Wednesday, October 31, 2007

CFBA: Surrender Bay

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

(Thomas Nelson November 6, 2007)


Denise lives in Indiana with her husband Kevin and their three sons. In 1996, Denise began her first book, a Christian romance novel, writing while her children napped.

Two years later it was published, and she's been writing ever since. Her books often contain a strong romantic element, and her husband Kevin says he provides all her romantic material, but Denise insists a good imagination helps too!

In addition to Surrender Bay, the second Nantucket book releases in April 2008. The title is The Convenient Groom and features Kate Lawrence, a relationship advice columnist, whose groom dumps her on her wedding day. Denise is currently at work on the third Nantucket book (Oct 2008) which is untitled so far.

When Sam's estranged step-father dies, she inherits his ocean-front cottage in Nantucket--not because he kindly bequeathed it to her, but because he neglected to ever create a will. Sam returns to the island she left 11 years ago with her daughter Caden to fix up the house and sell it, but she isn't counting on is the fact that Landon Reed still lives two doors down from her childhood home.

As their long-dormant romance begins to bud again, Sam must face the fact that Landon still doesn't know why she really left the island. Will the secrets she's hidden all these years tear them apart? Or is Landon's love really as unconditional as he claims?

"I've always thought Denise Hunter was an amazing writer but this wonderful story sets her firmly at the forefront of compelling love stories. How Landon breaks down Samantha's determination that she is unworthy of love kept me glued to the pages. An amazing story!"

--Colleen Coble, author of Fire Dancer (Smoke Jumper Series)


Monday, October 29, 2007

CFBA: The Return

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

(Navpress Publishing Group July 13, 2007)


Austin Boyd


Austin Boyd writes from his experience as a decorated Navy pilot, spacecraft engineer and an astronaut candidate finalist. Austin lives with his wife Cindy and four children in America’s “Rocket City”--Huntsville, Alabama, where he directs business development for a large NASA and defense contractor. His creative talents include inspirational fiction and poetry, finely crafted reproduction colonial furniture, archery and long distance cycling. He serves his community as an advocate for a crisis pregnancy center and as a motivational speaker in the area of lifestyle evangelism.

THE RETURN is part of the Mars Hill Classified Series with The Evidence and The Proof



Six years after completing a manned mission to the Red Planet, Admiral John Wells is set to make another journey to Mars. But this time his crew is not alone, as John's team encounters a secret colony comprised of individuals pursuing John Raines' strange religion, the "Father Race."

While John begins to uncover a web of lies on Mars, his wife and daughter are struggling for survival on earth. Now John must survive his dangerous mission and find a way back home, even as a shocking plan begins to unfold millions of miles away on earth.

Austin Boyd is back with his third thrilling novel in the Mars Hill Classified series, full of high-tech intrigue, memorable characters, and adventure that transports readers to another world.

From the Back Cover:

With nothing left for him on Earth, Rear Admiral John Wells didn't hesitate to lead a third NASA team to Mars, but he never dreamed that one day they'd look out their laboratory module into the lights of a slow-moving vehicle not their own. In the third installment of the Mars Hill Classified series, life on Mars becomes increasingly more unpredictable as the past collides with the future and nothing, not even the dead, is as it seems.

Meanwhile, back on Earth, the fate of hundreds, including John Wells' family--presumed dead these last six years--rests precariously in the hands of Malcolm Raines, self-proclaimed Guardian of the Mother Seed and Principal Cleric of Saint Michael's Remnant, and his insidious plans for the Father Race.

Wells will find himself in a race against time and all odds to expose the truth: about Mars, about Malcolm Raines, and, if he's very brave, about himself.

"Austin Boyd is one of the brightest new voices in Christian fiction. His long association with the space program lends authenticity as he reveals the turmoil in the minds and hearts of those who are willing to risk everything by making that journey. In The Return, we learn that both human emotions and God's presence reach far beyond the pull of Earth's gravity."
--Richard L Mabry, author of The Tender Scar


Friday, October 26, 2007

Informed Consent

Informed Consent by Sandra Glahn was a fast-paced medical thriller. Our hero, Jeremy Cramer, is a doctor who loves research. His dream--his goal--is to find a way to save those submersed in water. He finds that children are more resilient than adults in drowning accidents. Thus begins his long research journey that somewhere along the way gets focused onto finding the cure for AIDS. It wouldn't be a medical thriller without some serious ethical issues or concerns taking place. There are many here. From the nurse who 'accidentally' dropped a used needle and was picking it up at the same time as Dr. Cramer was walking away and stumbled into her...leading her to a troubling diagnosis of a potentially deadly the infection his son comes down with months after an accident in the lab. Dr. Cramer is full of guilt, but also full of determination. This is an exciting read about a man dedicated to his job in researching infectious diseases.

How did you come up with this story? Was there a specific 'what if' moment?

The story had a thousand or more “what if” moments. I’m pursuing a PhD in Aesthetic Studies, and I worked on the setting, characters, a lot of the plot, as well as my narrative voice during three novel-writing classes taught by a novelist who writes fiction reviews for Publishers Weekly. And I got some great feedback from fellow students who don’t believe in Christ about ways to address faith issues more naturally. I also took a Dante class, which influenced my choice to give my characters five of the seven deadly sins. (I’m saving the other two for a future work.)

But the elements in the plot designed to keep readers up at night came through a brainstorming session with medical doctor, William Cutrer, with whom I’ve coauthored three medical novels.

What made you decide to write a book that deals with AIDS?

The church in Africa is doing a fantastic job dealing with HIV-AIDS. The North American church—not so much. So I wanted to tackle some of our misconceptions, challenge some of our stereotypes, and hopefully help readers consider their own involvement with AIDS patients.

How did you get started in the writing world?

