours I believe and just couldn't get the heart beat back.

I went to lunch with a different friend and we talked for a couple of hours. It was the only time that I didn't think about Pete and Jeanette. Actually, we spent the first 15 minutes, at least, talking about what had happened. As soon as I left my girl friend, I was blasted with thoughts all over again for the family.

I knew what I had to do. I had to go to her. I had to be with Jeanette. To love on her. To minister to her however the Lord would want. I went and bought some flowers and headed to her house. When I got there, she was gone making funeral arrangements, but the house was busy with activity.

The kids were there. Aaron missed the 4th grade field trip and it turned out he had to go to the doctor and was diagnosed with strep throat. Brianna was playing cards with an older neighbor they call Grandpa Chuck even though there's no relation. Evan was trying to put together a fishing reel he had taken apart. Aaron was playing computer games.

Jeanette's sister was there. Grandpa Chuck's wife was there. A neighbor was there with her daughter and son. The daughter is a senior with my daughter and has been babysitting the 3 kids for the last couple of years. Thankfully we are a small community and this news spread like wildfire. One of my closest friends told me to call her as soon as a food schedule was figured out. So, we started making phone calls. Cub Scout families, church families, school families, neighbors, and so on just wanted to help in any way possible.

Another close friend called me and told me not to have them wash any of Pete's stuff because the kids would want clothes that smelled like him. I kept thanking the Lord that he had people thinking about such things. By 4:30 pm, the first meal had arrived. Pete's sister showed up with another family member and a while later Pete's brother and wife came.

When I first arrived, Brianna came and sat on my lap and gave me a reallllllly long hug. I broke down and had to go to the bathroom so she didn't see me. When one of the Scout mom's brought a fruit basket, Brianna heard the knock on the door and said, "mom and dad are home." The boys said, "no, it's just mom." It was evident Brianna didn't understand daddy wasn't coming home.

Jeanette got home just after 5pm when I was getting ready to leave. She came and gave me a hug and started crying. Of course, I couldn't hold back and started crying. I told her, "I can't do it Jeanette. I can't be strong for you." I know that's entirely selfish, but I'm an emotional person. I made sure to tell her I loved her and to call me if she needed anything. She reassured me I was on speed dial.

If you are reading this still PLEASE pray for this family. In the blink of an eye she became a single mom. The kids won't have their dad for the rest of their lives. Their reality has shifted in a way that is hard for me to comprehend. Please pray that the Lord would comfort them. Also that I would let the Spirit lead me as to how to help them adjust to this new life.

For each of you, if you don't wake up tomorrow morning, do you know where you will spend eternity? Do you grasp that your life is a mist, here today and gone tomorrow? None of us knows the number of our days. Very few of us go to bed thinking that tonight could be the last night I will ever see anyone, touch a loved one, tell my kids I love them, etc. We all believe that we will wake up to a new dawn.

One day, we won't. We will be standing before the One who created us. He will tell us, "Well done good and faithful servant," or we will hear, "depart, I know you not." 40-100 yrs is a drop in the bucket in relation to eternity. Can you wrap your mind around that? Please understand that this is truly a life or death choice. We will all die a physical death. DO NOT leave your spiritual life up in the air. Make a choice today what your eternal reality will be. God does NOT want to be separated from you forever. He wants to have a personal relationship with you. That is why He sent His son Jesus. Through Jesus's death and resurrection we have been given the gift of salvation. Choose Jesus, Choose Life.

If you want to know more about having a personal relationship with Jesus, let me know. I'm no evangelist and I don't really know the first thing about leading anyone into a relationship with Christ since I've never done it personally before. I don't have all the answers, but I sure can get some for you. I have close friends that can help me help you learn more about giving your life to Christ.

Blessings in our Savior's holy name, Mimi

Infidel-The Lost Books (Graphic Novel)





It's the 21st, time for the Teen FIRST blog tour!(Join our alliance! Click the button!) Every 21st, we will feature an author and his/her latest Teen fiction book's FIRST chapter!




Ted Dekker

and his book:



Infidel--Graphic Novel: The Lost Books Series



Thomas Nelson (November 11, 2008)






ABOUT THE AUTHOR:




Ted is the son of missionaries John and Helen Dekker, whose incredible story of life among headhunters in Indonesia has been told in several books. Surrounded by the vivid colors of the jungle and a myriad of cultures, each steeped in their own interpretation of life and faith, Dekker received a first-class education on human nature and behavior. This, he believes, is the foundation of his writing.

