Friday, November 28, 2008

CFBA Presents BELOVED CAPTIVE by Kathleen Y'Barbo

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Beloved Captive
(Barbour Publishing, Inc - November 1, 2008)
Kathleen Y’Barbo


There’s never a dull moment in the Y’Barbo household! From hockey and cheer mom to publicist to bestselling author, Kathleen Y’Barbo somehow manages to do it all - and well. While wearing her publicist’s hat, Kathleen has secured interviews with radio, television, and print media for clients at NavPress, Hatchette, Integrity, Barbour Publishing, and Broadman & Holman, to name a few. She also brings her own unique blend of Southern charm and witty prose to the more than 350,000 award-winning novels and novellas currently in print. Her novels have been nominated for American Christian Fiction Writers Book of the Year in 2002, 2003, 2004, and 2006; and 2007 will see the release of her 25th book.

Kathleen is a tenth-generation Texan and a mother of three grown sons and a teenage daughter. She is a graduate of Texas A&M University. Kathleen is a former treasurer for the American Christian Fiction Writers, and is a member of the Author’s Guild, Inspirational Writers Alive, Words for the Journey Christian Writers Guild, and the Fellowship of Christian Authors. In addition, she is a sought-after speaker, and her kids think she’s a pretty cool mom, too…most of the time, anyway.

The first book in this series is Beloved Castaway.


In this sequel to Beloved Castaway, Emilie Gayarre is learning to accept her mixed race heritage while finding fulfillment in teaching children of the key. There is no denying the attraction between Emilie and the handsome young naval commander, Caleb Spencer, who is shadowed by his own flock of secrets. But if her heritage is found out, even greater things than his career are at risk. Enjoy this historical romance full of risk and redemption.

If you would like to read the first chapter of Beloved Captive, go HERE.


I just received this book, so haven't had time to read more than the first page, but I can already tell I'm going to enjoy it. I'm already thinking of ways to put off doing "real" work so I can read!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Making Your Dream Catch Fire

Today, my guest bloggers are the mother/daughter writing team of Sherrie Ashcraft and Christina Berry. Prepared to be doubly blessed!

Making Your Dream Catch Fire

“Keep using the gift God gave you.
Let it grow, as a small flame grows into a fire.”
II Timothy 1:6

PhotobucketWe’re a mother-daughter writing team. Henceforth, to avoid confusion of any kind, we will refer to ourselves in the third person. We’ve been living our dream—or trying to at least—for the last nine years. We’ve noticed a few elements seem to be universally connected to dreaming.

Almost as soon as we identify our dream, we humans tend to start questioning it. Is this something I want just for myself, or is this from God? Doesn’t this conflict with another dream I have? What if nothing ever comes of this? Will I have wasted years doing something that’s unattainable?

We had a dream of being writers. But there’s also blogging, building websites, speaking, attending conferences, writing proposals, marketing plans, and building a platform. Do these things enable our dream, or become barriers to reaching it?

One of the most well known dreamers started dreaming when he was seventeen. A favorite child, he wore a special coat his dad had given him. You can find out more about Joseph by reading Genesis 37 and the next few chapters. He had a dream of being greater than his brothers and father. Though he had about as much tact as a pit bull with rabies, Joseph shared his dream with his family.

His brothers beat him. Because they were such nice guys, they decided to sell him instead of kill him. That’s when the questioning must have started for Joseph. Wait a minute, God. What can I do from this pit? Now as a slave? Now falsely accused of attempted rape? Stuck in prison?

Several times Sherrie’s wanted to just give up and walk away from it all. There have been too many rejections. It seemed like nothing will ever happen. But then God shows her verses like Romans 15: 4,5. “The Scriptures give us patience and encouragement so that we can have hope. Patience and encouragement come from God.”

Funny thing about perseverance: It takes time to know you have it because you must get discouraged first. We’ve found that persevering over the years has meant a lot of sacrifices. What have we given up? Christina condensed time spent on phone conversations, daily crosswords, reading for pleasure, and sleep. Sherrie misses all the card games!

But God plants the desires because He has a certain result planned. Nothing’s wasted in His economy. (And He never enters a recession!)