After I graduated from college, I worked for a 700-employee financial services company where my boss thought I had some writing talent. I got my start twenty years ago working as the editor of employee publications. When the company sold, everybody got laid off. I mourned over leaving a job I loved, but it was the best thing ever for my career. Suddenly I had 700 business contacts all over Dallas .

I started a free-lance writing business, and one of my first clients was the music producer for Barney and Friends. Another client was Dallas Theological Seminary (DTS). I edited (and still edit) their magazine, Kindred Spirit. I dabbled in some classes in DTS’s media arts program, and I learned about Joseph Campbell and myth and about Hebrew narrative and Gospel storytelling. I figured if I could tell better stories, I’d write more engaging non-fiction. I had no aspirations ever to write a book, certainly not a novel!

Do you ever struggle with writer's block? If so, how do you overcome it?

Never. I know…I almost feel guilty saying it. I attribute that to my second grade teacher, who had me write one story a day and raved about whatever I wrote. By the time I was old enough to realize nobody’s that good, it was too late. A brain has two sides, right? The creator and the editor. And she allowed the creator to run wild without introducing the editor. Ever. And as a result I have an extravagant sense of confidence about the first draft. Then I re-read it, and it stinks. Totally. But it’s too late. It’s already out there. And nobody ever complains about editor’s block. I’m not saying I recommend her style. Surely a second-grade teacher should help a student with grammar and spelling, right? But she never mentioned it. And that approach worked for me.

What is the most difficult part of writing for you or was when you first started on your writing journey?

I still struggle with expressing character emotion. I feel like I’ll insult the reader if I stop to say “the shock of the news hit like a two-by-four in the back of the head.” I figure if I tell the horrible circumstance, the reader has enough imagination to feel what any normal soul would feel. I want to say simply “His dad died in a plane crash,” and let the reader fill in the emotional blanks. Yet everybody experiences shock and grief differently. For some the room spins. For others it shrinks. For some it grabs in the pit of the stomach. Or it feels like a physical jolt. It’s part of my job as a developer of character to choose how this character will react and respond. When the emotions get intense, I need to slow down and let the reader enter the character’s head. But I’d rather get on with the plot.


Wednesday, October 24, 2007

CFBA: Illuminated

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

(Thomas Nelson August 7, 2007)


Matt Bronleewe is a recognized producer, songwriter and author. The former member of the band Jars of Clay, has earned numerous awards producing and co-writing albums that have sold a combined total of over 20 million copies. His songs have recently been recorded by Disney pop sensations Aly & AJ, American Idol finalist Kimberley Locke, and more. Bronleewe has worked with Grammy Award-winning artists such as Michael W. Smith, International pop singer Natalie Imbruglia and Heroes star Hayden Panettiere.

Born in Dallas, Texas, Bronleewe was raised on a farm in Kansas, where he lived until he left for college in 1992. At Greenville College in Illinois, Bronleewe formed the band Jars of Clay with his dorm roommate and two neighbors, and the group soon found success. Though Bronleewe opted to leave Jars of Clay early on to pursue an academic career, he soon found himself in Nashville, co-writing, producing, and playing music professionally.

To add to his list of accomplishments, Bronleewe has expanded his love of story telling beyond music into authorship. He is currently penning a 5 book series for Thomas Nelson Fiction. Illuminated, in stores now, begins the adventurous series about rare manuscripts and the mysteries within.

Bronleewe currently resides in Brentwood, Tenn., with his wife and three children. He continues to write and produce music, and he also volunteers through his church to help disadvantaged youth in the community. Bronleewe enjoys reading, taste-testing good food and watching sports, as well as indulging his interests in art, architecture, design and science.


August Adams has failed his family before. He's sacrificed relationships in pursuit of adventure, fame, and money. Now the very lives of those he loves depend on his ability to decipher a centuries-old puzzle encrypted in the colorful hand-painted illuminations that adorn three rare Gutenberg Bibles.

It's a secret that could yield unimaginable wealth, undermine two major religions, and change the course of Western civilization. Two ruthless, ancient organizations are willing to do anything to get their hands on it. And August has the span of one transatlantic flight to figure it out.

If he fails, those he holds most dear will die. If he succeeds, he'll destroy a national treasure.

The clock ticks, the suspense mounts, and the body count rises as August pits his knowledge and his love for his family against the clock, secret societies, and even Johannes Gutenberg himself.

"...this rare breed of suspense thriller combines mysterious hidden clues, secret societies, buried treasure, double agents, and the Knights Templar...if you turned National Treasure into international treasure, traded DaVinci codes for Gutenberg Bibles, married it to Indiana Jones, and added the pacing of 24 you'd be in the neighborhood of Illuminated...on a scale of one to 10, this one goes to 11."
-Aspiring Retail Magazine



Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Bullfrogs and Butterflies

Bullfrogs & Butterflies: God Is My Friend (1978) is the first of four cds in the series "Bullfrogs and Butterflies."

The Agapeland website says this cd features: Barry McGuire, George Banov, Jim & Dee Patton, Andy Davis, Kathy Salerno, Sherry Saunders, Frank Hernandez, Mary Gross, Theretha Boswell, Ane Weber, Ron Krueger.

Songs on the album include Welcome To Agapeland, Good Morning, This Is The Day, Rainy Day Song, Kid Talk, I Like Knowing God, My Hands Belong To You, Friends, Practice Makes Perfect, Bullfrogs and Butterflies, Noah, and You're So Good To Me. Throughout the songs there are some narrative bits.