After graduating from a multi-cultural high school, he took up permanent residence in the United States to study Religion and Philosophy. After earning his Bachelor's Degree, Dekker entered the corporate world in management for a large healthcare company in California. Dekker was quickly recognized as a talent in the field of marketing and was soon promoted to Director of Marketing. This experience gave him a background which enabled him to eventually form his own company and steadily climb the corporate ladder.


Since 1997, Dekker has written full-time. He states that each time he writes, he finds his understanding of life and love just a little clearer and his expression of that understanding a little more vivid. To see a complete list of Dekker's work, visit The Works section of TedDekker.com.

Here are some of his latest titles:

Chosen (The Lost Books, Book 1) (The Books of History Chronicles)


Adam


Black: The Birth of Evil (The Circle Trilogy Graphic Novels, Book 1)


Saint




Product Details

List Price:$15.99

Reading level: Young Adult

Paperback: 136 pages

Publisher: Thomas Nelson (November 11, 2008)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 1595546049

ISBN-13: 978-1595546043





AND NOW...THE FIRST TWO PAGES:


(Click Pictures to Zoom!)



























Ok, I know I've said that Ted Dekker freaks me out as an author. My best example is House. For me it was Dekker meets Stephen King. Scared the crud out of me and the ladies in our book club!

On the other hand, I loved his Circle Trilogy: Black, Red, and White. Those 3 books were my first introductin to Dekker. They were more along the sci-fi that I can easily handle. He also has some novels out there such as Blessed Child that were easy enough for me to read. Books that make you think about how God can use his power through other people, especially children.

So, when I was given the chance to read and review Infidel, I was stoked! I had seen them at Wal Mart but felt they were too old for my 9 yr old still. He's not prepared to read these kinds of books yet on many levels. I was disappointed because I knew I'd be interested in them. :) From what I could see at Wal Mart, these books are similar to the storyline in the Circle trilogy for adults.

Sure enough, Infidel is part of that storyline. I really liked it because it was easy to follow and after having read the Circle I was able to get right into the story. I didn't realize initially this isn't the first book in the series, Chosen is. I also liked that it is more substantial than a comic book. The graphics are awesome and you really feel as though you've just read an entire story in a short amount of pages. At the end of the novel, it gives you a look at the 4 books that inspired the graphic novels. I'm not sure if I'm ready for those. See, I am a chicken!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Jeremy Camp rocks! and GodTube video

Just so we're clear, Jeremy Camp rocks. If I could make my own concert line up, it'd be Casting Crowns, Jeremy Camp and BarlowGirl! I have 3 of Jeremy's CD's and I love every single song on each one. If someone asked me to pick my favorite song, I'd be hard pressed to choose. See, Jeremy's songs each have a powerful message.

Do you have someone that you can talk to about everything under the sun except Jesus? Jeremy has a song. Are you trying to do everything on your own? Yep, another song. Have you gone through some tough times, Jeremy has been there and has written songs for you. Holding on to the things that shouldn't be so important, Jeremy's sung about it.

When I went through my separation, in the early days on my way to work, I would blast "Restored". And yes I drive a mini-van, but it's a loaded mini-van! Something that's important when purchasing a vehicle is the sound system! Ladies, we need to have priorities! I don't think I could live without my 4 CD changer. heh heh heh

Anyhow, Jeremy's wife Adrianne Camp is also a singer. I already know that when I have my funeral I want someone to play In Christ Alone that she sings. No, I'm not going anywhere any time soon that I know of, I just like to know certain things. :)

I found this devotional on GodTube and wanted to share it. I hope you enjoy it and look more into Jeremy's music. I'm not kidding when I tell you there's a song for every circumstance in life on his CD's!

Did I happen to mention Jeremy Camp ROCKS?! tee hee hee

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

100 Ways to Simplify Your Life by Joyce Meyer





It is time to play a Wild Card! Every now and then, a book that I have chosen to read is going to pop up as a FIRST Wild Card Tour. Get dealt into the game! (Just click the button!) Wild Card Tours feature an author and his/her book's FIRST chapter!