Even when Joseph sat in prison, the Bible says God was with him. It took thirteen years to climb the ranks from slave of Potiphar to second in command of Eygpt. The famine arrived seven years later. By the time his brothers arrived, bowing and begging for food, twenty-two years had passed. That’s a long time to wait for a dream to come true!

Had his brothers thwarted God’s plans for Joseph? No. Joseph tells them, “It was not you who sent me here, but God.” No matter what we think, people are not the ones who delay our dreams, but God. This means an editor’s rejection is God directing our lives, not another blow to our dream. Sherrie, during a time of discouragement, asked God if she was really supposed to write. He took her to Habakkuk 2:2-3. “Write down the vision; write it clearly on clay tablets so whoever reads it can run to tell others. It is not yet time for the message to come true, but that time is coming soon; the message will come true. It may seem like a long time, but be patient and wait for it, because it will surely come; it will not be delayed.”

Things we think of as setbacks are part of God’s training for the future. Joseph started as a young, inexperienced boy. As a shepherd, he gained experience with flocks and agriculture. As the head slave of a prominent man, he learned about household management and the social networking of Egypt. As an inmate of the king’s guard, he became familiar with the judicial and prison systems. All of those things added up to be excellent training for running a country.

By following his dream, by always being ready to be used by God, whether as a slave, a prisoner, or a powerful leader, he saved not only his family from starvation, but entire nations.

Who knows what God plans to do with your dream? Who knows what His timing will be?


Sherrie and Christina dream of having 1,000 subscribers to their infrequent, humorous newsletter. Help make this dream come true by signing up at To hear a greatly expanded and deeply profound version of this—if you live within a few hours of Portland, OR—ask them to speak at your next event.

The two women share a multigenerational country home with their husbands and Christina’s children. They also share one brain and were separated at birth.

A former nurse specializing in the care of Alzheimer patients, Sherrie now thrives on being a professional grandma of six. She loves to read and garden, is co-commander with her husband of their church’s AWANA program, and serves with him as an elder. They are former missionaries to Nigeria, West Africa and (obviously!) lived to tell about it.

Christina, a SAHM with two children of her own, enjoys doing foster care and leads a Sparks group in AWANA. She signed a contract this past month with Moody Publishers for a book she wrote on her own. The book, now titled A Familiar Stranger, is slated to hit bookstores in September 2009!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

What I Like About YOU'VE GOT MAIL

In case you hadn't notice, this is the Year of Dreams on my blog. One of my longtime dreams is to be an actor. Not an "Oooo, you're so famous and everybody recognizes you" kind of actor, but one of those character actors who manage to make a living. Actually, I don't even need to make a living at it... community theatre is just fine with me. I did that before I got married and had a family. Who knows, when my son is grown and on his own, I might check out the local community theatre scene.

In honor of my love of good movies and good acting, I'll periodically take a look at a movie that made an impression on me, and what I liked about it. So, without further ado, here's...

PhotobucketWhat I Like About You've Got Mail:

Meg Ryan & Tom Hanks - Meg's at her perky peak and Tom's the perfect blend of snarky charm. You can't watch these two and not fall in love with the idea of them falling in love.

Dialogue that Dances - It starts in the opening scenes where Kathleen and Joe read each other's emails. As Katherine says about her favorite book, Pride and Prejudice, "I get caught up in the language."

Near Misses in the Streets of New York Montage - One crosses the street just as the other steps onto the sidewalk. One enters Starbuck's as the other exits. As the merchants of New York start their day, opening stores and sliding up security gates, Joe and Kathleen cross paths multiple times, never knowing it's happening. It makes me think: How many times in life has an opportunity passed me by and I never knew?

PhotobucketJean Stapleton - A fabulous character actress, Stapleton plays Kathleen's wise, but slightly quirky surogate mother/co-worker. When asked about the secret love of her youth, she answers "He ran Spain." Such a simple line, but her delivery is priceless.