"Welcome To Agapeland" is the cheerful opening song which "transports" the listeners to a cartoon-like world of love, peace, and goodwill. (I know this because the record album included illustrations for all the songs.) 5 stars

"Good Morning" continues the cheerful spirit of "Welcome To Agapeland" and unless it's used as a mean-spirited wake-somebody-else-up quite enjoyable :) 5 stars

"This Is The Day" is a softer, slower song with lyrics taken straight from Scripture. 4 stars

"Rainy Day Song" is one of my favorites. It's message is that the weather (rain or shine) doesn't matter since Christians have a different sort of son shine. (Corny pun, yes, but it's still fun in its own little way.) 5 stars

"Kid Talk" is another one of my favorites. This song is a conversation between two kids: a boy and a girl. The message of the that and adults...can have a relationship with God. 5 stars

"I Like Knowing God" is sung by a spirited bunch of kids. It compares the normal "kid activities" with the more spiritual ones. Cute song. 4 stars.
"My Hands Belong To You" lacks the spirit and energy of the rest of the album, it's more of a slow-down-and worship song. 4 stars.

"Friends" was the first song on the second side of the record/cassette; so it begins off with a cheerful "Welcome Back" message. It's an upbeat song that is very catchy. 5 stars.

"Practice Makes Perfect" is an endearing song about a young girl whose piano playing is less than perfect...and her determination to keep on trying. 5 stars.

"Bullfrogs and Butterflies" is a very fun song; it's hard not to sing along with this great song. 5 stars

"Noah" is a very fun story-song (much better than the classic "Arky Arky") that, as you can guess, tells the story of Noah. This song is fun to clap and dance too. Although I spent my entire childhood listening to this album, it wasn't until recently that I noticed how much of a disco-beat this song had! 5 stars

"You're So Good To Me" is the last song on the album. It is in a way a "wind-down" song. It's probably my least favorite on the album...although it's not a bad song. 3 stars.

I grew up listening to BULLFROGS AND BUTTERFLIES: God is My Friend. It was a wonderful album then, and I'm glad to see it has been released on cd.

The music will probably seem dated to some audiences, but if you grew up in the late seventies to early eighties...these songs will transport you back. (A trip I'm quite happy to make some days.)

This cd is available as part of a 4 CD Set entitled Bullfrogs and Butterflies. The songs/music has been remastered. You can order them on Amazon or through the Agapeland site.


Sunday, October 21, 2007

Winners Announced!!!!!

There are three books to give away of Amy Grant's Mosaic

I used to pick the winners.

The winners are:


Becky from In the Pages

Jenny from Life Is Not Cereal

Disappointed that you didn't win? You still have until Monday night to enter a contest at Amanda's site to win the book. So go there now and enter :) And you have until October 26th to enter in Book Splurge's contest for this book.


Friday, October 19, 2007

Two Things That Made Me Squeal!

Two BOOKS by Andrew Peterson!!!!!!!!!

The Ballad of Matthew's Begats
An Unlikely Royal Family Tree

Who says all those "begats" in the first chapter of Matthew aren't fun to read?
Kids and parents will have fun reading and singing along with this joyful Andrew Peterson song. The lyrics tell not only of the Biblical list of relatives, but for the first time, kids will learn why the "begats" are extremely important. This story and song demonstrate that Abraham's long lineage leads directly to the most important Bible character ever . . . Jesus Christ.
This special book bridges the Old Testament and New Testament, showing Jesus' birth as part of God's plan from the very beginning.

On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness
The Wingfeather Saga, Book One

Adventure. Peril. Lost Jewels. And the Fearsome Toothy Cows of Skree.
Coming in March 2008!
I started writing this book about four years ago. I've wanted to write a book for at least as long as I've wanted to play music, and four years ago I decided (after reading the Narnia books to my boys) that it was time I gave it a shot. The story is about Janner, Tink, and Leeli Igiby, three siblings who encounter the Fangs of Drang, the hair-raising toothy cows, a haunted mansion, sea dragons, and one very smelly batch of maggotloaf. There's a lost treasure, treachery, loyalty, courage, and danger aplenty--did I mention the toothy cows? Oh, the horror.
I hope you'll read it by the fire to your children, and that you'll enjoy it with them as much as I enjoyed writing it.


Becky's Themesongs

It has been a while since I shared a 'themesong.' And since I don't have a new fiction book review for you...though several books have been is a perfect day to share one of my favorite Caedmon's Call songs.

Mystery Of Mercy Lyrics

I am the woman at the well, I am the harlot
I am the scattered seed that fell along the path
I am the son that ran away
And I am the bitter son that stayed

My God, my God why hast though accepted me
When all my love was vinegar to a thirsty King?

My God, my God why hast though accepted me
It's a mystery of mercy and the song, the song I sing

I am the angry man who came to stone the lover
I am the woman there ashamed before the crowd
I am the leper that gave thanks
But I am the nine that never came

My God, my God why hast though accepted me
When all my love was vinegar to a thirsty King?

My God, my God why hast though accepted me
It's a mystery of mercy and the song, the song I sing

You made the seed that made the tree
That made the cross that saved me
You gave me hope when there was none
You gave me your only Son

My God, Lord you are
My God, my God, Lord you are...


Thursday, October 18, 2007

Whispers of Love

Cote, Lyn. Whispers of Love.

This novel or novella is part of a trilogy of novels found in Blessed Assurance by Lyn Cote. I haven't read them all. At least not yet. But the first one I read about two or three weeks ago. You know when I was supposed to. The week that CFBA was highlighting the book. But circumstances have a way of making sure that things happen in their own time. Such is the case here. Between computer troubles, blog tours for other authors and books, and general disorganization, this one has been sitting here waiting to be reviewed. The good news? I think I still remember a bit about it. General impressions. It was a romance. A historical romance. Fairly simple. Definitely predictable in places. But a nice, solid romance. Set in Chicago in the weeks and months leading up to the Great Fire. A widow woman, a single woman, is running a boarding house. One of her boarders--or wanna-be boarders, is falling in love with her. But this man is also keeping a secret. While the reader can guess what's going on and what's going to happen, the heroine of course is a bit slow to catch on. But all that being said it was an enjoyable read. There is nothing wrong with predictable, formulaic romance novels. They're fun. They're safe. They're enjoyable.