You never know when I might play a wild card on you!




Today's Wild Card author is:







and the book:




100 Ways to Simplify Your Life

Publisher: FaithWords; Lrg edition (November 12, 2008)




ABOUT THE AUTHOR:




JOYCE MEYER is one of the world's leading practical Bible teachers. A #1 New York Times bestselling author, she has written more than seventy inspirational books, including The Confident Woman, Look Great, Feel Great, and the entire Battlefield of the Mind family of books. She has also released thousands of audio teachings as well as a complete video library. Joyce's Enjoying Everyday Life® radio and television programs are broadcast around the world, and she travels extensively conducting conferences. Joyce and her husband, Dave, are the parents of four grown children and make their home in St. Louis, Missouri.



Visit the author's website.



Product Details:



List Price: $16.99

Paperback: 240 pages

Publisher: FaithWords; Lrg edition (November 12, 2008)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 0446509396

ISBN-13: 978-0446509398



AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:






Introduction



Everyone has them: those days where nothing seems to get done, except maybe what you’ve added to your already lengthy to-do list. Are you tired most of the time? Are you spent? Do you find yourself wishing for a better day—a simpler day? Too many things compete for your limited resources of attention, energy, and time. You may be suffocating and not even know it. If you feel like this, you’re not alone.



Most people today live complicated lives that leave them frustrated and confused, weary and worn out. But I have good news: your life does not have to be that way. You can choose a life of simplicity, fruitfulness, fulfillment, peace, and joy. I want to warn you, however, unless you are determined not to, you will do what everyone else does. You will get sucked up in the system and spend your life wishing things were different, never realizing you are, in fact, the only one who can change things. Unless we are resolute and remain undaunted in our quest for simplicity, we are destined for complication and frustration.



I recall a time when I was complaining to God about my schedule being absolutely insane. How could anyone be expected to do all I had in front of me? Then the realization hit me that I was the one who made my schedule and nobody could change it but me. You can spend your lives wishing things were different, but wishing won’t change anything. Smart decision making and decisive action is what changes things. If you picked up this book looking for change, are you willing to make a decision and follow it up with action?



I wasted many years hoping life would change and things would calm down until I finally realized life itself doesn’t change; in fact, it has the potential to get worse. I understood my only real option was to change my approach to life. I had to say no to another day of rushing around and feeling frustrated. I didn’t want the doctor giving me another pre- scription to mask another symptom of the real problem—stress.



In my search for simplicity, I have come to believe life can never be simple unless I learn to approach all things simply. It is my attitude toward each event in life that determines how easy or complex each situation will be. Perhaps life is complicated because people are compli- cated. Is it possible that life is not complicated, but rather, individuals complicate life in the way they approach it?



I discovered it wasn’t really life or circumstances or other people as much as it was me that needed to change. My problem wasn’t the problem—I was the problem! When you spend your life in frustration trying to change the world and everyone in it, you fail to realize it could be you just need to change your approach to life. It can be very easy for someone to live an entire lifetime and never entertain the notion that the way they do things is the real problem.



Have you ever attempted to have friends over for what you initially intended to be a simple afternoon of food, fellowship, and fun, but somehow, it turned into a complicated nightmare? I remember those days vividly. I’d be at church on Sunday and, without much forethought, invite three couples over for the following Sunday to a barbecue. My initial thought was hot dogs and hamburgers on the grill, baked beans, potato chips, and iced tea. My motive was fellowship and fun, but by the time the guests arrived, I didn’t even want them there. Fun was not going to happen, at least not for me. Why? I turned my simple get- together into a nightmare of preparation, expensive food, and fourteen people instead of the original six. My complicated approach to life and my complicated thought process convinced me hot dogs and hamburg- ers weren’t nice enough so I bought steaks we could not afford. My potato chips turned into a huge bowl of homemade potato salad. The simple baked beans became four side dishes I labored over.



Insecure and wanting to impress everyone, I had to spend the week cleaning and getting everything in the house to the point where I thought it would be impressive. Of course, the lawn chairs were old, so I bought new ones. I got angry at Dave because I thought he wasn’t help- ing me enough, and by the time our friends arrived, I resented them, wished they hadn’t come, and had a miserable day of pretending to be the happy hostess when in reality I was frustrated and miserable.



