Monday, September 30, 2013

Teaser Tuesdays - October 1st (Guest Blogger)


Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
• Share the title and author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers

I'm handling things a bit differently today. In addition to Teaser Tuesdays, I am featuring Joe Sergi, author of Sky Girl and the Superheroic Adventures. He is my special guest blogger.

"Oh, it's not a coincidence; she's clearly here to torment me." DeDe slammed her locker hard, and the sonic boom echoed down the hallway."

~ Page 29 from the PDF version of Sky Girl and the Superheroic Adventures. 


Thanks for having me on The Busy Mom’s Daily to talk about my new book Sky Girl and the Superheroic Adventures. Sky Girl and the Superheroic Adventures is the sequel to Sky Girl and the Superheroic Legacy. In the first book, readers met DeDe Christopher, an ordinary teen with an extraordinary destiny to become Sky Girl. Being a teenage girl is hard enough, but for DeDe, it is proving impossible. In addition to cliques, books, and boys, she has to worry about capes, apes, and aliens. When we last left DeDe, she had just adopted the mantle of Sky Girl at the end of her sophomore year of high school. This book opens the day before she starts her junior year, so she's had the whole summer to practice and train with her best friend and self-professed comic geek, Jason. She’s actually gotten quite good at being a costumed adventurer—except for her banter, which still needs work. Now, DeDe must learn what it means to be a heroine as Sky Girl faces the all too real enemies and allies of SkyBoy, including the clever Quizmaster, the beautiful Penny Pound, the enigmatic Jersey Devil, and the magical MissTick. DeDe must also face personal challenges as she discovers the secrets of her late father and his connection to SkyBoy--secrets that will affect Sky Girl’s destiny.

Unlike the first book, which took place over the course of a week, this book covers the whole school year and allows for more diverse adventures. For example, Sky Girl faces off against Shadow, Jason faces off against Quizmaster, and they both have to face an angry horde of zombies. Each adventure stands on its own but is also part of a larger plot and expands on the mystery of what happened to DeDe's father and Evil Brain's plot for world domination. I guess the most important thing to mention is that you don't really need to read the first book to enjoy the second.

So I intended to write a post about a day in the life of DeDe, but I ran out of time. So, I snuck into my book and ripped a page out of her diary. I hope you enjoy it.




From the Diary of DeDe Christopher, July 15th.

“How I spent my Summer Vacation”

Dear Diary,

Today was a weird day. Then again, “weird” has pretty much become “normal” since I found out I had super powers. Since I decided to become Sky Girl, Jason has been running me ragged helping me try to get a handle on my powers. He’s also obsessed with trying to find out what happened to Commander Chimp's Gorilla Army (in his defense, they did lock him up in the girl’s locker room). Don't get me wrong. If it wasn't for Jason, I would be completely lost, he's just so intense. I mean he's my best friend and I love him, but I think he forgets that we aren’t characters in one of his stupid comic books.

Take, for example, what happened today.  After two solid weeks of practicing and patrolling, I finally convinced him we should go down to the shore and hang out at Point Pleasant Beach.

So, there we were on the sand. I was in my one piece bathing suit trying to catch some rays and get a tan (which is harder than you think when your body is invulnerable to solar radiation.) What was Jason doing? He was sitting under an umbrella and reading a comic. He was wearing long pants and a black T-shirt that said "Come along, Pond!" in white lettering. Seriously, who goes to the beach in long pants and a black shirt?

In an effort to break the mood, I yelled over to him, "Hey geek boy? We should get a funnel cake."

Jason continued to read, "No thank you. I am reading."

I raised my voice, "But, I want a funnel cake."

He barely looked up from his book, "You always want a funnel cake. Besides, you are in training."

"I am not in training! I’m Sky Girl no matter what I eat." I yelled back. He rolled his eyes. Just then I heard the noise. "Wait, what was that?"

Jason put down his book, "Wait. I know. Is it your stomach growling for funnel cake?" Then he saw I was serious. He leaned forward out from under the umbrella. "What is what?"

There it was again. "A noise." I said, "Like a high pitched roar." I described.

"It sounds like a sea monster, someone is in trouble." Jason announced. I have no idea how he knows these things. But with his help, I was able to pinpoint the location. It was a cruise ship two miles off shore.

            "You better get moving." He said as he tossed me my purple backpack. "You are going to need this."

"You brought the suit?" I exclaimed.

"DeDe?"

"To the beach. You took my superhero costume to the beach?"

"DeDe."

"It’s my day off?"

"DeDe!"

“And I want funnel cake.”

"Can we argue about this later? Sea Monster!"

"But, funnel cake?"

"Sea Monster!"

He had a point. So, I grabbed the bag, ducked under the boardwalk, and changed at Sky Speed. Soon I was speeding out to sea in my costume: black spandex with matching purple cape, boots, skirt, belt, and gloves. (Pretty cool, I know-- I made it myself).

I have to admit, I’ve been flying for a while, but it still feels pretty cool. Kind of like when you nail a cool ballet move, but in the air.

We've also been trying some new masks. Today, I was wearing a leather purple tie with eye holes cut into it. (Another EPIC FAIL if you ask me). Through the eye holes, I could see the monster and the ship. I turned on my headset.

"The sea monster isn't doing anything. I think it’s sleeping." I announced. "I'm going to get a closer look."

"No, wait..." Jason started in the ear piece. But he was too late, I had landed on the creature.

"Yep it’s asleep." I observed. Then I saw something strange. "Hey geek boy, there are four monogrammed seats on this thing. Kind of like horse saddles"

"Saddles?" Jason asked.

I took a closer look, "Yeah. There are three little ones and one big one. The first little one has an H on it, the second has an L, and the third has a D.” I walked around and looked at the large one in the center. “And the big one says . . ."

"AD" Jason finished for me. I told you he knows these things. There was urgency in his voice, "Sky Girl, you have to get to the ship, this is not an attack. It is a robbery." And he says I’m a drama queen.

"Roger dodger." With a burst of speed I flew to the ship. My sky vision showed everyone was in one room tied up.

Then I saw them.

Three men dressed in what looked like those outfits Venetian gondolier drivers wear. Each one had a small black domino mask. Their leader was dressed in a bright yellow diving suit.