Wednesday, October 17, 2007

CFBA: Crimson Eve

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

(Zondervan October 30, 2007)


Brandilyn Collins is a best-selling novelist known for her trademark Seatbelt Suspense™. These harrowing crime thrillers have earned her the tagline “Don’t forget to b r e a t h e…® ” She’s so well known in the industry there’s actually a club for her non-readers. That’s right. The Big Honkin’ Chickens Club (BHCC) members are proud of the fact that they’re too wimpy to read Brandilyn’s intense fiction. Now and then one of them tries. Bribing works pretty well. (Just ask Deb Raney.) Somehow they live to tell the tale.

Brandilyn writes for Zondervan, the Christian division of HarperCollins Publishers, and is currently at work on her 17th book. Her first book, A Question of Innocence, was a true crime published by Avon in 1995. Its promotion landed her on local and national TV and radio, including the Phil Donahue and Leeza talk shows.

She’s also known for her distinctive book on fiction-writing techniques, Getting Into Character: Seven Secrets a Novelist Can Learn From Actors (John Wiley & Sons), and often teaches at writers conferences. Brandilyn blogs at Forensics and Faith.

Visit her website to read the first chapters of all her books.


Carla stared at the gun and David Thornby—or whatever his name was. Her mind split in two, one side pleading this was some sick joke, the other screaming it was all too real.

“Please. You must have the wrong person. There’s no reason for someone to want me dead. I don’t have any enemies.”

“Then you’d best rethink your friends.”

Realtor Carla Radling shows an “English gentleman” a lakeside estate—and finds herself facing a gun. Who has hired this assassin to kill her, and why?

Forced on the run, Carla must uncover the scathing secrets of her past. Secrets that could destroy some very powerful people...

Brandilyn Collins fans and reviewers are saying Crimson Eve is her best book yet:

“Collins tops herself by creating a suspenseful nonstop thrill ride … Truly the best Christian Fiction suspense title so far this year.”
Library Journal, starred review

“Crimson Eve is Collins at her very best. It left me feeling as if I’d climbed Mount Everest without oxygen … I didn’t think Brandilyn could outdo herself after reading Coral Moon. She did.”

“I’ve never edited a more tightly crafted, deftly woven, compellingly written book.” –a Crimson Eve editor, with 20 years experience

“This is your best book! I could not stop reading!” – one of many readers with similar responses

Read about Violet Dawn and Coral Moon, books one and two in the Kanner Lake series.

Do you know someone who’s never read a Brandilyn Collins novel? Surely no such person exists. However, should you scrounge up such a friend—someone who enjoys suspense—here’s a special offer from Brandilyn. Be among the first 50 people between now and October 21, 2007 to e-mail her assistant at with the person’s name, e-mail address and street address. (Due to exorbitant overseas mailing costs, United States residents only, please).

A signed copy of Crimson Eve will be sent to your friend—free—along with an e-mail from Brandilyn announcing the book is on its way, courtesy of you. (Don’t worry. Brandilyn won’t spam these email addresses. She just wants your friend to know who to thank.) No worries that this story is third in the Kanner Lake series. Each book stands alone. Brandilyn is convinced your friend will so love Crimson Eve, he/she will surely reciprocate with expensive chocolate.


Monday, October 15, 2007

Mosaic by Amy Grant

There is still time to enter the giveaway I'm hosting for Amy Grant's new book Mosaic, published by Random House. I'll be selecting three winners October 21rst. And I'll be hopefully mailing the books out that Wednesday on my errand day.

I was very happy to participate in this blog tour for Amy Grant's new book. (You can buy the book here.) I didn't know how I'd like the book if I'm being completely honest. Musicians--celebrities--don't always make the best authors. They may know how to sing, but that doesn't necessarily translate into being able to write compellingly. But I was pleasantly surprised by Mosaic: Pieces of My Life So Far. These mini-chapters or vignettes are well-written, focused portraits of Amy's intimate life. For example, she talks a great deal about her family--her parents, her sisters, her children, etc. as well as focusing on her musical career. Many chapters focus on the inspiration behind many of her songs. I loved hearing, for example, the behind-the-scenes story of "Breath of Heaven." That album--that song--have always been among my favorites. That album really is one of my favorite favorite Christmas albums. So many happy memories wrapped up with it. And while not all facets of her life are given equal attention, this book presents a look at many of her personal thoughts and reflections. You can read about her insights as a mother, for example, and there are many spiritual insights as well sprinkled throughout the text. Little highlights here and there about how God has worked in her life and how he can work in your life as well. Overall, I enjoyed this one very much.


Thursday, October 11, 2007

Veggies Sing Christian Hits

This CD has great great potential. Why? It combines a person's love of Veggies with a person's love of Christian music. Chances are that if you've listened to Christian music in the past fifteen to seventeen years that there is at least one song on here that will excite you. For me, there are many! You don't have to know the songs beforehand, Veggie love will carry you through I would imagine. I don't know if it would work the other way around. Could a fan of Michael W. Smith here the Veggie rendition of "Place in this World" and be blown away by Junior's singing? Maybe. Maybe not. But for this Veggie fan, it really doesn't get better than this.

"Big House" featuring Audio Adrenaline, Larry, and Junior. This song is great for many reasons. Audio Adrenaline. Junior. And oh the memories. This WAS the song of my junior year of high school (1994-1995). I remember jumping or should I say bouncing along to this one at many Audio A concerts. And the hand motions. Who could not love a song with such fun motions and lyrics?