I could not figure out why I wasn’t able to enjoy much of anything in life until God revealed to me I was killing my joy with complication. For years, I prayed God would change the people and circumstances around me when, in reality, He wanted to change me and my approach to life. He wanted me to simplify so, ultimately, He could be glorified.



Let me share with you 100 ways to approach living that can simplify your life and, in turn, release and increase your joy. I believe they will dramatically improve the quality of your everyday experience if you incorporate them into the way you do things. Jesus said He came so we might have and enjoy our life in abundance (see John 10:10). His prin- ciples are simple. Faith is simple! Trusting God is simple! A childlike approach to Him is simple! The plan of salvation is simple!



Jesus offers us a “new way of living,” and I believe it is a simple, yet powerful way that enables us to enjoy everyday life. Are you ready to simplify your life? Are you ready to say good-bye to the complexities you’ve allowed to take over? Let’s get started.





Do One Thing at a Time



The feeling of being hurried is not usually the result of living a full life and having no time. It is, on the contrary, born of a vague fear that we are wasting our life. When we do not do the one thing we ought to do, we have no time for anything elseówe are the busiest people in the world.



ÓERIC HOFFER






Looking away [from all that will distract] to Jesus, Who is the Leader and the Source of our faith [giving the first incentive for our belief] and is also its Finisher [bringing it to maturity and perfection].



—Hebrews 12:2




When we do things without truly focusing our minds on them, we immediately decrease our strength to do the work before us and do it well. By putting our hands to one thing and our mind to another, we divide the muscle behind our abilities and we make the task much more difficult. It’s like removing an egg yolk from the egg white—both can be used separately but the result isn’t as effective (or tasty) as it would be if we leave the egg whole. However, by directing all of our faculties to the one thing we are doing on a particular day, at that hour, at that moment, we find it much easier to do. The ability to concentrate and stay focused can only come from discipline.



The apostle Paul tells us in Philippians 4:6 to be anxious for nothing. Anxious people are always trying to live ahead of where they currently are. They spend today trying to figure out tomorrow and the result is the loss of simplicity. God expects us to trust Him with tomorrow just as He instructed the Israelites to do when they crossed the barren wil- derness, pressing toward the Promised Land.



Practice living one day at a time; give yourself—your thoughts, your conversation, your energies, every part of you—to the day at hand.





100 Ways to Simplify Your Life



1. Develop an ability to give yourself to what you are doing. You will sense an awareness enabling you to enjoy the current activity, instead of going through each day in a blur of activity and confusing thoughts which leave you drained and exhausted.



Do you fear you will not accomplish as much if you try to live this way? It’s true you may not do as much, but you will also enjoy what you do a whole lot more. One key to simplicity is realizing that quality is far superior to quantity.






This was the first book I've actually read by Joyce Meyer. I have listened to one of her series on CD and found her to be very encouraging. She is a dynamic speaker. I believe she's just as dynamic in this book as well. I'm not sure I would call this a devotional, although just about everyone else would. I've come to think of her daily reads as "ponderings". After I've read one, I ponder what Joyce has share throughout the rest of the day.

I love Joyce's no nonsense, practical advice. She tackles great topics such as... "Stop Procrastinating", "Don't Be Afraid of What People Think", "Organize", and "Bridle Your Tongue". I had to hold myself back at times and not blaze a trail through each pondering. I wanted to take each one and mull it over throughout the day. Joyce had some things that I wanted to write in big bold letters on my bathroom mirror so I'd see it every morning. There are a couple that I'm going to copy and put in pivotal places for myself.


Joyce doesn't mince words. She lifts us up while giving it to us straight. She tells the reader how she can get just like us with our thoughts and actions (or lack thereof), and reminds us how we're all human and sinful. I appreciate Joyce's approach to the practical day t0 day things of life that can become the mountains instead of the molehills.

If you know someone who could use encouragement and someone to pull them up by their boot straps, this would be a fantastic book to share with them. With the holidays just around the corner, I would highly suggest this book as a gift! That's exactly what mine is going to become.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Faith 'n Fiction Saturday

The past couple of days there has been a big flare-up in the broader book blogging community regarding review policies and a blogger's obligation to an author once they've received a review copy. For those of you who belong to the blogging alliance FIRST, we've also discussed this issue a little bit.