I relayed the information to Jason before landing on the deck. I put my hands on my hips and spoke in a deep voice, "It looks like the catch of the day is crime."

Jason groaned in my ear, "We really need to work on the one liners."

What? I was expecting a sea monster and not witty banter.

The yellow guy looked surprised. "Evil Brain was right. He's back!" (Yeah, he said “He.” How insulting). "You can't stop the Aquaduck."

Seriously, that was his name. The Aquaduck, I almost lost it. Jason told me later that he is "some grade Z villain from blah blah blah number blah."

Where was I, oh yeah, the Aquaduck pointed his yellow finger at me, "You will not catch me, SkyBoy. Get him boys." (Yup, he thought I was SkyBoy. I guess that diving helmet must be hard to see through.)

I didn't have time to react before the henchmen shot some kind of ray guns at me. Lightning-like beams came out from the guns and surrounded my body. I would guess it was about 1,000 volts that shocked me. I smiled at them and said, "It tickles."

Jason spoke in my ear, "Awesome reference to Superman #32." I had no idea what he was talking about. It really did tickle.

Soon, the guns exploded knocking out the henchmen. It's a good thing, too because the ray guns melted my leather mask so I couldn't see. I ripped it off and got it off in time to watch the Aquaduck running (more like hobbling in his heavy suit) across the deck. "Jason, he's getting away. But my mask is off." I stammered. "He'll see who..."

Jason's calming voice was in my ear. "Do not worry. The Auquaduck's vision is restricted by his suit. He needs a camera to see." I could hear his smile, "Now if only we had something that disrupted electrical equipment."

I smiled as I flew towards the running villain, over his head and landed between Aquaduck and the rail. I raised my hands and yelled "Lights out, ducky." Then I shot him with a Sky Pulse. His diving suit shorted out and Aquaduck fell over on the deck.

I could hear him murmuring, “Hello? I’ve fallen and can’t get up.”

Kind of anticlimactic, if you ask me.

After that, Jason made an anonymous call to the Coast Guard and gave them the location of the monster and the ship. I left the Aquaduck and his goons tied up in the anchor line with a note that read:

Dear Coast Guard Dudes,

The Aquaduck found out that crime isn't all it's quacked up to be. Please send them to the jail pond and find a nice home for their sleeping pet monster.

--ttfn
Sky Girl

As I flew back to the beach, I could see that the sun was going down. I was sure the funnel cake stand was closed--such is the life of a teenage superheroine: all sea monster no funnel cake.

Imagine my surprise when I saw Jason sitting on a bench with a of fried dough and powdered sugar on his lap. "Funnel cake?" he offered.

I did a quick change into my civvies (Jason’s word—not mine) and sat down on the bench next to my Jason.

I ate funnel cake with my best friend as we watched the sun go down over an ocean that I now knew was full of sea monsters. A great way to end the day, if you ask me.

Oh yeah Jason also told me about a new idea for a domino mask.

Hopefully, this one will work better, school starts next month and I need to be ready.

And that’s the end of the diary entry. Thanks for having me.


For those interested, Sky Girl is available at all online booksellers and can be ordered in brick and mortar shops and chains. It is also available directly from the publisher at www.martinsisterspublishing.com. I will also have copies and be signing the book at some upcoming show appearances, some of which include: The Collingswood Book Festival (October 5), New York ComicCon (October 10-13), and the Festival of the Book (October 19). These shows are great fun and a wonderful place to connect with readers. I’ve even had a few old and young cosplayers come up to my booth to show me their Sky Girl costumes, which was extremely flattering.

In addition, to the Sky Girl book, this year I edited a comic anthology called Great Zombies in History through McFarland Press. I also write regular articles on the history of comics and censorship for the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund (CBLDF.org). Great Zombies in History is a new graphic novel anthology released from McFarland Press. I met a talented group of writers through Andy Schmidt’s Comics Experience writing classes and we decided to form an independent comic imprint called Elevator Pitch Press to showcase our work. We have released several anthologies that have ranged from horror (Don’t Be Afraid) to grind house (Girls with Guns) to science fiction (Aliens Among Us). Great Zombies in History is an anthology of historically accurate stories, but written to include zombies. For example, I wrote The Zombie War of 1812, which features the real reason that Washington, DC, was burned during the war. Rob Anderson, writer of the best-selling Big Dog, Inc. book, Rex: Zombie Killer and who acted as editor on the original project, did a story about how zombies helped King Leonidas and his army of 300 Spartans hold their own against immeasurable odds.

I should also mention that I write regular articles for the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund (CBLDF.org) on the history of censorship in comics. It takes a lot of work to do those columns, but I believe the CBLDF is an important organization and am glad to help them in their mission to protect comic creators against censorship. I recently did articles on the rise and fall of romance comics, a before and after analysis of the comics code on reprinted books, and detailed histories of Sheena, Superman, and Wonder Woman. People with an interest in discovering the history of comics or censorship should check them out.

My author site is www.joesergi.net; Sky Girl can be found at www.SkyGirlNovel.com, and the official site for Great Zombies in History is www.GreatZombiesinHistory.com my monthly articles can be found at www.cbldf.org

Joe Sergi lives outside of Washington, DC with his wife and daughter. Joe is an attorney and a Haller Award winning author who has written articles, novels, short stories, and comic books in the horror, scifi, and young adult genres. Joe is the creator of the Sky Girl series of novels and the editor of Great Zombies in History. His first novel, Sky Girl and the Superheroic Legacy was selected Best of 2010 by the New PODler Review. Joe is a life-long comic fan who regularly writes on the history of comics and censorship for the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund. When not writing, Joe works as a Senior Litigation Counsel in an unnamed US government agency and is a member of the adjunct faculty at George Mason University School of Law.



You've Got Mail Monday


How does Monday keep creeping up on us? Last week was a busy week. Two soccer games (tied one and won one), two cheering events, violin, soccer, and cheerleading practice in there somewhere, and we canned our concord grape jelly. It came out great, but I would use a little less pectin if I did it again.