"In The Light" featuring Mr. Lunt singing the verses and multiple veggies (including some gourds and Larry) singing the chorus and adding harmony now and then. While In The Light was never one of my favorite, favorites from the Jesus Freak album by DC Talk....the album was again a great time in my life. It released the November of my senior year (1995-1996) of high school. And I did see DCT in concert the summer before and after its release. So I do remember being there in a crowd and singing all the words and buying t-shirts and all that. So good times :) This one does have Mr. Lunt adlibbing some 'humor' to it towards the end.

"Flood" featuring Mr. Lunt, assorted veggies on the chorus including Larry and Junior, and a special guest appearance of Pa Grape towards the end. Flood. What can I say about Jars of Clay. I loved, loved, loved this song. From the very first time I heard it, I knew I had to get the album. This cd would represent either the very end of my senior year of high school or my freshman year of college. I can't remember quite when in 1996 I discovered it. But it was love. And yes, I saw my Jarsy in concert too. :) Several times in fact.

"I Can Only Imagine" is a solo by Junior. This song by MercyMe is oh-so-magical for so many reasons. First of all the beautiful piano playing. Then the lyrics are so beautiful, so honest, so touching, that you're blown away. (At least I am.) And Junior is my favorite, favorite, favorite Veggie. I just love him so much. So this song is a winner on all counts.

"Shine" featuring the Newsboys, Larry, Bob, and Junior. Anyone who knows me knows two things. I love my Audio A and my Bouncy Boys. Granted not everyone calls the Newsboys "The Bouncy Boys" but the name stuck with me after seeing them in concert. (Yes, I've seen my fair share of Newsboys concerts. If any Christian band knows how to have bouncy fun on stage and to get everyone in the crowd growing wild, it's the Newsboys.) Shine is one of my favorite Newsboys songs from one of their early cds GOING PUBLIC. I remember listening to the album on repeat for days, weeks, months (this would have been in high school). They've also added in a bit of "This Little Light of Mine" at the end.

"Dive" featuring Steven Curtis Chapman, Larry, and other assorted veggies doing some dialogue and chorus work. While I enjoyed this Chapman album, I loved many of his other albums/songs more than this one. But the song is fun. But some of his earlier songs would have been funner for me personally.

"Meant to Live". This one is the first song on the album that I'm clueless about. I don't know who the original artist is. I don't know what year it's from. I can pinpoint the others I've mentioned above. But this one is sung by the three French Peas. It is okay, and maybe just maybe it will grow on me. I do love the Peas!

"Sadie Hawkins Dance" featuring Larry mainly. There might be other Veggies on the chorus giving backup. Again, I'm not familiar with the original song/artist. But the song is sung by Larry and is enjoyable as such. Seems fun and catchy. It does feature some more of the three peas at the end. Also a nice bit by Junior.

"Baby, Baby" featuring Amy Grant and Junior. While I have mixed feelings on Amy Grant these days, this song says junior high for me. The song had me then, and it has me now. I think Junior does it. :) Especially when he adds a 'dooby doo' or too.

"I'll Take You There." Don't know the original song/artist. Not really. I didn't even know it was a Christian song to begin with. I'm still not sure it is. But it is sung by Larry and it sounds like a gourd or two in the background as well as Mr. Lunt, Mr. Nezzer, and Junior and even the peas.

"Blue Skies" sung by Junior with other veggies joining the chorus. I don't know the original song, not well at least. Though when I heard the chorus I thought that it sounded vaguely familiar. But I don't think I ever owned this one, but I must have heard it on the radio at some point.

"Made to Love" is sung by Mr. Lunt and Larry and a girl veggie voice I don't recognize at all. I think a gourd is on this one as well. (I never can distinugish between Jerry and Jimmy. I just call them "a gourd" when I hear that voice). I don't know the original song/artist.

"Smellin' Coffee" is sung by Larry with help on the chorus from kids maybe??? Who knows.

"Trumpet of Jesus" is sung by Mr. Nezzer and Mr. Lunt. And I think it was written just for him now that I think about it. I may never hear the song the same way again. This is the only song that I think is pre-1990. Think being the key word. I'm not exactly sure when Trumpet of Jesus came out, but I think it is older than the others by a bit. Or else it just feels it. I seem to remember it from elementary years. And a google search reveals its Imperial origins which would support my original theory :) And the peas make a brief appearance as well.

"Place in this World" is sung by Junior. The original artist is Michael W. Smith. And this one would have been junior high for me. I loved, loved, loved this song. It is on the Go West Young Man album that I just adored. Yes, I saw Michael W. Smith in concert several times as well. I'm so glad this one is sung by Junior. I think it's a very good match.

Overall, I loved this album. Some songs as you can imagine I'm extremely enthusiastic about, and others I'll need more time to appreciate. But it really is too fun to pass up. So if you love the Veggies, you need to go buy it!


Wednesday, October 10, 2007

CFBA: Nobody

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing


(Multnomah Fiction September 11, 2007)


Creston Mapes


Creston Mapes is a talented storyteller whose first two novels, Dark Star and Full Tilt, made him a finalist in the American Christian Fiction Writers Book of the Year awards and the Inspirational Readers Choice awards. Creston has written for major corporations, colleges, and ministries, including Coca-Cola, TNT Sports, Oracle, Focus on the Family, and In Touch Ministries. Committed to his craft and his family, Creston makes his home in Georgia with his wife, Patty, and their four children.

He's been married for twenty-one years to the girl he first loved way back in fourth grade. They have three lovely girls and a boy in a very close-knit family, spending a lot of time together - watching old classic movies, going on outings, and taking in various school and community events and activities. Creston loves to go for morning walks with his dog, read, paint watercolors, meet friends for coffee and Bible study, watch hockey, take his wife on dates, and spend time in God's Word.


Not everything that happens in Vegas has to stay in Vegas!

They said, “He’s a nobody.”
They were dead wrong.