I decided to make today's question about this, because I think this is an even tougher situation for Christian reviewers who review Christian books. So here goes...do you receive review copies of Christian books? If so, do you review them honestly? How do you handle it when you don't like a book but are obligated to provide a review? Who do you see your first commitment being to in book reviewing (besides God)? Yourself? The author? Your readers? Does your review change based on the spiritual content of the book or is it solely based on technical or artistic merit? Have you ever had a negative experience with an author after giving them a negative review? (please don't name names)

When I first became a blogger, I did it specifically to review books. One of my big first questions was exactly this. I knew I wouldn't like every book I read so how was I going to handle it. I sent the question out to the ACFW Yahoo Group to get answers from bloggers and authors. They all suggested finding something positive in the book. Whether I find the positive in the message, the writing, part of the story, find something.

Personally I feel that I have several obligations. If an author personally sends me the book because I've requested it, I ask them what they want me to do if I don't care for the book. They prefer that I not do the review. I'm ok with that. So far, there's only been one book that I've received from an author that I wondered if I would even do a review. I ended up doing the review because I was able to find some positive parts to it.

If a publisher has sent me a book, I don't feel a huge obligation to them because it's not as personal since they didn't write it. I do think I should do my best to read the book, even if it's not my kind of book. Of course, I try to do everyone a favor and request books that are in the genres I like. I seriously doubt you will ever see a horror review on my blog. So far, I haven't found any books that I couldn't finish because I didn't like it. Some books don't grab my complete attention, even though it's a good book. There haven't been any books sent by publishers that I've hated either. For that I'm thankful. I don't know how I'd write a review. I have to realize that not everyone shares my taste in books and keep that in mind when I review. The book will probably appeal to a different group of readers. Again, I find what positive I can.

In regards to the reader I do feel an obligation to make sure my review isn't going to have them purchasing a book they aren't going to like. With the economy the way it is, we shouldn't be glossing over books, making them sound appealing and having readers be disappointed after the purchase. I will let them know if a book isn't my type of book so that I've qualified my review. I will then go on to tell the reader what I did like about the book. If there's anything offensive (in my opinion) then I will warn the reader. That I find is a huge obligation as a Christian reviewer. If I'm reading a book that dives into magic, adds some sensuality, or is more violent than what we'd normally read, then I absolutely want the readers to know about it. For example, Stephen Baldwin's new book is being reviewed by a lot of Christian reviewers but there's a lot of swearing from what I've seen on their blogs. I appreciate them letting me know so I'm forwarned before I try to either win it, buy it, or find it at my library.

I guess I don't feel like I have any obligation to myself other than writing honestly. As long as I write what I believe to be truthful, then I have done my job. I am supremely thankful to the authors and publishers for trusting me with their books. With each book they send me, I pray that my review will in some way increase their sales. I hope that my reviews will introduce readers to new authors and the authors will have some new followers. And best of all, being a book blogger allows me the opportunity to give away books for free. What could be better than that?

Friday, November 14, 2008

Ruby Among Us by Tina Ann Forkner & Giveaway

Deep roots. Deeply rooted. Those are two things Lucy and Kitty share in Ruby Among Us. Lucy, Kitty’s granddaughter, is searching for her roots. Kitty is deeply rooted to keeping Lucy away from her family. Lucy on the other hand is deeply rooted to the fact she’s going to find her mother’s family no matter what. Kitty is so afraid to go back to her deep roots, she’s caused a lot pain.

This book is filled with “what if’s”. Is your life like that? My “what ifs” are as numerous as the stars in the sky. The end of the book was a struggle for me in a good way because it made me reflect on how I've lived my life. I never go into a book wondering what I'm going to come away having learned. I go in for the enjoyment and the escape. I was so surprised when this book caused me to take a look at my relationship with my kids.

As we travel Lucy's road with her growing up, we see the tenderness she has for her mom, Ruby. Ruby also seems to have adored her daughter. Lucy was her world. Ruby, we learn, had secrets of her own though that set things up in her life following somewhat in her mother's footsteps. It's amazing how the past sometimes repeats itself.