As for the mail, it wasn't a crazy week like the one before it, but some good stuff still came in. My tulip bulbs, cauliflower plants, and strawberry plant arrived from Burpee. I'm running out of good weather to plant them, so I better get a move on.

The new Gardner's Supply Company was dedicated to "Bring home the HARVEST." Potato and Onion baskets, herb drying racks, orchard racks, stacking crates and more filled its pages. I saw these neat five-blade scissors for cutting herbs that looks like they're worth trying out.

What I was most excited about, however, was this new cookbook I received through the Amazon VINE program. The New Midwestern Table by Amy Thielen is more than just a cookbook; it's a story of cooking and food. I've just begun going through it. The book designer did a fabulous job with it. The Steakhouse Deviled Eggs sound delicious. I found the author's recipe for French-Canadian Meat Pie rather interesting and a bit different from what I am used to. Being born to a family of French Canadians on both sides, meat pie was a staple around the holidays. I don't remember my mémé using only pork, though. The recipe my sister has calls for a blend of ground beef and pork. This cookbook covers a lot of ground and includes "200 Heartland Recipes."

I think that's it for this week. Hope you're having a good one.

CFBA: The Nurse's Secret Suitor by Cheryl Wyatt

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
The Nurse's Secret Suitor
Love Inspired (October 1, 2013)
by
Cheryl Wyatt




ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Not even Cheryl Wyatt’s closest friends would dream that this sweet, shy intercessor plots mayhem during announcements at church. She is a Registered Nurse turned stay-at-home-mom, wife and writer who loves Jesus with all of her heart.

Joyful chaos rules her home, and she delights in the stealth moments God gives her to write. She stays active in her church and in her laundry room. She is convinced that having been born on a Naval base on Valentines Day destined her to write Inspirational Military Romance.

Cheryl loves to laugh and to make others laugh, so she often plans comedic moments for her defenseless characters in spite of their grumbling. She says it’s payback for when they refuse to obey the plots she’s set out before them.

Prior to publication, six of Cheryl’s manuscripts placed in ten RWA Contests. Two of Cheryl’s stories also placed First in ACFW’s Noble Theme Contest 2005 (Contemporary Romance Category), as well as ACFW‘s Genesis Contest 2006 (Mystery/Suspense/Thriller Category).

She currently writes for Love Inspired. Her Wings of Refuge Series, about a team of USAF Pararescue Jumpers and the ladies who capture their hearts, can be purchased anywhere books are sold.

ABOUT THE BOOK



A Strong-Willed Heart

Trauma nurse Kate Dalton can handle any challenge—except love. The combat veteran dreams of settling down, but heartbreak is one risk she won't take. Then a chance encounter opens her heart to a masked stranger…who might not be a stranger after all! Caleb Landis, the army medic behind the disguise, has always admired Kate, even though she only saw him as her best friend's brother. What will it take for Kate to discard her fears and discover the man she's always hoped to unmask?

Eagle Point Emergency: Saving lives—and losing their hearts— in a small Illinois town

If you would like to read the first chapter of The Nurse's Secret Suitor, go HERE.



Friday, September 27, 2013

Giveaway Winners



Congratulations goes out to Susanne D. She won a copy of Two Are Better by Tim and Debbie Bishop. She is also the winner of our first book pack during the End of Summer Giveaway.

Thanks to all who entered. Look for more chances to win soon!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Wordless Wednesday


CFBA: Made to Last by Melissa Tagg

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Made to Last
Bethany House Publishers (September 15, 2013)
by
Melissa Tagg




ABOUT THE AUTHOR:




A Word From The Author:

I’m a former reporter turned author who loves all things funny and romancey. My debut novel, a romantic comedy titled Made to Last, releases from Bethany House in September 2013. In addition to my nonprofit day job, I’m also the marketing/events coordinator for My Book Therapy, a craft and coaching community for novelists.

It all started when my dad, at the ripe old age of sixteen, picked up my mom up for their first date. She was thirteen. Thirteen!* Dad drove a cherry red car up the lane to my grandparents big ol’ green house and honked his horn…whereupon Mom jumped out of the apple tree she’d been waiting in and off they went…fishing. True story. (I’d give more details, but I’m saving it for a novella I plan to entitle Two Leaves. Mom, I really hope you read this.)

Four years of college, a few trips abroad and a stint as a reporter later, that dream is soon to be a reality. My debut novel, a romantic comedy titled Made to Last, is now out from Bethany House. Book two, Here to Stay, comes out on May 1, 2014.

In between writing and staring out the window brainstorming, I also work as a grant-writer at one of Iowa’s largest private nonprofits and serve as the marketing/events coordinator for My Book Therapy, a craft and coaching community for novelists founded by Susan May Warren.

And I love, love, love talking about finding our purpose and identity in Christ. (And well, okay, food, old movies, boots and scarves, my awesome nephew Ollie, and, fine, Tim Tebow, too.)




ABOUT THE BOOK



Miranda Woodruff has it all. At least, that's how it looks when she's starring in her homebuilding television show, From the Ground Up. So when her network begins to talk about making cuts, she'll do anything to boost ratings and save her show--even if it means pretending to be married to a man who's definitely not the fiance who ran out on her three years ago.

When a handsome reporter starts shadowing Miranda's every move, all his digging into her personal life brings him a little too close to the truth--and to her. Can the girl whose entire identity is wrapped up in her on-screen persona finally find the nerve to set the record straight? And if she does, will the life she's built come crashing down just as she's found a love to last?

If you'd like to read the first chapter of Made to Last, go HERE.



Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Guest Blogger: Quick and Healthy Snacks for Busy Families by Allison F.