PhotobucketThat Nostalgic Dial Up Sound - When Joe and Kathleen check their computers for new mail, we hear that pinging, grating, screeching sound. I remember that sound. Hearing it now makes me all the more thankful for high-speed internet and the fact that I'm no longer a slave to AOL!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Great Expectations

Have you ever been so excited about a movie that you counted the days till the opening? Then you ran out to see it on opening day... only to leave the theater bitterly disappointed? That just happened to a writer friend of mine. I won't say which movie it was, but if you think of one based on the first book in a HUGELY popular young adult series, you'll probably figure it out!

This got me to thinking about my expectations. I try to keep them realistically low, but sometimes, I just can't help getting my hopes up. For example...

PhotobucketQUANTUM OF SOLACE - I expect three things out of a new Bond flick: (1) Lots of action, (2) the suave hunkiness of Daniel Craig, and (3) the always excellent presence of Dame Judi Dench. Despite its confusing title (I still only understand half of it) this movie delivered on all three counts. And as an added bonus, I got to see the trailer for...

PhotobucketTHE NEW STAR TREK MOVIE - It's not coming out till May 2009, but this is one movie that I'm very excited about. Featuring a younger cast, this latest offering in the Star Trek franchise goes back to when Kirk, Spock, Uhura, Bones, Scotty and the others first come together. The casting of Zachary Quinto (Heroes) as a young Spock is inspired. I think director J.J. Abrams is going to do a bang up job with this film. Sadly, I wasn't drawn into his latest TV series, Fringe, but I loved both Alias and the final item on my list of gotta-sees...

PhotobucketLOST - Two months from today and the wait is over! Lost is my absolute favorite show on TV. Even when others were complaining about how it had lost its way in season three, I stuck with the castaways, happy to go along for the ride. And what a ride it's been. In season four, we had not only flashbacks, but flashforwards. And the season ended with the most spectacular reveal of all: the island can move. And so it did. But where did it go... or when? You can be sure I'll be glued to the TV on January 21st to find out.

So that's it... my list of things I can't help but get excited over. How about you? What entertainment events are you counting the days till?

Friday, November 21, 2008

Childhood Obesity - Will This Really Help?

Have you heard about the new survey linking fast-food advertising and childhood obesity? According to the National Bureau of Economic Research, the study shows that a ban on fast-food advertising during children's programming would cut down the number of overweight kids ages 3-11 by 18% (and 14% for ages 12-18).

PhotobucketShin-Yi Chou of Lehigh University, one of the study's authors, said in a statement, "We have known for some time that childhood obesity has gripped our culture, but little empirical research has been done that identifies television advertising as a possible cause. Hopefully, this line of research can lead to a serious discussion about the type of policies that can curb America's obesity epidemic."

Can someone please tell me why we needed a survey to provide this useless information?

Let me tell you this Mr. Chou, it doesn't matter what kind of ads kids see on TV - no 3-year-old is driving himself to Burger King. If your 8-year-old child wants an extra-large-super-value-meal, you're going to have to take him to the fast food restaurant and buy it for him. So where does that leave us?

If parents don't buy the fast food for the kids, then the kids won't eat it. Pretty simple... and I didn't even need to do a survey.

Now I'm not knocking fast food. It definitely has its time and place. And I know that childhood obesity is a serious issue. But why do we always have to blame outside influences for everything that goes wrong in our own homes? We parents are responsible for our children, and most of the time, whatever the child wears, plays with, or eats is provided by us. Period.

So, how about we parents make a few less trips to the drive through? We'll save gas and cut down on childhood obesity at the same time!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Dreaming with Megan DiMaria

Welcome, friends, to the first post in my Year of Dreams series. Today's offering is from talented fiction author Megan DiMaria. Enjoy!

Megan DiMaria PhotoI have always been a dreamer. When I was a young girl, I dreamed of being Glenda the good witch. Obviously that dream died when I matured, but truth be told, I still lust after her poufy dress and bubblemobile.

However, I’ve had a dream since I was a child that never faded with youth. It was the dream to someday become a published author. I have always loved to write, and since grammar school I’ve gotten positive reinforcement about my ability. I love words and enjoy stringing them together to enlighten or entertain others. I studied Communications in college and have worked as a radio and television reporter, freelance writer, and copywriter. So when I decided to write a novel, anyone who knew me was not surprised.