Ruby Among Us isn't light reading or full of fluff. This is a deeply moving novel. You have no choice but to journey along with Lucy as her past begins to reveal itself in bits and pieces. Tina's writing compels you to continue on. As a debut author, Tina has, in my opinion, made a wonderful entrance! She has created characters that gripped my heart. Her location in CA was rich and vivid, and I felt like I was in that setting. The end of her book has questions that will have you reflecting on the story and the deeper meanings infused into the story.

Let's take a few minutes to connect with Tina.

Thank you so much Tina for joining us. I hope our interview brings readers closer to knowing you as an author.


Are you a wine connoisseur? Did you do a lot of research on the CA wine country for Ruby Among Us? I remember visiting the Chateau St. Michelle in WA when I lived there and actually saw Kenny G in concert. It was a beautiful place.
I don’t know if I would call myself a wine connoisseur, but I have fun with it. My husband and I are part of the Wine of the Month club and we have fun comparing our own tastes to what the little brochures say. We’re almost always wrong.

We love the Napa and Sonoma valleys and visited them just this summer. It’s such a beautiful place. And I know about wineries being in Washington and Oregon, but did you know there are wineries and vineyards in the Grand Junction, Colorado area?
It’s fun to sample the wines, but even if one doesn’t taste the wines, there are always olive oils, vinegars, olives, fruits and cheeses to test, not to mention the beautiful scenery and excellent food.

I’m rambling. You asked about research. Yes, if you call hanging out in the valley research!


How did you decide on the location of your novel? Do you have any family history in wine making?
No, I don’t, but I wish I did! Wouldn’t that be neat, to own a vineyard like the DiCamillo family?

I got the idea to set my novel in the Sonoma Valley because I lived in Sacramento for five years while attending college. Just about every other weekend I had the opportunity to visit the valley while visiting family friends who lived in Santa Rosa. The scenery just grew on me. It was beautiful.

Is this your first attempt at writing? How long did it take for you to get published after you sat down at your computer and sent out your manuscript? Did you have any critique groups that helped you though the process?

I’ve written for many years, so Ruby Among Us wasn’t my first attempt at writing, but it was my first attempt at writing a full-length novel. After writing the first few paragraphs, I waited a few years until my life settled a bit to get back to those particular pages. Being a single mom kept me from writing very much. Maybe I was just bad at prioritizing, but either way I wrote very little for a few years.

When I actually sat down, it took me nine months. I wrote in 30 – 45 minute increments every day.

I did not have a critique group, but I still find inspiration with my writing friends and learn about the craft from books and my editor. I also enjoy writing workshops at various conferences.

Have you found that learning the language of the publishing world to be confusing? When I see acronyms (ARC, POV, WIP), I blanch and then I think there's no way I'd be able to remember all the rules of writing. I'd feel such a dolt trying to talk to published writers. Do you have any books that you keep beside you as your write?

I feel like a dolt almost every time I talk to another writer. They all seem so smart and use all these big words. They are so much smarter than I am, but I don’t let that deter me.

I always have a craft book on my desk. When I need a break I’ll grab one and read a chapter or a passage. The ones I like best are by successful authors who share their journeys like Amy Tan and Anne Lamott. Hearing that these authors have been through rough times in their writing career is encouraging.

Where did you get the idea for this novel? Do you feel like the Lord put this story in your heart? What was the process like getting the story from your heart onto paper? Did you run into any roadblocks?

In Ruby Among Us, the desire of Lucy’s heart is to know everything she can about her deceased mother. If only her grandmother wouldn’t hide the truths that Lucy so desperately needs to know, keeping them both imprisoned in a past that Lucy doesn’t even understand.
Lucy’s journey to find her heritage was born out of many questions and frustrations I had at one time about my faith, why I was raising my daughter alone, and how things had not turned out the way I had envisioned. The difference is that I had grown up with wonderful parents, a very strong faith, and probably knew the words to Jesus Loves Me before I could even sing them. My frustrations were difficult, but not compared to what Lucy, who doesn’t have her mother or faith to fall back on, must confront in the story.
The idea for Ruby Among Us didn’t come to me as a novel at first. When I wrote the earliest paragraphs, I really didn’t know if they would ever even become a short story, let alone a novel. I started out with a few paragraphs about a girl who has just lost her mom and because her father isn’t in her life, the only person left to take care of her is the grandmother, Kitty.
It’s difficult for me to talk about at times, but sure, I do see some of myself in my characters even though they are fictional. In fact, the inspiration for my story started when I was still a single mom. At that time, I was constantly worried that something might happen to me and that as a result, my little girl, a toddler then, wouldn’t have me in her life anymore. Even though she has a father, as a single mom I just felt a tremendous amount of pressure and responsibility for my child’s future on my shoulders. It came out on the page when I was free writing those first few chapters.