When you are always on the go you may think you don’t have time to give your kids healthy snacks. However, that is not true. There are many healthy quick snacks that are easy to make and eat, even on the go. Here are some fun snack ideas for your children:

  1. Ants on a Log – This classic kid’s snack is one we all love. Parents love it because the peanut butter is a good source of protein and keeps toddlers full longer. Kids love the whimsical look and the great flavor combination. First wash and cut celery into finger sized pieces. Fill the hollow with peanut butter to make the log. Top with a few raisins for the ‘ants’. Pair with fun fruit shapes like a banana and kiwi palm tree or a toast and jelly ‘picnic blanket’. This is also great when made with almond or cashew butter.
  2. Apple Sandwiches – Why stick with boring old bread when you can make fruit sandwiches instead? This easy and fun sandwich idea gets your kids the fruit they need in a way they will love. Start out by coring an apple. Cut the apple into slices with the hollow core in the center. This will be your ‘bread’. Spread a thick layer of peanut butter on one slice of apple. Sprinkle with raisins or dried cranberries. Top with a second apple slice to finish up your sandwich.
  3. Goldfish® Crackers – These cheesy fish are a big hit with every toddler I know, but they can get a bit pricy. I have made my own before, and though it takes a bit of patience to cut all those tiny shapes, the crackers do taste tons better. All it takes is a cup of cheddar cheese, half a stick of butter, a cup of flour, two tablespoons of water, and three quarters of a teaspoon of salt. Stick everything in the food processor and pulse until combined. Then form into a ball, let it chill for half an hour, and roll out thin before cutting into shapes. Bake at 350 for fifteen minutes or until the crackers are crispy. Yum!
  4. Graham Crackers – Another kind of cracker that kids love is Graham crackers. Did you know they were originally created as a diet food? Of course the modern crackers have far more flavor and sugar than the original version, but many varieties are still high in fiber. My kids love these crackers plain with a glass of milk to dip them in. You can also get creative and make a sandwich out of them. Just spread a layer of peanut butter and add some banana slices to half a cracker. Top with the other half for a fun, sweet sandwich treat. Apple slices instead of banana work great too.
  5. Animal Crackers – These bland crackers are not my favorite. Personally, I can’t stand them. My kids, however, love them. I think it is more the fact that they can play with the fun shapes rather than the flavor. Regardless, the crackers are low in fat and make for a fun snack time. Pair with homemade banana pudding for a tasty dessert.
  6. Cracker SandwichesLunchables are something that my kids beg for. However I don’t like the price or the quality of the food they get. That is why we make our own Lunchables! Cracker sandwiches are very versatile and can be made to fit any kid’s tastes. When I was a kid I added spicy mustard to my sandwiches, but that is just me. My kids love to layer on slices of low fat cheddar cheese and turkey breast to their whole wheat crackers. The idea is to cut the cheese and meat into cracker sized shapes so that the kids can have fun making their own simple sandwich stacks. You can control how much they eat and the quality of the ingredients with no problem.
  7. Tiny Pizza – Taking another hint from the Lunchables my kids crave, I came up with a way to make tiny pizzas for snacks. I whip up a batch of pizza dough and separate it into smaller pizzas. After baking, I store the mini-pizza crusts in a gallon bag in the freezer. I make up little bags of pizza sauce and mixed low fat shredded mozzarella and cheddar cheese. Then when my tots want a Lunchables pizza snack, I pull out one or two crusts and let them make up their own. They love the fact they can make their own pizza and I love it that I know what they are eating. My older kids beg for these in their lunch too!
  8. Baby Veggies – Getting kids to eat fresh vegetables is often a struggle, but I found that one way to encourage them to eat more is to buy the baby varieties. The tiny carrots and tomatoes and so on capture little kid’s imaginations and their taste buds. Often sweeter than their full grown counterparts, baby veggies are still packed full of nutrients. I like to serve only a small bit of low fat ranch dip alongside so the kids can enjoy the flavor of the veggies themselves. Another way to get kids to eat their veggies is to help them grow their own. When kids invest time in a garden or even in just a couple of plants in a pot they will be much more likely to eat whatever is produced. Tomatoes are a big hit for my kids, especially cherry tomatoes, as they can get a lot of produce from a small plant. Beans and peas work great, too, as do green peppers. See what you can grow in your area or start an indoor garden with your kids.
  9. Cheese and Fruit – The classic combination of cheese and fruit is classic for a reason. They taste great together! Get your child to eat more fresh fruit and healthy, low fat cheese by creating kabobs. Cut the cheese into fun shapes with a small cookie cutter and add on colorful fruit to entice your toddler into eating this healthy snack. Another way to get more calcium in their diet is cottage cheese. This milky cheese comes in great tasting low fat varieties. Sprinkle on a little salt and pepper and pair with fresh or canned fruit for a tasty treat. My kids love it with mandarin oranges or fruit cocktail.
  10. Oatmeal Cookies – Last but not least is the cream of the crop. Oatmeal cookies look like dessert, but are actually a tasty and nutritious snack anytime. Make them even better for your kids by substituting apple sauce for some of the oil and use egg whites instead of whole eggs. You can also add in dried fruit, like raisins and cranberries, and even some finely chopped nuts for protein. Full of fiber and tasty too, these cookies will be a hit with your kids.
As you can see most of these snacks can be made in a few minutes or prepared ahead of time and eaten on the go. From creative sandwiches to fun and flavorful natural foods, your kids will love these quick healthy snacks.

Author Byline:


Blogging for was a natural progression for Allison once she graduated from college, as it allowed her to combine her two passions: writing and children. She has enjoyed furthering her writing career with www.nannyclassifieds.com. You can reach her through e-mail allisonDOTnannyclassifiedsATgmail.

Monday, September 23, 2013

You've Got Mail Monday


I'm thinking the mail carrier must have felt guilty about ignoring me the previous week, because he sure made up for it last week. Between the United States Postal Service, UPS and FedEx, I can't seem to find the floor of my office.

Catalogs and magazines arrived galore last week. Most of the catalogs made their way to the recycle bin. I try not to save them if I don't think I'll be ordering from them. It's not Christmas yet, so Land's End isn't on the agenda--even if they do send me multiple catalogs each month. Oriental Trading sent a catalog with Halloween costumes and other funny dress up accessories. I actually bought an angel costume from them one year for the Lil' Princess. I remember it because it was the year of the three horrible storms that left us without power for multiple days. Halloween 2011 was canceled by our town because we were still without power and many downed trees littered the sidewalks and roads. We ended up staying at my in-laws' house for a week, so we Trick-or-Treated there. Eventually, once everyone in town was back up and running again, we had our own Trick-or-Treat night.



Grandin Road® has some great Halloween and fall decorations. Too bad I'm broke right now.