I believe that dreams propel us through life, giving us goals. Dreaming is fun, it sets possibilities before us. But if you’re serious about a dream, then you need to equip yourself to fulfill your desires. If it had been my dream to be a Supreme Court justice, then I would have needed to attend law school.

In my novel, Out of Her Hands, my character, Linda, has a dream of what her children’s lives will look like when they become adults. She hoped and prayed that they would follow her dream for their lives, but like real life, that stuff just doesn’t happen. Linda’s journey to come to terms with her children’s choices is at times painful and frustrating. I think it’s a journey all mothers must make, part of the process of letting go and launching your kids out of the nest.

Whatever your age, continue to follow your dreams. Whatever your dreams may be, bravely strive for them. Pursuing your dreams makes life interesting and keeps you growing. God bless!


PhotobucketSearching for Spice, Megan’s debut novel about a long-married woman who wants to have an affair—with her husband, released in April 2008. Her second novel, Out of Her Hands, released in October 2008. Out of Her Hands is about taking life as it comes at you with all the surprises and challenges you face with your young adult children.

Megan and her husband live in suburban Denver near their adult children. They often travel back to their roots in Long Island, NY to visit family and get their fill of delicious Italian food.


If your dream is to win an awesome novel, here's your chance! To be entered to win a copy of Out of Her Hands just leave a reply to this blog. I’ll pick a winner at random on November 26th. Please leave an email address so I can contact you if you're the winner. (To prevent spammers from trolling for your email, please use this format with the brackets--you [at] yourmail [dot] com--or something similar.) Good luck and keep on dreaming!

Monday, November 10, 2008


Does anybody really know what they're getting into when fame comes flying through the door? Probably not. In her book Through the Storm, (cowritten by Lorilee Craker) Lynne Spears recounts her life from being a simple southern girl, to being a simple southern young wife and mother, to becoming the mother of one of the biggest names in pop music.

PhotobucketLynne starts off by telling you what this book isn't: it's not a parenting book, and it's not a tell all. And for the most part, she sticks to that. Let me say that I think at heart, Lynne Spears is a woman who loves her children, loves the Lord, and wants the best for her family. But... she seems (to me) like a woman living in a level of denial.

This first struck me when she recounts the story of driving her injured brother to an emergency room. It was raining, she rounded a corner, there were two boys riding bikes on the side of the road. "I had a sick sensation that I would hit one of them, that it was impossible not to..." and finally, "One boy managed to get his bike out of the way, but his friend, a twelve-year-old boy whose house was right by the scene of the accident, was hit." Was hit? What an odd way to put it. She says very little else about this boy, how she felt after hitting this child. The boy died at the emergency room, the same one Lynn took her brother to. She says that the screams of the mother will haunt her. But then, she adds, "God's providence permitted that boy's mother to lose her son, while I was allowed to keep mine, watching him grow to manhood." And this pretty much sums it up for me: things keep happening to Lynne Spears. It's all about how it affects her.

Talking about Britney's early days in the limelight, one theme is repeated: I didn't know. More than once she says that she figured the industry professionals would know better than her, since she's just a simple southern gal. That may be so, but she's not stupid. So here's a mother who wants the best for her kids. I can relate to that. And I can understand how things could escalate and get out of control before she realized... the first time. But I start to wonder when things happen over and over and over. Case in point: When a Rolling Stone photographer and crew cram into your teenage daughter's room and close the door for a private photo shoot, something is wrong! This was the scenario for the infamous Rolling Stone cover of Britney lounging on her bed in a bra and itty-bitty boy shorts.

Let me get to the point of this review. I think Lynne Spears is a good woman who wanted to help her children achieve their dreams. Whether through simple-southern-girl naivete, or denial of what was really happening, Lynne lost control. When she talks about her faith, and how God has carried her through the storms of her life, I believe her. So, if you're looking for an expose and some hot gossip about Britney or Jamie Lynn that you don't already know, this is not the book for that. But, if you want a glimpse into the life and psyche of one of America's most well-known mothers, pick up Through the Storm. To be fair to Lynn, it's hard to know if any of us would have done any better in her position.

Go here to preview the book.