I do feel like God brought me this story, or maybe he brought me to this story.

Roadblocks? Just finding the time. That was hard, which is why I wrote at 5:00 am.

What did your family think when you told them you were writing a novel and were serious about being published? Did you believe that one day you'd be published when you were younger?

They thought it was great. My husband, especially, was encouraging. The closer I got to The End, the more excited we both got.

When I was younger, I did believe I would be published. Young people hold on to such dreams quite easily. It’s too bad they sometimes let go when they get older.

The older I got, the more I retreated into my writing shell and was just happy to write for myself. I tried not to think about being published. It seemed like an impossible thing.

It’s a good thing other people didn’t let me do that or I wouldn’t be published today.

Are you a gardener? I love gardening. I don't know the first thing about it but do it anyhow.
I don’t necessarily know a lot about it, but fancy myself a real gardener. I first started gardening on my own when I lived in England. My friend and I picked up some cheap six packs of flowers at the town market and popped them in the ground. To my amazement, they grew! They loved the rich moist soil there.

When I got to California, the temperatures were so mild that again, almost anything would grow as long as it had water.

Wyoming is different. I call it cowboy gardening here. One must wrangle the soil and the plants and take lots of chances because bad weather can destroy it all on any given day. We also have very short growing seasons, but it’s worth it.

I first learned about gardening in Wyoming when I was single and gardened with my daughter at the Cheyenne Botanic community gardens. When I got married, I had a backyard, so I started gardening at home. My garden now is only about three years old, but it’s maturing.

I believe peonies and dahlias are gorgeous perennials. I think one of my favorites is the Gerbera Daisy. I always thought it was a "Gerber" daisy. They just look so happy. What's your favorite flower? (I've tried veggie gardening the last couple years. This year didn't go so well because of the weather and lack of time to commit to them.)

Veggies can be difficult! I love Gerberas. They are so cheerful and vibrant. My favorites are Shasta Daisy and Zinnia. The Shasta Daisy was created by Luther Burbank in Santa Rosa, California, so they remind me of my time in California. If you ever get a chance to visit the Luther Burbank gardens, it’s an interesting field trip.

I love the cover of your book. Did you have any input as to how it would look or did Waterbrook/Random House just send you a copy of what it would look like? How awesome that you received an Honorable Mention for the Book Cover Contest at the Stepping Stones Magazine website.
Thank you! I had input as far as my thoughts, etc. They were careful to get my input about what I did and didn’t like about book covers in general. As far as how it turned out, the designers and the team at WBP had everything to do with that.

The cover for Rose House is just as spectacular. I provided less input this time, but since they really already knew what I liked, the cover is perfect. I’m so blessed.

I love that Ruby Among Us was part of the Stepping Stones Magazine contest. I love that ezine!

What is your next project that you are working on? When should we expect to see your next novel?

Rose House is turned in and comes out in May of 2009. It’s available for pre-order on Amazon (which you can get to by clicking the Amazon link), but the cover isn’t up yet.

I’m also working on three different proposals and we’ll see where they go. I won’t wait to sell them though. I’m already writing the next book.

Thank you for having me. I love your site and am so glad I got to meet you in Minneapolis! You are a sweetheart and such a great promoter of fiction.
To win a copy of Tina's book, tell me if you've ever been to a vineyard, wine sampling, or the Sanoma Valley. You don't have to have been to any of them, I'd just love to hear of your experience. I will pick a US resident winner November 21. Please leave your email (ie: mnjesusfreak at gmail dot com) so I can contact you. If you don't leave a way to contact you on your comment page, I won't be able to enter you in the contest. This is really important to me. Thank you SOOO much ahead of time for your understanding in this matter. :)
If you'd like to visit Tina's website, you can go to: http://www.tinaannforkner.com/

 
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