In addition to those catalogs, my October 18, 2013 issue of All You magazine arrived. Love the cover on this one. I haven't had time to go through it yet, but hopefully I will by the end of the week. Traditional Home also arrived. I've been so busy I haven't even unwrapped it yet. That's definitely on my to-do list. I find so many great decorating ideas to show my future interior designer.

I have to admit to a bit of confusion about magazines lately. It seems I'm getting some I never signed up for. ESPN magazine started coming a few months ago. There is no way I would want that one. Then Shape magazine began arriving. I thought maybe my Heath magazine had simply changed its name, but I received a copy of each this month, so not sure what's going on.

As for books, I was pleasantly surprised to find a box of children's picture books from Clavis Publishing on my doorstep one day. I'll review those at The Children's and Teens' Book Connection. I had ordered a copy of The Crypto-Capers in The Peacock Diaries by Renee Hand, which also arrived. I've followed this series since the beginning and I can't wait to read this one. Finally, A Christmas Carol 2: The Return of Scrooge by Robert J. Elisberg showed up at the end of the week. I'll be reviewing that one at The Book Connection in October.

Planning for my upcoming virtual book tour for Little Shepherd, I ordered a few of my books so I can mail them to reviewers. Our UPS driver dropped those off. My new business cards also arrived from VistaPrint.

I think that's it. Like I said, it was a busy mail week. Hope you had a nice day today. Many blessings for the rest of the week.

CFBA: Raw Edge by Sandra D. Bricker

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Raw Edge
Abingdon Press (September 17, 2013)
by
Sandra D. Bricker




ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


For more than a decade, Sandra D. Bricker lived in Los Angeles. While honing her chosen craft of screenwriting in every spare moment, she worked as a personal assistant and publicist to some of daytime television's hottest stars. When her mother became ill in Florida, she walked away from that segment of her life and moved across the country to take on a new role: Caregiver.

The Big 5-OH! was released by Abingdon Press in the Spring of 2010, and the novel was very well-received, garnering a couple of nibbles from Hollywood.

Always the Baker, Never the Bride was released by Abingdon Press in September 2010. With its phenomenal reviews, the novel spawned a series of three more books based on the popular cast of characters at The Tanglewood Inn, a wedding destination hotel in historic Roswell, Georgia. The series cemented Sandie's spot in publishing as a flagship author of Laugh-Out-Loud romantic comedy for the inspirational market.

"Being allowed to combine my faith and my humor with my writing dream," says Bricker, "well, that's the best of all worlds, as far as I'm concerned!"



ABOUT THE BOOK



Grayson McDonough has no use for teal ribbons, 5k runs, or ovarian cancer support groups now that his beautiful wife Jenna is gone. But their nine-year-old daughter Sadie seems to need the connection. When Annabelle Curtis, the beautiful cancer survivor organizing the memory quilt project for the Ovacome support group, begins to bring out the silly and fun side of his precious daughter again, Gray must set aside his own grief to support the healing of Sadie’s young heart. But is there hope for Gray’s heart too along the way?

If you would like to read the first chapter of Raw Edge, go HERE.




Watch the book trailer:



Friday, September 20, 2013

Cedar Cove on Hallmark Channel



Here's my latest television show obsession: Debbie Macomber's Cedar Cove. Based upon New York Times bestselling author Macomber's novels, this show stars Andie MacDowell as Olivia Lockheart, a judge in the small town of Cedar Cove, Washington.

In the pilot movie, viewers find Judge Lockheart denying the divorce petition of Cecilia and Ian Randall because she believes they still truly love each other and have not tried hard enough to make the relationship work. Her decision catches the attention of Jack Griffith (Dylan Neal), a newcomer to Cedar Cove and editor of the Cedar Cove Chronicle. A recovering alcoholic, Jack is immediately drawn to Olivia, and soon they begin navigating the dating waters carrying all kinds of baggage along--her divorce and the death of her son many years earlier and his divorce and estrangement for his grown son, Eric.

Like many shows featuring small towns, stories of other characters are woven into the weekly plots. Justine (Sarah Smyth), Olivia's daughter, is estranged from her father, who she feels abandoned her and her mother after the death of Justine's twin brother, Jordan. Currently in a relationship with Warren Saget (Brennan Elliot), when her good friend and former boyfriend, Seth Gunderson (Corey Sevier) returns to Cedar Cove, Justine isn't sure if she still cares for him; and her growing doubts about Warren feed the fire.

Peggy and Bob Beldon (Barbara Niven and Bruce Boxleitner) own the local bed and breakfast. A mysterious stranger arrives and causes some concerns for the Beldons. Moon (Timothy Webber) owns the local coffee shop, where Justine works. A '60s civil rights activist, Moon adds some comic relief, in addition to being a town icon.

Teryl Rothery, plays Olivia's best friend, Grace Sherman. Recently divorced, Grace feels like her life is falling apart, but soon finds herself being pursued by two men. Meanwhile, Olivia's mother, Charlotte Jeffers (Paula Shaw) cares for a John Doe at the hospital who has personal ties to Cedar Cove.

A press release from Hallmark defined Cedar Cove this way, "Romance, mystery, and lessons of the heart are the threads that weave this tight-knit community together." This definitely captures all that this show is about. It's the one show I've been willing to pay to watch on Amazon Instant Video. Our DVR has been on the fritz and either hasn't recorded the episodes or records about 45 minutes of them, leaving me with 15 minutes of unanswered questions. I also love this series so much that I've added all the books to my Wish List and plan to buy the first six for myself as a Christmas present.

Have you seen Cedar Cove? What do you think of it?

New from Whisky Creek Press: The Empty Chair by James Davis

The Empty Chair is a story of friendship shared by four men and their journey of faith. The death of his first girlfriend makes Jake angry toward God. His disbelief further wells in his heart with the merciless killings he has witnessed in several of his Marine missions. An incident in Nigeria changes his idea of God when a chaplain risks his own life to save him. Jake decides to pursue Chaplaincy in Wake Forest, NC thinking he has a debt to pay. His journey takes a twist when he finds himself in Pakistan after finding that his friend Cameron and his wife Lilly, who are on mission in India, are in danger; Jake does his best to save them, even if it means giving up his own life.