TitleTrakk Blog Tour and Humongous Giveaway!

Welcome to the 1st ever Blog Tour!

Have you heard about TitleTrakk? If you want to take a look at media from a Christian perspective, you've got to check it out: book, music and movie reviews, as well as interviews with the folks that make it all happen. And right now, they're having a HUGE contest!

The Fantastic Fall Giveaway Contest!

Just in time for the holidays, you could win over
$335 worth of books, cds and dvds!

Sponsored by our friends at:

The Grand Prize Winner will receive:


Whispers of the Bayou by Mindy Starns Clark
Rachel's Secret by BJ Hoff
Beach Dreams by Trish Perry
Playing God by Michelle McKinney Hammond
White Soul by Brandt Dodson
The Legend of the Firefish by George Bryan Polivka
Finding Marie by Susan Paige Davis
The Power of Praying Through the Bible by Stormie Omartian
A Man After God's Own Heart by Jim George
Evidence for Faith 101 by Bruce Bickel & Stan Jantz


Wake Up! Wake Up! by Everyday Sunday
Rock What You Got by Superchick
Sunday by Tree63
Houston We Are Go by Newsboys (Live CD/DVD)
Nothing Left To Lose by Mat Kearney
I Am Free Worship Collection
Salvation Station by Newworldson
Not Without Love by Jimmy Needham
Pages by Shane & Shane
Colors and Sounds by Article One


Love's Unfolding Dream
The Ten Commandments Animated
Between the Walls

But that's not all!
We're giving away even more!

During this blog tour (November 10th - 16th) we'll be drawing 2 winners daily from the contest entries to win an additional free book or cd!

Visit the Contest page today to enter the contest and place yourself in the running to receive the Grand Prize, plus all the daily prizes! Deadline to enter is November 17th.

Founded in 2006 by Tracy & C.J. Darlington, is an interactive website spotlighting Christian books, music & movies. Updated weekly, we feature author and musician interviews, album and book reviews, music videos, movie reviews and interviews, book excerpts, surveys, polls, and fun contests. Learn more:

Friday, November 7, 2008

Some Thoughts On The Election

I kept pretty quiet during this political season, but I think it’s time for me to speak up. So now, in no particular order, are my thoughts on the 2008 Presidential Election:

I’m Glad It’s Over! Two years, people. Two years spent planning and pontificating, speaking and snarking, groveling and goading. Some of the speeches we heard (on both sides) were eloquent, even inspiring. But most were the same old thing said in different ways. And the longer it went on, the uglier it got. I’m soooo glad it’s done!

What Happened to Hilary? I read that The Washington Post reporter Anne Kornblut has been contracted by the Crown imprint of Random House to write a book called Rejection: Why America Isn't Ready for A Woman President. Well, that’s just silly. In general, I think Americans have gotten to the place where we just want to elect the right person for the job. So it’s not that America’s not ready for a woman president. The point is that the majority of Americans didn’t believe that particular woman was the right one for the job. And that’s all I have to say about that.

PhotobucketWhere was the Mirror? I like Michelle Obama. Throughout the campaign, she carried herself with grace and dignity. She proved to be a woman who could put together a classy outfit on a budget. Remember the black and white dress from Black & White? What about that cute J. Crew lemon ensemble she wore on The Tonight Show? So I’ve got to ask, whose idea was it to put Michelle in that red and black Narciso Rodriguez number? I don’t think she chose it herself… she’s got better sense than that. And if she did choose it, I don’t think there was a mirror around. Not only was it confusing (I spent a good minute or two trying to figure out why she was wearing an apron on stage) but it was much better suited for a different body type. Michelle is a lovely woman, but this dress did nothing for her. The picture above shows the dress on the skinny-as-a-stick runway model and on Michelle. See my point? It barely works on the model. Put it on a woman who ate lunch that day, and it’s a disaster in the making. Frankly, I think the dress is a hot mess no matter who wears it. It’s something of a cross between a lava lamp and a black widow spider. Obviously, I have strong feelings on this matter. On a positive note, the rest of the family looked great, and they were all color coordinated. The black and red theme worked for the big picture. So props for thinking that through.