When reporter Hudson Ambrose hears an early morning call on his police scanner about an injured person at a bus stop on Las Vegas Boulevard, he rushes to the scene to get the scoop.
His world is blown off its axis when he discovers a murdered homeless man with a bankbook in his pocket showing a balance of almost one million dollars. Should he wait for the police, knowing the case will get lost in reams of red tape, or swipe the bankbook and take the investigation–and perhaps a chunk of the money–into his own hands?

With sirens bearing down on the scene, Hudson makes an impulse decision that whisks him on a frantic search for answers, not only about the mysterious dead man, but about the lost soul lurking within himself.

Uncovering bizarre links between a plane crash, a Las Vegas pit boss, a dirty cop, and a widowed Atlanta business mogul, Hudson is forced to find out: who was Chester Holte, what was he doing on the streets, and why are his homeless friends convinced he was an angel in disguise?

“Nobody was absolutely riveting from the opening scene to the final page. With compelling characters, a plot that surprised me at every turn, and a subtle, yet profound message that moved me to tears, this book goes straight to the top of my highly recommended list.”
- Deborah Raney, author of Remember to Forget and Within This Circle

“A taut, entertaining novel of mystery, intrigue, and spiritual truth. Creston Mapes delivers a winner in Nobody.”
- James Scott Bell, bestselling author of No Legal Grounds and Try Dying

“Nobody had me fascinated from the first paragraph and kept the surprises coming to the very end. Somehow, as the pages flew by, it also managed to convey a beautiful picture of faith the size of a mustard seed. From now on I’ll read anything by Creston Mapes the instant it hits the shelves.”
- Athol Dickson, Christy Award—winning author of River Rising and The Cure


Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Christmas on Deery Street

Roberts, Steven. 2006. Christmas on Deery Street & Other Seasonal Stories.

I rarely read short stories. True, I have read a lot of short stories in literature classes in college, but I don't typically make a point of seeking out collections of short stories in my normal non-assigned reading. I like--love--well-developed characters, characters that you come to care about and know. And truth is, that rarely happens for me in such a short amount of time and space. So I was wonderfully surprised to find that Steven Roberts has an incredible gift with characterization. His characters in the stories--so real, so human. It is so easy to care about what happens to them. So natural to love them. Each story in this collection was great. There are no duds. I loved them all. In fact, it would be hard to choose a favorite. Although I suppose under duress I would answer "Christmas on Deery Street" or "Nanny's Locket". But how could I not equally love "The Angel of Union Station" and "Magic Socks"? The stories? How to describe them? They make me feel good. Warm and fuzzy. But not in a cheesy way. I know if I call them heartfelt or sentimental that someone will say, "that's not for me." And that would be a disservice. The stories cover a lot of emotions. There is love and heartache and loss and sadness. There is anger and guilt. There is hope. There is regret. And there is plenty of humor. But above all there is a feeling of genuineness, authenticity, a realness, knowing that these stories are indeed true-to-life and true to the human spirit. This is a book that I loved--I simply loved it. Adored might even come into fashion as a way to describe how much I loved it. Why? I know this is a book that I can share with my mother, my grandmother, my great-aunt, not to mention my best friend and her mother. It's a book I know so many people will enjoy that it's just a real treat to have been the one to discover it first.


Monday, October 08, 2007

Nicole Baart Interview!

I reviewed After the Leaves Fall by Nicole Baart a few days ago. It is a wonderful book, and I am so happy that I had a chance to interview the author after reading it. You can read my review of her novel here. To learn more about Nicole, visit her official site or blog.

Is there anything you learned while you were a teacher that helped you write realistically about teenagers and for teenagers? Did you find that your experiences gave you some insight into what life is like, what that age is like?

I absolutely loved teaching high school students. The first year was incredibly difficult for me (I was only 21 years old and some of my senior students turned 19 during that first scary year!), but after that I really fell for the profession. I never wanted to be a high school teacher, it was merely something to do in the interim before my “real” life started, but I ended up discovering that I was a teacher at heart. And to say that I learned a lot about teenagers would be a bit of an understatement. I think that because I was young and because I could still relate to my students, I developed respectful friendships with a number of them. They would ask me for advice, and though I seldom had the answers, I loved to listen to them. And I could still very clearly remember my own teenage years and the awful mistakes that I made. I wanted desperately to save my students from falling prey to the same traps I got caught in when I was young, but so much of being a teenager is figuring things out on your own. It hurt me to watch these young men and women that I cared for stumble and fall. But then again, they were learning the same way I did. I’m just thankful that most of them had a wonderful support system to back them up when they did end up flat on their faces. Anyway, I still stay in contact with a number of my ex-students. Now they’re all in college or they are married and have small children--it’s crazy, these are young women that I would love to invite to my playgroup or Bible study!

Julia’s grandmother had a huge influence on her life. She was a constant supporter, a person who gave her unconditional love. Who has been your biggest supporter? Your spiritual mentor?

My parents have both been incredibly influential in my life. I’ve mentioned my father often in interviews and throughout this entire journey to publication, but my mom is also an amazing woman of God. She and I are best friends, and I am so thankful for her love and support. And I’ve been incredibly blessed to be a part of a believing family for as far back as we can trace. My grandparents and great-grandparents walked with the Lord and their faithfulness has brought us many, many blessings today.

You have a great first sentence, “Waiting is a complicated longing. I lost my father when I was fifteen, and I’ve been waiting ever since.” Did this come easily or did you struggle with getting it just right?

It just came to me. I’ll often come up with a sentence that speaks powerfully to me, almost like a line of poetry. And then I’ll write a story around that one line. It’s probably nuts to construct an entire novel around one catchy phrase, but I’ve done it a dozen times before and I’m sure I’ll do it again!
After the Leaves Fall is not your typical Christian fiction. Its message is less in-your-face and much more subtle. In fact, for most of the narrative, Julia is struggling with unbelief and doubt. There are two scenes that stick out regarding this issue. One is early in the novel where Julia is seeking advice from a youth pastor about her mother. Abrasive is the term that comes to mind. The second is a conversation between Julia and her grandmother. It is very grace and prayer-oriented. In terms of evangelism and outreach, which comes closer to representing your own view?