Their lives take some twists and turns and the relationships between the four are developed, including exciting and dramatic events that are based on true stories. Jake’s journey for redemption takes him on an emotional ride and leads him to love and hope that he never expected to find.


Genre: Mainstream
SubGenre: Inspirational
Book formats ISBN: 978-1-61160-640-9
Trade paperback ISBN:


PURCHASE HERE!


Guest Blogger and Giveaway: Tim & Debbie Bishop, Authors of Two Are Better


From an engagement to a cross-country trip in just ten weeks? And with no experience in bicycle touring—or marriage? While Tim left behind a 26-year corporate career and familiar surroundings, Debbie was about to enter a “classroom” she hadn’t seen in her 24 years of teaching. Was it a grand getaway or a big mistake?

Shared Passions Enhance Marriage

By Debbie Bishop

Passion, the very word involves sharing. We don’t want to be passionate about cooking, and eat alone. We don’t want to be passionate about having a beautifully decorated house and garden if no one comes to visit. We don’t want to be passionate about a sport and go it alone all the time. The very nature of passion calls for it to be a shared and enjoyable endeavor.

Passion in marriage takes many forms. We are passionate about raising our children to be responsible and kind (along with well behaved). We are passionate about having a great marriage. We are passionate about our goals and dreams. And, of course, a husband and a wife share a passion for each other that includes intimacy and friendship. We get in trouble when our more intimate passions overflow the banks of our marriage and spill out beyond matrimonial boundaries. But when shared passion is planted in marriage, marital bliss blossoms.

Tim and I initially met because we shared a passion for bicycling. When we met for our first bike ride, neither of us thought that a passion for bicycling would lead to marriage…and it didn’t! God led us to marriage, and we get to enjoy bicycling together as a pleasurable perk along with some other shared passions.

So, how does bicycling enhance our marriage? Let me count the ways.

1. Bicycling has given us a road to travel on together. So many memories and pictures run through our mind from our bike trips. So many lessons learned on the road apply to our marriage on a daily basis. Those lessons help us navigate the rocky road when conflicts arise. When I look back to my past mistakes before marriage, I think of one lesson in particular that I learned on the road: I can’t ride my bike in reverse. I must always move forward. That lesson helps me keep the past in the past! On my bike helmet, I have a very small mirror that helps me see what is behind me, a mini-rearview mirror. This is for safety purposes only. I spend most of my bike riding time looking forward, seeing the beauty ahead and to the sides. That seems like a good way to live– looking onward, not backward.

2. Bicycling together keeps us connected. People think we are crazy when they learn we took off for a long-distance bike tour only two weeks after we were married for the first time at age 52. Recently, a radio interviewer could not believe that we spent so much time together with no other distractions or people in our immediate circle of influence. It was just the two of us, 24/7, for 63 straight days. That is a lot of together time even though we were newlyweds. We were introduced to “for better or worse” early in our marriage while on the road! But the lessons we learned are ones we ponder daily: simplify, live by faith, God gives good gifts, and two are better than one. Keeping those lessons in mind every day makes for a good and godly marriage.

3. Bicycling has worked us into great shape. I remember coming back from our first bike tour tanned and strong at 52 years old. My legs and the rest of me felt firm and sexy. Carrying a heavy load on the bicycle resulted in a lighter load on my frame upon returning home. It feels scrumptious when Tim wraps his arms around me. Feeling better about my body and the shape I am in enhances the passion I want to express with my husband. Physical strength helps women feel more confident about their bodies.

4. Bicycling teaches us the importance of balance in our lives. If we keep on pedaling, we are not going to fall off our bikes. That is an important lesson in marriage too. Two wheels and proper balance are necessary to ride a bike. Sometimes we need training wheels before we find our own balance. Asking for advice from friends, mentors, or counselors can help, but eventually it is up to the two of us to find the balance in our marriage—the balance between work and play, spending and saving, solitude and togetherness, harmony and conflict.

5. Bicycling allows us to express our uniqueness, yet do it together. Our riding styles are quite different. They reflect our personalities. I like to go fast and speed down hills at breakneck speed (I hardly ever replace my brake pads); Tim likes the slow and steady ride through wide open spaces and sparse traffic. I like to just go out and ride, and figure out my route as I go. Tim likes keeping track of routes, mileage, average speed, and heart rate. On our bike trip, thankfully, he was the navigator. And once in a while he agrees to take unexplored routes around our area (and he’s still there to help get us back home!). We both prefer riding together—in part because of what we each bring to the endeavor. We both add strength to our marriage by embracing and appreciating our different personalities. Two complementary halves come together to make a better whole.

Passion for bicycling has enhanced our marriage. Accepting how each of us expresses our passion is something we have learned in our short married life. We’ve learned to reel in unrealistic expectations because they can wreck havoc on our relationship, just as going for a bike ride with overinflated tires can lead to an untimely blowout! You’d rather have checked the gauge before you started.

Marriage is a journey. It’s been the best ride ever because I am riding with my passionate partner for a lifetime of love. If you’re married, I encourage you to identify the passions that you share with your spouse and ride them for all you can. If you can’t identify a common passion, find one. If you’re not yet married, but want to be, realize that finding a spouse with a strong common interest can springboard you into your ultimate bonding experience. It’s a facet of your relationship that will become a joint treasure and lead you to deeper destinations as you journey through life together.

Purchase from Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Two-Are-Better-Midlife-Newlyweds/dp/0985624825/

Purchase from Open Road Press: http://www.openroadpress.com/store/

About the authors:

Tim Bishop
Originally from Maine, Tim Bishop has over thirty years of experience in business, first as a CPA, then for many years in various roles in the corporate world. In addition to consulting for small businesses, Tim serves as a Hope Coach for TheHopeLine, a nonprofit organization that seeks to reach, rescue, and restore hurting teens and young adults.

Debbie Bishop
Debbie Bishop has taught for over twenty-five years, for the past ten years as a literacy specialist in Framingham, Massachusetts. She has a passion for reading and seeing that young people do it well. She also has high interest in recovery issues and encouraging others with her own triumphs over struggles earlier in her life. Debbie also serves as a Hope Coach for TheHopeLine.