I’m Excited. No matter what anyone thinks, or who we voted for, one fact still remains: God’s in control. I’m excited that we’ve finally made our choice for the next president. I’m excited to see what’s going to happen in our country. And I can’t wait to see what kind of dog those two girls have when they move into the White House. God bless them all!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

CFBA presents OUT OF HER HANDS by Megan DiMaria

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Out Of Her Hands
(Tyndale House Publishers - September 22, 2008)
Megan DiMaria


I was born and raised in New York State and have since lived in Maine, Florida, Pennsylvania, Texas, New Jersey, and now I live in Colorado. My husband and I have three delightful, adult children and an old Jack Russell Terrier named Belle who seems to find her way into my novels. My resume will tell you I graduated from SUNY Plattsburgh with a degree in Communications, and after graduation I worked as a radio and television reporter, freelance writer, editor and marketing professional.

I'm a member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) and am assistant director of Words For The Journey, Rocky Mountain Region.

But what's most important to know about me is that I am a follower of Jesus, wife, mother, friend, reader and writer.

Life’s a journey, enjoy the adventures!


In this second novel by Megan DiMaria, Linda Revere is back and continuing to struggle with the turmoil of contemporary life. Linda has been praying for her children's future spouses since they were very small. Confident that her prayers will be answered, Linda is not prepared for the young woman her son brings home. But Linda soon learns that while everything she once controlled is out of her hands, God is still in control. Megan uses her trademark humor while dealing with issues to which her readers will relate.

If you would like to read the first chapter of Out Of Her Hands, go HERE

"No sophomore slump for DiMaria! This novel (Out of Her Hands) is as engaging and meaningful as her first, Searching for Spice. Her realistic portrayal of the characters' lives should endear them to readers and help Christians to feel less alone in their daily trials."
~Romantic Times Magazine, 4 ½ stars TOP PICK!

“Life in Linda's world is messy...but filled with love, laughter, struggle and faith. Megan has created a most real heroine for us to love...and I adore her!”
~Deena Peterson, reviewer: A Peek at my Bookshelf

“Megan DiMaria crafts a novel so compelling, so real, you forget you're reading fiction.”
~Darcie Gudger, reviewer: TitleTrakk

"This is a great read for a quiet afternoon or in those times when you feel your own life spinning out of control and need the reality check of knowing you're not in it alone."
~Amazon reviewer


Out of Her Hands reunites us with Linda Revere, the frazzled heroine from DiMaria's debut novel, Searching for Spice. Linda's got her marriage issues worked out - she's got spice enough now - it's the rest of her family that's coming undone. Her son is making questionable romantic choices, her daughter is dealing with issues of her own, her best friend is moving out of town, and her widowed father-in-law is ready to find love again... whether the rest of the family likes it or not.

Linda Revere is the kind of character you can instantly relate to. Despite her earnest attempts to keep her family going in the right direction - you know, the direction she thinks they should go in - nothing works out quite the way she hopes it will. I thoroughly enjoyed following Linda on her journey to discovering that sometimes, the greatest thing we can do with those we love is to let them go and trust that God's got them in His always capable hands. Full of heart and humor, Out of Her Hands is wonderful slice-of-life novel.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Farewell Michael Crichton

Today was my first day back to my Christmas job at See's Candies. Right before it was time to leave, I checked my email one last time and nearly fell over in shock. One of the subject lines read: Michael Crichton Just Died!

PhotobucketThat old line, "I didn't even know he was sick" came to mind, and is completely appropriate. Deciding to keep it a family matter, Mr. Crichton had been fighting a battle with cancer. Sadly, as the nation elected a historic new president, one of the most entertaining, talented authors of a generation lost his battle at the age of 66.

This quote, from an Associated Press article, says it best.

"Michael's talent out-scaled even his own dinosaurs of 'Jurassic Park,'" said "Jurassic Park" director Steven Spielberg, a friend of Crichton's for 40 years. "He was the greatest at blending science with big theatrical concepts, which is what gave credibility to dinosaurs again walking the Earth. ... Michael was a gentle soul who reserved his flamboyant side for his novels. There is no one in the wings that will ever take his place."