I definitely think that there is one word that we should hear over and over again when we consider evangelism and outreach: GRACE. I understand that some people need to realize the depth of their own depravity before they can accept the fact that they need grace, but I think that the Holy Spirit is much better at convicting people than we are. If you look through the gospels, you won’t find a single passage where Jesus used guilt or condemnation to draw people to him. Time and time again he offered a hand of grace, of love and compassion, and people were restored because they felt the touch of the greatest love they had ever experienced. I believe our job as Christians is to love the world to death and let God worry about judgment. I believe wholeheartedly in the power of the gospel--I believe that God’s word, Jesus sacrifice, and the Spirit’s gentle prodding are more than enough to soften even the hardest of hearts. After all, it’s not our job to save anyone. That’s up to God. All we can do is be His hands and feet, His agents of love and grace, in this hurting and broken world.

The seasons play an important role in After the Leaves Fall, they help set the mood and tone. Do you have a favorite time of year?

Fall is my favorite time of year, though I love every season. I don’t think I could ever live in a place where there are not distinct seasons. Sometimes I think the very rhythm of my life is tied to the ebb and flow of the year--I’m full of energy and excitement in the spring, I’m cheerful and laid back in the summer, content and thoughtful in the fall, and a comfortable homebody in the winter.

Julia, at eighteen and nineteen, is struggling with defining who she wants to be and where she fits into the “bigger picture” of life. Yet she isn’t content to be “undeclared” or “undecided” at this stage in her life. At nineteen did you have struggles and doubts about who you were and what you wanted? Were you going through life “undeclared”? Is there anything you know now that you wish you had known then?

I never really thought about it, but yes, I was quite “undecided” at that age. I started college as a pre-veterinary major and I just hated it. However, I had also grown up loving politics so I easily switched to political science--I thought it would be great to get a government job. That also lost its luster, so I switched to psychology… Then I was undeclared for a while, but I felt so purposeless that I forced myself to pick a major and stick with it. I had always wanted to be a writer, but everyone knew that was a total pipe dream (he-he-he!) so I went with English Literature, Spanish, and English as a Second Language all under the canopy of a bachelor of secondary education degree. Funny how God directed my path exactly where he wanted me to be. If I had it to do all over again, though, I don’t think I’d change a thing except for my attitude. It was great to spend time learning about myself, but I was so controlling at the time and so anxious to know who I was and what I should be doing. I should have just relaxed and enjoyed the journey.
When reading the novel, a phrase kept coming to me “Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans.” Does Julia have a theme song by any chance? A motto she lives by?

I don’t know that Julia has a theme song, but there were a number of songs that I listened to over and over again as I wrote the book. One of them was “Wheel” by John Mayer. I love the lyrics near the end where he sings: “If you never stop when you wave goodbye, you just might find, if you give it time, that you wave hello again.” I loved that idea of returning with Julia, of finding yourself back at the beginning and knowing so much more now than you did before.

“I began to carry Grandma’s Bible with me everywhere. It was a security blanket of sorts, a survival manual that I had not yet opened nor tried to understand, counting on the hope that when I truly needed it I could whip it open and some resounding truth would ring forth with unmistakable clarity. The Bible was my backup plan if my own resourcefulness managed to fail me.” (313) I found this statement to be very realistic, very true. Do you have any tips or advice on how to not just use the Bible as a security blanket, but how to apply it each and every day…how to make it a part of our lives? Is this something you think every Christian struggles with?

I think the only way the word of God becomes a part of your life is if you make it a part of your life. As long as it is an addendum, an occasional afterthought that enters sporadically into your thought process, it will never be more than exactly that. You have to treat a relationship with God exactly like a relationship: it takes time and sacrifice; sometimes it’s hard and you don’t feel like working on it. I’m bad at this because it’s so easy to take God for granted. It’s so easy to assume that even if I wander for a while He’ll be waiting for me when I choose to turn around. And He will wait. But I want so much more than that! I want a living, vibrant, exciting relationship with the Maker of heaven and earth. Something that has really helped me to this end is being a part of a good, solid Bible study. When I have “homework” and need to keep my nose buried in the Word on a regular basis my whole life is better.

I know you love to read, but I also know you are very busy as a writer, a wife and mom. How do you find time—do you find time—to keep reading? Do you have any favorites of the year?

I read every singe night in bed. My favorite part of the day is crawling into my comfy bed and curling up with a book. Aaron is always right beside me, usually reading something theological, and we often share out loud certain sentences or paragraphs that grab us. Sometimes we just switch books and say, “You have to read this passage!”

As far as favorites go, I’d have to say that this year I enjoyed and then fell out of love with Gregory Maguire’s stuff. I was captivated by Wicked and Son of a Witch, though I found his sexual metaphors really tiring. I don’t usually wish I could have the PG version of a book, but I found myself wanting that once or twice with both of these books. I got so sick of it I couldn’t bring myself to read his other stuff, though I know I’ll be doing so after I’ve had some distance. I also read and cried over the final Harry Potter. In the non-fiction department, I liked Sex God by Rob Bell (though not as much as Velvet Elvis). Other than that, I can’t really think of any huge standouts…

In an earlier interview you said you were a bookworm from birth, who is (or who are) your reading “heroes”? Who taught you to love books, to love reading, to lose yourself in a good book? Do you come from a family of readers?