Visit the authors online at www.openroadpress.com.

Enter for your chance to win a copy of Two Are Better. Good luck!

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30 Blogs with Ideas for a Candy Land Theme Birthday Party



Remember the board game, Candy Land? I do. We have at least two versions of it here in the bonus room. It is a great way to teach kids about colors and counting. What I didn't know is that some people use Candy Land as inspiration for their child's birthday party theme. I can't believe I never thought of that.

"30 Blogs with Creative Ideas for Throwing a Candy Land Themed Party" will bring you to an article with links to numerous blogs featuring invitation, decoration, menu, games, and party favor ideas to throw your own Candy Land themed birthday party. Some of these ideas are unbelievably creative. They make me wish the girls were little again, so I could try them out.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

End of Summer Book Giveaway




The end of summer can be a sad time, but it doesn't have to be. Fall awaits us with harvest time and Thanksgiving. Around here it's apple picking time and I look forward to homemade applesauce and maybe some apple butter. The other day a friend discovered wild concord grapes growing on our property. I'm so excited. Now I just have to figure out how to harvest them, as the vines are wound around some of the taller trees.

Another reason to look forward to the end of summer is that I have a bunch of books to give away. I think it will be easier for me to give them away in groups. I have Christian fiction and nonfiction, children's books, mysteries, middle grade and young adult fiction, poetry, and other nonfiction. Some of these are ARCs; some I got through the Amazon VINE program; and others were duplicates of books we already had. Most of them have been read only once and a couple of them not at all.

Here's the first group:


  • Autographed copy of Gary's Gray World by Ryan J. Cunningham
  • The Great Nursery Rhyme Disaster by David Conway
  • The Dancing Clock by Steve Metzger
  • ARC of Princess Morning Glory by Letitia Fairbanks
  • Junie B. Jones Loves Handsome Warren by Barbara Park (never read)
  • Junie B. Jones and a Little Monkey Business by Barbara Park (never read)
  • Fancy Nancy: The Dazzling Book Report and Pajama Day by Jane O'Connor w/stickers (never read)
Use the Rafflecopter form below to enter. Good luck!

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Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Guest Blogger: Lloyd Johnson, Author of Living Stones


She was in the wrong place at the wrong time. Nearly killed in Seattle during a jihadist bombing, Ashley recognizes the synagogue bomber and is later stalked by a hired Muslim hit man in Israel. There she reacquaints with Najid, the Christian Palestinian scholar she had met at the University of Washington. She falls in love with him, putting her at odds with her Zionist pro-Israeli convictions.

On the run, Ashley sees the beautiful rock churches and shrines. But the living stones, the people of the Holy Land intrigue her. She meets Jews and Palestinians, Rabbis for and against Israeli settlement expansion. Gentle Palestinians like Najid’s family, and those in the West Bank suffering under military occupation. Both Muslims and Christians living peacefully together.

Najid and Ashley find the bomber in Seattle despite the FBI dragnet put out to arrest him.. Living Stones is the story of an American woman coming to terms with the truth of the Middle East, and the lies she had been fed. Will she survive the forces that threaten to tear her apart?

PURCHASE PAPERBACK

The Inspiration for Writing Living Stones by Lloyd Johnson


They asked us to tell their stories in America. Some of them heartbreaking. Because they knew we in the U.S. know little of daily life there. Christians included.

We lived with the “living stones,” experiencing the people of the Holy Land during the summer of 2012, in Bethlehem. Deprived of water, imprisoned behind a 40’ wall, homes demolished by bulldozers, evicted from their farms. These things happen every day in the West Bank. Residents turned back at checkpoints, are unable to travel into Jerusalem five miles away, or to the sea, thirty miles—except by “special permission” granted occasionally. Most have never seen the ocean.

Palestinians are excluded from green spaces for children to play by high walls and highways prohibited for their travel. They’re “needed” by over 500,000 immigrant settlers. Most males have been imprisoned during their lives for peaceful demonstrations against 46 years of military occupation. Many children are in jail now for throwing stones at a tank, or for nothing. Terrified by soldiers breaking in at night. Committed to non-violent resistance, we found our Christian brothers and sisters, as well as Muslims, a gentle and hospitable people.

Jesus spoke of loving our neighbor, as in the Good Samaritan story—even our enemies. “Welcoming the stranger” fills the Old Testament. Whatever one’s theology about the Holy Land and the future, Jesus does not advocate ethnic cleansing of those outside a particular tribe. His invitation to the kingdom in the “New Covenant” is inclusive, world-wide, no barriers of ethnicity or religion.

Many excellent books relate the “Nakba” (catastrophe) in the Holy Land beginning in 1948 with both killing and displacement of 750,000— to refugee camps. Many Jewish authors also document the cruel military occupation of the West Bank since 1967. Almost all these books are non-fiction, read only by those interested in the Middle East.

Fiction can appeal to a wide variety of people who love a good story. So I’ve tried to write one, with adventure, action and a bit of romance. An American graduate student’s life is turned upside down by a jihadist bombing and abduction in Jerusalem. But even more as she encounters the “living stones” in the Holy Land and falls in love with a Palestinian Christian.


With special interest in the current Middle East, retired surgeon Dr. Lloyd Johnson turned to fiction writing, putting out two books, with a sequel in the works. He is a member of Seattle writing group, and blogs regularly on Israel/Palestine subjects. Johnson is a Clinical Professor Emeritus at the University of Washington in the Department of Surgery. He is Fellow in the American College of Surgeons, and past president of the Seattle Surgical Society. He authored 26 scientific articles in peer reviewed journals/texts. He has worked and traveled extensively overseas, including Asia, Africa and the Middle East, and served for six years as volunteer executive director and board member of a humanitarian NGO in Central Asia. The author lives in Edmonds, Washington.

Visit the author online at http://lloydjohnson.org/




Wordless Wednesday


CFBA: Fired Up by Mary Connealy

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Fired Up
(Bethany House March 1,
by
Mary Connealy




ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


Mary Connealy writes romantic comedy with cowboys. She is a Christy Award Finalist, a Carol Award Finalist and an IRCC Award finalist.

The Lassoed in Texas Series, Petticoat Ranch, Calico Canyon and Gingham Mountain. Petticoat Ranch was a Carol Award Finalist. Calico Canyon was a Christy Award Finalist and a Carol Award Finalist. These three books are now contained in one large volume called Lassoed in Texas Trilogy.

The Montana Marriages Series, Montana Rose, The Husband Tree and Wildflower Bride. Montana Rose was a Carol Award Finalist.

Cowboy Christmas—the 2010 Carol Award for Best Long Historical Romance, and an Inspirational Readers Choice Contest Finalist.

The Sophie's Daughters series. Doctor in Petticoats, Wrangler in Petticoats, Sharpshooter in Petticoats.

She is also the author of; Black Hills Blessing a 3-in-1 collection of sweet contemporary romances, Nosy in Nebraska, a 3-in-1 collection of cozy romantic mysteries and she's one of the three authors contributing to Alaska Brides with her Carol Award Winning historical romance Golden Days.



ABOUT THE BOOK



Rollicking Wild West Adventure and Romance from Bestselling Author Mary Connealy.

Dare Riker is a doctor who saves lives, but someone seems determined to end his. It may have something to do with the traitors he dealt with during the Civil War, or it might be related to the recent incident with Flint Greer and the ranch. Whoever the culprit is, he or she seems really fired up, and Dare can't let his guard down for a moment, which is a challenge, since right now he's trying to win the heart of the recently widowed Glynna.

Glynna Greer came west as a mail-order bride and ended up in a bad situation. Now her husband, Flint, is dead, and she's determined to care for her son and daughter on her own. She wants to believe Dare Riker is as decent as he seems, but she's terrified to lock herself into another marriage. She plans to support her small family by opening a diner--never mind that cooking is not her greatest talent. The men in Broken Wheel, Texas, are so desperate for home cooking that they seem willing to overlook dried-out beef and blackened biscuits.

Glynna can't help but notice that danger follows Dare wherever he goes. There's the avalanche. And then the fire. But things really get out of hand when someone plunges a knife from Glynna's diner into Dare's back. Are Flint's cronies still plotting revenge? Is Glynna's son engaged in a misguided attempt to protect his mother? Is a shadowy outsider still enraged over past injustices? And can Dare survive long enough to convince Glynna to take another chance on love?


If you would like to read the first chapter of Fired Up, go HERE.


Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Downton Abbey Series 4 Premiers in the UK This Sunday!



I haven't spoke much lately about my deep love of Downton Abbey. This year's trailer is out, which indicates an amazing season of new faces, new trials, and changes for many characters. The series premiers in the UK this coming Sunday, but fans in the States must wait until January 5, 2014 before the series runs on PBS.





With the death of her beloved Matthew six months before, Lady Mary is in a time of transition; trying to find her way as a single mother and to keep Downton thriving for her son and heir, George. As you can tell from this trailer, the detached Mary we met in Season 1 has returned. At least we can blame a bit of that on the pain of her loss.

Lady Edith, however, is poised to take this ever-changing world by storm as she embraces her independence. What will happen between her and her very married editor, Gregson?

Lord Grantham, who right before Matthew's untimely death, embraced his and Tom's plans for the future of Downton may need to switch gears. And what role will Lady Mary play in the estate's management now that Matthew is gone? Is love in Tom's future?

Downstairs looks like it will be just as exciting if you can judge by the clips in that video trailer. Daisy's future was up in the air last season as Mr. Mason asked her to consider moving to the farm with the plan she will eventually inherit it. Will the softer side of Thomas be a permanent fixture around the house or is that a thing of the past? How about Jimmy, Alfred, and Ivy--the young servants at Downton--will they remain satisfied in service? What do Anna, Bates, Mrs.Hughes, Mrs. Patmore, and Mr. Carson have to look forward to or dread?

Downton Abbey Addicts shared this synopsis from the first episode:

Following Matthew’s untimely death, new mother Mary is struggling to come to terms with her loss. Robert and Violet disagree on how to bring her through it. Downstairs, hearts are set to be broken as Jimmy finally takes an interest in Ivy. Carson has an unwelcome reminder of his past while Mrs Hughes sees an opportunity to help grief stricken Isobel. Thomas is up to his old tricks and has the children’s Nanny in his sights.

Are you eagerly awaiting the start of Downton Abbey? I'm going to find it hard not to look for spoilers after it airs in the UK.

Monday, September 16, 2013

CFBA: Born of Persuasion by Jessica Dotta

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Born of Persuasion
Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. (September 1, 2013)
by
Jessica Dotta



ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


Born in the wrong century–except for the fact that she really likes epidurals and washing machines–Jessica Dotta writes British Historicals with the humor like an Austen, yet the drama of a Bronte.

She resides lives in the greater Nashville area—where she imagines her small Southern town into the foggy streets of 19th century London. She oversees her daughter to school, which they pretend is an English boarding school, and then she goes home to write and work on PR. Jessica has tried to cast her dachshund as their butler–but the dog insists it’s a Time Lord and their home a Tardis. Miss Marple, her cat, says its no mystery to her as to why the dog won’t cooperate. When asked about it, Jessica sighs and says that you can’t win them all, and at least her dog has picked something British to emulate.

ABOUT THE BOOK


The year is 1838, and seventeen-year-old Julia Elliston’s position has never been more fragile. Orphaned and unmarried in a time when women are legal property of their fathers, husbands, and guardians, she finds herself at the mercy of an anonymous guardian who plans to establish her as a servant in far-off Scotland.

With two months to devise a better plan, Julia’s first choice to marry her childhood sweetheart is denied. But when a titled dowager offers to introduce Julia into society, a realm of possibilities opens. However, treachery and deception are as much a part of Victorian society as titles and decorum, and Julia quickly discovers her present is deeply entangled with her mother’s mysterious past. Before she knows what’s happening, Julia finds herself a pawn in a deadly game between two of the country’s most powerful men. With no laws to protect her, she must unravel the secrets on her own. But sometimes truth is elusive and knowledge is deadly.


If you would like to read the first chapter of Born of Persuasion, go HERE.