Both my mom and dad read to me a lot as a child. I have to give my dad credit though for turning me into a bona fide bookworm. When I was a kid he’d take me to the library every Saturday (in the summer we’d take his motorcycle!) and we’d each pick out a huge stack of books. As I got older, he’d actually recommend books to me. He taught me to love political thrillers and I grew up on Robert Ludlum and Frederick Forsyth. When all the Bourne movies came out I was so excited because I had read those books more than once in high school. What a let down. The movie is never as good as the book.

To visit other sites participating in Nicole Baart's blog tour:

1 ~ Sept. 3-7 (Carrie at “With all I have been given…”)
2 ~ Sept. 10-14 (
Becky at “In the Pages”)
3 ~ Sept. 17-21 (
Amy at “Pretty Shiny”)
4 ~ Sept. 24-28 (
Laurel Wreath at “Laurel Wreath’s Reflections”)
5 ~ Oct. 1-5 (Amanda at “A Patchwork of Books”)
6 ~ Oct. 8-12 (Becky
at “Becky’s Christian Reviews”)
7 ~ Oct. 15-19 (Novel Reviews)
8 ~ Oct. 22-26 (Miriam at “In His Grip”)
9 ~ Oct. 29 - Nov. 2 (Sally Bradley)
10 ~ Nov. 5-9 (
Deena at “A Peek at My Bookshelf”)


Sunday, October 07, 2007

The Wonderful Wizard of Ha's

Yesterday, The Wonderful Wizard of Ha's was released in the Christian market. This VeggieTales DVD will be released in the broader market this Tuesday, October 9th. I can only say this about it. It has without a doubt one of the BEST BEST BEST Silly Songs with Larry of all times. It has been a long time since I've been this excited about a new silly song. I'm not saying it will ever take the place of Hairbrush or Pirates Who Don't Do Anything. But it should be in the top five anyway :) You can watch three full song clips here. Over the Rainbow (the song during the credits), The Monkey Song (the new Silly Song), and Somewhere Beyond the Barn (a song from the story). You can also watch the trailer.

The story as you can guess is a parady of The Wizard of Oz. It is using the Prodigal Son story of Luke 15. The Land of Ha's is an amusement park that Darby O'Gill (Junior) just can't wait to visit. But when his dad says they've got too much work to do around the might just take a tornado to get him out of Kansas and closer to the roller coaster ride of his dreams. My favorite parts of the parody...insteading of following the Yellow Brick Road...they're following Yellow McToad, a rather old and quite slow guide that leads them all the way to the Land of Ha's. Also there isn't a field of poppies, there's a field of puppies. And the good fairy? She's named Splenda. (She's played by Madame Blueberry).


Saturday, October 06, 2007

Book Giveaway!!!!

I have THREE copies of Mosaic: Pieces of My Life by Amy Grant to give away! Please leave a comment to enter the drawing. Be sure to leave your email address or blog address so I can contact you once I've drawn the winners. The drawing will run through October 20th. Feel free to post about this contest on your own blog and spread the word :) Also, I am only able to ship the books in the contigious United States.


Thursday, October 04, 2007

By Love Redeemed

In late spring, early summer, I reviewed In Honor Bound by DeAnna Julie Dodson. It was a book that had me hooked from the very beginning. One I stayed up late just to finish. There was something about the writing that just grabbed my attention from the very beginning, something that I savored every moment of. Last week, I read By Love Redeemed which is the second in her trilogy. Different narrators. This time the story is that of Thomas and Elizabeth. Thomas, if you'll remember, is the king's younger brother. And the two--Thomas and Elizabeth--were briefly wed in the first book. But war kept the two apart--strangers--married in name only. Now the war is over and peace has been declared. But is any kingdom really ever free from threat? This time the threat that seeks to ruin the kingdom comes from within--from within the king's own castle. Can this family work together and solve the dangerous mystery that dares to destroy them once and for all?


Wednesday, October 03, 2007

CFBA: The Trophy Wives Club

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing


Avon Inspire (September 4, 2007)


Kristin Billerbeck


Kristin Billerbeck was born in Redwood City, California. She went to San Jose State University and majored in Advertising, then worked at the Fairmont Hotel in PR, a small ad agency as an account exec, and then,
she was thrust into the exciting world of shopping mall marketing. She got married, had four kids, and started writing romance novels until she found her passion: Chick Lit. She is a CBA bestselling author and two-time winner of the ACFW Book of the Year. Featured in the New York Times and USA Today, Kristin has appeared on the Today Show for her pioneering role in Christian chick lit.

Her last three books were:

Split Ends: Sometimes the End is Really the Beginning (April 17, 2007)

She's Out of Control (Ashley Stockingdale Series #1) (Nov 13, 2007)

Calm, Cool & Adjusted (Spa Girls Series #3) (Oct 1, 2006)


Haley Cutler is the consummate trophy wife. Perhaps "was" is the more accurate term. Haley married Prince Charming when she was only twenty years old – back in the day when highlights came from an afternoon at the beach, not three hours in the salon.

When Jay first turned his eye to Haley, she was putty in his slender, graceful hands. No one ever treated her like she was important, and on the arm of Jay Cutler, she became someone people listened to and admired. Unfortunately, after seven years of marriage, her Prince Charming seems to belong to the Henry the XIII line of royalty. When Haley loses Jay, she not only loses her husband, she loses her identity.

With her first independent decision, Haley leaves LA and moves home to Northern California. Feeling freedom just within her grasp, Haley learns that her settlement payments must go through one of Jay's financial advisors, Hamilton Lowe. Haley believes he's nothing more than a spy. And the feelings of distrust are mutual. Yet somehow, Hamilton finds himself handing over the monthly checks in person, and Haley can't deny that there's a kind of tenderness and protectiveness in Hamilton that she's never experienced in a man before.

But before Haley can even consider another relationship, she must learn to accept her inherent worth, and what it is to be loved for who she is, not what's on the outside.